The Chair of Governors can be contacted via Rebecca Tills, the Clerk to Governors at firstname.lastname@example.org, 0191 6622416 or Laidlaw Schools Trust, Suite 2, 3rd Floor, St Nicholas Building, St Nicholas Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RF.
Chair of Governor
Jeffrey worked in a wide range of schools within the Newcastle community over a 37-year career, working with young people with special needs in mainstream schools as well as those with significant needs, in specialist day and residential settings. His previous role as Deputy Headteacher of Newcastle EOTAS service, gave him an insight into the work of the Local Authority for those children and young people who needed support outside the normal range of educational settings.
He was Headteacher of the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in Newcastle for 17 years. Jeffrey was the lead officer in Newcastle LA for Elective Home Education and from 2013-2017 he was the north-east representative on the national Association of Elective Home Education Professionals (AEHEP). Currently, Jeffrey is involved in school governance in several schools and academies within Newcastle.
Vice Chair of Governors
During William’s 39 year teaching career he held a variety of roles which included leading successful departments, coordinating ‘STEM’ subjects across the large catchment area for feeder schools and as Internal Project Manager for a ‘new-build’. As an A Level Assistant Principal Moderator for AQA, over many years William was responsible for training teachers and supervising moderators across the North of England, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
William, who holds an M.A. degree in ‘Professional Practice: Leadership in Education’ and a second M.A. in ‘Art History’, has experience of teaching in Higher Education as a visiting lecturer for Northumbria University. This is the third school governorship he has held and at Excelsior his main involvements are in the area of ‘Standards and Outcomes’ and ‘ARTSMARK –creativity’. William is passionately committed to ensuring that a broad cultural and creative education is accessible to all.
Shayne is an Associate Governor at Excelsior Academy. He has held senior leadership positions in a range of school settings. He has experience in raising standards in teaching and learning, and whole school achievement.
He previously worked as Deputy Principal in Leicester, before relocating to the North East to add capacity to the leadership team at another all-through academy. He is obsessive about seeing educational inequality eradicated and serving in schools where disadvantage must be overcome for students to achieve their full potential.
Claris D’cruz is a consultant lawyer with Wrigleys Solicitors LLP. Claris qualified as a Barrister and has been practising as a charity lawyer for over 20 years. She worked as an in-house legal adviser for a registered charity and as a Charity Commission lawyer, before going into private practice. Prior to becoming a consultant, Claris was Head of Charities at large Newcastle firm.
Claris advises charities including on a range of legal issues including in relation to good governance. She regularly provides trustee training for small, medium and large charities including independent schools and academy trusts .
Claris has also been a visiting lecturer at Leeds University Law School and Newcastle University Law School. In addition Claris has over 8 years experience as a governor and trustee of a major independent school.
Fiona Fairless has been a teacher for nearly 24 years, specialising in Primary years. During this time Fiona has worked within all year groups from Nursery to Year 6 and has been a Subject Leader for a variety of subjects including History, MFL and Science. Fiona is currently the curriculum lead for Science and MFL, as well as being responsible for PGCE and BEd trainees working at the school, in conjunction with Sunderland University.
Fiona has recently gained her Masters in Education with her thesis focusing on outdoor learning, something she enjoys supporting in schools. When required Fiona works for Sunderland University as an SLT (school liaison tutor) visiting trainee teachers on placement in other schools.
James has been employed within the education sector for seven years, working in a range of Middle and Senior positions. Prior to education, he worked within the Aviation sector across a range of disciplines. James is currently the Head of the Rail and Civil Engineering Academy in Gateshead, part of Newcastle College. He is responsible for all aspects of the curriculum, which ranges from Level 2 up to Degree level. He teaches on the FdEng Railway Engineering course, specialising in Strategic Marketing and Management. He has extensive knowledge within education-based strategy and has completed Level 7 research into the strategic direction of Further Education Colleges who offer Higher Education.
He is passionate about embedding high levels of teaching, learning and assessment and was previously an Improvement Practitioner in the Engineering disciplines within Newcastle College. He has an extensive range of teaching experience delivering modules on a BA (Hons) Aviation course, Level 3 Railway Engineering, Entry Level 1 employability and Level 2 Tourism.
Claire is an actress and journalist. She has recently performed in Sunderland’s “Summer Season of Shakespeare Plays in the Park” and toured with a production of “A Christmas Carol”. She has years of experience in drama in education, and a degree in Drama from Northumbria University.
Claire worked for ten years as a BBC Broadcast Journalist. She reported and produced on live radio programmes across the BBC Local Radio output from Newcastle to Birmingham, Worcester and Shropshire. She has a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism from UCE.
Claire is a trustee and/or volunteer with several local charities and is the warden and treasurer at her local church.
I am a 48-year-old mum of two, with a son in Year 7 at Excelsior. Although I currently work in medical admin, I taught English at Newcastle College for seven years. In that role, I gained experience in planning, delivery and assessment of learning, as well as data capture and management, safeguarding and working with learners with a wide range of special needs. I was in post during two Ofsted inspections and took an active role in designing and implementing changes across the delivery of Functional skills and GCSE English within the School of Construction, Science and Engineering.
Having a child who is new to Excelsior, I am developing an understanding of the challenges faced by learners – particularly those who, for whatever reason, struggle to adjust to the new environment, workload or pressure. I am particularly interested in looking at how staff differentiate for learning, to support each learner in their individual journey. As a disabled person, I am interested in how Excelsior supports learners facing the added challenge of a physical disability.
I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to Excelsior’s success, and to helping to build on the improvements made since the last Ofsted inspection.