Welcome from the Chair of Governors 

In September 2021 I was very honoured to be elected as the Chair of the Board of Governors at Wilsthorpe School. Whilst I have only been a Governor at the school since 2018, I have many years’ experience as a Governor and of Governance in my working life.

The Board is made up of volunteer Governors who give freely of their time. We are all from different backgrounds including education, health, social services, business and the community, which enables us to ensure that the education that Wilsthorpe students receive is to a high standard and that they are able to achieve their best outcomes.

To ensure the safe and efficient running of Wilsthorpe School, we work closely with the Head teacher Derek Hobbs and his Senior Leadership Team, acting as critical friends who are prepared to challenge and question when necessary at the same time as being supportive.

I am very keen to ensure that Wilsthorpe continues to provide Excellence in Learning and is the school of choice for many of the local families of Long Eaton. whilst responding to the many challenges and expectations of both staff, students and their families or carers as well as The Two Counties Trust and the Department of Education.

By ensuring that Wilsthorpe provides expert teaching and inspirational learning, we can be proud in knowing that the students have a good knowledge base to form positive relationships which will, in turn, build their confidence and character and help them as they move forward with their lives.

Whilst the Board has a strategic role, it would not be appropriate to get involved in either the day to day running of the school or about specific staff or student issues. These are best dealt with by the school. However, should the need arise to contact the Board this is best done through to ClerkTo.Governors@wilsthorpe.ttct.co.uk

Gill Cort
Chair of Governors
Wilsthorpe School

Governor Pen Portraits

Amanda Solloway MP

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I have been a School Governor here at Wilsthorpe School for over 20 years now and have always cared passionately about young people, their education and mental health.  

Wilsthorpe holds a special place for me as I really believe in what they do and all they have achieved over the years and it really is a pleasure to be a part of their journey and see their success grow.  

My background – I started working at 16 behind the counter of an off-licence before working as a management trainee at Sainsbury’s where I stayed for 13 years. I then went on to work in a regional training role at Help the Aged before working for Baird Clothing as head of training in 1998 where I then founded my own consultancy business in 2008.  

During this time, I have had a family of my own, been a Girl Guides and Brownie Leader which I absolutely loved doing, stood as a Member of Parliament between 2015 and 2017 as well as 2019 until now, and since February 2020, have been appointed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Science, Research and Innovation in Government.  

Harold Smissen

H. Smissen

I spent most of my working life in Engineering doing Whitegoods, Pressings and Mouldings at Pressac Ltd for 18 years, finishing up running the Standards Room for many years. I left Pressac and moved to Rolls Royce doing castings then composites, ending at Raynsway working on submarine valves etc. Most of my Engineering was from an Inspection perspective. After 16 years I took early retirement and joined Wilsthorpe as a Cover Supervisor and Technician for a number of years until retirement. In my personal life I was a Sea Scout leader at the 15th Long Eaton Sea Scouts and worked on the Executive Committee for 37+ years, eventually retiring from the leader position at my 70th birthday; I still serve on the Executive Committee. I have always enjoyed working with young people and am delighted when I see them doing well in their formative years and so when the opportunity to become a Governor at Wilsthorpe became available, I felt privileged to step into the role.

Gill Cort

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My name is Gill Cort, I am currently the chair of the board of Governors.

In 2016 I retired from the NHS, my role in the NHS has given me 20 plus years experience of governance,  at a local, strategic and national level.  I am married whilst not having any children myself I do have 4 nieces and nephews and 2 great nephews.  

After retiring I wanted to utilise my governance skills and was looking for a challenge so I decided to become a school governor. The change from health to education has been an interesting journey, but I have found that my skills are transferable and I have enjoyed working with the school and the other governors. I believe that the role of a governor should be supportive whilst at the same time challenging practice, thus ensuring that the students of  Wilsthorpe can achieve the best outcome in a supportive environment, so that they can look forward to a good future.  

My hobbies include walking my two springer spaniels and gardening.

Jason Wright

With a daughter at Wilsthorpe, and another at University, I am keen to contribute and help support their education (other than being their personal taxi and bank of course!).  I was pleased to become a parent governor in January 2020. 

I currently manage a software business, and having been in the industry for coming up to 30 years, I’ve seen the huge changes that technology has brought to all sectors of life, and the challenges of educating our children in its application.  Good IT skills are now essential for those entering the workplace and navigating the world. 

I would like to see where I can use my experience to support the school in their aim to deliver the best education to its pupils, and especially how we adapt to the changing world. 

Julie Nall

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I have worked in education all my life originally starting at a Deputy Manager of a private Day Nursery to currently working as a Student Welfare officer at Wilsthorpe School. I have worked in many different settings including Private Day Nurseries, Special Schools, Primary School, and various Secondary Schools. 

Within these, my Roles have been very different: Teaching Assistant, an Assistant SENCO, HLTA, and currently Student welfare Officer dealing with the pastoral issues at Wilsthorpe School for the past 15 years. 

I have various qualifications for my current role including NNEB, HLTA, and a BA Honours Degree in Educational Studies. 

I have four children who have all left home working on their chosen careers with two of them being teachers. 

I very much enjoy being part of the governing body at Wilsthorpe School. 

Katie Godber

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My name is Katie and I am a Parent Governor. In this role I hold a Unique position of having a parental viewpoint and first-hand experience of the delivery of the curriculum and how the school is perceived from the ‘consumers’ point of view and I help influence the direction the school is taking for the best outcomes for all children. 

I became a Governor because I am passionate about children’s Mental Health. I wanted to ensure that our children’s voices are heard, listened to and acted upon.

Steve Holland MIExpE FRGS

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My day job is running an engineering company that specialises in explosive blast protection systems and testing. I have also worked extensively in the technical support of ground-breaking expeditions from Pole to Pole.  I started as a Parent Governor to support the school during a period of rapid change. I had previously helped out with specific assemblies on the wider applications of the sciences in the real world. As a governor, I have supported the school as a whole, but still focus on using engineering sciences and an extensive expedition background to widen the horizons and aspirations of the students.  I have also led periodic assemblies around key anniversaries to add context outside of the normal curriculum – the bicentenary of Waterloo being one example.  The Year Nine ‘Expedition Planning’ day that I organise will continue after Covid and has proved to be an interesting teamwork exercise with a challenging public speaking role for the team leaders. After two terms as a ‘Parent Governor’ I am now a ‘Co-opted Governor’ and look forward to helping Wilsthorpe evolve further. 

Valerie Hines

Becoming a school governor has given me the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of young people and to give something back to the local community. I was brought up and educated in Long Eaton and, following my graduation from The University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, completed a master’s degree. I then trained as a teacher and have spent 32 years working at secondary schools as both Head of Religious Education and Head of Humanities. During my career I was awarded a Farmington Fellowship and this enabled me to complete a research project on teaching and learning at Oxford University. Although I am not teaching in a school at present, I have maintained my links with education by working with PGCE students at the Institute of Education, University College, London. I continue to be a member of the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education.  

Marie Harral

I have twins at Wilsthorpe school and was elected as a Parent Governor in April 2022.  I have been an Infant & Nursery Headteacher for over 15 years so have the experience in teaching, learning and safeguarding that the board were looking for.  My career has been based entirely in Early Years and Primary Education, so when my own children moved up to Secondary School it was a whole new world! In this role I can learn more about secondary education, whilst supporting the school to achieve its aims, and providing a parent perspective. I enjoy being busy! I love spending time with my family and friends, walking, swimming, cycling, cooking and all sorts of creative crafts.  I am passionate about academic, social, emotional development and promoting a love of learning. I am pleased to be able to be part of the school team as they create new opportunities for all children to ‘be the best they can be’.

Kayleigh Meller

I have been a teacher at Wilsthorpe for seven years and have leadership responsibilities in English and Literacy. I also have a Master’s degree in Education. Having grown up in Long Eaton myself, I know the area very well and want our young people to continue to have the best opportunities at Wilsthorpe. As staff governor, I also want to ensure staff welfare and views are represented.

Peter Fox


I am a retired Assistant Head Teacher of a Secondary School in Nottinghamshire. My specialisms were Geography, History, ICT and PSHCE. I am a member of the Subject Association from Geography Teachers – The Geographical Association – and a past President of that association I wrote several books for the association. I work part time, voluntarily on school appeal panels. My interests include: Gardening, Reading, Local History, Photography, Travel and Tapestry work.

I have always had the conviction that working to help and develop future generations develop their education and skills is one of the most worth-while activities one can do.

Management Responsibilities

Agree constitutional matters. 

Appoint Chair and Vice Chair of the Governing Body. 

Establish terms of reference. 

Appointment of clerk. 

Decide which functions of the Governing Body will be delegated. 

Consider all delegated decisions. 

Approve the first formal budget of the financial year. 

Appointment and suspension of governors. 

To ensure Health and Safety is maintained. 

Pupils and Personnel responsibilities: 

Staff consultation. 

Discipline and grievance. 


Staffing structure. 


Admissions and exclusions. 

Financial responsibilities 

School budget and financial management. 

Financial regulations and procedures. 

Contractual arrangements. 


To maintain the principles of Best Value. 

Fire Evacuation. 

Critical Incident and Disaster Recovery plan 

All governors are appointed for a term of four years. 

Please note: If you are interested in becoming a governor, either as a parent or a member of the community, please contact the clerk to the governing body in the first instance by emailing: ClerkTo.Governors@wilsthorpe.ttct.co.uk or telephoning the school on 0115 9729421.