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Norton Free Church of England

Primary School

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Dan Thaw - Chair Person, LA Governor, SEN, Attendance & Safeguarding (including PREVENT) Link Governor

I was brought north by my wife, a Sheffield girl, in 1996. All four of our children went to Norton Free with our eldest starting school in 2003 and my youngest leaving in 2019, sixteen years going up and down the school path! I became a governor in 2009. All of my professional life I have worked with young people. I was a PE teacher for 9 years before starting The Oakes Holiday Centre, a Christian charity providing residential activity holidays for young people. This now runs approximately 45 residentials a year for 8-18 year olds. The charity brought The Oakes in Oakes Park in 1998, and we spent two years renovating the house and grounds and opened in 2000. As the director, I spend my time helping the staff make The Oakes the best it can be, dealing with the finances, the latest legislation and ensuring that the young people who visit the centre have the best holiday ever. I am a trustee of a similar centre in North Yorkshire and on the national board for CCI an industry body for residential centres. I have enjoyed helping the school with the extra-curricular sport. When my eldest reached Y5, I volunteered to start a football team. For children of all abilities to have the opportunity to represent their school is priceless and to see the school win the national Kids Cup competition at Wembley not once but twice is the stuff dreams are made of. All children deserve the opportunity to thrive whatever their abilities and interests and I think that they get that at Norton Free leaving as caring and confident young people.

Emma-Kate Rushton - Vice Chair, Parent Governor, Website & Training Link Governor

I grew up in Norton and attended the old Norton Free School. Both of my children attend/ed Norton Free so have a strong attachment to both the school and community. I have been a civil servant for 20 years and have worked in the Department for Education for the past 14, building up skills including policy delivery, project management and school data analysis and felt that I could bring my skills to the governing body. As part of my current role, I work with Multi Academy Trusts in the East Midlands and Humber region which involves engaging with a wide range of Trust and School Leaders to share best practice and support wider school improvement.

Hazel Bell - Headteacher

I view Sheffield as my home having lived here for 33 years! Having a father in the Royal Navy meant that my formative years were spent largely in Scotland, Malta and the South East of England! By the age of 27 I had lived in 27 houses. The best memories of school that I have, were the years I spent at primary School in Scotland and consequently I would really love for all of our children to leave Norton Free School with similar happy memories  and positive experiences of primary education. I joined Norton Free in 2003 as a teacher and SENCo, became deputy head and then acting Head of School and was appointed as Headteacher in 2016. I love the school, the community, the children and I am really excited about the future here at our school especially with our governors and staff working together to achieve the best for our children. Team Norton!


Tracy Dyson - Parent Governor, Well-Being, Policy & English Link Governor

Originally from Staffordshire, I moved to Sheffield in 2004.  I have lived in Norton since 2011, just prior to the birth of my eldest child.  I currently have two children at Norton Free School. I work four days a week as a Clinical Psychologist/Neuropsychologist within the NHS at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, and this includes various leadership roles.  In my role as a clinician, and as a parent, I am increasingly aware of the challenges that our children face both within and outside education and the need for us to ensure their well-being and to foster their resilience.  I am committed to helping the school find solutions to the challenges it faces, whilst maintaining quality and ensuring the continued happiness and achievements of both pupils and staff.  I am keen to ensure that Norton Free remains a good local school, which provides a solid foundation for our children.    

David Dean - Parent Governor, Health & Safety Link Governor

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Helen Walker - Foundation Governor, Science Link Governor

I am a very recently retired science teacher.  I lived in Norton  and attended Norton Free School as a child. I have been involved with Girlguiding for over 30 years and I currently run the Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Ranger Units here.  As a child, I really struggled with all aspect of literacy so as a teacher I am especially aware of the role literacy plays in every child's success. I am the Warden at St James Church and so have volunteered to be a Founder Governor.

Reverend Toby Holes - Foundation Governor, RE/Christian Ethos Link Governor

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David Sheppard - Co-opted Governor

Assistant Head teacher at Meadowhead School.

David Beeley - Co-opted Governor, Health & Safety Link Governor

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James Chester - Co-opted Governor, Maths Link Governor

Originally from Nottingham, I  moved to Sheffield to attend university in 2000.  Like many graduates, I have never left.  In regards of work experience, I have worked at DLA Piper (a Global Law Firm) where I qualified as a management accountant in 2010. In 2015, I began working with process improvements to improve control and gain efficiencies. In February 2019, I moved to an accounting firm Mazar where I lead the management accounts team.


My eldest daughter Jasmine has nearly completed her Reception year at Norton Free and has really enjoyed her time in school. My youngest daughter Ava starts in September 2019.  I am very excited and honoured to join the board of governors. The school is of pivotal importance to the community and held in very high regard. I am looking forward to contributing and supporting in any way I can.

Andy James - Parent Governor, History & Geography link governor

I have lived in Sheffield since 1996 having come here as an undergraduate at the University of Sheffield.  Shortly afterward I met Hester with whom I now have two children, Ethan and Martha, both students at Norton Free School.  I have worked in education for 20 years across 4 schools in Sheffield, Rotherham and NE Derbyshire.  I have been a senior leader in secondary schools for 10 years and I am currently Assistant Headteacher for Learning and Teaching at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School – a school with over 1800 and 200 staff.  I believe my extensive experience in education will help us to support and challenge the leaders of Norton Free School in order for the quality of education to become even stronger.




Nicola Sewell - Staff Governor

I am presently Year One teacher, having previously taught Year Three and Year Five.  I have been at Norton Free since 2014 and I have enjoyed watching the school thrive over that period. I am also on the Senior Leadership Team, leading English, Modern Foreign Languages, Curriculum, Students and Volunteers.  Before becoming a teacher, I worked in HR in a nursing home and I have also worked in marketing for a high street bank.  

David Holland - Associate (no voting rights)

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The Role of the Governing Board:

Governors’ act as critical friends to the school, the overall aim is to assist the Headteacher, SLT (Senior Leadership Team) and staff to improve the school so that all children fulfil their potential, are safe, and enjoy their time at school. In conjunction with the head teacher, they set the strategy, agree budgets and are accountable to the children, parents, staff, local community and local authority.


The Governing Body is here to help the school provide the best possible education for our pupils by:

  • Thinking and working strategically to help to raise standards
  • Monitoring and evaluating progress towards the school’s priorities and targets
  • Supporting the headteacher and staff as well as challenging their expectations
  • Accounting to all stakeholders for the school’s overall performance and for the decisions they have made.


Our commitment to the school:

The term of office for a governor is four years, although many governors serve for longer to make use of their accumulated experience.  The Governing Body meets around once a month for up to 1.5 hours. In addition, they undertake school visits, complete various projects, assume link roles (e.g. attendance/parental engagement/subject specific) and have regular contact with the SLT.


Governing Board meetings are business-like but also friendly (laughter is sometimes heard).  Despite diversity of opinions we manage to reach a consensus for the good of the pupils.


What skills does a governor need to have?

The main requirement of a governor is commitment to the school, and time and effort to spend on preparing and attending meetings and on any other activities that become necessary.  Particular experience, such as in business, finance, education or law, can be useful.  All governors attend an induction training course, and other courses are available to develop skills such as chairing meetings or taking minutes, and to keep up to date in financial matters, personnel law, safeguarding, and so on.


How to become a governor at Norton Free School:

If you are interested in becoming a governor and wish to know more, please contact the school to be put in touch with a governor.  The main route to join the governing body for parents is through a vacancy for a parent governor. These will be advertised through school or in the school newsletter. An election is held if there are more candidates than vacancies.  


Occasionally, vacancies as community or local authority governors arise. When filling vacancies on our Governing Board we always try to fill any gaps raised in our NGA skills audit in line with the DfE’s competency framework for governance.


To contact the governors, please use either the postbox outside the school office or email: