Mrs Sheila Higgins, Chair of Governors – Foundation Governor
Mrs Higgins is a Foundation Governor appointed by The Bishop of Arundel & Brighton; her term of office ends on the 09/10/22. Mrs Higgins is one of our SEN Governors as well as our Mental Health and Wellbeing Governor. Mrs Higgins is a member of the Behaviour, Curriculum, Achievement & Teaching, Catholic Ethos & R.E. and Admissions Committees.
Mrs Higgins' statement
My name is Sheila Higgins and I’m a very new Foundation Governor. I have lived in Bognor for 15yrs, although my husband is Bognor born. I am a committed Roman Catholic and involved in the life of the Church. My background centres around Special Educational Needs and for the last 21yrs I have been a Specialist Member of SEND Tribunal Service plus SSCS hearing appeals for Statements, EHCP’s, Disability Discrimination and Disability Benefits. I hope I can offer some support to St. Mary’s with their increasing population of children with Special Educational Needs .
Mrs Helen Cookson – Foundation Governor
Mrs Cookson is a Foundation Governor appointed by The Bishop of Arundel & Brighton; her term of office ends on the 07/01/24. Mrs Cookson is a member of the Finance Committee.
Mrs Cookson's statement
I was appointed as a foundation Governor in 2020 and serve on the finance sub-committee. I work as a finance manager in the NHS, specialising in income. I have been attending Mass at Slindon for a number of years and was pleased to be asked to join the Governing body.
Mr Peter Edgington, Headteacher
Mr Edgington's statement
I have been the Headteacher at St Mary’s since September 2015 and have lived in Bognor Regis since 2004. I have three children who all attended St Mary’s before moving onto SPH. I am an active member of our parish and can be seen playing a pivotal role in the annual panto.
I never forget that it is a privilege to be a Headteacher. At St Mary’s I will ensure every pupil has access to the best teaching, every parent feels valued in our community and that every member of staff feels supported. It is my job to ensure high academic standards whilst safeguarding the precious Catholic Ethos and nurturing atmosphere built up at St Mary’s over the years by my predecessors.
Mr John Lawson – Foundation Governor
Mr Lawson is a Foundation Governor appointed by The Bishop of Arundel & Brighton; his term of office ends on the 07/01/24. Mr Lawson is a member of the Catholic Ethos & RE Committee.
Mr Lawson's statement
I am a Cradle Catholic from South London where my family attended St. Boniface Primary School and parish. My teachers were surprised when this ‘daydreamer believer’ passed the 11+, perhaps being a voracious reader of comics and cowboy novels helped after all. From there I attended Grammar school, where I learned to enjoy cricket and rugby and to do as little school work as possible. I was smart enough, but never applied myself as much I should have to my studies. In 1982, I dramatically changed and tried my vocation to the priesthood. Four years of life-changing formation followed and I eventually discerned my calling to be a teacher rather than a preacher.
For twenty-seven years I taught theology in Catholic high schools. The last eighteen years of my career were happily spent in South Florida, USA. I took early retirement to spend more time with my family in Sussex. Most of my time is spent writing about my twin passions – religion and education. I am looking forward to serving in whatever capacity God may see fit for the future. The one thing I am certain of is that a Catholic education can make a significant difference in a child’s life. When we put God first in our lives everything else falls into the right place eventually. Jesus said that faith will move mountains, but I don’t recall him saying that it would do so immediately and we shouldn’t be shocked when God provides us with a shovel. St. Mary’s faculty and staff make the presence of God alive in all that they do, and I hope that I may be of some assistance to them in their daily endeavours.
Mrs Paulette Cassidy – Foundation Governor
Mrs Cassidy is a Foundation Governor appointed by The Bishop of Arundel & Brighton; her term of office ends on the 31/08/21. Mrs Cassidy is the Nominated Governor for Child Protection and Safeguarding. She is also one of the SEN Governors. Mrs Cassidy is a member of the Safeguarding, Finance and Behaviour, Curriculum, Achievement & Teaching and Admissions Committees.
Mrs Cassidy's statement
I was a School Nurse for the NHS in the area for 30 years and have an interest in the wellbeing and achievement of local children. I went to school in Bognor Regis and attended St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School moving to St. Philip Howard Catholic High School. My main aim as a Governor is to ensure local children have the same advantages to succeed and enjoy education and life, as I did.
Fr Chris Bergin – Foundation Governor
Fr Chris is a Foundation Governor appointed by The Bishop of Arundel & Brighton; his term of office ends on the 27/01/20. Fr Chris is the EPR/RE Policy Link Governor and is currently a member of the Catholic Ethos & R.E. Committee.
Fr Chris' statement
As the Parish Priest, I’m delighted to serve as a Foundation Governor of St Mary’s, which I’ve been doing since January 2016. Being a Governor, and in particular, being part of the RE and Catholic Ethos committee, means I can help to maintain and develop the strong links that have existed for many years between the school and the rest of the parish community. Seeing how the school operates also helps me in my pastoral role with staff, children, and their families.
Catholic education is a vital part of the Church’s life and mission. We are all learners, no matter what our stage in life. We all need to be taught by, and come closer to, Jesus, the Word of God. I hope that serving as a Governor I can learn from those around me, and in turn help them to grow in knowledge and love of God and neighbour.
Mr Isaac Haskell – Staff Governor
Mr Haskell is a Staff Governor and his term of office ends on the 15/10/22. Mr Haskell is a member of the Behaviour, Curriculum, Achievement & Teaching Committee.
Mr Haskell's statement
I have been teaching for nearly 12 years and have been at St Mary’s for 5 of those. In that time I have been able to witness how amazing our pupils and staff are. I feel privileged to help the school and children develop and grow.
I currently teach in Year 3/4 and am in charge of KS2, PE and Science. Having studied Sports Leadership at university I feel that taking part in different activities and having a love for sport can open up so many opportunities for our children not just physically but emotionally, socially and academically.
Mrs Ilona Banach – Parent Governor
Mrs Banach is a Parent Governor and her term of office ends on the 12/11/2024. Mrs Banach is a member of the Catholic Ethos & RE and Finance Committees.
Mrs Banach's statement
Being a parent of a child in St Mary’s, I feel privileged and overwhelmed by the hospitality, values, inclusion and welcome this school provides for parents, carers and pupils and I am delighted to be a part of its Governing Body.
I aim to offer my enthusiasm, knowledge, skills and abilities to support this wonderful school and its community in fulfilling its mission to journey and grow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and ensuring that all children secure the best start in life.
I am driven to use and develop existing knowledge and skills to make a positive impact and help others. I am a member of the FSA and the Polish Catholic Mission in Bognor Regis. I have also successfully aided and managed to open and run a Polish Saturday School in Bognor Regis.
I am a proud graduate of the University of Science and Technology in Krakow and the University of Chichester. I enjoy taking part in various training and courses to enhance my personal and professional development including Sage Accounting, CIPD Level 5 HR Management and Managing Mental Health and Wellbeing in the workplace.
My working career mirrors my passion, personality and ambitions. I have always worked in areas of people support and various advisory roles such as Guest Services Allocation Advisor, HR Coordinator, HR Business Partner and Work Coach Executive Officer.
I moved to Bognor Regis in 2007 from Krakow, Poland, and I love being part of this welcoming and diverse community.
Mr Tony Lucas – Foundation Governor
Mr Lucas is a Foundation Governor appointed by The Bishop of Arundel & Brighton; his term of office ends on the 15/01/24. Mr Lucas is a member of the Finance Committee.
Mr Lucas's statement
Having had a long association with St Mary’s in the past (I was a Foundation Governor for 22 years until 2013), it has been a privilege to be invited to return and to journey in the footsteps of Jesus with the school community.
I have been associated with all the building works that have been undertaken over the years at St Mary’s and I look forward to assisting in any way I can as the school looks to the future.
In my day job I work in horticultural therapy in local residential care settings and, together with my wife, run a small nursery unit that supports this work. Outside of work I am involved in working with our amazing young people at Our Lady of Sorrows.
Mrs Liz Burles – Co-Opted Governor
Mrs Burles is a Co-Opted Governor appointed by the Governing Body; her term of office ends on the 28/01/2023. Mrs Burles is our Sports Premium and Wellbeing Governor, and a member of both the Finance and Behaviour, Curriculum, Achievement & Teaching Committees.
Mrs Burles's statement
I attended primary school at Nyewood as back in those days my mum couldn’t drive and couldn’t get us as far as St Mary’s for school! From Nyewood I went on to SPH and then Chichester High School 6th Form, finally going on to study English Literature at Southampton University, graduating in June 2001 with a 2:1 BA (Hons). Following this I held jobs in varying administrative roles before settling in a career in HR and Training; my previous employers include Sussex Police; Chichester District Council; Bank of Ireland Private Banking and GE Money (while living for two years in Dublin) and the NHS.
When it came to choosing a school for our son to join in September 2016, my husband and I considered a few of the local schools, but as soon as we visited St. Mary’s we both knew there was absolutely no contest (despite another local school being only a few minutes’ walk away from our home at that time and St. Mary’s being considerably further away). We both left that visit not only impressed by the school’s academic record but also with an overwhelming sense of the welcoming, supportive, friendly and nurturing environment that exists at St. Mary’s; we absolutely knew that this was the right school for our family.
Since then I have really enjoyed being involved in many aspects of school life, helping when possible on school trips or listening to children reading in class, as well as helping with the FSA events that raise funds for the school. I was pleased to be selected as a Co-Opted Governor in the Spring term of 2019, and I’m proud to be working with Mr Edgington and all of the staff team and Governors to provide the best learning environment for all at St. Mary’s, regardless of ability or background, helping the children here to grow and gain the confidence and skills they need to be ready for the next stage in their lives.
Mrs Anna Cortina – Foundation Governor
Mrs Cortina is a Foundation Governor appointed by The Bishop of Arundel & Brighton; her term of office ends on the 05/12/21. Mrs Cortina is our EAL Governor, and a member of the Catholic Ethos & R.E. Committee.
Mrs Cortina's statement
In 1999 I travelled from Poland to live in England, here I met my husband Denis and we now have three daughters; Alice, Vanessa and Lucy. I joined the St Mary’s community when our first daughter started school at St Mary’s in September 2009. I soon became involved in school life with the Family and Staff Association, helping in classrooms and on school trips. My eldest daughters are now in St Philip Howard High School, and Lucy remains in St Mary’s in Year 4.
I was invited to apply to become a Foundation Governor in 2017 and since then have become a member of the Catholic Ethos & RE Committee, have translated for Mr Edgington with Polish parents and translated for Father Chris in Baptism meetings.
I feel very privileged to be a part of the Governing Body and I will do my best to support other governors, Mr Edgington, his staff, the children and their parents.
Mrs Joanna Myatt – Local Authority Governor
Mrs Myatt is a Local Authority Governor appointed by West Sussex County Council; her term of office ends on the 24/01/2025. Mrs Myatt is a member of the Finance and Admissions Committees.
Mrs Kelly Morris, Vice Chair – Foundation Governor
Mrs Morris is a Foundation Governor, and has been elected as Vice Chair of Governors; her term of office ends on the 07/11/2023. Mrs Morris is the school website Governor, and is a member of the Behaviour, Curriculum, Achievement & Teaching Committee.
Mrs Morris' Statement
I was a pupil of St Mary’s back in the 1970s, as were both my brothers. From there I went to SPH and then on to Art College. Since then I have been a Graphic and Web Designer running my own business, at first as part of my father’s print firm and then after his retirement back in 2000 on my own. I also have experience of working with adults with learning difficulties.
In 2015 my daughter was part of the admissions into reception class. I was delighted to be able to send her to St. Mary’s, as even from our first visit back I could tell it had lost none of its academic ambition, or its supportive, small school feel, despite having trebled in size since my families first experience of it.
Mrs Alison Bushnell – Parent Governor
Mrs Bushnell is a Parent Governor and term of office ends on the 15/12/2023. Mrs Bushnell is a member of the Safeguarding and Behaviour, Curriculum, Achievement & Teaching Committees.
Mrs Bushnell's statement
I have worked in education for most of my career, before which I worked in the Samsonite marketing team. My teaching has followed a diverse range of subjects and ages, and now resides in the primary sector which delights and challenges me every day.
We moved to the area in 2016 and began looking for an appropriate school for our son to join the following year. It was immediately evident that St Mary’s school was the right place for him to attend, despite the availability of a range of good schools in the local area. The excellent leadership from the SLT team impressed us greatly and the support that our son has received has shown great inclusivity, despite the difficulties he has within the education setting.
It is my privilege to support the children and staff in the school through listening to readers and helping with some of the excellent events that the FSA organise. It is great to be part of an active and inclusive community and for the children to learn what it feels like to belong to this.
I have been a member of other governing bodies before, but I am particularly pleased to be part of the team that helps drive forward this wonderful school.
The Governing Body of St Mary’s consists of 14 governors; 8 Foundation Governors, the Headteacher, 1 Staff Governor, 2 Parent Governors, 1 Co-opted Governor and a Local Authority Governor.
The FGB meets at least twice a term. Committees also meet regularly and at least once a term. The committee structure is as follows:
Finance, Staffing, Premises and Health & Safety Committee
Membership of six governors plus the Headteacher. Chair Mrs Cookson.
Membership of three governors plus the Headteacher. Chair Mrs Cassidy.
Catholic Ethos & R.E. Committee
Membership of three governors plus the Headteacher. Chair Fr Chris Bergin.
Behaviour, Curriculum, Achievement and Teaching Committee (B-CAT)
Membership of four governors (to include staff governor) plus the Headteacher. Chair Mrs Bushnell.
Other committees are convened when necessary, with governors allocated to these committees at the start of each academic year.