About Our Governors
Mr Mark Atkinson – Governor
(Chair of the Kepier Local Governing Body, Chair of Discipline and Complaints Committee, Chair of Personnel and Salaries Committee and Chair of Headteacher’s Appraisal Panel.)
Mr Atkinson was a Governor for 6 years (at Heaton Manor in Newcastle) prior to joining Kepier’s team in October 2020. He serves as Chair of the Trust/Local Governing Body and is Chair of the Discipline and Complaints Committee, Personnel and Salaries Committee and Headteacher’s Appraisal Panel. He is also Link Governor for Inclusion and MFL.
He has a BA (Hons) First Class in Leadership and Management, an MSc in Leadership (ongoing) and is a Lead Auditor. Mr Atkinson serves as an Army Officer in HM Forces. Accumulating a vast amount of experience in leadership, coaching and mentoring along with strategic planning and change implementation, Mr Atkinson feels he can support the school as we look to develop and improve school leaders, teachers, support staff and learners. He also feels that his experience in organisational auditing can help identify areas for improvement allowing the School Leadership Team to be proactive rather than reactive.
Mr Atkinson believes that everything is built on a foundation and without said foundation nothing substantial can grow. He sees education as the foundation of every learner’s development to adulthood. Whether that is a future in academia or through a modern apprenticeship, he wants to support the development of the future leaders, doctors, solicitors, builders, carers, retailers and entrepreneurs.
He lives local to Kepier and his daughter is currently a learner at the school. His younger son will eventually join Kepier in a few years. His hobbies include mountaineering, orienteering and walking.
Mr Atkinson lives by two quotes: Einstein, “You can’t solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created them” and General Shinseki, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to enjoy irrelevance even less”.
Mr Martin Connor – Governor
(Chair of Achievement & Progress Committee)
Mr Connor was connected with Kepier for five years as a Member before moving his role to that of Governor in December 2023 where he currently serves as Chair of Achievement and Progress Committee. He is Link Governor for Teaching and Learning, English, Literacy, Geography and Wellbeing. His qualifications include a BA (Hons) English and Politics, a PGCE, a National Professional Qualification for Headship, Consultant Leader, National College of Teaching and Leadership – Professional Partner. He was Headteacher of two Secondary schools from 2000- 2016. He was CEO of an Academy Trust 2016-2019. He is now semi-retired.
Mr Connor has around 40 years of educational experience including 30 as a Senior Leader and 19 as Headteacher/CEO. He has significant experience as a Senior Adviser for Headteacher performance management, is Professional Partner for seven Headteachers across the whole country and is leader of School Centred Initial Teacher Training Programme.
He feels that education provides opportunities and enriches lives and it is vital that such opportunities for enrichment, fulfilment and lifelong learning are available to all. Mr Connor developed a strong professional relationship with Kepier during his second headship.
Cricket is his passion and he played semi-professionally for many years. Walking, travelling both in Britain and Europe, and visiting his children who both live in London occupies much of his time. He has a claim to fame as his school friends had a number one hit when they were all in the sixth form in Manchester.
Mr Steven Forsyth – Staff Governor
Mr Forsyth has been a Governor at Kepier since 2016. He has been employed as a teacher at Kepier since 2007 and is currently Subject Leader for History. He is Link Governor for PE (including the Football Academy) and for Community. His qualifications include a BA (Hons) History, a PGCE and NPQML.
In his role as Governor, he feels able to offer a classroom and Middle Leader perspective to decisions the school makes.
Mr Forsyth’s hobbies include running/parkrun and his claim to fame is that of being an extra in the first Harry Potter film.
Mrs Georgina Fuller – Parent Governor
(Vice-Chair of the Local Governing Body)
Mrs Fuller is Link Governor for Most Able, Technologies, Business, Careers and IT. She has a marine based engineering/hydrography career that spans 23 years. She studied her BSc in marine sciences, while working alongside the Nautical Archaeological Society. This led to a STEM focussed career at sea, where she was one of a very small minority of offshore based females within the engineering field, working out of many different countries around the world. She spent 11 years as project manager, specialising in marine survey, positioning, and construction projects.
Mrs Fuller also sits on the board of Governors for Gillas Lane Academy. She is a founding member of Seaham Wombles group, a town and parish councillor and is involved with the Seaham Seaside Swimmers Facebook group, running the education on sea safety and marine life, with informative posts and face to face mentoring. Mrs Fuller likes to keep herself and her family reasonably active, they like to sail, paddleboard, wild swim, cycle, walk, climb (indoors), and explore the beaches and headlands. She has recently completed her Day Skippers Sailing course as she wishes to become a competent sailor. .
Mrs Fuller holds a strong belief that education is the key to a better understanding of, and respect for the marine world. And that children’s imaginations have no boundaries, they hold the answers if we give them the problems to solve.
Mrs Lauren Hall – Staff Governor
Mrs Hall was appointed Staff Trustee/Governor in December 2021. She is Link Governor for Art, ICT Support – Network – E-Learning and Music. She has been a member of the support staff at Kepier since January 2020. She currently undertakes the role of Finance Officer, although she has completed multiple support roles, including Office Manager, which have widened her knowledge of various departments within the administration structure. Mrs Hall is currently working towards AAT qualification.
Mrs Hall believes education sets learners up for life, allowing our young people to ‘dream big’ and providing the background to enable them to achieve those dreams. She knows that education helps shape learners into respectable, law abiding citizens.
Outside of work, Mrs Hall enjoys spending time with her family. An interesting fact about Mrs Hall is that she used to partake in amateur (WWE style) wrestling and performed on a number of shows prior to becoming a mother!
Mr Neil Houghton – Governor
Mr Houghton’s role of Governor began in June 2019 and he is Link Governor for Maths, Numeracy and History. His qualifications include BSC (Hons) Sport and Exercise Leadership and he has a Primary PGCE. He is Headteacher at Shiney Row Primary School and has taught across the primary age range. He is responsible for teaching and learning throughout the school and plays an important role in analysing and acting upon whole school data. He has also previously worked as a Parent Support Advisor and at a Pupil Referral Unit – both of which were in the Secondary sector.
Mr Houghton believes that education gives people the knowledge and skills they require to succeed in all aspects of life. It forms the building blocks and foundations of every choice we make and has no limits to where it can take us if harnessed in the correct way. Hard work and education are the keys to every door.
He has lived in the Hetton/Houghton area his whole life. He enjoys keeping fit in the gym, playing football, etc. He also enjoys photography and spending time with his two children. His claim to fame is being the cousin of Manchester City and England women’s football captain Steph Houghton.
Mr Andrew Slassor – Governor
(Chair of Welfare and Support Committee)
Mr Slassor has been a Governor at Kepier since 2011 and was previously a Governor at Newbottle Primary. He is Link Governor for SEND, Safeguarding, Looked After Children, Child Protection and Science.
He has a background in engineering, qualified to ONC, and is an MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional). He was a Service Engineer working with printers, copiers, fax machines, etc but is now retired.
Mr Slassor managed two football teams for a local youth football club and during this time was the Club Welfare Officer for 15 teams. This gave him the skills and training which support him in his role at Kepier as link Governor for Safeguarding.
Both of Mr Slassor’s children attended Kepier, leaving in 2010 and 2012.
Mrs Christine Stobbart – Governor
After retiring from her role at Kepier as Governance Professional, Mrs Stobbart was appointed by the Governing Body as a Governor from December 2023 so that she can offer her experience and knowledge across all committee meetings.
Mrs Stobbart began her career in the Civil Service where she spent ten years in administration and office management. After a seven year career break to raise a family, she returned to work at a local Primary School for a further eleven years. At the same time she attended university in the evenings and graduated with a BA Honours degree in Business Studies. Thereafter, she entered the private sector as a Personal/Executive Assistant within the manufacturing industry. She finally re-joined the public sector and now has experience of supporting high-level needs of senior leaders within Durham University, South Tyneside Marine College and, finally, Kepier Academy where she spent over ten years enjoying posts including PA to the Principal, HR Manager and Governance Professional. She is now retired.
Outside of work Mrs Stobbart enjoys a busy life with her family. She is a proud mother and grandmother and her interests include animals, gardening, reading and socialising with family and close friends.
Mrs Stobbart has a passion for encouraging education. She believes it teaches you skills, broadens your horizons, teaches you to think for yourself and empowers you to understand the ways of the world. Most importantly it opens up new avenues – the more knowledge you gain, the more skilled you become and that leads to stability and financial security.
Mrs Stobbart lives by three rules of life (Holtz). 1. Do right – do the right thing. 2. Do everything to the best of your ability with the time allotted. 3. Show people you care. She believes if people follow these three simple core value rules of Trust, Commitment and Care, their self-confidence grows. They don’t worry when the phone rings. They have no doubt about what they are doing. They lift everyone up in their family or organisation. These three rules help hold everything and everyone together.
Mrs Mary Warburton – Governor
Mrs Warburton joined Kepier as Governor in March 2023. She is Link Governor for Pupil Premium, Finance and Resources, Culture and Wellbeing.
Since qualifying as a teacher she gained a number of further professional qualifications including an Advanced Diploma in Education, and facilitation, quality assurance and coaching certificates awarded by the National College for School Leadership. She spent all of her career in the education sector, as a primary school teacher with a specialism in music, Head Teacher, Local Authority Advisor, OFSTED Inspector and facilitator, coach and mentor with the National College for School Leadership. She has been involved in several projects across all phases of education including working with school
leaders from Egypt and developing coaching within the Higher Education Sector. She is now retired.
Mrs Warburton brings to us her wide background and experience in education, with a particular focus on
leadership development, coaching and mentoring. She believes that education provides a strong foundation for life through the development of essential skills and provision of a wide range of experiences, leading to the ability to make the most of opportunities given, the fulfilment of ambitions and engagement in life-long learning.
She first visited Kepier many years ago in a professional capacity, and has enjoyed several of the school’s dance shows! She has been blessed to have had a career which provided her with great satisfaction and enjoyment. In retirement she is now able to read more widely, walk more often and spend more time with her family, including two grandchildren and three dogs. She enjoys spending time in the Lake District and in recent years has climbed Sca Fell, Skiddaw and Great Gable. She has a strong interest and involvement in a charity project in Zambia which supports street children and the development of sport in very poor communities. It has been her privilege to visit Zambia and neighbouring African countries on several occasions.
Mrs Kate Welch – Governor
Mrs Welch took up her role of Governor in July 2022. She has a Masters degree in Social Policy from the University of York and other qualifications including Health and Safety, Safeguarding, Food Hygiene, First Aid and Leadership in Girlguiding. She was awarded an OBE for services to social enterprise in the North East, a Queen’s award for Enterprise Promotion and she is a Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham, a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts manufactures and commerce, and a Fellow of the Society of Leaders at St George’s Windsor.
Mrs Welch is the Founder and Chair of Trustees at Acumen Community Buildings, the charity which runs The Old Rectory opposite Kepier. She is a social entrepreneur – someone who sets up and runs businesses that make a difference in communities. Her main role is Chief Executive of Social Enterprise Acumen CIC and has been a member of numerous boards, so understands governance, finance and all aspects of running an organisation. These include the Regional Development Agency – One North East, The North East Public Health Advisory Board, The North East Regional Learning and Skills Council, The Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations, County Durham Community Foundation, Greggs Foundation Trust, Communities Together Durham and Jubilee Plus. She also has skills in creative thinking, community regeneration, employability and enterprise.
Love of learning is her key strength and good quality education has helped her to learn and develop as an individual as well as helping her to support my children and grandchildren with their learning. She believes in lifelong learning and loves to learn something new every day. Her hobbies include Girlguiding, music – guitar and singing and gardening. An interesting fact about Mrs Welch is that she was a Sophomore in Senior High School in the USA when she was 14.