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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, Pupil Premium, Training Link Governor, Art/D&T/Music 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 36 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 started teaching in Sheffield in 1991 and joined Norton Free in 2003 as a teacher/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 - Co-opted Governor, Well-Being & Policy 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.    

Helen Walker - Foundation Governor, Science, MFL, PHSE & RE 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.

Vacancy - Foundation Governor

Awaiting Upload

David Sheppard - Co-opted Governor, English link governor

Assistant Head teacher at Meadowhead School.


Originally from Lincoln, and after studying as an undergraduate at UEA in Norwich, I moved to Sheffield to train as a teacher in 2010 and have stayed in this great city ever since. I have worked at Meadowhead for my entire career and in that time I feel I have got to know the local community and area well. At Meadowhead, I am always first and foremost an English teacher but have also held the roles of Head of Y12 and Y13, Head of English, and now I am Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for Personal Development. I was really proud to be part of securing Meadowhead’s 11-18 status in 2014 and the move to the new Sixth Form building in 2017. As a governor at Norton Free, I have really enjoyed taking an interest in PSHE, relationships education, sport and the English curriculum. Being a governor at Norton has really helped me understand the experience of younger students in primary school – especially as they approach the transition to secondary schools such as Meadowhead. Outside of school, I enjoy reading fiction, travelling and trying to play sports such as hockey and football.

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

I have worked in School Support for 42 years, 19 of those here at Norton Free. This is the third primary school I have worked at. I have been on a Governing Body as the Link Governor and co-ordinator for School Site Health & Safety for 29 years.  In conjunction with the School’s Cleaning Staff and Teaching Staff The Governing Body intend to provide a safe, hygienic, functional and pleasing environment for all users to work in.  My experience in primary school’s helps support the Governing Body in their decision making concerning premises matters.

James Chester - Co-opted Governor, Financial Planning & 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, CPD 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.




Lindsey McGrath - Parent Governor - SEND/LAC/HAS

Joanne Day - Parent Governor, Computing/ICT provision link governor 


I live just over the border in Derbyshire with my husband, son and Jack Russell dog.  My father-in-law, husband, his brother, 2 step children and now my son have all been part of the Norton Free family, and I feel like I’ve missed out, so this is me trying to do my bit!  I have been employed in secondary education since 2003 and have had many roles and responsibilities. I have gained copious amounts of experience which I am hoping to be able to bring to my role. I am very passionate and believe that all children can and should have the right environment to enable them to achieve their individual potential. These are our future leaders.

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, 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)

Awaiting Upload

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: