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Meet the Governors

Stef Jardine Watson - Chair of Governors

Hi Everyone!  I am very proud to be Chair of Governors at Ryhope Junior School.  I have also been a primary teacher for 19 years and have moved on to being a lecturer for teacher training now.  I love my role, supporting and developing Ryhope Junior School, alongside the amazing senior leadership, teaching and support staff, fantastic children, parents and every single member of staff who dedicate their time and hearts to our ever growing school.

We also have a very knowledgeable, committed and supportive governor team who equally love to be involved and continue to help Ryhope Juniors to develop and thrive.

Neil Marrin - Vice Chair of Governors

I was born in Ryhope and attended Ryhope Junior School as a boy, although the building has long since been demolished! I have two sons, my youngest son Ethan is in year 4 and my eldest Lewis, now attends Venerable Bede Academy having left Ryhope Juniors in 2019. I’m a CTO for an IT services company, which involves me advising companies and Government agencies on the adaptation of technology and IT solutions. I’ve been responsible for the successful delivery of several multi-million-pound national IT projects and I’m hoping to bring these skills to my role as a school governor. I’m the link governor for IT and Science.

Lynne Dakers

I’m a Ryhope lass born and bred and three generations of my family have attended Ryhope Junior School. I’ve retained my links even though I now live on the outskirt of the area, by participating in a choir and teaching Sunday school in Ryhope.

Before early retirement I worked for HMRC Finance, in Audit and Assurance. As a governor I feel I can give something back to our community utilising the skills I’ve gained.

I’m a competent flute and recorder player.  I run a lunchtime Recorder group at our school as I’m enthusiastic about children having inclusive opportunities to learn a musical instrument regardless of their background.  

Gillian Dobson

I grew up in Ryhope and attended Ryhope Infants and Juniors in the 1980s.  From there, I went to Southmoor Secondary School and Sunderland College.  My earlier experiences at Ryhope Junior School certainly had a positive effect on my life plans – I studied Primary Education at university and have taught in junior schools for 20 years!  This included 15 years working in another junior school in Sunderland.

I am no longer a teacher.  I changed careers in 2018 and am now a civil servant.  I do, however, miss being part of a school community and it has been a pleasure to return to Ryhope Juniors.  I hope I can contribute positively so that today’s pupils have the same positive experiences I had! 

Irene Lanaghan

Hello I’m a retired Business Manager and my interests are History, Arts and travel. I have two children and three Grandchildren.  I am a  co-opted Governor for school and  have been a  Governor for 4 Years actively involved in the school, its staff and children. 

Elaine Shanks

I'm a parent of 3 - a grown up son, a teenager and a daughter - two of whom have attended Ryhope Junior School. I grew up in Hertfordshire before going to University of Leeds to read geography then moving to Sunderland in 2000. I have lived in Ryhope since 2016. I have previously worked in sales, as an assistant tutor and recently in breastfeeding support in the community and online, focusing on diversity and inclusion. I was on the committee of the parents' group at my children's previous school and organised several events there.

Gemma McDonald

Having been a class teacher at Ryhope Junior School since 2014, I joined the governing body in 2018 as a staff governor and have relished the different role. Being a governor has given me an insight into the workings of the school that you do not get as a teacher. 

I am able to give the voice of the staff within the governor meetings but also explain ideas to parent and co-opted governor as and when needed. 

I am looking forward to continuing this role having been elected for the next two years as there is such a positive atmosphere in the school. Everything is centred around celebrating our children's achievements and ensuring they are well prepared for their next steps.


Vickie Thompson

Hi, I am a parent of 3 children.  My two girls go to Ryhope Junior School and love it here and my older son is 19 and attends Sunderland University.  I was a primary school teacher for 22 years and a SENDCo for 6 years before leaving teaching in 2019 to become a director of a limited company and spend more time with my family.  In my role, I aim to give the voice of the parents in governor meetings and as SEND governor, I look forward to working with everyone and using my experience to support the school.

Michelle Watson

I’m a parent governor, I live in Ryhope and I have two daughters the youngest Emily is in Year 4 here at Ryhope Junior School. I’m a busy working Mam and I work as a hairdresser, which I love. I’ve been so impressed by my experience with this school and I’m looking forward to being more involved in my role as link governor for pupil voice. 

Cllr Usman Ali

Hi! My name is Usman Ali, and I am a local councillor here in Ryhope. I am the first BAME councillor to be elected in Sunderland, something I’m very proud of. I have lived in Ryhope for several years and I’m very passionate about our community here. You will regularly find me supporting and attending local events and sports teams with my son. Being a parent of an autistic child, children’s services and education are very close to my heart and I’m very proud to be a governor of Ryhope Junior School. I have spent many years working as a business man locally and I’m glad to now be able to spend some time giving back to the community. 

Ryhope Junior School

Governor Information


Local Authority Governor

Chair of Governors



Mrs S Jardine-Watson (Chair)

Appointed: 09.12.2021

Committee: School Improvement

Link Governor: English

Pecuniary interests: None




Staff Governors



Mrs F Lynn

Appointed: 01.09.18

Committees: Resources  and

School Improvement

Pecuniary interests: None




Mrs G McDonald

Appointed: 9.3.2021

Committee: School Improvement

Link Governor: Religious Education

Pecuniary interests: None


Co-Opted Governors



Mrs L Dakers

Appointed: 9.3.2021

Committee: Resources

Link Governor: Music

Pecuniary interests: None



Mrs I Lanaghan

Appointed: 9.3.2021

Committee: Resources

Link Governor: Pupil Premium/Sports Funding/ SFVS

Pecuniary interests: None



Mr N Marrin (Vice Chair)

Appointed: 09.12.2021

Committee: School Improvement

Link Governor: ICT

Pecuniary interests: None



Cllr U Ali

Appointed: 29.6.2021

Committee: Resources

Link Governor: Humanities

Pecuniary interests: None




Miss G Dobson

Appointed: 10.3.2020

Committee: School Improvement

Link Governor: Maths

Pecuniary interests: None




Parent Governors



Mrs V Thompson

Appointed: 29.6.2021

Committee: School Improvement

Link Governor: SEND

Pecuniary interests: None


Ms E Shanks

Appointed: 10.3.2020

Committee: School Improvement

Link Governor: Safeguarding 

Pecuniary interests: None


Current Vacancies: 1


Mrs M Watson

Appointed: 29.6.2021

Committee: Resources

Link Governor: PSHE / School Council

Pecuniary interests: None







We appoint staff to the school and are involved in their development and performance management.

We are responsible for the general conduct and curriculum of the school.

We consider cases of pupils permanently excluded from the school.

We approve the school's annual budget plan.

We provide information for parents, the local education authority and for OFSTED inspections.

We determine what goes on in the building after school hours.

We ensure the school's health and safety policy is in place and followed at all times.



We meet as a full governing body once every term. At these meetings, we discuss information provided for us by Sunderland Local Authority. We also discuss school-based issues, which are mainly involved with implementing school policies.

Our Governors have a wide range of interests, skills and expertise and they contribute individually to those committees where they feel they have most to offer. We also have a Resources Committee and a School Improvement Committee. They meet one per term. We visit the school as often as possible. We attend functions and training sessions and take opportunities to meet children and parents.

All Governors can be contacted via the school office. Governors' personal contact details will not be passed on to parents.

Governor Meeting Attendance