Larkrise Primary SchoolInspire Through Creativity, Kindness and Adventure.

River Learning Trust

Welcome toLarkrise Primary SchoolInspire through Creativity, Kindness and Adventure.

Who are the governors?

Who are the Governors?

The local governing body comprises the headteacher and people from various groups interested in the school's success, including parents, staff, and the local community. The governors welcome a range of viewpoints and make decisions together. Between them, governors have a wide breadth of skills and experience to enable the governing body collectively to support and challenge the school leadership. As vacancies arise, specific skills are targeted to fill gaps in the governing body. As a result, key professional skills are represented from law, accountancy, and architecture to educational skills.


There are three types of Governors: Community (appointed by the trust), Parents (elected by the parent/carer body) and Staff (elected by the staff body).



Chair of Governors: Patrick Vale

Vice Chair of Governors: Leila Whitworth

Headteacher: Jon Gray

Clerk to Governors: Jenny Dyer


Parent Governors (Voted for by Parents)

Danielle Ballantine-Drake (14/12/20 to 13/12/2024)

Kate Coldwell (13/6/2022 to 12/6/2026)

Leila Whitworth (14/12/2020 to 13/12/2024)

Patrick Vale (27/2/2023 to 26/2/2027)


Community Governors (Appointed by River Learning Trust)

Evin Abrishami (13/6/2022 to 12/6/2026)

Susie Cogan (28/11/2023 to 27/11/2027)

Beth Howley (26/9/2022 to 25/9/2026)

Miriam Levene (26/9/2023 to 25/9/2027)

Chris Phillips (2/3/2020 to 1/3/2024)



Staff Governors (Appointed by Staff)

Jess Berntsson (Teaching Staff Governor - 28/11/22 to 27/11/2026)

Sara Zumbuhl (Support Staff Governor - 12/7/2021 to 11/7/2025)


Governors who have stepped down in the last 12 months

Sarah Pugh  (2/3/2020 to 1/3/2024)

Paul Stockdale (21/9/2019 to 20/9/2023)

Sarah McHugh (25/9/17 to 30/1/2023)







 Introducing the Governors 

Patrick Vale (Chair of Governors & Parent Governor)


I am the parent of two children at Larkrise - In Year 3 and Nursery. It’s a pleasure to watch them enjoy all that Larkrise has to offer. As an early school leaver and self-taught software developer, I have some experience with the different ways in which people can learn best and the environments that do (and don’t!) foster a life-long love of learning. I’m also interested in active, hands-on STEM and computing curriculums. Previously, I chaired a farmer’s market committee, and I have some experience leading a committed group towards a common goal. I’d be delighted to help Larkrise grow and continue to flourish.



Leila Whitworth (Vice Chair, Chair of Resources Committee & Parent Governor)


Leila is a parent governor with one child at Larkrise in Robin Reception class. Her professional role is Head of Research Strategy and Funding at the University of Oxford. In this senior leadership position, she manages a team responsible for strategy, planning, financial management and research assessment. She is also a writer and has a particular interest in good communication.



Sarah Pugh (Chair of Impact Committee & Community Governor)


My name is Sarah Pugh, and I am a Community Governor at Larkrise Primary School. I have been a teacher since 1986 and have now become an advisory teacher working for the Local Authority. I have always enjoyed working with our Oxfordshire children and families. Being a Governor is another way of supporting the education of our children, together with their teachers and support staff. We have two grown-up children and a very active Labrador!



Beth Howley (Community Governor)


Hello, my name is Beth Howley, and I am your safeguarding governor. I am a qualified children's and families social worker and am now a senior practitioner in children’s social care. My eldest child has just left Larkrise, and my two youngest are still at school; I also went to Larkrise as a child!


I will do my best to support staff in ensuring safeguarding is a priority in all aspects of our school.



Chris Phillips (Community Governor)


My name is Chris Phillips. I am a Community Governor appointed in March 2020. I am a former primary headteacher and educational consultant. I am delighted to have the opportunity to be involved at this exciting time for the school.



Danielle Ballantine-Drake (Parent Governor)


My name is Danielle Ballantine-Drake. I am a parent governor with two children at Larkrise. My link role is EYFS and I am on the Impact Committee. In my working life, I am the Head of Early Years & Voice at a music hub, which involves managing a team of music teachers and teaching music to children from birth to 7 years.



Evin Abrishami (Community Governor)


Awaiting Bio



Kate Coldwell (Parent Governor)


Hello, I'm Kate, and I have a daughter starting Reception in September 2022. We're all very excited to have been offered a place for her at Larkrise. We had to show Nana Jojo our "big girl school" with the bug hotel!  


I teach Science and Computing at Didcot Girls' School, where the teaching staff are unbelievably happy, with a very healthy work/life balance. Passionate, creative teaching staff thrive, students benefit, and outcomes for our students are outstanding. Fortunately, Ofsted agrees. With this as inspiration, I hope Larkrise can be "the best place to teach".


I look forward to helping deliver Mr Gray's vision and meeting more Larkrise families. Please do grab me for a chat.



Miriam Levene


I am a retired speech and language therapist with many years of experience working with children with communication challenges. I have three daughters and six grandchildren, two of whom attend Larkrise. I have many years of experience with interfaith activities and personally come from a Jewish background.