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The Governing Body

The Governing Body consists of eight individuals representing different parts of our school and wider community. There are:

2 Parent Governors
1 Local Authority Governor
2 Foundation Governors, appointed by the West Yorkshire and the Dales Diocesan Board of Education
1 Co-opted Governor, appointed for their specific skills
2 Staff Governors one of whom is the Headteacher.
The Governing Body agrees policies and has a shared ownership for the development and strategic direction of the school. It acts as a ‘critical friend’ by asking searching questions whilst at all times respecting the position of the Headteacher as professional leader of the school.

As a full governing board we meet regularly, endeavoring always to ensure our children receive the best education possible, in a safe and supportive environment.

Governing Body Members 18-19

Governor’s Name Representation Date of Appointment Date Term Expires
Mrs E A Bedford Headteacher April 2000  
Mrs K Ward Teacher September 2016 August 2020
Miss C Smith (Chair) Foundation Governor September 2017 August 2021
  LA Governor    
Dr W Whitaker (Vice Chair) Foundation Governor September 2017 August 2019
Mrs F Stevens Parent Governor April 2018 March 2022
  Parent Governor     
Mrs J Connor Co-opted Governor February 2017 December 2021

Retired Governors

Retired Governor’s Name Representation Date of Appointment Date Term Expires
Mrs J Gant LA Governor September 2017 November 2018
Mrs J Daly Parent September 2017 August 2018
Mrs L Hutchison Parent July 2016 March 2018

Meet our Governors

Miss Caroline Smith - Chair of Governors

I was invited to join the school as Foundation Governor in Feb 2013, to act as an effective two-way link between St. John’s church and the school, and I have been Chair of Governors for over a year.

I have lived in Bishop Thornton for the past 16 years and as a self-employed Shiatsu practitioner my home, in the centre of the village, is also my clinic.  Prior to this I worked for ITV with responsibilities for regional programme sponsorship across the northern broadcasters.   My Shiatsu work is very fulfilling, as I help to enable people to regain a sense of health and balance through bodywork and nutrition.  As my own boss, I’m able to become involved in a number of voluntary roles and being school governor is an important focus for me, as I believe passionately in the provision of a nurturing environment in which young people can learn and develop, within the framework of Christian values. I’m constantly delighted by how different our village primary school is to the one I experienced as a child 50 years ago!

I have a very varied business background, mainly in advertising and a range of experiences, including working as a paid deckhand sailor for 2 years in Turkey.  My interests include the countryside, walking, health & nutrition, yoga, tennis (I’m secretary at Birstwith Tennis Club), and of course my Christian faith is of paramount importance to my life.

Mrs Jacqueline Gant

My name is Jacqueline Gant BA MBE. I have been the LEA Governor for almost 15 years and was appointed Vice Chair in September 2013.

I have lived in Bishop Thornton since 1986 and my mother was born in Shaw Mills in 1922 so I can claim a long association with the area. Since the late 1980’s I have been Clerk to Bishop Thornton and Warsill Paris Council and edited the Markington and District Magazine for a similar period. In 2013 I took over editorship of the Ripley and Burnt Yates Magazine. For over 25 years I have been a Samaritan both as an active volunteer and as statistician.

In 2012 I was honoured to be awarded the MBE for services to our community.

I have been married to Ian for 15 years. He is clerk to Markington PC and PCC.

I enjoy my role as school governor as it provides a different perspective and a connection to school life within the community.

Dr Weem Whitaker - Vice Chair

I grew up in a village not far from Bishop Thornton and attended a small village school, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I went on to Ripon Grammar School, and after a degree in Classics I completed a PhD and research fellowship, which gave me experience of teaching and course planning at university level.  Since leaving academia and moving back to this area, I have been a full-time writer of novels for both children and adults.

I am delighted that my children have been able to attend Bishop Thornton School, and I have seen the huge benefits the school has brought them, in terms of character and confidence, friendship-building and general happiness, as well as educational attainment.

 I was initially a parent governor from Autumn 2015 but in September 2017 became a Foundation Governor representative. I am passionately committed to supporting the school in its work.

Mrs Fiona Stevens

I live in Bishop Thornton with my husband and three sons, two of which currently attend Bishop Thornton CE School. The progress that my children have made since starting at this school is incredible, they have grown in confidence and have made strong friendships with children of all ages, Bishop Thornton CE School offers a real family feel and the teachers enthusiasm is infectious.

My background is working in Early Years which I have done for over 25 years, I own a successful day Nursery in Harrogate and as such have very good knowledge in the Early Years Foundation Stage, children’s development and safeguarding. I feel that my background and experience compliments the skills that my fellow governors bring to the school.


Mrs Jane Connor

I was born and brought up near Leeds in a Christian home and Christian schools, and have very fond memories of all my schools, but particularly my first, in the village hall attached to the Church for which my father was church warden and Patron. 

I have lived in and around Bishop Thornton for about 25 years, and following a long and rewarding career as a lawyer with commercial organisations,  I am delighted to be part of the Board of Governors, and to be part of a team dedicated to providing great education to the children in our locality, 

I bring a range of skills and experience to complement those of the team of Governors and Staff. These include providing a wide range of legal support, working with multi-skilled teams, building relationships, customer focus, commercial awareness, finding practical solutions, and attention to detail without losing the bigger picture. 

My other interests include history, music, gardening and wildlife, my horse, and spending time with friends.

Mrs Katie Ward

I have worked as a teacher in Class 1 at Bishop Thornton for 14 years. I love the family feel of the school and the close relationships that develop between the staff and children here. It is a school like no other!

I am a teacher governor in school and have held this role for five years. I enjoy providing a link between the governors and the children and having the opportunity to talk about and show what is happening in our classrooms every day.

My time outside of school involves being a busy Mum to two sporty boys, a member of a choir and a thriving book group. I try to pass on my passion for singing and books to the children as I feel they are both wonderfully creative and life enhancing hobbies.

I hope in my role as teacher governor that I can help put faces and stories to data and continue to support links between governors, children, parents and staff within the school.

Mrs Liz Bedford

Mrs Liz Bedford has been the Headteacher at Bishop Thornton since 2010. She had previously been headteacher at Birstwith CE Primary since 2000 and developed her joint leadership role over the two schools from January 2010. She splits her time between the two sites ensuring the collaborative work extends positively the experiences of the staff and pupils. Before her headship roles she had a number of years experience as a teacher in Lancashire as well as other schools in North Yorkshire.

Under her leadership the school is maintaining its numbers  and the school building has undergone a refurbishment to update the interior as well as develop the outside area for the Early Years children and the sporting provision for the rest of the school. She is proud of the staff team that work at Bishop Thornton with her, knowing that all members ensure an exciting and challenging learning experience for the children in their care as well as supporting pupils' personal and social development. The supportive and challenging Governing Body work with Mrs Bedford to develop the strategic direction of the school.