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Chris Armitage - Community Governor

I am delighted to be a member of the newly formed Samuel Ryder Academy Board of Governors. I have recently retired from teaching at Sir John Lawes School, where I was Assistant Head. Over the thirty six years I witnessed at first hand how a school could turn itself around from being an under subscribed school to one that was recognised by OFSTED as Outstanding. The challenge ahead for the Headteacher, Staff, Students, Governors and Parents is a huge one, but one that, with hard work, will be both successful and rewarding. I know all concerned are looking forward to the challenge.

On a personal note, my wife is also recently retired from teaching and both my children are teachers so you could say teaching is in our blood.  I look forward to the challenges ahead.

Madeleine Bates - Parent Governor

I have worked in the not-for-profit sector for nearly twenty years, on projects based in the UK and internationally.  I run a small international health charity locally.  I am proud to have been re-elected to serve another four-year term as a Governor at SRA. 

Martin Sidders - Chair of Governors

After qualifying many years ago as a Chartered Accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers I have spent most of my career in the Retail and Construction industries.

I have enjoyed roles in accounting, treasury, company secretarial and taxation that have taken me all over Europe and to the USA. I am currently the Finance Director of a Housebuilder based in London.

While I take a particular interest in financial and legal aspects of the school I also have a keen interest in Special Educational Needs and have previously served as a governor in a Specialist SEN school.

In my spare time I play badminton (badly) and enjoy history.

Peter Stokes - Community Governor

Peter St John Stokes is from North Yorkshire. He moved south to study at Trinity College of Music and has since worked as an organist, conductor and teacher. He never intended to be a schoolteacher but after enjoying a year at Edmonton School, which he joined when it was formed as a comprehensive, he decided to continue for a while. He became head of music there and, having moved to St Albans, he went to Loreto College in 1973 where he created a successful music department very much based on practical music-making. He took early retirement in 1994 since when he has done mostly freelance work. He continued until recently as an organist in London but is now retired apart from giving occasional concerts, composing and writing on music.

In addition to his qualifications in musical performance he has a master’s degree in historical musicology and a first degree and a doctorate in French. His children were educated locally – his daughters at Loreto College and his son as a choirboy at St Paul’s Cathedral and then at Aldenham and Beaumont Schools. His other interests include family, art, food and fairly serious walking.

Jessica McGrath - Community Governor

I joined the Board of Governors as a Community Governor at the start of this academic year (September 2014). I am originally from Edinburgh and I received a first class honours degree in English Literature from the University of Aberdeen. I joined Deloitte St Albans in 2011 and spent the last 3 years training as an accountant within the Audit department. More recently I have moved into a Public sector Advisory team. I became involved with the Samuel Ryder Academy through Deloitte's partnership with the school, which to date has included a mentoring programme and sessions on employability skills. In addition to being on the Board I am also on the Finance and Resources Committee. 

Amar Barot - Parent Governor

I was elected to the SRA Governing body by fellow parents in Sept 2014.  Having been a Head of Children’s Finance at local authorities since 2004, I have extensive knowledge of school funding issues and have experience of ensuring schools make best use of their limited resources.

I am also a member of the Resources committee and in July 2015, I jointed the Sir John Lawes Trust Board as Parent Director, where I hope my skills and knowledge will help support the strategic development of the schools in the trust.

Emma Hargreaves – Parent Governor

I became a Parent Governor in June 2015, keen to represent the views of parents and support the school to become a highly regarded all through school serving the local community. I am keen to contribute to the strategic direction and play an active part in assisting continual improvement.

I graduated from University of Surrey in 1996 with a BA Hons in English and Drama and following a career in the private sector with Sony and Barclays I then moved into the public sector as a Grants Manager at Big Lottery Fund. It was in this role I became interested in the area of supporting education and social inclusion.

I took a leap of faith and studied full time for a post-graduate certificate (PGCE) in education from the University of Greenwich in 2005. I taught English at a local FE college and then went on to work for St. Albans District Council setting up a youth council and working with other partners and young people themselves to deliver events and support them in their youth advocacy roles.

Most recently since having my two daughters I have worked in the voluntary sector and lead on youth volunteering programmes aimed at developing the life skills that young people need in the work place and to assist them with their applications for Higher Education.

I am very much looking forward to making a positive contribution to the Governing Body and have recently been appointed Vice Chair of the Academy Improvement Committee and Link Governor to the sixth form.

Alison Watkins – Parent Governor

Although originally from Scotland, Alison has lived in St Albans for the last 15 years and is a newly elected Parent Governor with a son in Year 1 and a daughter due to join SRA in 2017.  After completing her Bachelor of Commerce degree at University of Edinburgh in 2000 and 15 years working in senior human resources positions within big blue-chip companies, Alison decided to take some time out last year to focus on family life.  This provided the perfect opportunity to put her passion for education as well as her skills acquired in the private sector to good use as a Parent Governor and she is very much looking forward to having a positive involvement with SRA. 

Nikki Ward - Staff Governor

Nikki has been Head of Drama at Samuel Ryder Academy since June 2015.  She previously worked at Beaumont School and Lochinver House Preparatory School.

Nikki was born and raised in St Albans and once she was married decided to move back here to raise her family.  She has two boys, aged 9 and 7, who attend Skyswood School.

Nikki gained a 2:1 in Performing Arts and Business Management with IT from the University of Manchester before working in Marketing in London for a few years.  At 26, she decided to retrain as a teacher and completed her PGCE at Middlesex University.  Whilst working part time while her children were small, she completed a Masters Degree in Drama in Education at Middlesex University in conjunction with Trestle Theatre Company.  She passed this Masters with Distinction in 2015.

Mun-Li Boswell – Parent Governor

I grew up in St Albans and, after getting married, returned to live here 11 years ago.  My husband and I have two daughters both of whom attend Samuel Ryder Academy.  After graduating from university, I embarked upon a career in procurement that now spans over 17 years working for a number of organisations including British Airways, Barclays and the BBC.  I am currently an executive consultant at a niche procurement consultancy.

Since my daughters joined the school I have been an active parent and was previously co-chair of the PTA.  I was delighted to be elected to the SRA Board of Governors in October 2016 and am keen to support the school in its continued success and contribute to its strategic direction. I am also a member of the Resources Committee and Link Governor for the Maths Faculty. 

Robert Pileborg Dunster - Community Governor

Born in the USA of British parents, the first 18 years of my life offered the opportunity to travel throughout western societies and appreciate Central European cultures. 

A keen sports enthusiast, having been a UK judo champion, played 4 years professional rugby, scaled Mont Blanc and run with the bulls in Pamplona, I am a highly energised individual with a drive for perfection.

I have worked in the city for nearly two decades as well as across Moscow, New York, Monaco and Paris in leadership roles streamlining efficiencies and leveraging opportunities.

I have now been living in St Albans with my wife for the last 5 years. With a young baby and another along the way, I am a strong believer in building community links and making the arena we live in the best possible. 

With three years of governor experience, I hope to bring my dynamic drive for excellence to SRA and complement the outstanding work already being realised by staff, parents and children. 

  • Boy playing trumpet
  • girls dancing
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