Who’s who? Pen portraits.

Chair of Governors: Robert Atwill

Many of you will already know me quite well from my time as a teacher at Meavy and I’m sure that even more of you have seen me around at both schools. For those of you who thought to themselves ‘who on earth is he?’ upon seeing me, I hope that this allows you to get to know me a little better.

I was born in Plymouth and have lived there all of my life. Growing up, I knew very early on that I wanted to teach and, having attended Devonport High School for Boys, I graduated as a teacher from the University of Plymouth in 2003. I spent two years on supply in Plymouth before being appointed as teacher at Meavy in September 2005.

I spent eight very happy years at Meavy and had the opportunity to work with some brilliant children and an enthusiastic and highly-skilled staff. Federation with Lady Modifords  brought with it further exciting opportunities to work with an even wider group of people who felt the same passion for teaching as I did.

Last summer I made the very difficult decision to leave the teaching profession but was adamant that I wanted to remain a part of the Federation – to ensure that the children of the Federation continue to be given the best education possible. When a governor’s position opened up in the Autumn term, therefore, I jumped at the chance and was appointed as a foundation governor in October. Having been a staff governor previously, I was in the somewhat odd position of being a new, experienced governor!

Outside my work for the federation, I am currently in the latter stages of training to become a driving instructor. In my leisure time I can normally be found standing (or sitting) on the terraces of one of our local sporting teams on a Saturday afternoon. I have been a season-ticket holder at Plymouth Argyle for many years and have experienced the whole spectrum of emotions in supporting my local team, from the joy of two promotions in three years  to the angst of two successive relegations and the threat of relegation from the league. On Argyle away days, I often switch sports and try to watch Plymouth Albion at Brickfields.

As a federation, we have many exciting times ahead, the new ICT  equipment is beginning to arrive and be installed – this will make a huge difference to the children of both schools and I would like to thank once again the members of FOLM and the Meavy PTA for their incredible support in this project. Without them – and all of your kind purchases/donations – we would not have been able to afford any of it. We hope also that we will soon be in a position to launch new websites, giving you all more information on the day-to-day activities taking place in the schools as well as keeping you informed of our work as a governing body.

I hope very much that my experience as a teacher can bring further skills the governing body of the West Dartmoor Federation. We are all working very hard as governors to ensure that your children continue to receive the best education possible. Please remember that I am usually available for a  chat on a Friday afternoon at home time at Meavy and if you see me at Lady Modiford’s at any time, please feel free to come over and say hello – it’s always great to meet and get the views of as many of you as possible!


Clerk to the Governing Body: 

Foundation Governor Revd Preb Nick Shutt

Hello! I am the “ex officio” governor. That means I am appointed as a governor by virtue of my office as the Rector of the West Dartmoor Mission Community. You will often find me in both schools. I conduct Collective Worship every other week as well as coming into both schools to meet staff, parents and talk with the children. I am the lead governor on Personnel issues. This is a demanding portfolio to look after and involves constantly looking at the staffing resources across the Federation in discussion with the Executive Head Teacher, Chair of Governors and the Full Governing Body. We are very fortunate in having very dedicated teaching and support staff all of whom are hard-working and have the best interests of all the children as their number one priority. I am also the lead governor on safeguarding and liaise with the staff, who have been trained in these roles in the Federation. Up till 2008 I worked as a solicitor in the local area but retired from that role to take up my current full time position within the church. As the Rector of the West Dartmoor Mission Community I am responsible for looking after seven churches across six parishes, sharing people’s joys and sorrows in my work as a priest. It is a privilege to be able to share my faith in Jesus Christ with those among whom I live and work. My interests include photography, music and singing (the children can attest to my strumming on the guitar), dog-walking (one mad Springer Spaniel) as well as being an occasional cook!

Foundation Governor Revd. Capt. Gary Shirley

Hi I am Revd. Capt. Gary Shirley.

I am a Foundation Governor and deputy portfolio holder for Ethos, what’s that you ask.  Well as best I can make out it’s keeping an eye on our federation’s Christian basis, but we also look after areas that don’t seem to fall into any of the other portfolios such as Admissions, Every Child matters, Pastoral care, SEN, and RE.

I have been a Church Minister for 16 years the first 10 years as a Church Army Evangelist and the later 6 as an ordained Minister. I work alongside Nick Shutt in the West Dartmoor Mission Community. I take Collective Worship in our schools as part of a rota usually every three weeks.

In previous posts I have been a Governor in a Special Needs school, a Secondary School and an Infant school though thankfully not all at the same time.

Before working as a church minister I was involved in retail from leaving school at 16.  My experience of school was not an entirely happy one and did not endear me to the world of learning, I returned to education in my late 30’s finishing a degree in my early 50’s. So to enter our schools and see generally happy, confident, students enjoying their learning experience is a joy and something I am keen continues.

I am married with one son and one grandson (so far).  I love reading especially science fiction; I enjoy board games, traveling to different places with our caravan, and then returning to beautiful Dartmoor.

Parent Governor: Justine Branfield

photo justine small

I became a member of the Federation Governing Body in May 2013 as the Parent Governor for Lady Modifords. I have one daughter, Amelia, who started the school in Foundation in 2011.
Having had a long nursing career in the NHS, most recently as Ward Manager of the Critical Care Unit at Derriford Hospital, I have many transferable skills that I can contribute to the FGB. In 2012 I decided to leave my full time position to spend more time with my family, but continue to nurse on an ad hoc basis as family commitments allow. This enables me to be a very active member of the Federation. As well as my role on the FGB as Lead for Finance, I am treasurer for the Out of School Club Committee and support the Walkhampton PTA.
I am dedicated to ensure that all children within the federation reach their own potential whilst enjoying a happy and fulfilling education in a safe and caring environment.