Governors & their role

The Governing Body at The Observatory School

The governing board exists to provide strategic leadership to the school to ensure that the school is accountable for its educational and financial performance.

The board at The Observatory School meets twice per term with extra meetings when required.

The core functions of the board are :

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils and the performance management of its staff
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.

Some of the functions that can be covered in our meetings include :

  • Admissions
  • Behaviour and exclusions
  • Curriculum
  • Finance
  • Parents and community engagement
  • Health and safety
  • Pupil wellbeing
  • Safeguarding
  • Special education needs and disabilities (SEND)
  • Staffing and staff wellbeing
  • Pay and appraisal
  • Careers
  • Premises
  • Resources
  • Compliance with legislation

The board members all sign a Code of Conduct and agree to be compliant with the Nolan Principles of Public life – Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership.

Chair of the Board, Mrs Jane Owens, can be contacted via the school office.


Jane Owens MBE  FRSA (chair)

I first joined The Observatory School as the chair of the Interim Executive Board in September 2016. A full governing board was formed in December 2017 and I have remained as chair since that time. I am also chair at a Wirral primary school and at a Liverpool secondary school.

I chair a Wirral Multi- Academy Trust comprising 5 primary schools and a Wirral Single Academy Trust. I am a National Leader of Governance and work with governing boards both locally and nationally giving advice and guidance on good practice. I formed my own company in 2014 in order to provide information on my services.

I am chair of the board at Edsential (, a community interest company
formed between Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester councils. Edsential provide a wide
range of services to schools.

I am affiliate member of the ICSA - The Governance Institute and a member of NASEN which promotes the advancement and development of all individuals with SEN or ALN and has recently joined one of their advisory groups. I am a personal member, and a member through my schools, of the National Governance Association and also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and a Professional Affiliate of the Chartered College of Teaching. Membership of these organisations help to provide advice and guidance to ensure I keep up to date with current legislation around governance good practice.
I was delighted to have been

awarded an MBE for services to education in Wirral in 2016 and the Wirral Award also for services to education in Wirral.


Duncan Haworth MBE

Duncan Haworth is an experienced NLG based in Cheshire West. He is chair of an outstanding 420 pupil primary school, a governor at a large 1700 pupil converter Academy and recently finished as a member of an IEB, moving the school from special measures to good in 8 months. Being an Officer of the Local Governing Body Association for more than 15 years, sitting on School Admission Appeals and on Exclusion Independent Review Boards has helped to give a rounded knowledge of schools and school governance. Duncan has been trained and carried out External Reviews of Governance across the North West of England and West Yorkshire since 2013.

He is a Board Trustee of the National Governors Association and has been a trained, registered lay inspector of schools in Wales since 2010. By background Duncan is a polymer chemist but “headhunted” senior managers for new positions in the chemicals, polymers and associated industries from 1996 to 2012. He has been self-employed since 1996 and has appropriate professional indemnity and public liability insurance as well as being DBS checked.


Linda Christian Co-opted Governor at The Observatory School

Linda joined the Governing Board of The Observatory School as a co-opted Governor in 2018.

She was appointed as a National Leader of Governance in 2016 by the National College for Teaching and Leadership and regularly provides support to new Chairs of Governors as part of this role. She has many years of experience as a school governor at a number of local Primary and Secondary schools.

Linda is currently the Chair of Governors at a Voluntary Aided Primary School and also Chair of a Local Governing Board as part of a Multi-Academy Trust. Linda was involved in education all her working life. She completed her teacher training in Liverpool and taught secondary age pupils for over 30 years.


Kevin Smith Co-opted Governor at The Observatory School

My name is Kevin Smith and I work for the American owned company WABTEC Faiveley UK, that has been based on the Wirral since the early 1960's. After an invitation to visit the school five years ago, to see the good things that the children of the school achieve, my company has enjoyed a close relationship with the school.

Having met Mr Chiswell a number of times, I expressed an interest in taking a more active role in the school and I am delighted to have been accepted to join the school governors, back in November 2017. I am a career engineer, in the Railway industry and currently employed as a Business Development Manager. My experience, knowledge and skills, are working in multi-disciplined teams, with cross-cultural backgrounds, working to project plans, budgets and high industry standards.

My first meetings were extremely interesting, there was a lot to take in, especially a new set of acronyms to come to terms with. I was impressed with the school, the reception I have received from staff, pupils and fellow governors. I will make it my responsibility to increase my knowledge and competence in the Governor role, ensuring I make a positive contribution to the school and the education of the pupils. I am also a co-opted Governor at another local school on the Wirral.


Matthew Lord Co-opted Governor at The Observatory School

I have been involved with The Observatory School as a governor for two years.
I am a lawyer and run my own law firm in East Manchester. I work exclusively in cases involving children where I represent children and parents. This is usually court applications made by Local Authorities.

I live in Northwich with my wife and three boys who all attend local schools and I am the Chair of Governors at my local primary school. This is a small village school which couldn't be more different from The Observatory School! Within that role, I have gained lots of experience in dealing with both the day to day, and the big strategic problems that exist in schools today. In my work, I am involved daily with families who face challenges with the care of children with special behavioural needs, Being a member of the Governing Board at The Observatory is a great opportunity for me to bring my professional knowledge and experience into a community environment.


Jacqui Kearney Co-opted Governor at The Observatory School

I am married with one 20-year-old son, I have been a Governor for the last 14 years, I am passionate about supporting schools to provide a positive outstanding learning environment in order for young people to achieve their individual aspirations.

I am considered an honest, hardworking, supportive person with a good sense of humour!

I have been Chair of Governors at my son's Primary school moving on to be Vice-Chair of governors in a High school where I had responsibility for SEN and Safeguarding prior to being invited to be a Governor here at The Observatory School.

I am Level 3 Safeguarding trained, a CEOP ambassador (Child Exploitation Online Protection) trained. At a no-notice Ofsted targeted inspection in my previous High School the inspector stated I was both knowledgeable and skilled in safeguarding, and governors where described as "on it"; when it came to supporting the school in this area. I have worked strategically with SLT, SEN lead teachers, TA's and well-being teachers to develop robust policies in all areas.

For the last 20 years, my day job has involved both Health and Education for 17 years I worked as a Senior Health Advisor for the NHS as a Healthy Schools Project Officer in Wirral which also entailed working with the UK’s National Team to develop the National Healthy School Standards. I currently work as a Nicotine and Smoking Cessation Practitioner with a specialist role of supporting young people.

I love nature and crime programmes, and I love to read and have a wide range of taste in books from mystery thrillers to historical sagas. Our family have travelled the length and breadth of this country but I still have many places in the world I would love to visit.


Kishan Bhalsod Elected Staff Governor

I am an elected staff governor and I have worked at The Observatory School for 6 years,. I am passionate about working in the SEND sector and helping young people overcome barriers to their education.

My specialism is in Mathematics which I teache across Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4. Having served on the governing board for 2 years I have been able to provide insight into the quality of education to other board members. being a Mathematics specialist I am also keen to promote STEAM (Science, Engineering, Art and Maths) working closely with colleagues and external industry professionals to run exciting Engineering projects.

Recently I have worked with Jordan Dickson (Science Teacher) and WABTEC Faiveley UK (industry mentors and sponsors) to run a robotics project as part of our STEAM program. I use my role as a senior teacher and staff governor to actively seek new learning opportunities for all pupils of the Observatory School, over the years focussing in promoting cross-curricular learning such as the Robotics project.

Mary Barrigan-Cross

I am Mary Barrigan-Cross and I am a parent governor at the Observatory with a daughter in the Lower School. I am also a parent governor at my son's primary school where I sit on the Curriculum Committee with responsibility for SEND matters. I have acted in this role for 2 years and thought that I would be able to use the skills learned to act as a parent governor at The Observatory School.

As a parent of children with SEN, I understand first hand the struggles parents go through to get the best education for their children in an environment which enables them to reach their full potential. I am passionate about every child receiving the education they deserve to give them the best chance to succeed in life.

I am a business owner with qualifications in law and surveying and I believe these skills enable me to make a positive contribution to the school in the role of governor and make sure the parents' views are represented.


Greg Chiswell - Headteacher
Matthew Lord – Co-opted Governor
Jacqui Kearney – Co-opted Governor
Kevin Smith – Co-opted Governor
Linda Smith – Co-opted Governor
Kishan Bhalsod – Staff Governor
Kerry Menzies – Parent Governor
Mary Barrigan-Cross – Parent Governor

Governor Terms of Office

Declarations of Interest Register

Attendance log The Observatory School