Our Governors

Governors are responsible for overseeing the management side of a school: strategy, policy, budgeting and staffing. They enable their school to run as effectively as possible, working alongside senior leaders and supporting teachers to provide excellent education to children.

Contact Sandra Stephenson for further details about becoming a school Governor.

Governing Board Committees

Epinay School have full Governor’s meeting termly with additional sub-committee in place, as below:

  • Epinay School’s Governing Board – Chair Governing Board Mr R Whitelaw
  • Finance and Human Resources – Mr R Whitelaw (appointed chair of the committee by the committee)
  • Discipline – Chair would be appointed.
  • Complaints and Appeals – Chair would be appointed.

Governing Board Members

Christopher Rue, Head Teacher

I have had the privilege of being Head Teacher at Epinay Business and Enterprise School since January 2017. I have spent my full working career in special needs schools, a job I find tremendously rewarding. I like to think that I have a lot to offer as a leader in a special school, I have had a number of positions within school including teaching assistant, HLTA, Pastoral Manager, Residential Child Care Officer, Teacher, middle leader, Assistant Head Teacher, Deputy Head Teacher, Head of School and Head Teacher. ‘Ready to listen, ready to learn together’ is something that we strive to work towards every day, we have worked extremely hard in giving children an enriching and creative education that equips them with the skills and attributes they will need to support them to develop as happy, confident and independent learners who are prepared for adulthood.

Mr Robert Whitelaw, Chair Co-opted Governor

I am a Chartered Accountant and until I retired in 2007 I was Financial Director of a private national leisure business based in the North East.  I moved to South Tyneside, from a little Ayrshire village called Moscow, in 1986. I have been involved as a governor in a number of local educational establishments since 2007. I was invited to join the governing body of Epinay in 2017. I am married with two children and  have five grandchildren. My son, his wife and their daughter live in Newcastle upon Tyne whilst my daughter, her husband and their four children live in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire.

Carl Buckley, Co-opted Governor

Carl has been self employed for the past 20 years. Originally working in finance he has significant experience providing consultancy support to the public sector. He lives and works within South Tyneside and since 2003 has managed a North East based marketing agency providing a range of services to both the private and public sectors. Urban River has worked with a number of schools, academies and colleges to improve their on and offline presence. A governor at Harton Technology College since 2006, Carl is passionate about supporting the local area. Following on from some successful work with Epinay and the development of a new website, he was approached to become a governor, a role to which he could not turn down. “Epinay has gone form strength to strength and represents some great opportunities for many young people across the region” which is a key driver as to why I am involved.

Karl Dewing, Co-opted Governor

I live with my wife & 2 sons in Whitburn. Our youngest son is a student at Epinay and we count our blessings daily that he attends such a caring, fabulous school! I am recently retired after over 40 years in the Royal Navy, latterly as the manager of the careers office in Newcastle. The last couple of years have been momentous for our school and I look forward, with much confidence, to all of our future challenges.

Nicola Dixon, Parent Governor

As a teacher of post 16 pupils I myself work with many learners with an SEN diagnosis and I am passionate about an inclusive education for all. Myself and my husband live with our son who has attended the wonderful Epinay School since Sept 2022. This is the first school he has attended and to say as parents we are blown away is an understatement. The staff are beyond caring, offering the children new opportunities to help them grow academically and personally. I love hearing all about the wonderful activities and achievements of all pupils at the school and look forward to helping as much as possible on this outstanding journey.

Ashleigh Donnelly, Co-opted Governor

I have been fortunate enough to work for the Connexions service in South Tyneside (and other local authorities) for 21 years. Most of my career has been spent working alongside young people aged 16-18 who are not in education, employment or training. Over the last 6 years I have been given the opportunity to work Epinay School to support young people to identify their career aspirations and plan meaningful transitions to help achieve these goals. I learn something new every day, from my educators ….. the young people I work with.  Away from school life, I love having my home filled with my own children, their friends, nephews, nieces and godchildren, this is the pinnacle of happiness for me. I also enjoy long walks, reading, yoga, Pilates and meditation. I look forward to continuing on my journey with Epinay School in the capacity of Connexions Advisor and governor. I firmly believe every challenge that is faced along this journey is an opportunity to develop a better pathway for our young people and their future.

Jodie Gillespie, Parent Governor

My husband and I live with our two sons and Labrador in Whitburn and my eldest son attends Epinay. He loves going to school and I love to hear all about the exciting things happening there – forest school, beach school, Luna the dog, Pudsey day – everyday is different! I know we are very fortunate to have our son attend a caring and friendly school where staff strive to do the very best for every child. I look forward to supporting the teachers and pupils at Epinay to make it even more amazing that it already is especially when we move to the new site.

Cllr Pat Hay, Co-opted Governor

-Information to follow

Julie Hayes, Co-opted Governor

I live with my partner Paul and our two daughters Jade and Ashley and our cat called Tabitha. I enjoy spending quality time with my family and friends. I like to read, keep fit and cook. I have worked at Epinay School for over 20 years and I have loved every minute of it. I work with wonderful staff who are committed to their job and the rewards we get from teaching are priceless. The opportunities for the children within the school are thoroughly researched so they get the best out of their time with us. I feel very privileged to be a part of such an outstanding school.

Robert MacDonald, Parent Governor

South Shields has been my home for the past three years; I have three grown-up children and two step-children, the youngest of whom attends Epinay School (we also have three dogs to keep us busy).  I recently ‘retired’ from my job as Professor of Education and Social Justice at Huddersfield University but still have connections and commitments with universities in the UK and Denmark and, somehow, I seem to be working just as much as previously! Over the years, my teaching, research and writing has mainly been about social inequality and youth, particularly about the experiences and post-school transitions of young people who have grown up in conditions of poverty and disadvantage. I am sure I will learn a lot from being a governor at Epinay and I hope to be able to bring some of my own experience to the role.

Martin Pitt, Staff Governor

I have been a teacher at Epinay School since 2020 and feel privileged to work in such an outstanding setting.  The opportunities available for our students are amazing and the staff here are relentless in their mission to help every student reach their full potential.  I have worked in the school through the covid-19 pandemic and seen first hand the nurturing support and care the school has for our students and their families.  I am excited to be part of the team as we embark on the newest chapter in our new amazing building.  Outside of school, I have two children and we love to go on adventures and explore new places.

India Stokell, Co-opted Governor

I was born and raised in South Shields and attended Harton Technology College 2004-2009 where I was inspired to become a Physical Education Teacher by my fantastic teachers. I taught in a secondary mainstream school in Cambridge and decided to move back to South Tyneside where I began working for Vision for Education in July 2022. My role entails recruiting teaching and support staff for SEND schools across the North East areas and I work very closely with Epinay School. I enjoy regular visits to Epinay School and have been fortunate to award students with a visit from American miniature horses when they won the Sensory Pony competition as well as many other offerings including Epinay pupils attending the women’s football cup final at Wembley stadium in summer 2023. Through working closely with Epinay and it’s pupils I was very honoured to accept the role of Co-opted Governor and I look forward to seeing what comes next for this outstanding school.