Berkhamsted Schools Group is an incorporated charity led by a Board of Governors
Our governors are the company directors and charity trustees of the Berkhamsted Schools Group, with control over all aspects of the charity.
We aim to have between 12 and 15 governors on the board at all times, with each governor possessing a wide range of skills and experiences that will benefit the school.
The board of governors meets five times a year and has established three subcommittees to assist with the day-to-day running of each school.
These subcommittees meet once every term, covering matters such as:
A Chairman’s committee meets once each term to discuss matters of strategy, but this committee is not a decision-making entity.
The Chairman’s committee consists of the Chair of Governors and the chairs of the subcommittees.
School governors are recommended by the nominations subcommittee, which meets as and when required.
Governors serve a term of three years with a maximum of three consecutive terms of office. They are approved or re-elected by the board of governors.
Gavin Laws was Group Head of Corporate Affairs at Standard Chartered Bank until his retirement in the summer of 2012 after a career stretching over 37 years with the bank. During that time he lived and worked in South Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore as well as in the UK. Gavin attended Lymm Grammar School in Cheshire, is married to Julie and has lived in Berkhamsted since 2000. He has three grown-up daughters who are Old Berkhamstedians. Gavin is currently Chair of Union Bank UK PLC, Liverpool FC Foundation and Nidebsa Ltd as well as serving as a Non Executive Director for Finablr PLC and Asa International Group PLC.
He was appointed a Governor in early 2012 and succeeded Peter Williamson as Chair in September of that year.
David Atkins is a Chartered Surveyor and was Chief Executive of Hammerson, the FTSE 250 retail property company, from 2009 until 2020, having joined the company in 1998. He spent the first 10 years of his career at international property adviser DTZ (now Cushman & Wakefield). He was educated at Berkhamsted School (Bees 1984) and the University of Reading. He is married to Louise and has three daughters, all of whom are or were pupils of Berkhamsted School. He is a Non-Executive Director of Whitbread Group Plc, a past President of Revo (formerly BCSC), a Director and Trustee of the Reading University Real Estate Foundation and former Chairman of the European Public Real Estate Association (EPRA). David sits on the Finance and Property Committee.
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is Chair of Psychology at the University of Cambridge, and Leader of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group. Her research focuses on brain development and mental health in adolescence. Sarah-Jayne has an interest in the links between neuroscience and education, and has worked on education initiatives at the Royal Society and the Wellcome Trust and has been consulted by education policy makers and politicians. She works with many secondary schools in the UK, youth theatre groups and youth sports teams. Sarah-Jayne has two sons, both of whom are pupils of the Berkhamsted Schools Group. Sarah-Jayne was appointed as a Governor in 2017 and is a member of the Education Committee.
Andrew Hart is the leader of the global dispute resolution practice of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, an international law firm, where he is a litigation partner. His practice has involved acting for many banks, accountancy firms and companies in a wide range of disputes around the world. He has also been a member of the key executive and governance committees of the firm. Andrew has a Masters in Jurisprudence from Oxford University. He is married with three children, and his wife and children are Old Berkhamstedians. He has worked as a teacher and has a particular interest in playing and coaching a wide variety of sports. Andrew was appointed as a Governor in December 2018 and sits on the Risk and Regulatory Committee.
Dr Mark Fenton is Chief Executive of the Grammar School Heads Association (GSHA), the leading organisation representing heads of selective schools in England. Prior to taking up this post, Mark was Head Master of the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham and for fifteen years was Headmaster of Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Amersham. He has been a National Leader of Education, CEO of a Teaching School Alliance and Executive Head of a Free School in London. He has worked on school leadership projects around the world and his doctoral research is in the field of parental choice and school image. Mark’s interests include singing, conducting choirs and cricket. He has been a governor of several schools, including The Beacon in Chesham Bois. He joined the Board at Berkhamsted in January 2014.
As a former barrister, Kerry’s professional background is the world of litigation, having spent many years dealing with serious criminal cases involving sensitive matters of every kind, as well as lots of fraud and drugs! A desire to find a balance with family life led her to change career and use her skills in a different environment. Nowadays she works as trainer in the commercial and legal field, designing and delivering courses to those who find themselves as witnesses in court proceedings or who would like confidence building techniques for contentious professional situations. Fuelled by her own work in training and confidence building and being a parent, she has developed a particular interest in methods and innovations in education, as well as the pastoral aspects of school life.
Her involvement in school life began as a Heatherton parent with an enjoyable few years spent co-chairing the Friends of Heatherton and as part of the parent and governors’ advisory panels for Heatherton and Berkhamsted. She has a daughter at Heatherton and a young son at Berkhamsted Pre-Prep.
Kerry sits on the Finance and Property Committee.
Chris Nicholls retired from Berkhamsted School in 2013 after 38 years of teaching there. During those years he held many senior positions both academically and pastorally, culminating in being Head of Boys for the last five years. Outside of the classroom, Chris coached rugby for over 30 years and was Master in charge of Rugby and the First XV coach for nine years. Chris is married to Sue who was also a teacher at the School and they have two grown-up daughters who are Old Berkhamstedians. Chris chairs the Education Committee.
Kam is a graduate of Lancaster University with a MA International Relations and Strategic Studies, and also holds a MEd in Educational Leadership from the University of Buckingham. Miss Nijjar began her teaching career at Runshaw College in Leyland and moved to Hydesville Tower School, Walsall, in 2003. Throughout her last six years at Hydesville Kam held the position of Deputy Headteacher. She took up the Headship of Long Close School in September 2018. Kam was appointed as a Governor in 2020 and sits on the Education Committee.
Stuart Rolland is Chief Executive Europe for Cognita Schools. He was previously Chief Operations Officer for British Gas and prior to that was Managing Director of British Gas Smart Metering. Prior to his roles at British Gas, he was Managing Director of a number of building product and engineering businesses. He was educated at the Glasgow Academy, has an MA in Modern History from Oxford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is married with three children who attended Berkhamsted School. He was appointed as a Governor in 2011 and sits on the Risk and Regulatory Committee.
Sarah Shields is Vice President and General Manager for Dell EMC and had been with the company since 2008. With a long track record of running large teams, complex businesses and running multi-million dollar organisations, Sarah is local to the Berkhamsted area and has two sons within the School. As well as running Dell’s channel sales teams, Sarah also is a champion for women and girls in technology and entrepreneurship, working with big names such as The UN Foundation, Microsoft, Intel and multiple other big brands. Sarah is a member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety as well as a frequent speaker at public events including The World Economic Forum at Davos. Sarah was appointed as a Governor in 2017 and sits on the Risk & Regulatory Committee.
Joe Smith was appointed Head Master of The Oratory School in 2016. His previous role was as Headmaster of the Oratory Preparatory School, which he held since 2010. Educated at Liverpool University, Mr Smith got a first in English and a PGCE at Brunel. His first teaching post was at Colfe’s School, followed by 12 years at Monkton Combe in Bath where he became Head of English and Housemaster. He is a Governor of Downe House School, where he chairs the Education Committee. Joe was appointed as a Governor in September 2020 and sits on the Education Committee.
Neil Twogood is a chartered accountant who worked in industry doing finance and line management roles before founding, growing and selling a telecommunications company and then investing in, growing and selling a psychometric services company. He joined one of the UK’s leading coaching partnerships before starting his own consultancy serving his own clients and working with other organisations including Ashridge Business School. He has extensive experience designing and delivering programmes on leadership, strategy and innovation with particular interest in helping leaders understand themselves better, in order to lead more effectively. He has worked extensively with large companies in Europe, USA and Asia and a wide variety of other organisations. He is an experienced coach and mentors entrepreneurial companies. He was educated at Watford Grammar School and has an economics degree from Exeter University; an MSc (dipl.) in Executive Coaching & Organisational Design from the University of Portsmouth Business School and is a member of the ICAEW. He is married to Pauline and has two sons and a daughter who all attended Berkhamsted School meaning Neil stood on touchlines from 2002 to 2013. He is often found on a golf course, tennis court, running and cycling around Ashridge or by a trout river. Neil was appointed Governor in 2015 and chairs the Finance and Property Committee.
Andrew Wilcock has over 16 years’ experience as a head of two schools. Most recently, he has been head of Bishop Ramsey School, a Church of England Academy for students aged between 11-18 years. Since 2006 when the school was recognised as ‘outstanding’ in all areas of Ofsted, it has been officially designated as an ‘International School’, a ‘National Support School’ and in 2013 as a ‘National Teaching School’. In 2015 Bishop Ramsay was one of only 27 schools in the country to be awarded the prestigious ‘World Class Schools’ Quality Mark. Bishop Ramsey School converted to academy status in 2011 and in 2016 to a multi-academy trust. In January 2017, following a successful bid to set up a new school and with other possible developments to the multi-academy trust, Mr Wilcock has taken on a role of CEO and stepped back from the day to day leadership of the school to concentrate on these developments. Andrew Wilcock sits on the Education Committee.
Jon Williams is a Partner at PwC, the professional services firm, where he advises companies on sustainability. He is also a Mental Health Partner Advocate. Jon is a member of the Financial Stability Board Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and the City of London Green Finance Initiative Steering Committee, and was a previous Project Adviser to the World Economic Forum. Prior to joining PwC, Jon worked for HSBC for 21 years in Asia and Europe, most recently as Group Head of Sustainable Development. Jon is married with three children, two of whom attend Berkhamsted School. He has a BSc (Hons) in Economics from the University of Southampton. on was appointed as a Governor in March 2018. He is Governor with responsibility for Child Protection and chairs the Risk and Regulatory Committee.
Interested in becoming a Governor at Berkhamsted Schools Group?
Our articles of association allow for a minimum of twelve and a maximum of fifteen Governors at any one time. Subject to performance Governors will normally serve up to three terms of three years and we aim to ensure an even distribution of retirement dates to allow the continued safe running of the school.
The Governors have agreed that we should have a wide range of expertise within the governing body but that at all times the following core skills must be covered.
Education, Business Expertise, Law, Governance, Finance, Property
If you are interested in knowing more about the requirements of being a Governor please email our Clerk mentioning your experience and why you want to join our board.