Governor Pen Portraits

Welcome to Swarland Primary School Governors


Please take the time to find out a little more about our School Governors.


Chair of Governors & Co-opted Governor - Finance Lead

My name is Maureen Bickerdike and I have been involved with Swarland Primary School for several years. At first I was a volunteer and spent one day each week working across school in whatever capacity was needed. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to get to know the staff and children and to realise how highly regarded school is with parents and the local community. When I was asked to be a governor I was delighted as it gave me another opportunity to support school as a member of an enthusiastic and committed Governing Body. 

Prior to retiring I was a Headteacher for fourteen years of two “First Schools” and know how important the initial years of a child’s education are in establishing the skills and attitudes needed for each child to flourish and achieve their potential.

It is the knowledge and skills acquired in my professional life that I now draw upon as a member of the Governing Body and I was absolutely delighted to be elected to the position of Chair in November 2016. 

It is very evident that there is so much drive and energy from all involved with school, in every capacity, to ensure each child gets the very best start in their school life and I relish the opportunity afforded me as Chair of Governors to share my skills, interests and enthusiasm to help our school achieve the very best.


Co-opted Governor - Vice Chair - Andy Gill

Married to Joanne, living in Swarland and have Alfie as a Year 2 pupil at Swarland Primary School. Also have 3 other children with ages ranging from 26 – 2.

With over 25 years of experience in the audit and IT solutions sector serving global retailers, I have a solid understanding of the importance of having a sound strategy in place that supports the growth of an organisation, an outlook which I feel will help me as a Governor. My experiences and skill sets gained to date are transferable and my approach to this role would be to utilise all my knowledge, experience and resourcefulness to work with parents, teachers, the Head and other Governors and help drive the continued improvements required to provide our children and Swarland Primary School, with the best chance of success.

The voice of the parents is so important in the management of the school. The ability to listen to parents and students, remain impartial to the villages the students come from and represent the combination of all, whilst bringing a different skill set into the school from business life are some of the key qualities I can bring to the role.

During my career, I have built successful partnerships with UK and Global retailers, delivering against short and long term goals. I am skilled at identifying solutions to fit partner needs and developing new, innovative and profitable business opportunities as a result.

In terms of my interests and hobbies, I like watching most motorcycle racing, and football, and like to exercise by running or cycling. I like to read and get out and about with the family inc Jack the dog and go and explore the delightful Northumberland region.

I have a BA (Hons) in Business Computing, but I find managing and delegating a much more rewarding way to achieve the required outcome, than coding.


Staff Governor

My name is Rachael Stocks and I am entering my first year as teacher Governor here at Swarland School. In school I am the KS2 Leader, SENDCo and PE and science co-ordinator.  I am passionate about everyone in our school community working together to achieve the very best for the children in our care.


Parent Governor - Safeguarding Lead

My name is Gillian Apthorpe. I have lived in the nearby catchment village of Longframlington since 2006, having moved from Aberdeenshire. Andrew joined Yr2 at Swarland and Iain at Chester Bears.

Our youngest son Euan is in Yr2 and many of you will know Duncan who is at Rothbury Middle, joining Iain who is in Yr9. Iain has started the transition to King Edwards in Morpeth where Andrew who is currently in his GCSE year!!

With children attending each of the three tiers of schools, this gives me an ideal view of how all the schools support our developing children, to help them achieve their very best. As parent governor I want to continue seeing a great start for all our children, an exciting fun education, which creates strong building blocks for the coming years.

A wee bit about me - I studied a Foundation Course at Central St Martins, London, followed by a Degree in Graphic Design and Print Making in Dundee. I then worked with children in residential and foster care who’d been excluded from mainstream school. Art often offered the children a different way to express themselves. I also took the opportunity to study management and counselling.

Having spent 16yrs enjoying, the awesome fun, you can have whilst bringing up boys. I’ve learnt to enjoy Saturdays watching football and rekindled my love for rugby each Sunday!! Now all four are at school full time I’m finding the time to rediscover my love for art.

If you’d ever like to contact me, ask at school or find me on FaceBook, Swarland HSA page where you can message me. I’m also at the St Mary’s Church bus Stop in Longframlington most mornings and afternoons.


 Parent Governor - Literacy Lead

My name is Emma Garland. I am a Mum of two children, the eldest of whom is in Swarland Primary School. I am a qualified and experienced primary school teacher, with experience of both the two and three tier systems. prior to having children I was subject leader at a Northumberland Middle School, where I observed lessons, planned the curriculum, analysed data, applied for grant funding and controlled the budget. I also have experience in planning and teaching all subjects across the curriculum and have worked alongside Governors to write policies whilst working towards Healthy School Status.

As well as class-based academic educational experience, I have worked in outdoor and environmental education settings. I feel that widening the children's experience beyond the curriculum is important and directly in line with the Forest Schools initiative.

The next few years will see some changes for Swarland as it moves to a Primary School. I would like to use my previous experiences and enthusiasm within the Governing Body to make the most of this change and continue to improve the all round experience for the children.


Parent Governor - Pupil premium and SEND Lead

My name is Elizabeth Hilton and I have lived in Swarland since 2012.  My son Finn is in Year 3 and my daughter Rebecca is part of the first Year 5 class.  I am originally from New York, and have been living and working in the UK for 17 years as an Electronics Engineer.

I believe I am a suitable candidate to represent the parents on the Governing Body largely due to my experience involving other community groups.  I was part of Chester Bears committee and a former trustee.  I am involved in Swarland H S A, the Swarland Show and am currently the school liaison for the Vyner Park Charity.  I hope that anyone who has worked with me has found an honest, proactive and positive member of these groups who believes communication is vital between school and parents.

My main motivation for becoming Governor is to be involved in the transition from a first school to a primary school.  I want to see the best the school has to offer for my daughter in a new set up in Year 5/6, while not sacrificing any of the excellent provision in the younger year groups we are all used to.  In my job, I am regularly involved in problem solving and process improvements in a variety of industries from smart energy to satellite technology.  I hope to apply these skills, while learning about our education system for my own personal development. 

My sole aim is to help Swarland Primary School continue to “be the best that it can be”, for every parent/carer and child.


Local Authority Governor – Data Lead - Alice Barkes

My recent appointment as Local Authority Governor at Swarland Primary School commenced in September 2017. I am looking forward to working with Mrs Fletcher and my fellow Governors during the next four years. I have been designated Lead Governor for Data due to my interest and expertise in assessment and data management. As a member of both the Finance and Staffing Committee and the Achievement and Standards Committee I work alongside the Head Teacher and governor colleagues to support school development.

My work in primary education spans a period of thirty-five years. During my career I enjoyed working within many different areas of education including classroom teaching, management, tutoring staff and mentoring other professionals. As a former Head of a large primary school rated Outstanding by OFSTED, I have a wealth of knowledge and experience to support me in my role as school governor. Working extensively with The National College For School Leadership I supported aspiring Heads and Deputy Heads and mentored newly appointed school leaders. Part of my work involved raising standards in vulnerable schools.

Swarland Primary is currently undergoing a transition from First to Primary status. My previous involvement in a Local Authority reorganisation of schools, managing the change from First to Primary in my own school, enables me to offer a positive perspective on the challenges and opportunities this creates.

Despite my short association with Swarland Primary, the dedication and commitment of staff and governors was apparent to me from day one. I am pleased to be part of the Swarland community and will work hard to improve opportunities for pupils, promote enjoyment of learning, and support the development of the newly established Primary in any way I can.


Co-opted Governor - Roger Brunning

 I am Roger Brunning and have lived in Swarland with my wife Margaret for 30 years; we have a son and 2 grand-daughters who live in Cambridgeshire.  I have been retired for a number of years.

 I left school aged 16 with 6 ‘0’ level passes to take up an engineering apprenticeship.  At age 19 I joined the West Suffolk Police, leaving at age 27 to join the RAF as an Air Traffic Control Officer.  Since retiring from the RAF in 1986, I have worked with Northumberland CC as a Senior Emergency Planning Officer, at a Shropshire shopping centre as the Operations Manager and finally starting and managing a company that installed and monitored CCTV systems on Team Valley Trading Estate,  Gateshead and other commercial and residential systems throughout the country.

I have experience in managing people and projects, compiling and preparing company accounts, negotiating and dealing with customers and suppliers, the Local Authority and recently, running the Code Club at the school.

I enjoy taking holidays (often), model railways, pottering and running the school Code Club, which is enormous fun and very rewarding.

Since I have been involved with the Code Club, I have seen the commitment of the staff to the school and the happiness and pleasure the children get from such a learning environment.  My aim will be to give a similar commitment to being a Governor and to the school, to ensure that the children get the best education possible and in the most conducive surroundings.


Co-opted Governor - Phil Eastlake

My name is Phil Eastlake. I was born in Portsmouth, spent part of my childhood in Singapore before going to boarding school in Suffolk. After living in Newcastle, Lesley and I moved to Swarland in 1999. I joined the Board of Governors in 2018.
Retirement came at the end of 2017 having spent 37 years working in science. I graduated in Microbiology at Newcastle University before joining a bacterial genetics research group. Moving into the commercial sector I worked on developing enzymes that are used in genetic analysis, e.g. DNA sequencing, before setting up my own company in Cramlington to continue that work. In 2000 I sold my company to an international US biotech organisation in which I had various senior roles in R&D, Business Development and Intellectual Property as well as being Director of their European operations. My focus was then on inherited genetic diseases, gene editing systems and genetic analysis of cancer patients' blood directing changes in personalised treatment. I have been very fortunate with my work to have travelled extensively around the world, meeting many wonderful scientists and participating & presenting at scientific conferences.
I have learnt how to work with diverse groups on complex, challenging but very rewarding projects. With this experience and my professional background, I have joined the Board of Governors' Finance and Staffing sub-committee with an additional focus on Human Resources.
Apart from being a Governor, I have other voluntary work as Treasurer of the Swarland Moor Local Heritage Group, helping with writing grants for local history projects and with the University of Exeter.
Travelling, but now for pleasure, is still great fun; I also enjoy birdwatching and natural history, playing chess, reading, baking bread and gardening.
It has been a steep learning curve since joining the Board of Governors, but it has been a great pleasure to work with my fellow board members and the school's staff.