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Governing Body

Wanstead Church School Governing Body

Governor Biographies


Ben Aves - Vice Chair (Foundation Governor 23.01.2023-22.01.2027)

Originally from Norwich I've lived in London for over 15 years, with the last 5 spent in Wanstead. Having grown up as the son of a priest the connection the school has with the church is important to me and my son attends the school as a result.


Professionally I have over 15 years experience working in advertising creating, leading and shaping communications strategies that have answered challenges as diverse as how to cut sugar from the nation’s diet through to how to release a major Hollywood blockbuster. I hope to use some of the skills and experiences I've learnt through this time to support the school in my role as governor.


Natalie Denchfield - Headteacher (Ex-Officio)

I am very proud to be the Headteacher of Wanstead Church School, having been appointed in January 2019. My teaching career in primary education first began in 2005 and I worked up to my first senior position in an outstanding school in Essex in 2009. I then became Assistant Head and later Acting Head of a struggling school in Havering, which was an insightful and enriching experience. Following that I became the Deputy Headteacher of an outstanding school in Havering, which was rated one of London’s top 10 schools, before becoming the Deputy Headteacher and later the Headteacher of a primary school in Essex, which secured a “Good” Ofsted judgement under my leadership. 


I have been a school governor in each of my five schools and have thoroughly enjoyed the strategic nature of school governance from an early stage in my career. It is an honour to be a part of Wanstead Church School's governing body. There is great strength of experience, knowledge and skills across the board members and their challenge and support of the school is instrumental in the school's success.


Karl Ellwood (Foundation Governor 27.06.23-26.06.27)

Originally from New Zealand, I have lived in the U.K. for almost twenty years, six of them in Wanstead. I have two daughters who both attend Wanstead Church school.


Professionally I am a chartered accountant and qualified barrister & solicitor. I previously worked in private practice and for the last sixteen years have worked in the banking sector.


I was inspired to become a Governor because I want to contribute to the success of the school, ensuring that the children have many opportunities to shine, and maintain the school’s strong links to both the community and to the church.


Father James Gilder - Rector (Ex-officio)

As Rector of Wanstead, I lead the worshipping life of this parish, which includes Wanstead Church School as well as our two churches: St Mary’s, Overton Drive, and Christ Church, Wanstead Place.  Before I was ordained, I had careers as a solicitor and a primary school teacher, in Essex and east London.  I read law at Magdalene College, Cambridge, later returning to read theology.  In my spare time I enjoy sailing, old cars and gardening, and I am a Justice of the Peace


I very much enjoy being part of school and community life here, and I come into school most weeks to lead worship, and sometimes to teach lessons or to run clubs like the ever-popular hand bells.  My role as a governor is to be the key link between the Church and the School, to ensure that Wanstead Church School retains its unique and distinctive nature, and to act as a ‘critical friend’ to school management – someone who is supportive, but who is also in a good position to raise any potential issues.   


Dr Alex Harborne (Parent Governor 18.09.2020-17.09.2024)

I am a Parent Governor and have five children who have all attended Wanstead Church School. We attend Christ Church as a family.


I have several work roles including Clinical Director ELFT Tower Hamlets Community Health Services, Out Of Hours GP and Supervisor in the Emergency Department at Homerton Hospital and as an NHS 111 Gp for the London Ambulance Service. I also work as a medical examiner at my old medical school Bart's and the London. 


I was initially inspired to apply for the role as governor as I wanted to contribute to our school and I was drawn to the strategic nature of the role. I have immersed myself in School Governance ever since, attending extensive LA and government funded finance, curriculum and leadership training over the years to ensure the necessary skill set to lead our highly professional Governing Body.


I feel very privileged and proud to serve our school community as Co-Chair of Governors and passionately believe ‘We Can Shine’ at Wanstead Church School.


Helen McTaggart (Foundation Governor 27.06.23 - 26.06.27)

I’m very proud to become a governor of Wanstead Church School and I’m excited to have the opportunity to make a contribution to this wonderful school. My husband and I have lived in and around the area for seven years and love the local community spirit. We regularly attend Christ Church services along with our one year old daughter, and consider our family roots to be firmly in Wanstead. I’ve spent 15 years working in Sustainability within the corporate sector, and care deeply about protecting and improving the local and global environment for future generations. I’m a committed volunteer involved with various mentoring, community sports, and conservation charities over the years. With any time left over, I love reading, gardening and cooking.


Zainab Sanusi (Foundation Governor 22.09.23 - 21.09.27)

I was raised in London and now live locally in Snaresbrook. I am a doctor by profession, specialising in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.


I have been a member of Christ Church for over two years, and enjoy the closeness of the community spirit. I believe the link between a church and a school is of significant importance, and contributes to the holistic development of individuals and the overall wellbeing of a community.


As a mother of two young children myself, I recognise the crucial role that early childhood education plays in shaping the future of our society. I understand the importance of fostering a nurturing and enriching environment to allow children to enjoy learning and achieve their educational potential.


In my role as Foundation Governor, I hope to bring my dedication, passion, and local knowledge to the table in order to create a supportive and enriching educational environment.


Gemma Seymour - Co-Chair (Parent Governor 10.02.2022-09.02.2026)

I am grateful for the opportunity to be a parent governor at Wanstead Church School. I have lived in Wanstead for 10 years and have three children at the school: one child in Year Two and twins in Reception. 


I am a solicitor with more than fifteen years experience and currently lead the legal team within an insurance company.  I hope that the skills that I have developed throughout my career will assist me to add value to the school as a governor, both from a risk management and oversight perspective.


Hannah Turbet - Co-Chair (Foundation Governor 09.07.2018-08.07.2022)

I believe that education has the power to change lives and became a governor to support the leadership at Wanstead Church School to ensure that our students have the very best academic experiences and pastoral support. I have two children, one of whom has just moved from the Nursery to Reception and have lived in Wanstead for 5 years.


I am a link governor for Maths, which means that I work with the Maths Lead to understand and evaluate how Maths is taught across the school and am really excited about the Maths Mastery that is being introduced across the school. I have worked in education for over 10 years and I am currently a Deputy Head teacher at a secondary school in Hackney where I am responsible for implementation of the curriculum, which includes evaluating and improving teaching and learning.


Hannah Williams (Staff Governor 01.11.22 - 31.10.26)

After completing my degree in Abnormal and Clinical Psychology in Cambridge, I moved to Chester to complete my PGCE in Primary Education. After completing my qualification, I volunteered in a primary school in Cheshire to support children post COVID before joining Wanstead Church School. 


I completed my ECT years at Wanstead Church School and I am passionate about the children having a safe and inspiring learning environment. I want to help the school to continue improving, with the focus on children receiving the best education and opportunities. 


Fahad Zeeshan (LA Governor 16.11.23 - 15.11.27)

Biography to follow.




Wanstead Church School was founded in 1790 by the Revd Samuel Glasse Rector of Wanstead, and since that time it has been part of the work and the ministry of the parish of Wanstead. The Rector remains formally the owner of the land on which the school sits and the school’s foundation is reflected in the appointment of its governors. It is classified as a voluntary aided school which protects its religious and denomination culture.


Who are the governors?

There are 12 governors of whom a majority are ‘foundation’ appointments to ensure the school’s Anglican character and parish links.

Father James Gilder is an ex-officio governor.

Mrs Denchfield, the Headteacher, is an ex-officio governor.


6 further foundation governors are appointed by the PCC and Diocese

Ben Aves

Karl Ellwood

Helen McTaggart

Hannah Turbet   

Zainab Sanusi



There are two elected parent governors

Alexandra Harborne

Gemma Seymour 


There is one Local Education Authority Governor

Fahad Zeeshan


There is one staff governor

Miss Williams


The Clerk to Governors is



What do the governors do:


The governors act collectively on the professional advice of the Head Teacher to set the strategic direction of the school.


  • We review and approve the school development plan
  • We approve the school budget.
  • We appoint the Head Teacher and with the Head Teacher, the Deputy and other teaching staff.
  • We establish a staff disciplinary committee
  • We review the curriculum policy and agree the sex education policy
  • We manage the Head Teacher’s performance Management
  • We are responsible for Health and Safety
  • We must ensure the school profile, including performance data, is published.


As a voluntary aided school we have certain other very specific responsibilities:


  • We set and administer the school admissions policy and oversubscription criteria (subject to the DFES admission regulations and the guidance of the Church of England)
  • We are formally the employer of all staff at the school
  • We set the schools Religious Education policy
  • We set the schools Collective Worship policy
  • We are responsible for finding 10% of the cost of all capital projects (new building, alarm systems, etc.).


What the governors don’t do:


  • We do not have responsibility for the school’s day to day management – this belongs to the Head Teacher
  • We have no responsibility for the allocation of staff to classes
  • We are not responsible for pupil discipline unless the Head Teacher decides to exclude a pupil for more than 5 days in which case we must review and agree the decision.
  • We are not responsible for staff performance management or discipline unless the Head Teacher takes formal proceedings in which case we must formally consider this.


How do I raise a concern about the school and how are the governors involved?


Because governors do not have responsibility for the day to day management of the school we are not a first point of call for complaints. We can only consider matters that have first been raised with the class teacher and then the Head. If, after this, the matter is still unresolved, we can be formally approached and take action through the complaints committee. Such matters should be addressed in writing to the Chair of Governors at the school office. The governors corporately are not able to initiate any discipline matters.




Most of what we do is on the public record and the minutes are available below. Matters referring to individuals (staff or students) are kept confidential.




If you have any questions about the work of the governors please do approach us, parent governors in particular have a responsibility for this.