Dorchester St Birinus Primary School

Dorchester St Birinus Church of England School

Meet the governors

Jonathan Stewart (Chair)

I am the Chair of governors at Dorchester St Birinus School. I have lived in Dorchester on Thames for 14 years and attend the congregation at Dorchester Abbey with my wife and three children, I have taught numeracy, literacy and the humanities at secondary school and have an interest in Special Educational Needs. I sit on both the Finance and curriculum committees and have responsibility as the SIAMS governor (Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools).

I qualified as a primary teacher in 1995 and have taught in Belfast, London, and Oxfordshire. I have experience working in Primary and secondary schools as well as SENDCo work in Oxfordshire and London where I ran a specialist unit until 2022. I gave up the daily commute to work closer to home and help in our family business.

As well as working in the world of speciality coffee, I teach part time in St Laurence Primary in Warborough, and I am studying an MSc in Psychology at Oxford Brookes.

I find that being a governor is a lovely way to help with the wonderful work going on at St Birinus. It is always a pleasure to see the amazing team and talented children at St Birinus. Finding ways to support that vision is a real privilege.

I am always happy to chat to any parents about the work of the governing body and look forward to being around to help in any way I can.


Andy Kelly

I’ve enjoyed living in Dorchester since 2007, when my wife Nikki and I moved here from Oxford. Since then, our household has grown to include 3 kids (and a dog), and the village school has been an important feature of our life for many years. Our eldest girl finished year 6 last year, and our youngest is currently in year 2, whilst their older brother attends Kingfisher School in Abingdon. I’m a director at an energy sector focused management consultancy, where I lead our work in Ireland.

I’ve seen and appreciated how the school is such a key element of the village community across the years I’ve been living in Dorchester, and have been pleased to be involved in the governing board for several years. This was initially as a parent governor and now as a co-opted member of the governing board. I‘m currently chair of the finance & resources committee, which typically means trying to assist the school as it grapples with the many challenging financial aspects of running any school; the fact that our school is a relatively small and rural setting means these challenges can be even more acute at times! I’m also the science link governor, which fits well with several elements of my own education and areas of ongoing interest.

Our school is a fantastic setting for children across Dorchester and surrounding areas, and in order to continue to be successful in its ambitions, the input from all is extremely welcome – if you are willing to get involved then please let one of the governors or staff know! And of course, make sure you take the opportunities to come and see the brilliant work of the school in person whenever you can.


Sarah Gauden

I have lived in Dorchester for almost 20 years with my husband and children. All of our kids had happy primary school years at Dorchester St Birinus, so I have been very glad to serve on the Governing body for the last few years. While we still had children in the school I was a parent governor, since then I have been a foundation governor. I currently chair the Pupils and Curriculum Committee, where we look at the educational side of school life. This includes examining assessment data on pupil progress, attendance figures and curriculum development. We also discuss wider school provision in sport, music and school trips as well as aspects like SEND and safeguarding. It gives a great insight into the expertise and care behind our children’s experiences in school.

Although I am a former secondary school teacher, I wouldn’t say that was important for being a school governor (other than getting to grips with the acronyms!). More important for me was being invested in our village school and hoping to see it flourish into the future. Being a governor in an aspirational school like ours is a real pleasure. Some of the highlights for me have been the interesting training courses, learning about recruitment, great discussions and working with interesting people. And you always get a really warm welcome from the children in school!


Richard Winslet

I was invited to join the Governing Board as a Co-opted Governor in May, 2019. In addition to being a member of the full Board I sit on the Finance & Resources Committee and am a Literacy Link Governor.

Although I am now retired, my professional background is in the field of finance & accounting & I believe my main contribution to the Governing Board can be in that area, an area which is currently calling for particular care & attention in the present economic environment.

I am a member of the governing committee for Dorchester Abbey and am secretary of the Abbey’s Parochial Education Trust, a charity which has been able to provide some financial assistance to young people who live in or are educated in the Parish, including in a number of instances Dorchester St Birinus School.

My wife & I have lived in Dorchester since 2008 & have three married daughters, two of which also live in the village. None of our six grandchildren currently attend the school but the youngest two, who are twins, will be knocking on the school door very soon.


Jeannine Davies

I am a parent Governor here at Dorchester St Birinus School. I am still quite new to the role, having just started in September. However, I have been actively involved in the St Birinus community for the last couple of years as a member of the PTA. 

I live in the village with my husband, two boys, a dog, a cat and many, many stick insects! I work at the John Radcliffe Hospital as a Consultant Anaesthetist. Although I work pretty long hours, I luckily have a few days off a week, when I can generally be found desperately training my 8 month old puppy to stay away from the local wildlife!

My role on the Governing board is as a parent governor. As such, I have a vested interest in seeing the school excel. I sit on the Pupils and Curriculum committee, this is the forum where we look at academic aims and ambitions, and how we are meeting those targets. I am also the Maths link Governor, so I am having to brush up some of my school day maths! Luckily this was my favourite subject!

A benefit of being a parent Governor is that I am often at the school gates for drop off and pick up, so please do come and have a chat if you have any issues you would like to raise, or any ideas you have to further the success of our school. 

Finally, as a member of the local community, I really feel the village benefits from having a busy, thriving local primary school, and the school also benefits from being the first choice for local parents. As governors our role is to continually challenge, enquire, and be a ‘critical friend’ to the school to help it meet its aims of producing happy, healthy, informed individuals for the benefit of the whole community.


 Rev'd Jane Willis

I am the Rector of Dorchester Abbey, and so have been ex-officio Foundation Governor since my appointment in February 2023. Though I was new to the village, I wasn’t new to governorship, as I have similarly served as Foundation Governor to church schools in my last two posts in the previous twelve years.

I’m loving getting to know St Birinus Dorchester – the staff and the children. I’m in school regularly leading Collective Worship, and love welcoming everyone into the Abbey for end of term services. I sit on the Pupils and Curriculum Committee and am Link Governor for RE.

I live here in Dorchester with my husband, and we have three adult daughters (one of them a primary school teacher and another a TA – so I hear it all from them too!)  We are also delighted to have four grandchildren – and are currently ‘between dogs’.

As well as being Rector of Dorchester Abbey I am Team Rector for the Dorchester Team of churches – which means I lead the team who minister across 14 village churches, as the churches seek to work ‘better together.’ A particular delight recently has been welcoming children from Dorchester and three other village schools in the Dorchester Team area to the Abbey to take part in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe opera, where the children achieved astonishingly and it was a delight to see friendships formed across school groups.


Jane Grenfell

I have recently been invited to be on the governing body as a Teacher Governor. I will sit on the pupils and curriculum committee.

I have been a teacher all my working life and have had an extremely happy career. My role as a class teacher at St. Birinus working in the Infant department has spanned the last 6 years. My passion is to make learning fun for the children I teach and to inspire a genuine love of learning. I particularly enjoy English, Art, Science and have a special interest in supporting children for whom English is a second language.

I am a mum to 2 boys in their early twenties, one of whom still lives at home and I have a naughty dog and 2 cats! I keep busy by travelling, playing tennis, running and visiting my elderly mum, housebound parishioners and prisoners.

I am committed to doing the very best for the children at this happy and nurturing school.