Chairs of LABs

Lesa Nield

Chair of Austrey and Newton Regis C of E Primary School

Previously vice chair and parent governor.
30 years in the telecoms sector – Ex- BT security sales – now retired
Fitness instructor with 30+ years experience – teaching yoga, step, pump and aqua
Married with 2 girls, one at University studying BioMedicine and the other in year 8.
Lesa is passionate about supporting the local school and the teachers who do a wonderful job, being so closely involved is an eye opener for her. And Lesa is enjoying watching and challenging the school and seeing it go from strength to strength with such a supportive team .

Nic Hammett

Chair of Lady Katherine

Having been a governor in schools for over 10 years, with a background in education and SEND, Nic was excited to take on the role of Chair at Lady K in 2019. Not only is it the school her children attend but it is also the heart of her local community. Farming close by and being an active member of the community helps her to understand the strengths and difficulties a rural school can face. Working alongside staff, students and the church, it is a continuous pleasure to see Lady K move from strength to strength

Linda Buckingham

Chair of Warton Nethersole Church of England Primary School

Linda has been a church governor of Warton Nethersole’s CE Primary for six years and Chair for two. Linda has been a Christian for over thirty-five years. She is a communicant member of the Church of England but presently worships with Tamworth Baptist Church and a local fellowship group. When on holiday Linda worships with Christians in the city of Tours, France. Her faith has carried her through many uncertain times because in Jeremiah 29:11 it says “‘I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” Linda says it is a privilege to serve the pupils and staff of her village school as a member of the LAB and Christian Ethos Committee. She is currently working with others to prepare for our imminent SIAMS inspection and also to create an outdoor prayer and quiet space for pupils. Linda has two grown-up children, who both attended Warton School, and four grandchildren. Although now retired from primary school teaching, she maintains her interest in Special Educational Needs and Religious Education. Linda is an avid reader, collects children’s literature and enjoys walking, craft activities and French life and culture.

Charlotte Ward Lewis

Chair of The Nethersole Church of England Primary Academy

Charlotte joined the Diocese in February 2017 and is currently the Deputy Director of Education with responsibility for school effectiveness and governance. Charlotte has worked in education for 27 years with 12 years as a headteacher in church schools in Leicestershire. During that time, she also played a key role in the collaboration and support of the many rural schools across the county. Charlotte is Chair of Governors at the Nethersole CE Academy and is also a governor for a Leicestershire secondary school.

Stephen Pihlaja

Chair of St. Michael’s Church of England Primary School

Stephen Pihlaja is a Reader in English Language and Linguistics at Newman University Birmingham. He is the author of several books on language and religion, including a Grove Series booklet on religious diversity in church schools. Originally from the United States, Stephen and his partner, Yoko, moved to the UK from Japan in 2008, and with their three daughters have made Birmingham their home since 2014. He’s passionate about inclusion, animal rights and liberation, and long-distance running.

Jayne Hodgkiss

Chair of St. Margaret’s Church of England Primary School

Having been a Parent Governor for 8 years Jayne took on the role of Foundation Governor when her children moved on to Secondary school as she wanted to remain in Governance. Since then, she has also taken on a Governance role at the Secondary School. Jayne enjoys the link between the two and values the perspective of the transition involved and education across the different Key stages.
In her personal life, Jayne is a Nurse by profession but more recently she has moved in to teaching at Warwick University, it’s a passion that she has finally been able to fulfil, although she still works clinically too.
Taking on the role of Chair for St. Margaret’s Church of England Primary School LAB and working alongside the new Head Teacher has been a new challenge in recent years but one that she has enjoyed. Jayne describes the school as a very ‘special’ place, as are the staff. She is very aware that Governors should be a critical friend, and she feels they are as a LAB, but she would like to think that she is there to support staff on a personal level first and foremost. She feels immensely privileged to be a Governor and Chair.

Lorraine Graham

Chair of St. George’s Church of England Primary School

Lorraine has been involved in education the whole of her working life. She started in a middle school before moving on to a girls’ school teaching mainstream children who had special educational needs.

Lorraine made the move as a senior teacher to a large co-ed school in Lichfield where she became Learning Support Coordinator and was in charge of creating a fully inclusive environment for pupils with a wide range of needs. In addition, she provided training for Staffordshire, helped develop and implement the Inclusion Quality Mark and was involved in curriculum development for the QCA.

Since retiring Lorraine has undertaken SEN consultancy along with becoming a governor at St George’s CE Primary, Edgbaston. Her interests are travel, reading, family and local history along with watching West Brom!

Paul Bridges

Chair of Quinton Church Primary School

As a parent with children at the wonderful Quinton Church Primary School, Paul cares deeply about how successful his children, your children and the school can be. He has worked in a Church of England school and knows how important values and compassion are in a child’s education. He has been a leader at a primary school in Birmingham with responsibility for the broader curriculum, reading, pastoral care and computing and currently works in a Pupil Referral Unit. He has worked on boards and governing committees, inside and outside the education sector, to drive up standards and performance and create the best environment for success.

Margaret Andrew

Chair of Nonsuch Primary School

Margaret was born in St Helens in Lancashire, grew up in Wetherby in West Yorkshire, went to secondary school in Leeds and studied English at London University, where she met her husband. She worked in the civil service in central London for 2 years and then moved to Birmingham when they got married. They had 2 children very quickly and she was a stay-at-home mum until the younger one went to school when she felt she needed to do something else as well.
Margaret started teaching English and Communication Skills part-time at Bournville College. Since then, she has always worked in the FE sector, gradually moving up the career ladder at Bournville and picking up a Cert Ed on the way before moving to Halesowen College, a vastly different kind of place, as Head of the English Department.
At Halesowen Margaret became involved in school liaison and admissions, setting up and managing the re-vamped college-wide Admissions system and she split her time initially between teaching English and doing the cross-college role, having handed over the running of the English department. As time moved on, Margaret dropped the teaching element and concentrated on the management role. Margaret got to know a lot of the secondary schools in the Black Country and south Birmingham and really enjoyed the opportunities to work with young people in an advice and guidance role.
Margaret has always been very involved in church activities, including a period as churchwarden and membership of Moseley Deanery Synod and now of the new “super-deanery” of Kings Norton, Moseley, and Shirley. Through involvement with the wider church Margaret signed up to be involved in Appeals Panels for church schools and has done that for several years which has given her quite an insight into how primary schools work – a sector vastly different from post-16 and secondary.
When Margaret fully retired, she responded to a request for volunteers to be school governors. Nonsuch Primary which had just joined with St Michael’s, Bartley Green and Christ Church, Quinton in a little MAT, was suggested. Margaret became Chair of Governors within a short space of time to assist the school through a challenging time. The school is now back on track and has made tremendous improvements.

David Willey

Chair of Holy Trinity Church of England Primary Academy

David was borne in Walsall in the Midlands in 1953 attending various local schools. At sixteen years old David left school and joined Staffordshire Fire Service as a full time Junior Firefighter on a two-year training scheme having to live away from home. From the age of sixteen David attended various Colleges of Further education, became a Mensan and attended University as a mature Student until the age of thirty-three. David served for thirty years in the Fire and Rescue Service working in Staffordshire, West Midlands and spent three years with the Home Office Fire Service Inspectorate. Whilst in the West Midlands David also served for three years as an Assistant Chief Fire officer responsible for all matters concerned with Human Resources.
On retirement from the Service, David was appointed to an Assistant Director of Human Resources at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and was also appointed as a National Assessor for the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme together with secondments to the Commission for Health Improvement, the fore runner of the Care Quality Commission. David also undertook the Human Resources lead for safeguarding within the Hospital Trust. After 12 Years David retired for a second time and was then appointed to a Senior position with Birmingham City Council working with a team of consultants who provided Employee Relations advice to over three hundred Birmingham Schools Headteachers and Chairs of Governors. For five years of the eight with the City Council David was also the Chair of the Interim Executive Board for a through school of 4- to 16-year-olds in East Birmingham.

David has been involved with various voluntary roles within the community of Birmingham. David has recently relocated with his wife Ellen to Derbyshire and has therefore had to leave his role as a PCC (Parochial Church Council) member with a Church of England Parish Church in Sutton Coldfield which he held continuously for 28 Years. David has though continued with his Chairmanship of the Local Academy Board, Holy Trinity Primary Academy, Handsworth (21 years). Chairman of The Birmingham Trust for Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy (15 years). Justice of the Peace and Presiding Justice at Victoria Law Courts (20 years). Additionally, David also is a Company Member of the Firefighters Charity and has been associated with this voluntary work in many roles within the charity since 1986.

David since the age of seven years old has been interested in spending most of the spare time that he has, watching football or cricket at all levels of the sport.

Revd Larry Wright

Chair of Hawkesley Church Primary Academy

Revd Larry Wright is the vicar of St Nicolas’ Church, Kings Norton which is part of the Kings Norton Team ministry. He grew up in Birmingham and served in two parishes in North Birmingham until coming to Kings Norton in 2016. He has been chair of governors in north Birmingham and is particularly keen to foster links between school, home and wider community.  The link between the school and church is an important part of fostering our Christian ethos and we hope to build upon this link for the mutual benefit of both.

The Very Revd Matt Thompson, Dean of Birmingham

Chair of Christ Church Secondary Academy and St, George’s Church of England Academy Newtown

Dean Matt is Dean of Birmingham. He was installed as Dean of Birmingham on 30 September 2017.
Matt grew up in the West Midlands and attended school in Walsall. He studied Theology & Religious Studies at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and trained for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.
Matt served his title at the Parish of the Ascension, Hulme in the Diocese of Manchester from 1994 to 1997. From 1997 to 2000 he served first as Assistant Curate and then as Team Vicar in the Langley and Parkfield Team Ministry. From 2000 to 2008 he was Priest-in-Charge at St Cross Clayton and Area Dean of Ardwick from 2003 to 2008. From 2008-2017 he was Vicar of Bolton and Borough Dean of Bolton from 2010-2017. He served as an honorary canon of Manchester Cathedral from 2012-2017 and as Chair of the House of Clergy for the Diocese of Manchester from 2015-2017.
Throughout his ministry, he has been particularly involved in schools, urban regeneration, interfaith ministry and community cohesion. He is interested in public theology and Ignatian spirituality.