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More about the Governors


Chair 1 Lynn Strathdee

I am really delighted to have been appointed as the new Chair of Governors at Pirbright Village Primary School. My husband Neil, my daughter Isla and I have lived in or near the village for over 10 years and we have always felt a strong connection to the school; Isla is a former pupil and had a very happy experience here.


I have a professional background in secondary education with a specific focus on Special Educational Needs and I am really looking forward to working with the Governing Body and Mr Dutton to support his strategic leadership of the school into this next exciting phase of its development.


I'd like to take this opportunity to underscore Gavin's thanks and best wishes to Saf Ismail for her amazing service as Chair for the last six and a half years. She has given so much of her valuable time, skills and experience to the school and has done a great job. Thank you Saf- we hope you're never too far away!


I hope to be a regular visitor to the school and to meet many of you in the coming months and years. Please do introduce yourselves and your children if we bump into each other!


Headteacher 1 Gavin Dutton

I’ve taught for the past twelve years in a range of different Surrey schools, Infant, Junior & Primary. I’ve been involved with the governing body of my last three schools.


I currently live in Chiddingfold, with my wife Michelle and cats Seth & Orla. As the headteacher of Pirbright I sit on all the committees. For me the role of the governing body is vital to the success of a school, the relationship between school and the governors needs to be one of challenge, support and recognition.  In my spare time I like to go to the theatre, read and watch sports.  

Vice Chair

Vice Chair 1 Julia Douetil

Thank you for inviting me to become a governor for Pirbright Village Primary school. I hope that I can make a worthwhile contribution to the life and success of the school, and I know I will learn a lot from being a part of it.


I work at the University College London Institute of Education but I have been a primary school teacher and a then teacher of teachers for almost 40 years. I lead Reading Recovery, a national programme for children who find reading and writing difficult. One thing I have learned is that no two children are the same, they all think and learn in slightly different ways and there is no one size fits all way of teaching.  But every child has gifts and talents and every child can learn, we just have to find the right way to teach them.  The key to that is the people around the child, their parents and family, who are their first teachers, and a committed and talented school staff who have plenty of opportunities to learn more about their craft.  


I live in Pirbright and like to be involved in local events like the Scarecrow day.  As a member of the church I sing in the Gospel Choir and ring the church bells (sorry about that).  I also edit the village newsletter, Perinews, and try to keep that pesky Yellow Rabbit in check, probably a hopeless task.


I'm looking forward to joining the team in the school, this role is new to me so I know I have lot to learn, and I hope you will bear with me.  I am especially looking forward to getting to know the children, their parents and their teachers over the next few months.


Governor 1 Suzanna Woodhouse

I was co-opted onto the governing body in November 2015 and am delighted to have another opportunity to be part of the team of governors at Pirbright.  I really enjoyed the challenges of being a parent governor in the past and getting to know the school and staff “behind the scenes”.


I live in Pirbright with my husband and three children.  We have been in the village for about 12 years and I love the village community in which the school plays a major role.


Outside home, I am a Real Estate lawyer and I balance working part-time with looking after the family.  Before that I trained and worked as an MFL teacher and I have taught in secondary schools in County Durham and Berkshire.


I am really interested in education and the vital role it plays in educating and developing the next generations.  Pirbright, of course, is no exception and I will aim to do my best to play my part on the governing body and serve the great team and community within the school.  Within the governing body I sit on the Children & Learning Committee and the Pay Committee.

Associate Governor

Associate Governor 1 Chiara Dow

Having worked at Pirbright in various year groups and roles for the past fourteen years (minus a couple for a travelling/working adventure) I took on the role of Deputy Head in 2016 alongside that of associate governor. In 2006 I completed my NQT year at Pirbright (having previously done two teaching placements here as a student) and other than a term of supply around Surrey, 4 months in various Vietnamese schools/universities and a year teaching English to adults in Australia, I am Pirbright through and through. I’ve been PSHE, Science and English co-ordinator, sat on the SLT, taught in various year groups, navigated the SATS, survived both Hooke Court & The Isle of Wight on too many occasions and led many projects across the school. My role as Deputy involves supporting Mr Dutton, liaising with FOPS, evaluating data & progress, working in the Safeguarding Team as a DSL, being the Pupil Premium Champion, working with the Educational Welfare Officer, analysing attendance, mentoring NQTs and new members of staff, doing lunch duty, writing policies, running the School Council, organising timetables and the running of the school, meeting with parents and, in my free time, teaching children! I can often be found in the Reception classes - which is my favourite place to hang-out – or the library. 


I live in Godalming with my very special cat, Oblong, my furry tornado of a dog, Blueberry, and my delightful husband. Pirbright is a huge part of my life and I’d like to think I bring the everyday perspective to the governing body in ensuring teachers’ voices are heard and a realistic view of the school is presented. I’ve seen huge change at Pirbright over the years and it’s been wonderful to watch it grow and develop into such a brilliant place to work.  

Staff Governor

Staff Governor 1 Luke Brinicombe

I started my time as site manager at Pirbright in 2012 and straight away began to take an interest in the ‘behind the scenes’ running of the school. The opportunity to become a staff governor arose and I was delighted to fill a roll on the safeguarding committee. A large portion of my role as site manager is the security and safety of the site. This ties in well with some of the responsibilities of the safeguarding committee, and places me perfectly to take an active role in our termly premises inspections.


As an ex pupil I have fond memories of school life at Pirbright, and am passionate about creating the same happy experience for our students as I had. Being a governor allows me to contribute to this in ways that I could not as a site manager alone.

Governor (MAT)

Governor (MAT) 1 Saf Ismail

I’ve been a governor for over 8 years and 6.5 of those were as Chair of Governors at Pirbright.  I am a mum to Rehan (who is now at secondary school) and Maya in year 5.  I was recently co-opted back onto the governing body specifically to investigate the options around school structures and the possibility of forming an academy.  I am a shadow member of the Joint Governance Committee of the Athena partnership where my role is to represent our school and be the communications link between the Shadow Trustees and our own governing body.


I became a governor to give something back to the school.  It’s a very interesting and hugely demanding role that gives you an insight into the workings of a school that you never get to see as a parent. We’re lucky to have such a dedicated group of staff that provide excellent care and education for our children.  Outside of school I work full-time at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government as a Programme Manager.  I am practitioner level qualified in Project, Programme and Change Management.  I’m also a part qualified CIMA accountant.

Parent Governor

Parent Governor 1 Helana Muller

I very recently (April 2015) joined the Governing Body as Parent Governor. Previous to that I was the FOPS Treasurer for two years. I also enjoyed coming in to school to help with reading in class, helping on school trips and have also been a FOPS Class Rep.


Pirbright School provides a wonderful environment for a happy and well-balanced primary education. My two daughters (one in Year 3 and one in Year 1) are very happy at the school and actively pursue all that it has to offer.


I am a qualified Chartered Accountant and have many years experience in a number of different industries. I am hoping that my financial, analytical and organisation skills will bring benefit to the school and I am looking forward to contributing to the Resources Committee. I have lots to learn about the governor’s role and believe there will be a steep learning curve but I look forward to the challenge.  

Parent Governor

Parent Governor 1 Sophie Budgen

I have two children at Pirbright Tabitha in year 3 and Teddy in year 1. When we first joined Pirbright I was overwhelmed by the amazing opportunities our children experience.  Listening to friends and colleagues talk about their children's schools, I felt like I was constantly singing its praises, saying 'at Pirbright…".  I then sat back and thought: what can I give in return?


As a parent and a secondary school teacher with a specialism in the Arts, I thought I would understand some of the issues facing the school and might have something to offer as a governor. I am really pleased to have joined the Children & Learning Committee and am excited to be a Link Governor for the Early Years provision.  


I feel passionate about education and standards; having worked in Surrey schools for 15 years.  I believe all pupils have the right to learn in a positive, happy and loving environment and this is exactly what I have seen at Pirbright.


In my teaching role I am a Specialist Leader of Education, focusing on coaching, teacher training and mentoring as well as developing teaching and learning.