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.


Related Documents

Our Governors

Greg Chiswell – Headteacher

Jane Owens MBE FRSA  – Chair
Duncan Haworth MBE – Vice Chair
Matthew Lord – Co-opted Governor
Jacqui Kearney – Co-opted Governor
Kevin Smith – Co-opted Governor
Karen Warren – Co-opted Governor
Audrey Houghton – Co-opted Governor
Kishan Bhalsod – Staff Governor
Joanne McNeill – Parent Governor
Miranda Birtles  – Parent Governor

Jane Owens MBE  FRSA

Jane Owens MBE FRSA


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 of the governing board since that time. 

I am also chair of Trustees at Wirral Multi- Academy Trust comprising 6 primary schools and chair of Trustees a Wirral Single Academy Trust. I chair a Wirral Boy’s School, I am a governor at a Liverpool school and a Member at a Cheshire West and Chester Multi Academy Trust. I am also a Interim Executive Board member at a school in Cheshire West and Chester.

I am a former 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 a director 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. 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 MBE

Vice Chair

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.

Kevin Smith

Co-opted Governor

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.

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

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 on the MAT Board for Weaver Trust Academy. 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.

Karen Warren

I was delighted to join the school’s Board of Governors in November 2022 and look forward to supporting the team to deliver a great education to the students at the school.  I’ve worked in business and management roles across the private and public sectors, for over thirty years and my passion is to support the wellbeing, personal and professional development of the individuals and organisations I now work with as a self-employed Personal Development Specialist.
My book, Workforce Wellbeing – how to build organisational strength and resilience is a guide for Employers and Leaders, to help them tackle the difficult conversations in their business and develop an effective culture of workforce wellbeing.  As the school has already defined objectives to support the wellbeing of its students and staff, I hope to contribute to the delivery of those goals and offer insights from my business and management experience to support the ongoing wellbeing and development of the school.





Jacqui Kearney

Co-opted Governor

Having been a Chair of Governors at my son’s Primary school, and then moving on to be Vice-Chair of governors in a High School where I had responsibility for SEN and Safeguarding, I was delighted to be invited to join The Observatory School to be able to use my experience in Safeguarding and SEN to further support young people in their education.

I am a Level 4 Designated Safeguard Lead in my Job role as a Specialist Tobacco Dependency Practitioner for Young People, this experience together with bringing many years of working strategically with Senior Leadership Teams, SEN lead teachers, and well-being teachers in developing robust policies not only in health but all areas within Education is where I feel I can make a positive contribution to The Observatory Schools Governing board.

For the last 20 years, all my work roles have involved both Health and Education and I believe that having an environment that supports good physical and mental health is key to young people being able to succeed not only in their Education but in their life journey.


Audrey Houghton

Co-opted Governor

Following my graduation, I started my career in national and international manufacturing organisations, mainly in production management and generalist HR roles.  

In November 2000 I moved to the Education Department of Wirral Council where I started my work with Wirral schools and education support services.

I have vast experience in dealing with HR issues and working with headteachers, senior managers and governors on matters such as:

  • employee relations 
  • terms and conditions of service 
  • organisational restructures
  • policy and procedure development

I retired from Wirral Council as Manager of the Schools’ HR Consultancy Team in July 2022..

I have chartered membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and an up to date knowledge of employment legislation.

My own three children are now grown up and I have three lovely grandchildren, two of whom are happily enrolled in Wirral schools.

For several years I have been keen to become a school governor as I would love to be in a position to contribute, even in some small way, to giving children the best opportunities in life. 


Kishan Bhalsod

Staff Governor

I am an elected staff governor and I have worked at The Observatory School since November 2013. 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 teach across Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4. Having served on the governing board for 3 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.


Joanne McNeill

Parent Governor


My name is Joanne McNeil and I’m a mother of 4 children, 3 of whom have SEN. I left my job as a registered Care Home manager to take care of them. 
I live on the Wirral with my husband and family. 2 of our children have EHCPs and attend specialist settings. My experience of being a SEN parent began in 2013. I have helped lots of other parents who are in the same position we were in when it became obvious our child would not be able to cope with mainstream. 
I’ve faced many challenges on the way and feel my experiences will help with my role as Parent governor. 
We feel very lucky our son attends The Observatory and feel passionate about the amazing work the school does.  I look forward to being able to be involved in giving a parents point of view and make a positive contribution. 

Miranda Birtles

Parent Governor.