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Our School Governors

Our school governors work with our school to support the education of your children. They are drawn from all parts of our local community, and it is their role to ensure that high standards are maintained throughout all aspects of your child’s education.


There are six categories of Governors:

  • Parent Governors, who you elect
  • Teacher Governors, who are elected by the teaching staff
  • Staff Governors , who are elected by the non-teaching staff
  • Partnership governors, who the governors invite to join the body
  • Co-opted Governors
  • Headteacher Governor

Our Governors are:

Chair of Governing BodyMrs Rita Garner from 14/11/2017
Vice Chair of Governing BodyMrs Kerry Jago
HeadteacherMrs Laura James Headteacher
Staff Governors

Mrs Sue George from 23/06/2018 

Mrs Joanne Forkner (Associate Member) from 01/07/2018

Governing Body







Recent Resignations

Mrs Nicky Tunbridge from 21/11/2017
Miss Gemma Ward from 27/11/2019
Mrs Rachael Steel from 27/11/2019

Mrs Sharyn Derrick from 13/07/21

Mrs Zoe Gisby from 13/07/2021



Mr Mike Trett 08/02/2021

Mrs Elizabeth Brown 26/11/2020




More about us

Laura James: Headteacher

I am the Headteacher of Abbots Hall and was appointed from June 2014. I have worked in Thurrock all of my teaching career and passionately believe in the potential of the children here. I was drawn to this school as I believed that this was a school that could make a difference to all it’s community and this is my drive. I firmly believe that this school is not just for the children but also for their families. Together, we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed and shine!

As the Headteacher, it is my role to work in partnership with the governing body to ensure that the school is effective and provides the very best education for all pupils.  


Rita Garner: Partnership Governor

I am the chair of governors at Abbots Hall Academy. I am a partnership governor and joined the Governing Board when the Infant and Junior schools amalgamated in 2005, however I have been a school governor since 1981. I ensure I have an overview of all aspects of the school and meet regularly with the Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team. I am the lead governor for Safeguarding, which involves ensuring there are effective systems in place to keep our children safe.  

I worked for Essex Education Services for 20 years, and now work for Juniper Education. I deliver training to school governors in all elements of governance, however my main responsibility within the team is Safeguarding and Safer Recruitment.

I am proud to be associated with Abbots Hall because I know that wellbeing is front and centre of everything they do, and no matter what background or starting points, children are given the opportunity to succeed and their voices heard.


Kerry Jago: Vice Chair of Governing Body

I am the vice-chair of governors and have been a parent governor at Abbots Hall Academy, since 2008.  I am the lead governor for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. All three of my children have thoroughly enjoyed their time at Abbots Hall, with my eldest leaving in 2010, the next leaving in 2013 and my youngest due to leave in 2021.

I worked in Human Resources for nine years before moving to marketing and project management. After having my family, I decided to retrain, and now work in a primary school in Basildon as a Speech and Language Practitioner.

I love how Abbots put the children’s wellbeing and their learning at the forefront of everything they do, and how the curriculum is exciting and innovative.


Susan George: Staff Governor

I have been on the School Governing Board since 2014 and I am the lead governor for Attendance (a priority for the school). I have worked in education for more than 17 years.                          

I have lived in Stanford-le-Hope most of my life and I joined the school staffing team in 2003, where I am currently a Teaching assistant for year 1, but have worked in most year groups.

I am part of the school's Wrap Around Care team supervising children attending the breakfast club. For the past two years I have been a member of the Wellbeing Team, which is extremely satisfying and so important for every member of the school.

As a member of Abbots Hall staffing and governor teams, I feel I am able to support and challenge school leaders to ensure that the school provides the best service for its children and the community


Jo Forkner: Associate Member

I have worked at Abbots Hall Primary Academy since January 2009. I have been the Academy Business Manager since conversion in May 2013 and I am a member of the Senior Leadership Team. I am the Chair of the Premises Committee, Clerk of the Standards Committee and a member of the Resources Committees.

I am a qualified Accountant with a career spanning over 29 years in financial settings and have graduated in both CSBM and DSBM.  My experience includes extensive involvement in all areas of the Academy conversion process, Financial and Budget Management, Audit, HR (including Payroll and Pensions) and Facilities Management.

I am passionate about our school and our pupils. It is my belief that we are enabling them to reach for the stars and achieve their full potential.


Nicky Tunbridge: Co-opted Governor

I have been a governor at Abbots Hall for the last 25 years, since my eldest, of three children, was in Year 1. I work for the NHS as a nursing Sister in operating theatres and have been in this role for over 35 years.   

During my time at Abbots Hall, I have held many different positions throughout the years, including Vice Chair of the Infant Governing Body, Chair of Committees and have sat on many appointment panels. I am part of the Headteacher performance management panel, as well as lead governor for behaviour and ethos. I was also involved with the PTA and was Chair for 5 years.

I have seen the school go through many changes with all the ups and downs this has brought. The changes include amalgamation from Infant and Junior to a Primary School, through the transition to Academy and through many Ofsted inspections!   

The school is now increasing, and I look forward to working with the headteacher, senior leadership team and all the staff, as they work towards a bright and successful future.


Gemma Ward: Parent Governor

I have been involved in the school in some capacity since my son started back in 2009, whether this be as a parent, parent governor or employee. I felt this involvement has given me insight from differing perspectives and enables me to wear all these ‘hats’ all at once, to allow me to consider what is best for our school. My two children have come through the school relishing in all the opportunities the school is able to provide. I have lived in the area most of my life and it is this sense of community that make me committed in improving not only my effectiveness as a parent governor but also the effectiveness of the school. It has been wonderful watching the progression of the school under Mrs James and her team’s leadership, always putting the children and the community first and I relish the opportunity to see the school continue to thrive.

I am the lead governor for Health and Safety, and meeting regularly to ensure the safety of staff and pupils. As a member of staff, my interests lie in Special Educational needs, how we provide that support, and how we can support children’s development, particularly with language.


Rachael Steel: Co-opted Governor

I was a parent governor for 2 terms and now my children have moved on to secondary school, I remain as a co-opted governor. I am the lead governor for GDPR.

For the past 27 years I have worked in local government. Although I live locally, Abbots Hall was not my catchment school but I chose this school for my children as opposed to my nearest school as I received a friendly and welcoming feel during my visit, and my family and I instantly felt comfortable in the school environment. I was very pleased with what my children achieved academically at Abbots Hall as well as the life skills they received from taking part in sports, after school clubs, forest school and trips to Devon. The school helped me ensure my children were ready for their move onto secondary school. I will always recommend this school to other parents as I believe this is a great school with a great ethos!