Governor Profiles

Mr Richard Frost

Richard is currently chair of governors, having been a governor for over 15 years.

He is a retired chartered engineer and spent his working life in management and sales in the building products manufacturing industry and the computing/electronics industry, particularly computer systems.

Richard has lived in Heslington for over 35 years and has been treasurer for the sports field and local allotments as well as chair of the Parish Council in his time. His connections to the school go back many years as Richard’s children all went to Lord Deramore’s over 30 years ago. He enjoys helping the school create a positive, challenging and stimulating environment to enable our children to learn and thrive.

Richard’s interests include  birdwatching, gardening and music – he is currently a trustee of a local charity, Musical Connections which runs a community choir and music sessions for older, isolated and vulnerable people.

Mr James Rourke

James has been the Headteacher at Lord Deramore’s since 2017 when the school moved into its new building. He has been a Headteacher for over seven years, having previously led Rufforth Primary School – a smaller school of one hundred pupils on the outskirts of York. Prior to headship, James was Deputy Headteacher at Haxby Road Primary Academy where he helped to move the school from Special Measures to Good. He has worked as a phase leader at St George’s RC Primary School, a literacy lead teacher for the local authority and an SLE (Specialist Leader of Education) for Ebor Academy Trust where he supported schools in difficulty across the region.

James is passionate about curriculum design, believing in the importance of giving children purposeful experiences and enjoyable memories of their primary school years. He is deeply committed to inclusivity and is very proud to lead one of the most diverse schools in the region.

Ms Connie Cullen

Connie has been a governor of Lord Deramore’s School since December 2016, and says it is a pleasure to be associated with such an interesting and inclusive school. She is keenly committed to helping all our pupils be the best they can.

Now retired, Connie worked all of her career in higher education, mainly at the University of York.  Her experience there – latterly leading Admissions and Student Recruitment – has given her skills in data analysis, management and public relations, which she hopes are useful to the governors.

Connie has also served over the years as a school governor for a variety of other schools in Yorkshire, which helps her to understand the primary school context and the needs of staff and pupils.

Her special responsibilities as a governor are to be a link governor for Stage 2 (years 2 and 3) and to be the Pupil Premium governor, with an overview of the programme that aims to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils in the School.

Connie’s other interests are volunteering for Citizens Advice, reading and theatre.

Ms Ebony Wonnacott

After her work in theatre and TV, followed by a role as an HR Business Partner at Network Rail, Ebony put her career on hold for over a decade to focus on raising her three children. She has been part of the Lord Deramore’s School community since 2009, when her eldest child attended her first day in the Early Years classroom. Ebony volunteered in school every week; organising PTA events, reading with children, Gardening Club and helping co-ordinate a support group for parents/carers raising children on the Autism Spectrum, which she has personal experience with. She also served as a Parent Governor for eight years, through challenges which included the new school build and, of course, covid.

Ebony now work full time as a Police Constable within an Investigation team for North Yorkshire Police. She says she feels privileged to continue assisting this very special school as a Co-Opted Governor, working with a fabulous team of people dedicated to supporting Lord Deramore’s in being a place where all children have the opportunity to thrive.

Ms Heather Hawkins

Heather has been a Parent Governor at Lord Deramore’s Primary School since 2018 and her children have both attended the school. She have lived in Heslington and Badger Hill for over 20 years (moving to York to study at the University) and is grateful to have this opportunity to support the local community.

Heather holds a PhD in Computer Science from The University of York and has worked in various technical and research roles for software, engineering and academic employers. She also has experience of project and financial management, as applicable to her role on the Finance Committee and previously volunteered for 5 years on the local pre-school committee, holding several different roles.

Mrs Kate Robson

Kate has been a school governor with Lord Deramore’s for many years. She has two older children who went to the school when they were young and lives in the area. Kate is passionate about educating children, helping them become lifelong learners and starting them off with being part of a happy community. Kate is particularly drawn to the inclusive and diverse culture of the school and focus of well-being for the children.

Kate is a solicitor and works in corporate pensions. She is part of the finance committee and a trustee for the kids kabin.

Mr James Lilley

James has been a governor at Lord Deramore’s since 2019.  He has one child currently attending the school and another, now at secondary school, who previously attended.

Professionally, James has worked in finance for over 20 years and holds professional qualifications in both accounting and corporate treasury.  As a member of the finance committee, James looks to use these skills to support our school.

Mrs Reem Yasouf

Reem has been working with schools for around 5 years and wanted to be a part of the governors so that she could help and support the schools and pupils, especially when their first language is not English. She enjoys working with other governors to find more, new strategies in which we can help schools and says it is a pleasure to be a part of such a team, so that we can all make a difference.

Mrs Deborah Graham

When Deborah’s family moved to York in 1999, they were delighted to find a multicultural school with an ethos of inclusivity, delivering a good education on their doorstep. With a background in science, Deborah had fully intended to return to a career in environmental consultancy but found the community at Lord Deramore’s so welcoming that she joined school, initially as a parent volunteer and then in 2002, as a teaching assistant.

Eventually, her children moved on and twenty years later, she is still enjoying life at Lord Deramore’s. Currently, Deborah is supporting teaching and learning in Year 2, but she has also worked with classes across Phase 1. Experience has shown her that when children learn to read, it supports their learning across the curriculum and so over the years she has developed a particular interest in teaching phonics and encouraging those vital early reading skills.

Her children loved their years at this school; Deborah’s hope is that every pupil here leaves with similar precious memories and a sense of achievement, knowing that they’ve been encouraged to do their best, ready for their next steps in life. To that end, she joined the Governing Body as a Staff Governor in 2018 to support a school striving to give children the best possible start in their educational journey and offers the benefit of her hands on experience from within the classroom.

Outside of school Deborah spends her time managing the family farm and woodland where they have begun a re-wilding project, recently planting 700 new trees. She loves hiking and swimming and has swum at beaches around the British Isles, but can’t wait to get back to the warm waters of the Aegean Sea! 

Mrs Sue Perutz

Sue’s links with Lord Deramore’s go back to the 1980s when she supported the school as a parent governor. Since then Sue has been a governor for about 20 years. 

Sue used to work with children with special needs and disabilities as part of York’s Inclusion Support Service and she is still very keen to help the school promote the interests of these children. 

In retirement Sue enjoys playing early music, walking and bird watching, and also enjoy visiting school to help children in the early stages of learning to read.

Lady Penelope Mowbray and Stourton

Lady Penelope came to Yorkshire from Oxford with a background in biological sciences and pharmaceutical research. Once here, she settled to have a family with her husband, whose grandfather had been Lord Stephen Deramore. Lady Penelope was asked if she would become a Foundation Governor by the Local Education Authority, because of this historic connection and her educational background; this delighted her as it gave her a chance to help others gain the best education possible, which she believes is the most essential stepping stone to a successful life.

Lady Penelope has worked with four headteachers, as a member of the Curriculum and Staffing Committee, Pay Committee and on the Headteachers Performance Management Team. She says it has been fascinating to see how Lord Deramore’s has developed and improved over the years, with regard to the premises and standards of teaching, most especially with the exciting mix of children from all over the world. At present Lady Penelope is involved in the management of a farming estate, which gives her an insight into current ecological and agricultural issues.

Mrs Verna Campbell

Verna was a teacher before becoming head of a Primary School. After retirement, she worked for Cambridge Education Associates as an advisor doing performance management for headteachers.

Verna has also been active in Fulford, serving as Chair of the Parish Council and is Chair of Fulford Show and Treasurer and Secretary of Fulford in Bloom. Verna is on the Board of York Civic Trust and Chair of its Education Committee. She was responsible for introducing its annual Primary and Secondary School Public Speaking Competitions

Currently she is Vice-Chair of Governors at Lord Deramore’s Primary School as well as Chair of the Staffing and Curriculum committee.

Verna was the 2018-19 Sheriff of York.

Mr David Thewlis

All David’s professional life, he was involved in primary education. He worked in primary schools across North Yorkshire and York for 30 years including 17 years as a headteacher. As a class teacher David taught all primary age groups from Early Years to Year 6. The schools he worked in were quite varied and included a village school serving a rural community, a forces school where 100% of the pupils came from military families and inner city schools, one with a large number of pupils for whom English was a second language.

David’s career continued at local authority, regional and national levels, all with a focus on school improvement and pupil outcomes. He was a member of the senior management team of the National Strategies in the Yorkshire and Humber Region rolling out the Primary School Improvement Partner Programme for the Department for Education. He also spent several years as a Principal Primary Adviser in Sheffield.

David’s particular educational interests are the arts and humanities. In retirement he enjoys travelling and has a particular passion for Italy. He also enjoys walking and gardening and take every opportunity to visit exhibitions and attend classical music concerts.