Meet Our Governors

Co-Chair of Governors

Matt Heard – Co-opted Governor

Matt grew up in Hampshire before gaining a degree in Botany and Zoology from the University of Wales, followed by a PhD in Ecology from Imperial College, London. He is a principle scientist at the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (based at Wallingford, Oxfordshire). His research focuses on trying to understand how environmental change affects wildlife and how any negative effects might be reversed. He is a member of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment and also member of two research councils’ panel of experts. He is a member of the advisory board for the Knepp Rewilding project and a trustee of Holyford Wood, Colyford. After periods of studying, travelling, working abroad and in the UK Matt and his partner re-located to Devon (from South Oxfordshire) in 2016.

He served for 4 years (including as chair) on the governing board of Watlington Primary School, Oxon and has recently joined the governing board of the Axe Beacon Federation of schools. Matt is passionate about learning and ensuring children have a well-rounded education. He has been involved in a number of community environmental science outreach projects (from local to national scale) with the aim of engaging children in the idea of taking care of their planet and learning about important environmental issues. He is a qualified Forest Schools Level 3 practitioner and enjoys green woodworking. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family as well as running, climbing, skiing and other outdoor pursuits. He also enjoys playing music and is a keen gardener.

Co-Chair of Governors
Gill Jordan – Local Authority Governor

I have been involved in Education for many years in a number of different roles – as a Primary school teacher, both in the UK and overseas, as a specialist teacher of literacy, as a Local Authority Adviser, as a Senior Adviser to the Primary National Strategy and as an Educational Researcher.

I have been a Governor for the past 20 years, first in Chester, and then, on moving to Devon, at Shute Primary School and finally, as an LA Governor at the Axe Beacon Federation, where I am currently the Lead Governor for Colyton Primary School and Chair of the Improvement Task Force.

Beyond my Education interests, I enjoy walking with my husband and our retired greyhound, travelling and am currently learning Italian and attempting to improve my French. I have two grandsons, aged 5 and 7 who regularly visit us in Devon and enjoy trips to the beach and exploring the countryside.

Vice-Chair of Governors
Alan Morbey – Co-opted Governor

I have been a school governor within the Axe Valley since 2004, initially as a parent governor at Shute School. I became Chair of Governors at Shute in 2006 and I was closely involved in the discussions that led to the formation of Axe Beacon Federation in 2012. Now a co-opted governor, I am also vice-chair of Governors and Chair of Resources and Remuneration.
Originally from Poole in Dorset, I spent of number of years working around the world as a Master Mariner both in the Merchant Navy and Royal Naval Reserve before “coming ashore” as a marine forecaster. Nowadays I work as an IT professional at the Met Office in Exeter.
I live locally in the Axe Valley and in my spare time I help to organise professional events for the British Computer Society, work as a STEM Ambassador with young people and do quite a lot of running, including recently the London Marathon. I am also a committee member at the local running club – Axe Valley Runners.

Becky Lovatt – Parent Governor

I am a Methodist Deacon living and working in East Devon.  I hold a Master’s Degree in Theology and Ministry, and am passionate about reaching out to those on the margins of traditional church.

I am very proud of my Cornish roots, and enjoy returning home when I can to take in the beauty of the coastline.  Having been brought up in a Christian family, my faith took on new meaning in 1994 when I began to work at Camp Stapleton, a camp for underprivileged girls in Detroit, USA.   Here I met with God and received a call into full time ordained ministry.

In 2013, I published my first book of meditations for Lent and Holy Week entitled: “In The Shadows of Victory: Ride The Rollercoaster of Holy Week.”  Through the sales of this book I was able to raise a lot of money for the baby special care unit at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, in Reading, in memory of our still born baby girl Emerald.   I am married to Tim, and we have a five-year-old called Theo son, who is our pride and joy.

Sophy Burleigh – Staff Governor

I grew up in Italy and studied German and Italian at University. Having volunteered at a Steiner School, I went on to complete a PGCE in Primary Education at King Alfred’s, Winchester. I moved to East Dorset for my first few teaching jobs, married and started a family. I worked as a teacher, a teaching assistant, a meal time assistant and a cleaner.
In 1998, we moved back to West Dorset and I started supply teaching at Kilmington in 2000. I have taught at many of the primary schools in the West Dorset, East Devon and South Somerset areas. I also worked as a book keeper for a small engineering company.
In 2007, I was asked to take over the Modern Language teaching at Kilmington and Axminster Primaries on a permanent basis, which lead on to working at Shute.
I am now based at Kilmington but cover teach where needed. My husband and I run a small farm and I am involved in farm based educational provision.
My experience as a governor started in East Dorset where I stood as staff governor for four years. I became a parent governor of The Woodroffe School, remaining there for 13 years, during which time I became the LEA governor and chaired the Standards, Staffing and Curriculum Committee.
I love sewing, knitting, singing, cider making, skiing, wildlife, gardening, friends, family and living in our very special area.

Executive Headteacher
Michael Rolls
 – Staff Governor

I have taught in Devon since 1993, following the completion of a BEd Honours degree at Chester University. Originally from Yorkshire, I moved to the Southwest as my wife Caroline (also a teacher) is a Devon girl. We have two children, so have first hand experience of the education system from a parent’s perspective – our daughter is now 18 and studying A Levels and our son is 16 and just completed his GCSE’s.

I started my teaching career in a large junior school in North Devon. It was here that I got my first taste of school leadership and working as part of a team to improve outcomes for children. I then took up a deputy role in a 200 place primary school in South Devon and following the retirement of the Headteacher, I secured the headship. As a school community, we achieved an Outstanding grading from Ofsted and have always sought to achieve excellence through providing our children with the best possible learning experience throughout the curriculum.

Over the last six years of my career, I have been privileged to work as the Executive Headteacher across four primary schools. I say privileged, because I have the opportunity to observe the fantastic outcomes children achieve with the support of our talented teachers across a number of schools. I then have the opportunity to support the schools in sharing the great work they do with others. I firmly believe that collaboration across a Federation is a very powerful tool to support the improvement of each school in it, while maintaining their individuality, as it is from this difference that we can continue to learn and grow.

In my years as a teacher, I have seen a lot of changes within the education system – but throughout, I have maintained a consistent passion for my job and on the provision of the highest quality learning opportunities for children. As an individual, I love learning new things and challenging myself – I want others to share this passion. I am currently challenging myself to get healthier and fitter. In my quest, I took up cycling three years ago and recently managed to complete a local cycling sportive the ‘Dartmoor Classic’.

Verdun Trott – Co-Opted Governor

Catherine Way – Co-opted Governor

I have been a school governor for seven years, initially as a parent governor at Shute Primary and now as a co-opted governor for the Federation. I have two boys currently attending Shute school in Years 4 and 6.

I studied law at university and went on to work for law firms in London and Bristol. I then had a career change and set up my own business producing and selling greetings cards and related items. For the last 16 years I have run this business from the Bellflower Gallery in Colyton. My husband is an accountant and has his own business, also in Colyton.

I was the treasurer for Shute pre-school for some years and was instrumental in the establishment of the Foundation Stage Unit at Shute.  I have found my experiences as a governor both fascinating and rewarding and I believe passionately that all our children in all our schools deserve the very best, most stimulating and exciting education possible.  Within the governing body I have responsibility for Special Needs (SEND) across the Federation and am also the link Governor for Kilmington school.

Associate Members

Nic George – Head of School (Seaton)

Nic George started his teaching career in 1991 after graduating from Rolle College in Exmouth with a BEd (Hons) in Early Years and Expressive/Visual Arts education.

Nic has extensive experience of working in a range of different schools and has held the posts of Head of Year, Deputy Headteacher and more recently he was Headteacher for seven years before moving to Seaton Primary School to be Head of School.

He has extensive knowledge and wealth of experience within teaching and leadership.

He has an excellent track record for helping schools to move forward and is a strong presence around the school.

His focus has always been to enable pupils to reach their full potential and to ensure that they receive a high quality education and exciting opportunities within a balanced curriculum. 

Aerfen Mills – Head of School (Colyton)

I am an Associate Governor of the Axe Beacon Federation. Previous to this role I was the elected staff governor. I have been a governor for both the Federation and for Colyton pre-federation since 2010.

I am the Head of School at Colyton and also the year 6 teacher. I am very proud of our school and our Federation. Working together in this way ensures that all children in our area have access to an excellent education.

I started teaching in 2007 after completing my degree in psychology at the University of Bath. As part of this degree I spent a year living and working in America at Harvard University, this was a really rewarding experience and I would always encourage people to do this if they can. Upon finishing my degree, I worked as an Assistant Manager of a clothing store before completing my PGCE at Exeter where I was the winner of the Ted Wragg award for Outstanding Trainee. I worked previously at a school in Wellington before starting at Colyton in 2009.

I love being a teacher, especially in year 6. The discussions and excitement that children show about their work and life around them is remarkable. They are on the brink of moving forward, with their whole life ahead of them and I feel it is my duty to help open their eyes to all of the possibilities that lie ahead! I especially enjoy the challenge that the maths teaching can bring as well as talking about current affairs such as politics and more recently – Donald Trump! It is always a big joke with my class that we talk a lot! I love putting on our Shakespeare plays at the end of the year too.

Outside of school I love to spend time with my young family, I have two daughters (4 and 2 years old), and at the weekend we love to watch my husband play rugby (he is getting a bit old for it now though!) I enjoy running as well as reading books and I am part of a book club. In the summer, I especially enjoy lazy days walking down the Byes to the beach and eating huge ice-creams on the seafront!

Lee White – Head of School (Kilmington)

From the age of about eight I always wanted to be a teacher.  I trained at Rolle College, as it was then, and qualified over several years ago now.  While I worked at Seaton Primary School I was elected as a staff governor and very much enjoyed experiencing the ‘other side’ of the management of a school. After the federation of our schools, the governing body was reduced so I was unable to carry on the role.  As I have progressed in my career to become the Head of School at Kilmington Primary however, I am now classified as an associate member of the governing body and therefore am back in the fold, so to speak.

I obviously have a massive interest in education but in my spare time like to keep fit and active and have taken part in a whole range group activities over the years – spinning, running, martial arts, circuit training… the list goes on, I have completed the Exeter half-marathon twice, have a black belt in karate/kickboxing and even tried aerobics once, but it seems that I just don’t have the co-ordination for that!

My husband and I started to enjoy travelling abroad on our honeymoon which gave us the travel bug. We planned a ‘gap-year’ in our thirties, taking in parts of Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America, which was simply the most amazing experience ever and we hope to travel more in the future.

Patrick Germscheid – Head of School (Shute)

Profile to be added

Clerk to the Governors – Bec Davey

I live in Seaton with my husband, 2 children and 2 dogs.

I am also the Axmouth Parish Clerk and Clerk to Governors for West Hill Primary School.

When I am not working I enjoy long walks with my dogs and am a member of the Axe Valley Runners. I have completed events from 10k’s to Marathons and the Grizzly and have recently started cycling and have completed Prudential RideLondon 100. As well as running in events, I also volunteer to either marshall, time-keep or backmark local events. I am one of the Run Directors for the Seaton Park Run and am on the Grizzly Committee.