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Governing Body

Wanstead Church School Governing Body

Governor Biographies


Dr Alexandra Harborne - Co-Chair (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 work as an 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 have also been working at a vaccination centre in Hackney since January 2021. Over  the past two years I have become  involved in medical education in the hospital and community as a GP tutor for medical students, a supervisor for trainee GPs and as an OSCE examiner for Barts 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 past four 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.


Kate Spencer Ellis - Co- Chair (Local Authority Governor 30.04.2020-29.04.2024)

Kate Spencer Ellis grew up in South Woodford and now lives in Aldersbrook.


After doing her English degree, she completed a PGCE in 2000-2001 and has been teaching ever since. First, she taught in a large, split-site comprehensive in Oxfordshire where she became an Advanced Skills Teacher and served as a teacher governor. In 2008, she moved back to London to take up the role of Head of English at Forest School and in 2016 was appointed Head of Sixth Form and Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead. Kate is particularly interested in issues related to safeguarding and student well-being, teaching and learning (particularly assessment) and to ensure that young people are ready for the world beyond school.


Kate attends St Gabriel’s Church in Aldersbrook and teaches Sunday School there. She also enjoys running ridiculous distances for fun!


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.


Joan Barnes - (Foundation Governor 09.10.2019-08.10.2023)

Originally from the Lake District, I moved to London after finishing my A Levels to train be a teacher and complete my degree at Middlesex University and have spent my whole career in education. Most of my teaching experience has been in various London Boroughs before moving to North Lincolnshire as Principal of a Church of England Academy and ending up as an Executive Principal of two academies. I retired in 2017 from my full time position and then started doing consultancy work for SSAT based in South London, working in the primary sector. I love working within educational settings and always strive to ensure children are getting the best possible opportunities in which they can flourish and “shine”.


I am now retired from paid employment and focus on supporting my growing family. I live in Wanstead and have done for many years, my two children attended WCS and hopefully my grandchildren will too. As a family we attended St Gabriel’s Aldersbrook where I was a church warden and the children were both in the choir prior to moving into Wanstead and we then started worshiping at Christ Church and are passionate supporters of getting involved in the local community.


Avril Carnelley Vice Chair (Acting Ex-Officio)

I have many years’ experience of the role of governor in different schools and different roles. I have been Chair of Governors at another school and Vice Chair of Governors both at Wanstead Church School and another school. I spent my career in education including 20 years as Head teacher of two primary schools. I am therefore passionate about ensuring our children receive the best education that we can provide. I am governor of another school in Redbridge which helps to bring more experience to our meetings.


I am a worshipping member of Wanstead Parish and am keen to support the link between church and school.


Jon Day (Foundation Governor 14.03.2018-13.03.2022)

I have had the privilege of being a governor at Wanstead Church School for the past 2 years. My wife Jules and I have lived in Wanstead for close to 7 years, attend Christ Church and our two children have attended the school from nursery. 


I have always had a love of education and learning. My parents were head and deputy head of secondary and primary schools respectively and my grandfather was a headteacher recognised with an OBE for services to education. He wrote a series of standard text books and was “Mr. Maths” on 1960s television. 


I sit on the Full Governing Body and am also a member of both the Resources and the Pay Committees, my role being to monitor and challenge the school finances to ensure we stay on track, obtain value for money and invest where we can in improving things.


As a governor, I try to use my skills to support the School Leadership in the challenges faced by school funding and in us all wanting the very best for our children. 


My day job is spent in IT, where I hold COO responsibility for UK technology, supporting senior leaders and the UK board. I am a qualified chartered accountant and have over 20 years experience in Financial Institutions.


Gemma Seymour (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 9 years and have three young children. My eldest daughter attends Wanstead Church School and is currently in year one.  


I am a corporate/commercial solicitor and currently lead the legal function 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 (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.


Elaine Turner (Staff Governor 06.10.2018-05.10.2022)

Both my children attended Wanstead Church School and I have been involved with the school for many years, first as a member of the PTA and a parent helper. I really enjoyed working with the children, so I became a teaching assistant, and I then studied part time for my Bachelors of Education at The Institute of Education, which I gained in 2010.  I joined Wanstead Church School as a teacher, and in 2016 I also added Special Needs Coordinator to my role, and gained the SENCo award in 2017.


Wanstead Church School gives the children in its care  a great educational start to their learning journey and it is a privilege to be part of the governing body, to help further the school's development and offer quality provision and guidance to its pupils and the wider family.


Scott Wilding (Foundation Governor 04.02.2021-03.02.2025)

I have lived in Wanstead for over 30 years, and attended Wanstead Church School as a pupil, as did my godchildren. I work for TfL as a policy advisor and have a BA degree in Politics and International Relations and an MSC in Transport Planning.


Since 2010 I have been Chair of the Wanstead Society, the only small charity dedicated to protecting and enhancing Wanstead. I am also a Magistrate (J.P) for North East London.


I am also a worshipping member of Wanstead Parish and hope to be able to enhance the links between the school and its church.


Mark Willingham (Foundation Governor 26.11.2018-25.11.2022)

I grew up in nearby Essex, attending Church of England schools. After University I worked as a solicitor in London before deciding to join the teaching profession; I now teach Philosophy & RS at a nearby independent senior school, having moved to Wanstead in 2017. I have been a Foundation Governor since 2018 and have really enjoyed being involved in this aspect of our community. I am married to Gemma and we have 2 children, both of whom attend Wanstead Church School.  When time allows, I enjoy reading, art, swimming, playing piano.




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.

Avril Carnelley is an ex-officio foundation governor.

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


5 further foundation governors are appointed by the PCC and Diocese

Joan Barnes

Jonathan Day

Hannah Turbet   

Scott Wilding    

Mark Willingham  


There are two elected parent governors

Alexandra Harborne

Mike Keefe


There is one Local Education Authority Governor

Kate Spencer Ellis


There is one staff governor

Elaine Turner   


The Clerk to Governors is

Colin Edwards 


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 from the school office upon request. 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.