Our Governors

matt blayney

Matt Blayney
Community Governor (elected by Governing Body)
Term of Office ends 15.07.2022 (Appointed 03.07.2018)

Over the past decade I have gained a breadth of experience across a variety of roles within the state education sector that I hope to use to support R.A. Butler Academy as a Governor.  I am currently working as a Deputy Headteacher in a local secondary school and work with many ex-pupils and parents of R.A. Butler School on a daily basis.

I have a particular interest in how schools aim to support the most disadvantaged children within education and I very much hope to bring my experience of this to R.A. Butler in order to help serve the pupils and staff and provide additional support where required. I am also heavily involved in the primary to secondary transition process and hope to learn more about primary school processes from being a Governor at R.A. Butler. I am a keen student of History and I am also the link Governor for History teaching at R. A. Butler School.

Business Interests Declared (15.09.2022)
– Employed Saffron Walden County High School
– Company Commander, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment

Jo cooper

Jo Cooper
Staff Governor (elected by Staff)
Term of Office ends 21.11.2023 (Appointed 26.11.2014)
Member of Pupil and Standards and Resources

I joined RA Butler as an Assistant Headteacher in September 2013 working initially in KS2 before moving over in September 2014 to be in KS1. I became the Infant School Deputy Head in 2018. My role also includes taking a lead on curriculum development across the whole school. I have sat on the Governing bodies at all of the other schools I have worked in.

I have been teaching for over 27 years in four different schools across Hertfordshire and Essex and have taught in all year groups from Year 1 to Year 6. I have been an Assistant Headteacher since 2010 and before that was a Leading Maths Teacher as part of my role at a large Harlow school. I also currently work with the Saffron Alliance as a Senior Leader in Education delivering courses to both secondary and primary teachers.

Q What skill or attribute do you bring to the Governing body?

I hope that my years as a teacher put me in an ideal position to help and assist the governors when they are making decisions that affect how RA Butler is run. I always have the children and their learning as my priority and feel I can draw on my experience of working with children, parents and staff as necessary.

Business Interests Declared – none (15.09.2022)

Karen evans

Karen Evans
Community Governor
Term of office ends 31.08.2026 (Appointing 01.09.2022)

I am a recently retired primary school teacher with more than thirty years experience. My family and I moved to Saffron Walden in 2003 and have lived in South Road ever since. Moving to South Road was no accident, we very much wanted our three girls to attend RAB. When our youngest started in reception, I was lucky enough to become a teacher at the school where I spent eight very happy years. I then spent four years at Dunmow St. Mary’s Primary School and then another four years at Radwinter Primary School.

I am still passionate about education, and now that I have the time, I am looking forward to bringing my enthusiasm and experience to the role of Community Governor at RA Butler Academy.

Business Interests Declared - none (15.09.2022)

adam foley

Adam Foley
Community Governor (elected by Governing Body)
Chair Resources (Finance)
Term of office ends 12.05.2024 (appointed 13.05.2020)

I joined the Governing Body as a Community Governor in 2020. My family and I moved to Saffron Walden in 2019 and my girls started in R.A Butler that year.

In my professional life I am Head of Operational Planning for a large educational provider. I have worked in senior management roles for educational bodies for the past 20 years. In my current and previous roles, I have directed educational operations delivering school inspection, educational assessment, learning material design and pedagogy. I am also a Lean and Six Sigma Green Belt and GDPR and IR35 specialist. I have applied these skills to great effect for large scale international organisations to help reduce operating costs and improve operational resilience. I have a master’s degree in Management, and I am a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.

I have always been an active member of my local school’s PA and am a strong advocate for giving every child access to a great education. I strongly feel that education is the foundation that we build our society on and is the very best way to secure a positive future for our children.

Business Interest Declared (15.09.2022):
– Head of On-Screen Assessment Strategy, AQA Education
– Member of Chartered Fellow Chartered Management Institute
– Married to member of staff

samantha harris (CHAIR)

Samantha Harris
Chair of Governing Body
Term of office ends 31.08.2023 (Appointed 29.03.2012, Reappointed 30.03.2016)
Chair of Resources (Personnel)
Healthy Schools Governor

I was brought up and educated in Saffron Walden, and my four children all attended RAB. I have been a governor for 8 years. As a governor, and as a parent, I really want to contribute to offering the best primary education we can for the children here. I trained as a solicitor specialising in employment law, and as well as a governor, I am also on the Board of Trustees for Homestart. I regularly come into school as a parent helper..

Q. Tell us about something that you have been directly involved in as a governor that has made a difference to RAB.

My governor visits into the classroom have been very rewarding. The visits are either linked to a “phase” or a particular subject area. They are an excellent way to observe, first-hand, how the school operates on a day-to-day basis and provide an opportunity to see the progress being made towards our priorities and targets. Each visit is shared with the governing body – so that we can ensure that all steps are taken to raise standards and outcomes for every child at RAB.

Business Interests Declared – none (15.09.2022)

Christopher healey

Christopher Healey
Community Governor
Term of office ends 31.08.2026 (Appointed 01.09.2022)

Business Interests Declared (15.09.2022)
- UBS UK Employment
- Member of CIPA no control or management
- Wife is a Company Director of her own clinical psychologist business

david hirst

David Hirst
Community Governor (elected by Governing Body)
Term of office ends 03.07.2023 (Appointed 15.07.2015)

I have two children, one in year 5 and the second who attended RAB before moving on to secondary school.  I was very fortunate to be elected as a parent governor and I enjoy being involved in ensuring the continued success of our school.

Day to day I work as a Medicinal Chemist in the drug discovery arm of a pharmaceutical company.  This is a fascinating and inspiring job which I very much enjoy.  In my free time I’m a keen runner and also enjoy playing music.

What are you most proud of at RAB?
I’m particularly proud of our school’s commitment to ensuring all pupils have a broad education.  Whether it be English, Science, Maths, Arts, Sport… there is an enthusiasm for all parts of the curriculum.  I believe school should be so much more than just learning.  It is also about developing pupils as people and ensuring they have the life skills to grow into broad-minded, well rounded individuals.  I feel RAB has this ethos and I’m proud to send my children here.

What made you want to be a governor?
I have always been passionate about education.  It’s so fundamental to who we become and has such a huge impact on the future of pupils and those around them.  My mother was a parent governor at my primary school and only retired recently (she enjoyed it that much!).  Growing up I could see the enthusiasm she had for the role, the sense of achievement she felt and how important her involvement was for the school

It was a combination of these two influences that inspired me to stand as a school governor.

What skills and interests do you bring to the governing body?
Being a scientist I have a very analytical mind-set.  I love problem solving and coming up with innovative solutions.  I’m a strong team player and am good at listening to others, understanding differing opinions and balancing them against each other.

Although not a teacher, my enthusiasm for education has led me to seek out opportunities to be involved in school liaison activities.  I’ve delivered science workshops and presentations to pupils of all ages, giving me a valuable insight into the challenges of teaching.

Business Interests Declared (15.09.2022)
– Full-time employment MSD Pharmaceuticals 

emily hoar

Emily Hoar
Infant School Governor (elected by infant school parents)
Term of office ends 22.06.2024 (Appointed 23.06.2016)
Co-Chair Pupils & Standards
Safeguarding Governor
SEND Governor

I have been a resident of the Saffron Walden area since I was a young child, attending RA Butler Infant and Junior schools and Saffron Walden County High School. I have over 18 years experience working in education, including some special needs support, and previous roles working with young children through drama workshops and play schemes. I have a son currently attending RA Butler. I am passionate about learning and the right of every child to receive a rich and engaging education.

Q: What are you most proud of/impressed by at R.A. Butler?

Since becoming an RA Butler parent, I have been very impressed with the various opportunities for the children to develop independence and take on responsibilities. From seemingly small activities such as tidying jobs in the classroom in reception, to the incredibly successful Sport Leader programme in Years 5 and 6. This gives me confidence that RA Butler will help my son to acquire crucial life skills over his 7 years here.

I have been incredibly impressed by the care that class teachers, Phase Leaders and SLT take to get to know each individual child and use their professional expertise to get the best out of them.

Business Interests Declared (15.09.2022)
– Employment Saffron Walden County High School

carys hobbs

Carys Hobbs
Parent Governor (elected by parents)
Co-Chair Pupils & Standards
Term of office ends 12.09.2022 (Appointed 13.09.2018)

I am well versed in education, having worked in and with primary schools for fifteen years. I started as a primary classroom teacher, moving on to be a Senior Teacher, Assistant Headteacher and more recently, a Primary Maths Consultant for Cambridgeshire schools. I have also served as a governor for seven years at two very different schools, helping to improve the well-being of all children and promoting high standards.

As a parent to three children that attend the school, I am passionate in my desire to help RA Butler achieve the best possible schooling experience for all the children, their families and the wider community and support the school to be as good as it possibly can be. As a member of the Governing Body I am able to take an active role in the school’s development and continued drive to provide an excellent, enjoyable and enriched start and foundation for a happy and healthy life

Business Interests Declared - (15.09.2022)
- Self-employed at Landmark International School

jax jackson

Jax Jackson
Staff Governor (elected by school staff)
Term of office ends 08.12.2025 (Appointed 08.12.2021)

I have recently been elected to be the Support Staff Governor and I look forward to aiding the school to continue to grow its high standards and progress further with the school vision. R A Butler is a very welcoming school with a wonderful ethos of wellbeing, respect and fun combined with a full and well-rounded curriculum, promoting the advancement and growth of the young lives in our care.

I was a student here in the 70s and my children were educated here in the 2000s. I have worked at R A Butler, since then, as a Teaching Assistant and as a Learning Support Assistant. During this time, I have experienced every year group, had the pleasure of working with many colleagues and felt delight and pride at the progression of the children.

In my spare time, I love to spuddle about in my garden and when I travel, I collect rocks and fossils because of my love of Geology and my need to know and understand the world around me.

Business Interests Declared - none (15.09.2022)

andy leeman

Andy Leeman
Staff Governor (elected by Staff)
Term of office ends 21.11.2023 (Appointed 26.11.2015)

This is my fifth year of teaching at R A Butler and I currently teach in year 6. In the past I have taught year 4 and have become part of the furniture at RAB!  I am passionate about giving children the best start in life and providing them with opportunities to shine across the curriculum. I particularly love the small school feel we have at RAB and believe we have a fantastic community of pupils, parents and staff  who work together to create the amazing learning environment that we have.  I spend a lot of my free time being a swimming coach for Saffron Seals and being a scout leader for a local scout troop.

Business Interests Declared – none (15.09.2022)

daniel Paul

Daniel Paul
Community Governor (elected by the Governing Body)
Vice Chair of Resources (Finance)
Term of office ends 14.09.2026 (Appointed 13.09.2018)

I joined the Governing Body as a Community Governor in 2018. My family and I moved to Saffron Walden in 2014 and my twins started in Reception at R.A Butler in 2017. I am a regular helper at Forest School, which I really enjoy and plan to continue.

In my professional life I am the Head of HR for a London Borough Council. I’ve worked in senior management for local authorities for the past dozen or so years and in my current and previous roles have direct experience of public sector HR, Health and Safety and premises management as well as delivery of support services to schools, and it is this experience that I plan to use for the benefit of the school. I have a bachelors degree in Law, an MBA and I am a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development.

Business Interests Declared (15.09.2022)
– London Local Authority
– Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development
– Association of Electoral Administrators
– Nature of Learning Ltd Forest School Volunteer

Jean relf

Jean Relf
Community Governor
Term of office ends 31.08.2026 (Appointed 01.09.2022)

I relocated to Saffron Walden at the beginning of lockdown, having spent all my professional life as a primary teacher and latterly as Headteacher and school advisor in Kent.  Having been passionate about education and helping to improve life chances for all children, I have been active in schools and youth groups since my retirement.  I volunteered to do cooking with Early Years at RAB, my most local school, last year and I found the wholly positive atmosphere from all staff and pupils to be life-affirming.  I hope to provide a useful and enthusiastic contribution as a Community Governor, getting involved in all aspects of school life as a member of the RAB family.

Business Interests Declared - none (15.09.2022)

steve roberts

Junior School Governor (elected by junior school parents)
Term of office ends 22.06.2024 (Appointed 23.06.2016)

I joined the governing body as a parent governor in 2016 and have two children at R.A. Butler, one in the Infants and the other in the Juniors. My background is in construction and I am a Chartered Civil Engineer and Technical Director for a large multinational Engineering consultancy.  In my spare time I love participating in sport and supporting my children with their sporting interests.

Q.  What skill or attribute do you bring to the governing body?

I have extensive project management experience having played significant roles in some of the UK’s most exciting and high-profile construction projects.   I have also led large teams of people and dealt with personnel and HR issues and I hope to be able to bring some of these skills to the governing body.

Business Interests Declared – none (15.09.2022)

Jackie sweeting

Jackie Sweeting
Community Governor
Term of office ends 31.08.2026 (Appointed 01.09.2022)

I have only recently become a governor at R A Butler Academy, but am very much looking forward to supporting the school in its quest to improve the outcomes for all of its children.

I have many years of experience in school governance, starting over 10 years ago when I was a governor at Katherine Semar Junior School, another school in the Saffron Academy Trust. At that time, I also started to work as a clerk to many different governing bodies.

Professionally my career started in sales and marketing, evolving into self- employment and eventually education, when I became the school business manager at Thaxted Primary School in 2013. Since early September 2022 I have been working for the National Governance Association as a regional representative, a charity that supports governing boards to be as effective as they can be. In my spare time I am a keen gardener, florist and seamstress.


Business Interests Declared (15.09.2022)
Regional Lead at NGA

emma vincent

Executive Headteacher (since 01.09.2016)
Deputy CEO of SAT (since 01.09.2017)

For the past twenty years my teaching career has involved me working in schools in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Gloucestershire, Suffolk and Essex.  This is my third headship and I am delighted to be part of a forward thinking and active governing body at this vibrant school in the heart of Saffron Walden.

Business Interests Declared – none (15.09.2022)