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Who Are School Governors and what do School Governors do?

School governors are volunteers who help to decide on the direction, focus and ethos of the school. Governors work closely with the headteacher, school staff and representatives from the local authority (LA). Governors are actively involved in the decision making process. They support and challenge the leadership team and other staff to ensure the best possible outcomes for Crookhill children.

A school governing body has a strategic role in the development of the school but does not become involved in the day-to-day management issues – that is the role of the Head Teacher.

School governors:
  • Provide a strategic view. They help to set and maintain the broad framework within which the Head Teacher and staff should run the school
  • Act as a critical friend. Governors provide the Head Teacher with support and offer advice and information but also provide some challenge. The governing body is there to monitor and evaluate the school’s effectiveness and governors should therefore be prepared to ask challenging questions
  • Ensure accountability. The Head Teacher and staff report to the governing body on the school’s performance. In turn the governing body is accountable to all stakeholders on the school’s overall performance.Crookhill governors have high aspirations for everyone in our school. They work together to ensure our pupils have the best start in life and achieve to the best of their abilities while they are at Crookhill. 

Our Governors                                                        

Mrs Debra Ryan – Coopted Governor, Chair

Miss Catherine Bulman – Parent Governor,  Vice – Chair

Mrs Kelly Murray –  Co-opted Member
Mrs Julie Wilkinson – Parent Governor

Miss Anna Lucas – Parent Governor

Mr Jon Innerdale – Co-opted Member
Mrs Carolyn Willoughby – Co-opted Governor

Councillor Freda Geddes – LA Appointed

Mrs Debra Kelly – Staff Governor
Miss Kristine McCormack – Head Teacher Governor

Mrs Emma Smith – Associate Governor

Mrs Jennifer Brown – Associate Governor

Gabrielle Mains – Clerk to the Governors (Dryden PDC Evistones Road Gateshead NE9 5UR)

Pen Portraits

Debra Ryan – Chair of Governors


I have worked in education for over 35 years, more than half of it as a headteacher at two primary schools in Gateshead.  I retired from my role as a headteacher in 2019 but still work with primary schools in a support capacity.
I first worked with Crookhill as a Link Inspector but became a governor when I retired.
I am committed to supporting and challenging the school to ensure the children receive the highest quality education, enabling then to reach their full potential.
I believe in providing opportunities in school to develop the whole child.  We must provide opportunities to learn, play, share, work together and celebrate diversity.
I thoroughly enjoy opportunities to visit school and look forward to more opportunities in the future.

Catherine Bulman – Vice Chair of Governors


I have been a Governor at Crookhill for six years and Vice Chair for the last two.  
I am proud Mam to Kian who is now nearing the end of his Primary phase.  Crookhill was my school of choice when he entered Reception and throughout his time here, he has thrived socially, emotionally and academically under the exceptional care and wellbeing of staff at all levels.  I am fully supportive of Crookhill’s core values and ethos in their whole child approach within a safe, nurturing and positive environment.
Professionally, I have a masters degree in Finance and Operational Leadership, and I work in education as a School Business Manager.  My particular interests and strengths lie with finance, project management and procurement. As part of the Governing Body, I use my skills and experience to support Senior Leaders in determining the strategic direction of the school, meeting statutory requirements and ensuring the very best outcomes for each and every child.  

Jon Innerdale – Co-opted Governor


I have taught in primary schools all my working life and love my job. I was a class teacher for 20 years then spent 10 years delivering PE in a local school. More recently I have worked for Grassroots as a sports coach in several schools across the borough [including a lovely year at Crookhill]. I currently work for Ryton Federation.
In addition, I run the schools’ football for the Blaydon district and also organise the Young Church at Holy Cross in the village. Both my wife and son also work in local schools. This all keeps me very busy but if I have time my passions are mountaineering and supporting Brighton and Hove Albion!
I can see the school from my window and as I now work part time you may see me being taken for a walk past the school by our new puppy Bracken in the morning.

Councillor Freda Geddes – LA Governor


I have lived in Ryton for over 35 years and worked as a teacher, locally, since 1973. I have two sons, a granddaughter and my husband is a local councillor too.
I have been a school governor for many years as a parent, staff and a local authority representative. I joined Crookhill Primary School as the LA governor when I was elected as a local councillor for the Ryton, Crookhill and Stella ward in 2018. Pre Covid, I was a volunteer who came into school on a weekly basis.
I volunteer as a Friend of Ferndene Park and at Barmoor Hub where I work with Age UK Gateshead to support a friendship group.
I manage different events for the ward, for example lighting the Christmas tree and Easter Egg Hunt in the park.
As a councillor I am a member of different committees eg Corporate Parenting, a scrutiny group for the environment and community. I am interested in Education, Politics, the Environment, History and the Arts.