Who are the governors?

The Downland Village Schools Federation (DVSF) is governed by a single governing board (GB), although we also have a local school committee for each of our schools, to help safeguard the individual character of each school and advise the GB on local issues and sensitivities.

The role of the governors

The governing board is a group of volunteers who bring skills from a variety of backgrounds to support the school and its head teacher by:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • Holding the head teacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent

The governors therefore provide strategic leadership and accountability in the school and they are responsible for appointing the executive headteacher and other senior leaders, who have the responsibility of running the schools.

The governors visit the schools frequently to keep in touch and to fulfil their legal responsibilities. They keep themselves informed by using professional information resources, by getting advice from experts and by attending training sessions organised by the county council and other organisations.

You can find out more about what governors do from the National Governors’ Association here.              

The governors may be contacted by email via the clerk to the governors (clerk@dvsf.w-sussex.sch.uk) or directly to the chair of governors (chair@dvsf.w-sussex.sch.uk).

Constitution of the governing board

As required by the government and agreed with the local authority (WSCC) and Diocese of Chichester, we have five kinds of governor:

  • Three foundation governors appointed by the Church of England Diocese of Chichester
  • One local authority governor appointed by West Sussex County Council
  • Two parent governors elected by the parents
  • Two staff governors (the executive headteacher and one elected by the staff)
  • Six co-opted governors appointed by the governors to represent the local community and/or bring specific skills

Unlike some schools, we do not divide our responsibilities amongst committees. Instead, the governors each monitor specific areas of the schools’ activities (such as safeguarding or finance), but report back to the full board for all decisions, to ensure that all governors have a full understanding of all of the key aspects necessary for good governance. The governor responsibilities are shown on the table here.

As outlined above, some of the board members, with other local representatives, are also members of the local school committees, which protect the individual character of each school and advise the GB on local issues and sensitivities. These include the parent governor, head of school and local rector of each school. These committees are key advisory bodies for the governors, but have no delegated responsibilities. Their members are shown on the governor page of each individual school sites (see school links above)

We can also appoint (non-voting) associate members to the board for specific skills and experience that benefit the school. Currently, each school’s ‘head of school’ and all members of the local committees are associate members on the GB. The associate members have voting rights on the local school committees but not on the decision-making board of governors.

Code of conduct

Governor code of conduct


Our governors

Rev. Trish Bancroft

Foundation governor

David Bertwistle

Executive headteacher

Sarah-Jane Smith

Staff governor

Jeremy Cogman

Parent governor

Rev. Edward Doyle

Foundation governor

Em Dryburgh

Co-opted governor

Vicky Elms

Co-opted governor

Rita Harrison-Roach

Co-opted governor

Chris Hawker

Local authority governor (Chair of Governors)

Sarah Hill

Parent governor

Neil Ryder

Co-opted governor

Claire Dennis

Co-opted governor