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Governing Body

Welcome to the Governors' page.  Here are the current members of the Governing body - to contact us or find out more about what we are doing then use the tabs on the left of the screen.

Andrew Murray.  Co-opted Governor

Chair of Governors 

(Finance & Premises Committee, Pay, Performance & Personnel Committee and Development Governor)

Term of office ends: 18.06.2026

Having served close to 30 years in the Corps of Royal Engineers, I have background in Construction, Facilities Management and Learning & Development.  I am a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and hold formal qualifications and experience in Strategic Leadership & Management, Health & Safety, Project Management & Teaching.  Having one daughter currently in this great school, I naturally have a personal interest in their education, but now as a Governor, I have a fantastic opportunity to have a more formal interest, where hopefully I will be able to use my skills and experience to add value in assisting the school to achieve its vision.

Oliver Laurence. Co-opted Governor

Vice Chair of Governors

(Finance & Premises Committee and Communiucations Governor)

Term of office ends: 10.11.2023

Oliver is the proud father of two daughters who attend Hermitage Primary, along with his wife of 11 years Melissa Laurence, a teacher also in the school. Oliver spent 12 years between two Australian Police Forces, working in investigative, operational and close protection roles. Returning home to the UK in 2019, Oliver is now the London director of a Hong Kong based investigations, security and risk management company, I-OnAsia.

Oliver regularly advises high net worth, ultra-high net worth, governments and global royal families facing significant crisis’s, providing both investigative and operational support to overcome often complex and challenging reputational issues. Oliver will support the school with strategic communications strategies in times of crisis and with areas of risk management and investigative responses.


“Hermitage is a beautiful village school with a wonderful community feel, I hope to add value and support with my experiences that I have gained thus far in my professional life and assist the other school governors in ensuring that Hermitage Primary is modern, motivated, progressive and professional, meeting the needs and expectations of all children to give them a fantastic start in life.”

Gillian Turner.  Headteacher, Governor

(Standards & Curriculum Committee, Pay, Performance & Personnel Committee and Finance & Premises Committee )

I qualified as a teacher in 1994 in primary education. I have lived in Newbury since 1994 but am very proud of my Northumbrian roots. My main subject is art but I am very passionate about science and nature and reading and above all learning. During my teaching career I have always worked in West Berkshire schools. I have held many different coordinator posts, mainly English and art and had a variety of senior leadership posts and work for the local authority as an advisor and moderator. I have been lucky to have been part of the Hermitage Primary School team since 2012 when I was appointed Deputy Headteacher and taught in upper juniors. In September 2019 I was honoured to be appointed Headteacher after the retirement of our pervious Head. I enjoy getting to know all of our families and the children and creating a strong school community and inspiring children to learn. I am a great believer in offering a variety of opportunities for our children and creating an exciting diverse curriculum. In my spare time ( there isn't much!!) I love being creative, water colour painting , passionate gardener and baker. I have a husband and 2 children and a tortoise!



Lucy Cowan. Deputy Headteacher, Staff Governor 

(Standard & Curriculum Committee)

Term of office ends: 13.09.2022

I have been teaching for over 20 years in both primary and secondary schools. Now in my ninth year at Hermitage Primary School I thought was the right time to join the governing body. As part of the Standards and Curriculum Committee. I will be able to work closely with the other governors to ensure that Hermitage Primary School continues to provide an environment where all children 'shine'.

Kim Luke. Clerk to Governors

Term of office ends: N/A

We moved to Hermitage in October 2015 and both my daughters    now attend Hermitage Primary School. Before becoming the Clerk to the Governing Board I worked at West   Berkshire Council as one of the administrator for the School Improvement Team.

I am enjoying providing a variety of admin support for the Governing Board who are a friendly, diverse team providing strategic support and challenge for the school.

My hobbies include walking and cycling particularly around the village and I also enjoy a wide selection of art and craft activities.

Yvette Drewitt. School Business Manager. Associate Member

(Finance and Premises Committee)

Term of office ends: 28.04.23

I joined Hermitage Primary School as School Business Manager in January 2019 having been Finance Manager in a large secondary school. I have two grown up children who have been through the education system so I feel I can bring a wealth of knowledge to my role from a parent's perspective as well as a professional one. 

Roger Axten.  Associate Governor - Captain (retired) B.E.M.

(Standards & Curriculum Committee and Health & Safety Governor)


Term of office ends: 17.05.2024

I served in the Royal Engineer (R.E.) before commissioning into the Education and Training Services Branch.  I then became a Civil Servant working for the MOD as part of the Training and Development Team at the School of Military Survey, Hermitage.  My role was recruiting young civilians into the R.E. as geographic technicians.  During my service with the MOD, I was also Hermitage village Cub Scout and Scout leader.

My personal qualifications include a diploma in education, interviewing and counselling courses, instructing navigation techniques and a joint services mountain expedition leader.

I initially served as a community Governor at Curridge Primary School before transferring to Hermitage Primary School where my role for both boards was that of Health and Safety Governor.  Currently, I am a member of the Standards and Curriculum Panel.

Personally, my passion is the rural countryside.  Having had the privilege of travelling world wide, primarily with the MOD, I now wish to pass on my experiences to our up and coming generations of children.  I regularly, over the past years, take the Foundation Classes into the local woodlands to educate them on the flora and fauna that abounds right outside their school playing fields in an attempt to get them to appreciate their surroundings.

I also endeavor to support the whole school in as many ways as possible in class, away days or activity weeks.  I have found that these voluntary aspects of my expertise embellish the current curriculum. 

I wish to add that my wife, Vicki, has also assisted in classes with Year 1 and Year 2 for several years.


Ed Balch. Parent Governor

(Pay, Performance & Personnel Committee)

Term of office ends: 01.11.2024

My wife Anna, myself and our daughter Hazel moved to Hermitage in 2021, having lived in West Berkshire for over 13 years. We were immediately impressed by the school’s quality, ethics, engagement and ambition and I am pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing success of the school and the community. I have a career in Cyber Security and Data Analytics, working locally at Vodafone and experience with Cyber Security, Business Planning, Financial Governance and Business Strategy. 

Ian Hunter. Co-opted Governor

(Chair of Standards & Curriculum Committee & Pupil Premium Grant Governor)

Term of office ends: 25.03.2026

As a parent of two children at Hermitage Primary School, I want to ensure that the high standards of the school continue, and that the ethos of the school remains one that promotes positive outcomes and a general love of learning. I have worked in the telecommunications industry for the last 20 years in a variety of roles that have used my analytical and people management skills to understand key issues and deliver improved outcomes.  Using these adaptable skills from my workplace, I can analyse the data and information available to support decision-making and hold the school to account for its ongoing performance.

Melanie Needham. Parent Governor

(Standards & Curriculum Committee, Safeguarding Govenor & Inclusions Governor)

Term of office ends: 15.11.2022

I started my career as a professional dancer/performer and ran my own dancing school for many years before moving into the village. I changed my career totally working for automotive manufacturers. My three children have attend/attended Hermitage Primary School and I am proud to now be the Manager of Hermitage Pre School; I have a Level 3 in Childcare and Education and Level 4 in Special Educational Needs. As a Parent Governor, I will try to address issues and decisions from the parent/carers point of view as well as supporting the aims of the school.

Maria Tillett. Co-opted Governor

(Chair of Finance & Premises Committee)

Term of office ends: 08.09.25

My career started in banking and finance working at a senior level and after 25 years I moved into Education, the role of School Business Manager. Initially in a very large secondary school which subsequently converted to an Academy and then a small Primary School, both in West Berkshire. Also for a few months I worked for Hermitage Primary whilst the school was recruiting and needed help and support.

With my experience of working in Education in many schools and  having retired I feel that my knowledge and experience can be of great assistance to Hermitage Primary and I wish to help the Headteacher make the school as successful for the children as it can be. I want to ensure the children of Hermitage have every opportunity they can in a safe caring environment.

I am very family orientated with several grandchildren that I play an active role in their upbringing. My hobbies are golf which I spend the dryer warmer days playing along workouts at the gym and in the winter months I sew and knit.

Steph Tinsley. Parent Governor

(Chair of Pay, Performance and Personnel Committee)

Term of office ends: 06.12.2024

Having had both my daughters go through Hermitage Primary School and absolutely thrive, I was delighted to join the Governing team as a way to give something back.

The school has a lovely village and community feel and supporting the Leadership Team and wider staff cohort there is something I am passionate about. My background covers skills, experience and formal qualifications in HR Management, Facilities Management and Events as well as Early Years education.

We are a strong cohesive team of Governors and work well together to ensure the best possible outcomes for the school. I look forward to all we are able to achieve as a team going forwards.

Matthew Whiteway. Co-opted Governor 

(Finance & Premises Committee, Pay, Performance and Personnel Committee and  Marketing Governor)

Term of office ends: 27.04.2024.

A proud father of two young girls, we have recently moved to the Hermitage area and have been impressed with the schooling Hermitage Primary has delivered.  As a governor I would like to help contribute to further improving the standards for all children.  I will be learning on my sales and marketing experience to further bolster the school’s awareness and visibility in the community.


Penny Willson. Local Authority Governor

 (Standards & Curriculum Committee)

Term of office ends: 13.01.2024

We moved into Hermitage two years ago, both my children have attended Hermitage Primary School. I really admire the sense of community the school instils in its pupils and I want to support the school further.  In my role as governor, I work with the staff and Full Governing Body to ensure that Hermitage Primary School offers a great education to all its pupils. I am particularly interested in curriculum and learning.  I work as a scientist for a global beverage company and I am a qualified secondary school teacher. I have strong communication and management skills developed through my career and training.


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