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Palace Wood

Primary School

From little acorns, mighty oaks grow

The Governing Body

Welcome to the section of the website where you can find out more about the school’s governors, and the work that we do. You can also read the minutes from our meetings.

Our main role is to support the Headteacher and the staff — the phrase often used to describe this role is ‘a critical friend’. We help them to set and reach targets and to strive for excellence across the whole spectrum of school life. The two key documents used for this are the School Development Plan (SDP) and the Self Evaluation Form (SEF). The SDP sets out a three-year strategic plan for the school, with targets that everyone works towards and the SEF sets out how well the school is doing and where we aim to make improvements.

Our legal duties include:-

  • Setting strategic direction, policies and objectives
  • Approving the school budget
  • Reviewing progress against the school's budget and objectives
  • Appointing, challenging and supporting the headteacher

The Governing Body operates under the circle model and meets at least once every (new) term. We sometimes set up committees or working groups to look at particular issues (such as pay, performance management, buildings development). A small group (Headteacher, Governor responsible for Finance and the School Finance Officer) meets additionally to the Governing Body Meetings to keep an eye on school finances between our termly governor meetings. 

There are several categories of governor, appointed by different groups that have an interest in the school. These are Community governors, the Local Authority (“LA”), Parents, and Staff. All governors have equal status; however, they are appointed.

We are committed to providing an excellent environment for all pupils to enjoy during their time at our school.

  Palace Wood's  Governing Body


Stuart Russell

(Chair of Governors)

I am a fully qualified teacher of Physical Education with over 31 years of experience. Over the past 14 years, I have been involved in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) in a range of capacities.
Currently, I am employed as an ITT Quality Associate for the DfE and as a consultant for a small group of national ITT providers.


Whilst ITT has become the key focus of my career development, since becoming a parent governor in January 2017, I am now totally dedicated to support the leadership team and staff at Palace Wood to enable them to continue the excellent work that has taken place in the past few years. 


Responsible for: Wellbeing, Safeguarding, P.E. and Music

Ian Foster (co-opted)

I am now retired having worked in various industries for more than 40 years at Director level, latterly as the Commercial Director of the Security Division of a Global Facilities Management business, which actively promoted community involvement.  

I have extensive Human Resources Management and Business Process Improvement experience and a real interest in supporting the Head Teacher and the Board of Governors in delivering an excellent education to all pupils and providing appropriate resources to the teaching and other staff within the school. 


Responsible for: Wellbeing, Early Years and Science 


Clare Cairns (Headteacher)

Other than a year working in London, when I finished university, I have always worked in schools.  I have been a teacher for over 22 years and a senior leader for 14.  I have been a school governor for many years, in several schools, and because of this I have been involved in all areas of school governance.  Working alongside the other governors is a real privilege as their different life experiences often bring new perspectives to school plans and priorities. 

When I'm not in school I love to cook and bake.  I'm not quite Great British Bake-Off standard, but I like to try new recipes and ideas.  I also walk a great deal and enjoy being out in the countryside or by the coast.  When I can find the time, I also dabble with drawing and painting as I find this activity very relaxing.

Sharon Goodwin (Co-opted)


I am a chartered accountant and have worked in various sectors including accountancy practice, local government, investment banking and adult education.  I am currently self-employed as an accountant/bookkeeper, work part-time as a parish clerk and volunteer for two charities in a treasurer/secretary capacity. 


My son and daughter, now at secondary school, both attended Palace Wood.  I have been a strong supporter of the school since my eldest child started and have always tried to be as involved and supportive as possible.  I became a school governor to increase my contribution to the school further and use my background in finance to help support the sound financial management of the school.


Responsible for: Wellbeing, Finance, PSHE/RSE/RE

Clare Kyte (Staff Governor)  



I have been a teacher at Palace Wood since 2014. I have had experience in Years 2, 5 and 6 as a class teacher. I was a TA and HLTA in a previous school, which has given me experience in all the other year groups. I am the school's geography lead and have a passion for sustainability and encourage the children I teach to become global citizens. I strongly believe in teaching children independence and that learning is for life, not just the school years.

I love cooking - not so much baking. I am an avid knitter and many charities and indeed babies of staff have received home-made items. 

Responsible for: Wellbeing and Training and CPD

Simon Dallender (Vice-Chair, Co-opted)

Following 8 years in the Royal Air Force as an airframe structural specialist on the Jaguar fleet, my wife and I moved to Maidstone and set up a swim school. I have run Water Babies in Kent for 14 years now. My Work in infant aquatics has taken me to various countries around the world, as far as Australia and China, and closer to home in Holland, Ireland and all over Britain. This has allowed me to focus and develop ideas around non-verbal communication, emotional development and effective learning in infants and pre-school children. Bringing this passion for education and development in children to a governor role will allow me to pay back just a little of the gratitude I have for Palace Wood. My 3 children have attended the school, my eldest starting in 2010 with my youngest at Palace Wood. I also run a marketing agency now based here in Kent.


Responsible for: Wellbeing, Quality of Education and English

Sadie Jones


Sadie Jones

My name is Sadie and I have been a lecturer at the University of Kent on their BSc Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation programme since 2006. I am currently the Programme Leader for the course and am responsible for learning, teaching, assessments and course development alongside student well-being student support and safeguarding. As part of my role, I also liaise with professional accrediting bodies and professions.

graduated from the University of North London in 2002 with a BSc Honours degree in Sports Therapy.  Before joining Kent, I was a Sports Therapist with Arsenal Ladies (as a Spurs fan - this was an interesting time). I have post graduate qualifications in Sports Rehabilition, a PGCHE and MPhil. I also spent 11 years as Head Sports Therapist at Maidstone Rugby Club. 

I am mum to three children (and a crazy lovable cocker spaniel, Wilson). My two girls have moved on from Palace Wood and now attend the School of Science and Technology and my youngest is in Year 3. I spend a lot of time with the children at various sports training and matches, including netball, athletics, swimming, football and rugby. In my spare time I like to read, sew, bake and garden. My main passion is to be outside; we love the Lake District and go on holiday there twice a year. We do a lot of fell walking and are slowly ticking off the 214 Wainwrights. As a family we also do a lot of open water swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking in the Lake District.  


As a Parent Governor, I am looking forward to supporting the school and sharing some of my expertise. 


Responsible for: Wellbeing, Safeguarding, Geography, Science and Forest School. 


Kirsty Hancock

I am a Chartered Legal Executive and have been practising in private client law for over 12 years; I now work for a local law firm. 

I have a passion for our local community and I volunteer for Castle Colts in my spare time. 


As a parent of SEN children, I have a passion for making education available to all and providing a caring and nurturing environment for children to learn. 


Responsible for Health and Safety and History. 

Steven Comber

Responsible for: SEN


Stuart Reaks (Co-opted)


Hi, my name is Stuart Reaks and I have held many leadership roles within the retail sector and currently hold the role of Area Manager in south London for The Co-op. The Co-op is a community based retailer and I hope my involvement in this will allow me to add value to the school and increase its community impact. Personally, I hope to bring my strategic ability along with my people and financial management skills to the governors board which I hope will then lead to a better learning experience for children. I am very excited to be part of the Governing body at Palace Wood and supporting the head teacher as best I can.

Responsible for: Wellbeing, Leadership and Management, Art and DT

Michael Hicks (Co-opted)

I have worked in auditing and construction specialising in quality, operational and collaborative management for the last 15 years. Holding senior operational positions, including Quality & Performance Manager and Operations Manager. I am currently an Operations Manager at an auditing company covering a vast geographic region in the South of the UK. I have an array of skills from process improvement, process auditing, facilitating collaborative dialogue, skills based training and operational leadership.  I am excited to be on the Board of Governors at Palace Wood Primary School and a real passion for supporting the local community and in particular helping shape future generations through an inclusive education.

Responsible for: Wellbeing, Pupil Premium, History, Geography and Languages

Les Thorneycroft (Local Authority)


I am Les Thorneycroft a retired Chartered Civil Engineering Surveyor, having spent over 40 years in the construction industry, at retirement I held the position of Divisional Commercial Director, for the UK Civil Engineering Division of a Global Construction and concessions Company. I gained extensive knowledge of the workings of construction, particularly in the fields of Finance, Contracts, Negotiations, Dispute Resolution, Procurement and Human Resources.


I was born in Maidstone, having lived all my life within 5miles of the centre of Maidstone, for the past 15 years I have lived within walking distance of Palace Wood.


My two eldest grandchildren attend schools within the Maidstone District catchment area in addition my Daughter-in -Law is a teacher. It is as a result of their feedback I became aware of how important it was for people to volunteer to support the School Leadership teams and staff. Particularly, as I strongly believe that our children are the future and that they should receive the best available education, particularly in their early years.


With my vast industry and management skills potentially being mothballed after retirement, I applied to join the Board of Governors at Palace Wood in order to offer my services to support the Headteacher and supplement the existing Board of Governors.


Responsible for: Wellbeing, Health and Safety, Finance, and Maths



For further information about the school's financial benchmarking service, please visit: 

Palace Wood Primary School - Schools Financial Benchmarking - GOV.UK (