Hillside Primary School’s Governing Body is similar to a board of Directors you would find in business.   It has the responsibility for decisions relating to the conduct of the School, its strategic aims and objectives, future planning and the performance of the School.   Members are elected or appointed to serve for a period of four years.

Governors are involved in the following decision-making areas and specific Governor
sub-committees are responsible for the following:

Curriculum Committee                      – deciding what is taught/how it is taught
Personnel & Finance Committee       – staffing, financial management and the School budget
Premises Committee                          – condition of school / Health & Safety

Governors also interview and select the staff at the School. 

Governors are appointed from a number of sources:

  • Parents – Parent Governors are elected by parents every four years.   Parent Governors must have a child in school when appointed.
  • Staff – Representatives are elected by the staff.
  • Co-opted Governors – These are Governors elected by the Governing Body from the local community e.g. businessmen or professional persons.
  • Local Authority – representatives of the Local Authority are appointed to the Governing Body (these are non-elected appointments).
  • Headteacher – Non-elected appointment.

Constitution of the Governing Body:

Chair of Governors:
Mrs Jill Bennett
c/o Hillside Primary School
Field Avenue,
Baddeley Green,

Clerk to the Governors:  Appointed by Chief Education Officer (non voting)

Karen Schonau (Headteacher)

I have been in teaching for over ten years, having completed a BA Honours in Primary Education at Manchester Metropolitan University. I spent ten years in an outstanding Staffordshire school before moving to Hillside as Deputy Headteacher. As, now, Headteacher of Hillside Primary School, my aspiration is to create an inspirational, friendly, caring community where everyone enjoys and excels within their learning, and works hard to achieve their best. My staff at Hillside seek to promote a compassionate and fair environment within which all pupils feel valued and enabled to flourish.

I believe that by providing an exciting, stimulating curriculum, delivered by teachers who are dedicated and passionate about learning, will ensure that children are engaged in their learning, and that they develop curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. This sets the foundations for a love of learning which carries on throughout their lives. We want every child at Hillside to be ambitious, to believe in themselves and to strive to make a difference in their own and other’s futures.  The support and challenge of our strong Governing body will help Hillside to achieve it aims, goals and ambitions.

Jill Bennett: Chair of Governors (Co-opted Governor)

I was born in Milton – Haslemere Avenue – and I attended Hillside County Primary School from 1962 to 1969, during which time my Mum worked in the school kitchen!  Anyone as old as me may recall such names as Mr. Harrison, Mrs. Sanderson, Mrs. Digby, Mrs. Brown, Mr. Golding, Mr. Pugh and Mr. Godman!

After completing my A Levels, I went on to Teacher Training College, gaining a B.Ed. Hons degree from Keele University.  I taught at Secondary Level for 35 years, beginning my teaching career at Cardinal Griffin RC High School in Cannock, then moving to Ball Green High School and transferring to Holden Lane High School when the LA closed Ball Green High.  From Holden Lane I moved to Sandon Business and Enterprise College, Meir, becoming Deputy Headteacher in 2004 and retiring from teaching in 2013.  Since retiring I have worked as an NAHT Union Officer in Stoke. I also enjoy long walks on Wetley Moor Common with my two dogs, I am a regular organist at Milton Methodist Church and I also conduct a four part mixed choir which rehearses every week and which performs regular concerts.

I was very pleased to be part of the Governing Body of Hillside, as I have nothing but very happy memories of what was, and clearly still is, a great school serving its community with pride and giving every one of its pupils the best possible opportunities in order to succeed in life.

Derek Gray: Vice Chair (Co-opted Governor)

I was educated in Stoke. In 1954 I went to Bristol University and in 1957 I was awarded a 2:1 BSc Special Degree in Chemistry with Maths & Physics.

I have taught in St Joseph’s College, Bishop Bright High School and from 1979 -1996 I was Headteacher at Holden Lane High School. I retired in 1996 and since then I have been working with Stoke Education Authority as a Union Officer representing NAHT and convener of the LCG, involving all five teacher unions.

I am currently a Governor of Hillside and Our Lady’s Primary Academy, Fenton.
I am a member, since its beginning, of School Forum and a member of Formulas Funding Working Group.

David Bell (Staff Governor)

I have been teaching for over ten years since completing my PGCE in Primary Education at the University of Derby, following on from an initial degree in Sports Journalism at Staffordshire University.  Prior to becoming Deputy Headteacher at Hillside, I worked in another Stoke-on-Trent school, where I was a part of the Senior Leadership Team for a number of years working on whole school initiatives.  I also worked within the school’s Multi Academy Trust in a school improvement role as well as providing support in other schools as a Specialist Leader of Education in English.

I am a firm believer in providing children with all of the learning experiences possible to spark and generate interests and excite them about coming to school each day.  In my role as governor, I provide support for staff and act as a voice for the team as we all work together as a school community to deliver the very best provision to our pupils day in, day out.

Jenny Rushton (Co-opted governor)

I have been teaching in Stoke-on-Trent for over ten years and have worked across the Early Years and Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. My role currently is Assistant Head and SENDCo at Hillside Primary School and I am a committee member at the local pre-school, forging links within the local area. I enjoy being on the Governing Body, partaking in key decision making whilst striving to move the school forward from good to outstanding. The Governing Body holds the school to account and ensures that the school runs to the best of its ability, serving the community and most importantly, the children, ensuring that they get the very best education – the education that they deserve.

Jennifer Craig (Parent Governor)

I’ve been a Parent Governor at Hillside since 2014 and greatly enjoy my role. I have three  children who have all happily attended Hillside (two of them still do!)

I’m a Headteacher in a primary school and am passionate about children being provided with the best education possible. 

In my spare time, I love to read, walk my dog and spend time with family.

Richard Tunnicliffe (Parent Governor)

Philip Such (Co-opted Governor)

I moved into Stoke-on-Trent in 1974 with my wife, Margaret, and have lived less than 200 yards from Hillside ever since.  Both of my children attended Hillside and then went on to Holden Lane High School. Many people will know me from my time as Headteacher at Greenways and my connection with Milton Parish Church.  I was very honoured to be asked to become a Governor at Hillside, having also been a Trustee at another school for over 25 years.  I have assisted the City Music School for over 28 years and Treasurer for 12 years.

I love coming into Hillside and thoroughly enjoy working alongside Hillside staff.  I am a familiar face around school as I volunteer my time to hear readers from Year 2 and Year 6.  I love interacting with the young people and seeing them grow in confidence and ability.  I also lead whole school assemblies and love to involve the children through prayers, readings and through singing.

Kerry Howle (Parent Governor)

I grew up in Baddeley Green and attended Hillside myself as a child in the 1980’s. After moving back into the local community a few years ago, I now have three daughters who all attend Hillside. My girls love Hillside and have thrived under the exciting curriculum and the dedicated staff, who go above and beyond to make sure all children achieve their potential. I see my role as parent governor as the opportunity to ensure that all children at Hillside continue to receive the very best education possible by supporting and challenging the school leadership team.

I have been a primary teacher for almost 20 years, receiving my BA (Hons) in Primary Education from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2004. I now work for Keele and North Staffordshire Teacher Education, where I teach the next generation of primary teachers, as well as supporting early career teachers. I am also studying for my Masters in Education at Keele University. As well as spending time with family and friends I love reading, cooking and going for dog walks with our Golden Retriever Elsa.

Jill Cooper (Co-opted Governor)

I have lived in Stoke-on-Trent for most of my life, except for when I was at college and three years when I ran a Nursery for disabled children in Birmingham in the late 70’s.

I am widowed and have two sons both of which work in the IT department of Blakeman’s factory.

I have taught in several Infant and Nursery Schools in Stoke-on-Trent, in the later years teaching part-time.

Alongside this, I taught Music Theatre as a peripatetic teacher at six high schools under the umbrella of City Music Service.

I was ordained Deacon in 2017 and Priest in 2018, and now serve as Assistant Priest at Milton Parish Church.

I am honoured to be included in the Governing Body at Hillside Primary School and look forward to supporting the school in all the fantastic work that they do.

Kathryn James (Local Authority Governor)

Bio in progress – new governor


The term of office for each category of governor is 4 years.

Hillside Governing Body

Chairperson: Mrs J Bennett

Vice Chairperson: Mr D Gray


Personnel/Finance Curriculum Premises/Health & Safety

Karen Schonau
Derek Gray – Chair
Richard Tunnifcliffe
Philip Such
Jill Bennett

Jenny Rushton – Clerk
Derek Gray
David Bell
Jenny Craig
Jill Bennett
Philip Such
Richard Tunnicliffe
Jill Cooper
Kerry Howle
Kathryn James

Karen Schonau
Jill Bennett – Chair
David Bell 
Jenny Craig
Kerry Howle – Clerk
Kat James

Link Governors:

Area of Responsibility School Lead Link Governor
English DB Jill Bennett
Maths JF Derek Gray
Science DMc Phil Such
DT DMc Richard Tunnicliffe
Computing JM Jenny Rushton
History JS tbc
Geography JM Jenny Rushton
PE Curriculum/strategic JA Richard Tunnicliffe
Art JF Jenny Craig
RE JA Jenny Craig
MFL (French) KC  tbc
SEND JR Derek Gray
Pupil Premium (Strategic) KS Jill Bennett
Music SH tbc
Safeguarding/ SCR/LAC/CP KS / JR Jill Bennett
Health & Safety KS / PD Karen Schonau
HT performance management KS Derek Gray, Jill Bennett,
Phil Such + external