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More about the Governors

Julia Douetil - Chair

Julia Douetil - Chair 1

I feel very honoured to be a governor for Pirbright Village Primary school. I hope that I make a worthwhile contribution to the life and success of the school, and I know I learn a lot from being a part of it.


I recently retired from the University College London Institute of Education and I have been a primary school teacher and a then teacher of teachers for almost 40 years. For 25 of those years I was the national leader of Reading Recovery, a 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 be successful, 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 feel very privileged to have this opportunity to work with and get to know the children, their parents and their teachers, and to play my part in supporting them.

Gavin Dutton - Headteacher

Gavin Dutton - Headteacher 1

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.  

Ritch Ames - Governor

Ritch Ames - Governor 1
I first became aware of Pirbright Village Primary School in 2007, while looking for a good school for my daughters in and around the Guildford area.  Believe me, the wife made me visit loads, but it wasn’t until we walked throught the gates at Pirbright that everything clicked.

The children genuinely looked happy, confident and enthuasiatic. We were shown around the school not by the Head, Deputy Head or even a Teacher like other schools, but by two Year 6 pupils, who were proud to show off their school to two new prospective parents.

At that moment, I thought – I want my children to be like that.  And they are.  Both went through Pirbright and loved every minute of it. The youngest left in 2017, 10 years after we first walked into reception.

And me? I loved it too, and I got involved. From almost every Action Saturday / Friday, to being a male member of FOPS, helping set up the school discos and providing the music, to summer fairs, fireworks nights, school trips, selling ice creams and leavers parties.

But I missed the school since my youngest left. From the atmosphere and spirit it has, to Friday’s breakfast club bacon sandwiches and the amazing plays. So decided I wanted to continue to be involved, and have found out I could become a Governor, so I have.

Professionally, I have two main but diverse roles.  My day job, I’m a self employed digital and social media consultant, something I’ve been doing for over ten years, working with a variety of diverse clients.  My other role, which takes up my spare time, is as a stage and production manager of large music festivals in the UK and Europe.  It’s something I’ve been doing for over 25 years, why I have grey hair and why I’m always in shorts.


Luke Brinicombe - Staff Governor

Luke Brinicombe - Staff Governor 1

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 role 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.

Danielle Casey - Associate Governor

Danielle Casey - Associate Governor 1

I joined Pirbright in April 2017 after my partner and I relocated to Guildford for his work. When searching for a new role, I was lucky enough to find a temporary position at Pirbright and had a wonderful time teaching in year 2 for the summer term, allowing me experience of SATs and working alongside a well valued teacher who helped me begin to learn the ‘Pirbright way’. For me, the school is warm, friendly and welcoming which helped me make the decision to apply for a permanent position as part of the team and I have been teaching in year 3 since my official appointment. I joined as a governor in March 2018.


My seven years of teaching experience have been across both key stages in a range of different schools across the Sandwell and Dudley boroughs of the West Midlands. Although my main experience is being a full time teacher in years one and year four, I also have worked across year R to Year 4 as a supply teacher and also intervention teacher.


I have been DT and Geography leader in previous positions and I also helped the SLT coordinate changes in English (Talk4Writing & reading domains) and thematic (expert group and purposeful skills based learning) in my last school.


Having previous experience of maths mastery, I am currently developing the approach across the school, along with Mrs Benjafield, as part of my own and Pirbright’s development.   

Chiara Dow - Associate Governor

Chiara Dow - Associate Governor 1

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.  

Saf Ismail - Governor (MAT)

Saf Ismail - Governor (MAT) 1

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.

Mike Wainhouse - Governor


Mike Wainhouse was approached to join the Governing Body of Pirbright Village Primary School (PVPS) in the spring of 2018.


He has been a Parent Governor at the Park School in Woking (a SEN Specialist College for Communication and Interaction) for almost 4 years, where his son James, who has Down Syndrome and mild autism, is just finishing Year 12. He is a co-opted, elected member of Surrey County Council’s Children and Education Select Committee and he is also a member of their Transition Task Force.


Mike has extensive military experience and has deployed worldwide. He has also worked in the education sector, has been the Head of Futures and Strategy at a major UK think tank and has worked up to ministerial level in the public sector.


He and his wife Nicola have two other boys, aged 11 and 14, and the family home is in Pirbright Village.

Suzanna Woodhouse - Governor

Suzanna Woodhouse - Governor 1

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 have responsibility for attainment data and I sit on the Pay Committee.


I am also on the Shadow Trust board for the Athena Schools Trust as Pirbright's representative on that board.