Governing Body

A school’s governing body is a group of public-spirited volunteers whose main responsibility is to determine the aims and conduct of their school with a view to promoting high standards of educational achievement. Individual governors bring their own experience and expertise to the group, and the best governing bodies use and benefit from the skills of all their governors.

The governing body holds the school to account for the quality, standard and effectiveness of the teaching and learning. Through the governing body, the school is accountable to the local education authority, the parents of the students and to the wider community. In practice, the governing body works with the Headteacher to determine how the school should develop to ensure continued improvement, and with the Head and staff agrees plans, policies, targets and procedures that work towards that development.

The governing body is also responsible for ensuring that the school fulfils its legal obligations, for the provision of the curriculum, managing the school budget, staffing, the social care and development of the students, and other statutory requirements such as developing school policies, setting targets, managing performance and so on. The governing body is also responsible for evaluating the progress of the school, making sure that effective monitoring is taking place and making strategic decisions on the basis of this evaluation. Governors are most useful to the school by being supportive yet challenging, neither blindly accepting nor entirely critical of the way the school functions. If the governing body gets the balance right it can both support the school and promote its improvement effectively. We welcome the involvement of parents, both as Parent Governors and through feedback. For more information, contact the Chair of Governors, via the School Office.

Meet the Governors

Richard Barber – Chair

Richard has created a large I.T. and data business that operates in over 150 countries, he is currently Chairman of several businesses and occasionally lectures on entrepreneurship to university students. Richard is currently chair of the Finance committee and previously has been Chair of Governors and chaired the Curriculum and Personnel committee. Richard converted to Catholicism in 2010 and is married with three children who still seem to occupy his spare time.

Mark Godson - Vice Chair

Mark is a Foundation Governor and practising Catholic attending Holy Name Church, Chelmsford. Married to a retired secondary school teacher, Mark’s two adult daughters were both educated at Canon Palmer Catholic Secondary School, Ilford.
With extensive retail management experience at Sainsburys, a further 20 years as Head of Communications in other industry sectors and living in the city, Mark has a keen interest in helping the school and its community maintain and improve its, strong, confident and distinctively Catholic ‘voice’ and reputation; a place where students, staff, parents and rounded education are highly valued and celebrated, in an inspiring, caring ‘faith-full’ environment.

Maria Payne

Maria is the Local Authority governor, and brings over 10 years’ local government experience to the governing body. Her experience working in public health and particularly within mental health means she has a keen interest in the health and wellbeing of the students and staff at SJP. Maria intends to apply this through the remit of the new Welfare Committee, which she will chair, and the Curriculum & Personnel Committee. She is a practising Catholic at Our Lady Immaculate in Chelmsford, and has several family members and friends who have attended SJP previously.

Mary Ball

Mary is a Chartered Engineer working part-time as a highway engineer and as an exam invigilator at SJP. This experience is advantageous to her participation in the Health & Safety committee, which she chairs and the Finance and Premises committee. Mary joined the Governing Board as a Parent Governor in December 2015 and transferred to being a Foundation Governor in May 2018. She is a parishioner of St Augustine of Canterbury, in Chelmsford and has a son at SJP.

Anne Gardner

Anne is a retired primary school deputy head with 27 years experience including OLI school and Holy Family school Witham. Anne lectured in Early Years Education at Chelmsford College for several years and has experience of education at most key stages, and also has staff governorship at both catholic primary schools.
Anne is a member of OLI and Holy Name parishes, reading at mass regularly at the latter, and sees smooth transition from primary to secondary education as key to a child's personal and spiritual development.

Donna Clark

Donna is a staff governor who has been working as Head of Art at St John Payne for the past 5 years. Since graduating in Graphic Design, she has been teaching Art and Design for the past 28 years, during which time she also undertook a Master’s degree in Contemporary Art and Professional Practice. Donna also works as a visiting moderator/ Team leader for an exam board. She also has two children at SJP.

Gina Lawrence

I am an ex-pupil of the school. My oldest son left in 2020 and is now studying at university and my youngest son will leave in 2022 and also plans to study at university. Before joining the governing body, I was a member of the PTA, initially in the role of secretary and, for the last five years, as chairperson. I am currently employed as an LSA at Columbus College, working with students who have additional needs, prior to which I worked for many years at Our Lady Immaculate Primary School. I am a parishioner at Our Lady Immaculate and Holy Name.

David Gatheral

David is a co-opted Governor who works in the Education Service at The Diocese of Brentwood. He is the School Building Officer managing school capital funding and providing advice to schools. Previously, David spent sixteen years in the Education Department of Essex County Council designing and administrating databases of school asset management information. Later, as Assistant Capital Programme Manager, he oversaw capital investment in school improvement and maintenance projects. He has good working knowledge of school property issues including leases, asbestos and building technology. His wife has fond memories of attending St John Payne in the 1980s. More recently, as a keen table tennis player, David organised the 2022 Chelmsford Table Tennis League Championships at the school – over 100 local table tennis players thoroughly enjoyed their weekend ping-ponging in the school’s assembly hall and gym.

Eugene Ahern

Eugene was appointed as a Foundation Governor in early 2022 and regularly attends OLI Church in Chelmsford. His background is in the Law having been both a Solicitor and latterly a Barrister before retiring towards the end of 2020.His interests include History, Cricket and travel particularly to Italy.

Olive England

I was born in Freetown Sierra Leone, in west Africa, I am the oldest of three sisters on my late mother's side and I have stepsisters and brothers. I have been an active Christian with Church of England all my life. I was educated to GCSE level. I left school at 17 and started my own business selling beauty products in Freetown. In 2002 I was visiting the UK to buy my stock. In 2008 I sold my business and moved to the UK.
I was married but now a widow. I am a single mother of three beautiful children.
My children were born in the UK, Bonnie my oldest, Jamie my middle son and Ethan my youngest son.
In 2008 I worked full time in a care home for two years I then concentrated on bringing up the children, but also doing some part time jobs. I was also buying and exporting beauty products back to west Africa. In 2015 I became a mental health support worker for the NHS in Norfolk. In 2016-2018 I worked for a high street fashion store in Norfolk as a sales advisor.
At the end of 2019 I moved to my present address in Chelmsford to be closer to family and friends. My eldest two children now attend St John Payne Catholic school.
I now have a part time job with World duty free as a sales advisor. I now feel very settled in Chelmsford.

Fr. Damien Wade

Fr Damien is a priest of parishes of Our Lady Immaculate, The Holy Name Chelmsford and St Augustine Springfield. He was born in Ireland and spent most of his life in the country until he moved to the UK in 2009, to take up a teaching post in the diocese. He taught Business and ICT and was a member of a school leadership team with oversight for Data monitoring and ICT strategy. He has a passion for education and holds degrees in Business, Education, Philosophy and Theology. He attended Allen Hall Seminary in Chelsea London, prior to ordination to the priesthood. He looks forward to preserving and developing the Catholic ethos of the school and representing the Bishop’s education policy.

Laura Nessling

I was born and raised in Chelmsford and currently live in the city. I graduated from university in 2000 with an Accounting degree and went on to become a Chartered Accountant whilst gaining experience within universities and manufacturing. I'm currently a Financial Controller for a Civil Engineering Company delivering Highways services within Essex. To relax I like to cross stitch and read, as well as having a passion for travel.

Kirsty Everett

Kirsty is a Foundation Governor and practicing Catholic attending Our Lady Immaculate Church, Chelmsford. She has worked in banking and finance for the past 15 years, specialising in financial regulation and risk management. She is married with two young daughters. Aside from work, her interests include patisserie, having undertaken training at Le Cordon Bleu and figure skating for which she has regular lessons.

Bernadette Godson

Bernie, a co-opted Governor, is a retired teacher holding a Certificate in Catholic Leadership from St Mary’s Twickenham. Bernie has 34 years’ experience as a Physics teacher, with more than 20 of those years in Faith secondary schools, 15 of which were as an Assistant Head Teacher covering a wide variety of roles including Teaching and Learning, and Curriculum and Performance Management. Bernie is a parishioner at Holy Name Church, Chelmsford, and has helped with the preparation of confirmation candidates for the last four years. Having been convent educated and attending a Catholic university, Bernie has a fundamental belief in the value of a Catholic education and is committed to ensuring all pupils at SJP benefit fully from the opportunities given to them at the school.

Sharon Young
Sharon is a parent governor who has three children attending SJP. She qualified as a primary teacher over 20 years ago and has taught in faith based and non-faith based schools across Hertfordshire and Essex. Currently Sharon undertakes a variety of roles including supply teaching, assessment research for Department of Education contractors, and writing and marking international secondary mathematics exams. She has a keen interest in special needs and supporting students to overcome educational barriers. Sharon attended a Church of England primary school and a Catholic Secondary school in London. She is a Christian and worships at a church in Chelmsford.



MEMBERSHIP AS AT 1st September 2023


Name of governor Appointment Expiry of Appointment Portfolio
Local Authority (1)      
Mrs. Maria Payne 08/11/2021 06/11/2025  
Co-opted (3)      
Mr. David Gatheral 29/03/2022 28/03/2026  
Mrs. Bernadette Godson 07/06/2023 06/06/2027  
Ms. Laura Nessling 28/03/2023 27/03/2027  
Foundation (10)      
Mr. Eugene Ahern 01/03/2022 28/02/2026  
Mr. Richard Barber 01/12/2019 31/11/2023 Chair
Mrs. Mary Ball 06/07/2022 05/07/2026  
Mrs. Kirsty Everett 28/03/2023 27/03/2027  
Mrs. Anne Gardner 01/09/2023 31/08/2027  
Mr. Mark Godson 04/11/2020 03/11/2024 Vice-Chair
Mrs. Gina Lawrence 01/01/2022 31/12/2025  
Fr. Damien Wade 02/11/2022 01/11/2026  
Parent (2)      
Mrs. Olive England 01/09/2022 31/08/2026  
Mrs. Sharon Young 01/08/2023 31/07/2027  
Staff (2)      
Mr. Tom Coen Ex-officio   Headteacher
Mrs. Donna Clark 30/09/2021 29/09/2025  
Tracey Marshell     Juniper Education


 Governors who have resigned in the past twelve months 

Name Category of governor and date of leaving Committee Membership/ Responsibility Any conflict of business or pecuniary interest or personal relationship with member of staff/governor

Ryan Naidoo

31/08/2022 Co-opted   None
Leonie Bradford-Doig 31/08/2022 Co-opted Finance & Premises None
Fr Stephen Morrison  31/08/2022 Foundation (DBE) Curriculum & Personnel None
Anne Rushton 31/08/2022 Foundation (DBE) Chair of Governors Admissions

Relative employed at the school

David Weatherhead 31/07/2023 Foundation (DBE) Finance & Premises Pay


Anice Kathavekar 31/07/2023 Parent Welfare





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