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Athena Learning Trust

Launceston Primary School

Launceston Primary School

Launceston College

Launceston College

Altarnun Primary School

Altarnun Primary School

Egloskerry Primary School

Egloskerry Primary School

Atlantic Academy

Atlantic Academy

Bideford College

Bideford College

Pool Academy

Pool Academy

The Ilfracombe Academy

The Ilfracombe Academy

Camborne Science & International Academy

Camborne Science & International Academy

Local Governing Body

Bideford College Local Governing Body

David Humphries (Chair)

1st March 2020 - 1st March 2024
Appointed by: GB/Board

David's career began in 1976 as a mathematics teacher at a very large comprehensive school in London. In 1979, he moved to become Head of Mathematics at a comprehensive school in northeast England and was subsequently promoted to become Deputy Head teacher. In 1990, David became Head Teacher of Southfield School in Workington, West Cumbria and led the school successfully through the first round of Ofsted school inspections.

In 1997, David moved to North Devon as Principal of Ilfracombe College. During the following years standards rose markedly, culminating in a Department for Education Achievement Award in 2003 shortly before he left the College to join Ofsted as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI). After gaining substantial experience as a frontline inspector, David became a member of Ofsted’s senior leadership team and in 2009 moved to a key role in the development of national school inspection policy and practice.

Following his retirement, David undertook a range of voluntary work before joining the Governing Body of Bideford College in 2014. When Bideford joined the Trust in March 2016, he was appointed Chair of the Local Governing Body and, in that capacity, is a member of the Trust Board. After a rewarding and successful career in education he is glad that he is still able to put something back into the system!

Dr Claire Ankers (Principal) 

1st January 2019 - N/A
Appointed by: Ex-officio


Dr Ankers has a degree in Environmental Science from the University of Reading and a PhD in Physical Geography from the University of Exeter. She also completed a PGCE in teaching Secondary Geography at Exeter University and has been awarded the NPQH, the National Practitioner Qualification for Headship. Dr Ankers has taught Geography at Bideford College since 2004 and has held a number of middle and senior leadership positions at the college.

Having grown up and been educated in the North Devon area Dr Ankers is passionate about ensuring that young people living in coastal and rural communities have the same employment and education opportunities as those living elsewhere. She is committed to ensuring that the young people of Bideford have access to the best teaching, curriculum, advice and guidance based on the best practice internationally and latest research.

Outside of college Dr Ankers enjoys spending time in the local area with friends, family and the school dog Orlagh, she also likes to travel having visited many countries in 6 of the 7 continents

Sheila Bloomfield

24th March 2020 - 24th March 2024
Appointed by: GB/Board

Sheila has lived in Devon since 1973, and in Northam since 1980. Her daughter attended both Northam schools and Bideford College.

She has served as a governor at Bideford College since 1987 when elected as a Parent Governor. Sheila has held various posts, including Chair of Governors and Vice Chair, and has seen many changes such as the construction of the new building and joining the Trust in March 2016. She is currently Vice Chair and Safeguarding Governor.

Sheila has also been a governor at St. George's School since 1995. This experience allowed her to take on the role of Trustee of the Atlantic Coast Co-operative Trust, including the Federation of Northam Schools since 2015. She was a Councillor from 1995 - 2003 and was Deputy Mayor 2002- 2003. Sheila served on the Devon Advisory Committee for JPs from 1999 - 2007.

Sheila was diagnosed with MS in 1978 and later undertook an Open University degree which allowed her to represent disadvantaged students for the South West with the various requirements of support needed.

Sheila values education and understands what it can bring to the lives of children of all ages, helping to widen horizons and see potential achieved. She hopes to contribute to the wider community by continuing to support our local schools.

Mark Gierke

30th September 2021 - 30th September 2025
Appointed by: GB/Board

Mark and his family relocated to North Devon over 10 years ago. His three children have attended a number of educational facilities in the area during that time, with his daughter attending the sixth form at Bideford College in recent years. As a parent, he found this to be a positive, inclusive and nurturing experience.

Mark qualified as a registered nurse for adults with a learning disability back in the 1990s and then subsequently worked for 20 years within the NHS in Yorkshire, Cornwall and London. For the last 14 years, he has been employed with Devon County Council as a senior manager within adult social care. He has a lead role in North Devon around all things disability related including practice, process and policy, supporting local health and social care teams to ensure they are operating from a person centered and strength-based approach for each and every disabled individual - changing the perspective to one of positivity and what a person can do for themselves rather than the starting point being about what they can’t do. Mark also has a professional practice lead role for countywide social care Autism and ADHD service.

Mark's related experience is of working alongside families facing different challenges and supporting them towards more positive outcomes. This has included overseeing a smooth transition of young adults with an education, health and social care plan into adult services. His role also includes leading on safeguarding processes when required and signposting to other agencies, services and partner organisations across the wider Devon system, enabling them to achieve their potential.

Mark wants to be a school governor at Bideford College as the ethos of everyone matters and everyone counts has underpinned the whole of his adult working life and feels like a good fit and a mutually beneficial partnership.

Sue Tucker

30th September 2021 - 30th September 2025
Appointed by: GB/Board

Sue has spent most of her working life in the health and charitable sectors, gaining a wealth of experience in service provision. Having retired, she moved back to Devon to be close to her family.

Welfare and wellbeing are important to Sue. From her nursing experience, she is very aware of the wider need for support and understanding, particularly in clinical and emotional settings.

Currently, Sue holds a governor post at Instow Community Primary and Preschool and has taken an active role in creating the new Preschool building which opens in September. Her other responsibilities have included Finance, Pay & Performance and Community Links. One of her strengths is fundraising, and she has raised significant funds from the private, corporate and charitable sectors to fund capital projects including a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit in Bath. This sustainable building encapsulates the ethos of being responsible at the very beginning of the babies’ lives.

Sue considers herself to be a caring person and believes in supporting the local community. She also believes that a good education for children and students is of paramount importance to enable them to achieve to the best of their capabilities - which is why she has volunteered to become a governor at Bideford College.

Elise Powell 

7th December 2020 - 7th December 2024
Appointed by: GB/Board

Elise joined Bideford College in January 2008 as a Newly Qualified Teacher and, after more than a decade amongst this incredibly devoted team of teachers and leaders, she was absolutely thrilled to secure a permanent appointment as Head of Modern Foreign Languages in 2018.

Elise was born in France, and she studied English, German and French as a foreign language at the University of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean. She qualified with honours and decided to put her newly learnt skills to the test and came over to England as a Languages Assistant for a North Devon school. Elise joined Exeter University to obtain her teaching qualification in 2006. Over the last decade, she has taken on many roles including acting Head of Year and Head of Faculty.

Elise has always been a firm believer in the potential of Bideford College and the community it represents. She has a vision of Bideford College as a national example for others to follow. Elise will work tirelessly to ensure that all students aspire to excel and grow to love and value the education that they are receiving in our lovely part of the country.

Hannah Evans

7th December 2020 - 7th December 2024
Appointed by: GB/Board due to no election candidates.


Hannah's connection with Bideford College spans many years, generations and even buildings! She attended Bideford Comprehensive school in the 80s, before heading to Petroc for A-levels. Hannah then indulged her passion for languages and travel with a BA in French and Italian with European Studies at the University of Bath, before embarking on communication and travel-related jobs in London.

After a brief stint in Brussels working with the European Commission, Hannah worked as a management trainer, based primarily in the Lake District, but delivering leadership and team building programmes world-wide, and mainly in Italy and France. She was incredibly fortunate to find a career which combined her love of all things foreign with the beauty and opportunities offered by the Great British outdoors.

Hannah has watched Bideford College progress over the years, with facilities worthy of any university. The College has highly motivated and engaged teachers who care for their pupils and for their education.

Julie Picillo

2nd October 2023 - 2nd October 2027
Appointed by: GB/Board
 

I was a former pupil at Bideford College during the 70s and 80s and went on to qualify as a Biomedical Scientist at Portsmouth Polytechnic and worked in the hospital Biochemistry lab. After moving to London, I started a 10 year career as an Area Sales Manager selling water purification equipment into industry. This eventually led to a year living in the USA before finally returning back to Devon where I planted my roots and started my family. 

Having involved myself with my children's local primary school, I then became a Teaching Assistant at Great Torrington Bluecoat Primary School where I have been for the last 15 years. I have specialised in reading and phonics, supporting children with dyslexia and reading difficulties. I  am also a cover supervisor offering teaching provision across all year groups. 

My own children were both very successful at  Bideford College and while one has completed a Geography degree at Exeter University and progressed to embark on a journalism career in London, the other has just started their second year of a Chemistry degree at Cardiff University.

Working in primary education gives me a great insight into the challenges faced by teaching staff and pupils. My own children reached their full potential and I want all young people to do the same. I believe that Bideford College is an excellent school and all pupils can succeed with the right support. I hope that my knowledge, experience and passion for education can contribute to the best outcomes for the pupils and assist Bideford College in its continued success.

Victoria Brookes

28th December 2023 - 28th December 2027
Appointed by: GB/Board

I was born locally and a former pupil at Bideford College in the 1980’s.  After leaving school I had various different jobs including working within the travel industry both in the UK and overseas. 

I have a son who is in his second year at Bideford College and he has settled in well.  I have worked in children and adult social care for 25 years.  My main role since 2019 has been to support young people with either a physical or learning disability.  My job is to support people live a positive life, helping individuals to meet their aims and goals for the future.  This is often in regards to education and employment, health, and wellbeing, accessing and being part of a local community, having friends and relationships and working towards skills which will hopefully, in time lead to the person living as independently as they can.  I work with various professionals, and in partnership with families and most importantly the person themselves, advocating and promoting positive outcomes, listening to the wishes and feelings of individuals I support.

I have in the past volunteered with local scouting groups and was involved as a volunteer at a local primary school.  This is my first time as a Governor, I am interested in taking an active role in helping influence my son's learning and the direction which Bideford College is taking.  As a former pupil and a parent, I think being able to work alongside the school in a positive way, having a say in aspects of how the school is run and being able to challenge decisions constructively is important.  I also want to volunteer some time to the school as it is such an important provision in local children’s lives and all children deserve the best education, we can provide them.  My experience working in social care has given me an understanding of vulnerable children’s needs and I have a particular interest in Special Educational Needs, due to my role assisting young adults with a physical or learning disability.  For me it would be an interesting perspective to be a part of the governing body team and get to know the staff leadership team and offer support in any way I can.  In my opinion, being a governor will give me the best chance to be involved with my own son’s educational chances whilst having the opportunity to be involved in the strategic decisions and future direction the school is taking, whilst being part of a team whose main purpose is a focus on the best outcomes for children.

Mark Ruddick

29th November 2023 - 29th November 2027
Appointed by: GB/Board

Bio to follow.

Minutes of meeting can be requested by contacting the Trust's Head of Governance and Compliance, Georgina Fahey: gfahey@athenalearningtrust.uk