Governance 

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The Chair of Governors can be contacted via Danielle Armstrong, the Clerk to Governors at danielle.armstrong@laidlawschoolstrust.com or 0191 6622416.

Mohammad Farsi

Mohammad Farsi

Chair of Governors

Dr Mohammad Farsi came to the UK in 1982. Previously, he was a naval engineer and Commander in the Iranian Navy. He obtained his doctorate and was employed as a lecturer at Newcastle University in 1985. After retirement He was an IM at HMP Frankland, and Chairman for two years.

He served on the executive committee of the BME Friends of NSPCC and is an honorary member of the NSPCC Board. He has been a Community Representative on BME Education Support Group and Newcastle BME Safeguarding Initiative. He also served on the Newcastle Safeguarding Children Board and is a member of MSET. In 2013 Mohammad joined the EA Local Advisory Board, becoming its Chair in 2014. When in 2016 the Advisory Board became the Local Governing Body, he became the first chair.

He has also served as a Governor at Bede Academy, Blyth, and Newcastle College. In 2019, Mohammad received the MBE for services to the automotive industry, to education and to cultural engagement. 

Tim Goodship

Tim Goodship

Vice Chair of Governors

Dr Tim Goodship worked as a kidney specialist at both Newcastle University and the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. In the University he undertook research into the causes of inherited kidney disease. He retired from academic and clinical practice in 2018.

He was previously Chair of the national kidney research charity “ Kidney Research UK” and is currently Chair of the local kidney research charity “the Northern Counties Kidney Research Fund”. He, thus, has extensive experience of third sector governance.

Jeff Lough

Jeff Lough

Local 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.

Shayne Elsworth

Shayne Elsworth

Associate Governor

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

Claris D'cruz

Associate Governor

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.

William Messer

William Messer

Local Governor

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.

Claire Lewis

Claire Lewis

Parent Governor