Meetings - 2022/2023

Full governors meetings are held from 6pm-7.30pm on the following dates.

Tuesday 27th September 2022

Wednesday 14th December 2022

Wednesday 8th February 2023
Wednesday 22nd March 2023
Thursday 18th May 2023
Tuesday 4th July 2023

What is a Governor?

The Governors are a group of people who form part of the leadership of the school. Although not employed or based at the school, Governors play a key role in the monitoring, development and management of the school. Governors get involved in all aspects of school life – such as:

  • Finance
  • Recruitment
  • The curriculum
  • Pastoral matters
  • The school buildings and facilities

Governors receive special training to ensure that they can be effective in their role. Governors are known collectively as “The Governing Body” of the school. There are people representing different groups such as parents, teachers and members of the local community.

Governors are normally elected or appointed for a period of 4 years, although Governing Bodies can set a shorter term of office for one or more categories of Governor.

What Governors Do?

The purpose of having a Governing Body is:

  • Strategic - to help the school to set high standards by planning for the school's future and setting targets for school improvement;
  • to support and challenge the school in maintaining focus on school improvement;
  • to be a critical friend to the school, offering the school its support and advice;
  • accountable - to help the school to be responsive to the needs of parents and the community and ensure the school is accountable to the public for what it does;
  • to work with the school on planning, developing and maintaining policies;
  • to exercise its responsibilities and powers in partnership with the Headteacher and staff;
  • not to intervene in the day-to-day management of the school, unless there are weaknesses in the school, when they then have a duty to take action.


With the exception of Finance all decisions are made at Full Governing Body meetings. Highfield has a finance subcommittee which is responsible for budget setting. 

Finance subcommittee membership is:

  • Chair of Governors (Chair)
  • Finance Link Governor
  • The Head
  • School Business Manager (Associate Governing Board Member)
  • Deputy Head (Associate Governing Board Member)

Associate Governing Board members have voting rights on the subcommittee, but not at FGB.

Types Of Governor

There are 4 different types of Governor at The Highfield School. However, all Governors have the same role and responsibilities, with the exception of staff Governors who do not participate in certain discussions, particularly related to personnel issues.

The types of Governor that we have at The Highfield School are:

A parent or carer with a child at the school. Once appointed, parent governors will normally complete their term of office even if their child is no longer at the school.

Local Education Authority (LEA)
The Highfield School is a local authority maintained school and Hertfordshire County Council therefore appoints a number of school governors. LEA Governors do not have to be a council staff member or elected council official. The LEA maintains a list of people from the local community with an interest in education who have expressed a willingness to become a Governor, but not for any specific school.

All teachers and non-teaching staff are eligible for election as Staff Governors by fellow members of staff.

Someone invited to join the Governing Body by existing governors. Generally, a member of the local community with specific knowledge and skills – for example, business, financial or legal - that will be very useful to Governors.

Governor Summary

Click here for a summary of the Governing Body 

Our Governors

The governing body provides strategic direction and oversight for The Highfield School by holding the headteacher to account for its educational performance, making sure its money is well spent and ensuring the clarity of its vision and ethos.

ncan Painter 
Duncan has two children who attend The Highfield School. He has worked in corporate organisations throughout his career across legal, commercial and leadership roles. As a governor Duncan is focused on supporting the school as a safe, friendly and successful place for young local people to get the best education to develop their personal abilities and without bias or prejudice.

Vice Chair:
Julia Sonander
Julia has two children at The Highfield School. The career experience she brings to the role is in the areas of risk, safety and performance management. As a governor, Julia is interested in how the school provides a safe, nurturing environment and how it delivers a curriculum that allows all children to reach their potential. Julia has run, and volunteered on a number of community projects to tackle climate change and is interested in school carbon reduction projects through which students can channel their concerns about climate change.  

Federico Baglioni 
Federico is currently a paralegal in the dispute resolution and dispute team at Tees Law. He also has experience working in the education law sector.

Philip Hobbs 
Philip has been a teacher at The Highfield School since 2018 and has been working in education within Hertfordshire for over 20 years. He brings knowledge of the practical implementation of policies and allows a student facing viewpoint to be included in discussions. He is passionate about the education of young people and has also worked in Scouting in Hertfordshire for over 20 years in his leisure time. He lives in the local area and has one child at The Highfield School and one at a local primary school.  

Dan Nearney 
Dan has been a Teacher in Hertfordshire and the local area for 22 years and is currently an Executive Headteacher for alternative provision. He brings knowledge of the needs within the local community and the support available to allow all students to reach their potential. Moving into Letchworth has given Dan the opportunity to support a local community school that shares his vision and values. Dan will support the school to ensure all students can meet the challenges in front of them to have a successful schooling and prosperous future. 

Derin Ovonlen 
There is an adage that says, “it takes a whole village to raise a child”. Derin is quite taken by this proverb as it entrusts a sense of responsibility to every individual member of the community - hence the reason Derin is serving as a governor.  Derin received a legal education and has built a diversified skill set and experience ranging from supplier relationship management, negotiation, contract management, risk management, sustainable procurement, project management, policies, and change management. Derin's aim is to add value, serve, give back, support, help care for the wellbeing and success of the school in raising world class citizens. 

Annabel Roberts 
Annabel is a local primary school teacher who cares deeply about children reading for pleasure, having previously worked for a literacy charity for 4 years. She enjoys the arts and worked in arts funding and senior management of contemporary art organisations for over ten years before training as a teacher. Moving to Letchworth in 2020, Annabel wanted to be involved in the local community; volunteering as a parent governor to share her experience of primary and early years schooling, knowledge of the impacts of reading well on social mobility and interest in the creative subjects. It is important that all students are able to develop to their full potential. Annabel has one child at The Highfield School.

Paul Switzer 
Paul has one child at The Highfield School. He has experience in Critical Incident Management, Risk Management, Leadership, Safeguarding, and Management of Human Resources. Having previously worked in the Public Sector, Paul is very familiar with the Nolan Principles and still uses these as his guiding principles. Paul does voluntary work assisting train Police Officers and Police Community Support officers in Hertfordshire. He coaches the U12 rugby team at Letchworth Rugby Club and his hobbies include cycling and Karate. 

Chris Wood 
Chris is a qualified accountant and internal auditor, working in an assurance and leadership role in local government. He passionately promotes robust governance, risk management and control as a sound basis for effective service delivery. He lives locally and has one son attending primary school.

The Headteacher, Lucy Miles, also serves on the Governing Body. 

School Policies

The Governors are responsible for maintaining and reviewing the Policy documents that determine how the school runs and operates in many areas. These Policies will generally be written in the first instance by a subject-matter expert within the school. Alternatively, there are sometimes “standard templates” made available by the County Council or DfE that schools can adopt or adapt and adopt. Once written, Policies are reviewed and updated either annually or every 2 years. Policy documents are generally reviewed and updated by a member of the Senior Leadership Team and Governors. The Clerk to the Governing Body will then circulate the updated Policy document to all Governors and it will be ratified at the next Full Governing Body meeting.

Policies cover a wide range of subjects that form part of school life – examples are Health & Safety, Child Protection, Behaviour and Financial Delegation.

Contacting The Governing Body

If you have a general question about the work of the Governing Body, please contact the Chair of Governors:

Name: Duncan Painter

Joining the Governing Body
If you would like to express your interest in becoming a Governor in the future, please contact the Vice Chair of Governors:

Name: Julia Sonander

Clerk to the Governors
If you wish to contact the Clerk to the Governors please email:

Concerns and Complaints
Governors do not get involved in the day-to-day running of the school, and the work carried out by teachers and other staff. If a parent or student has a concern or complaint about the school, then the first and best thing to do is to telephone, meet with, or write to the student’s Tutor. The Tutor will take ownership of the issue and ensure that it is dealt with. If this does not lead to a timely outcome, then the contact sequence below should be followed.

Only if this contact sequence has been followed and exhausted, or if there is a substantive reason for bypassing this process, will the Governing Body become involved.

In this situation, please contact the Chair of Governors:

Name: Duncan Painter