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Birdwell School Members

The Academy has three named Members which include the Chair of Directors.  They work with the Board of Directors to set strategic direction for the Academy.

Suzanne Easton

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Suzanne is Chair of Directors.  Suzanne previously held senior leadership roles in the Financial Services industry, specialising in both HR and Business Banking.

Suzanne now runs her own HR consultancy company primarily delivering coaching, leadership development and mentoring support to a wide range of industries and clients.

Suzanne was a governor between January 2015 and October 2016, and is now a Trustee of the school, Suzanne lives in Clevedon, and has a young son.

Geoff Mountjoy

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Geoff is currently an Academy Business Manager at Headley Park School in Bristol. He is a National Leader of Governance , a group who provide practical support and assistance to other Governing Bodies. Joining the Board of Governors at Birdwell in 2007, he was Chair for the past 6 years and is now a Trustee of the Academy.

Until 2013 Geoff was a senior manager in the Legal Services Commission/Legal Aid Agency. He was Regional Director for the South West and South of England until 2009 when he moved to head the Provider Assurance function managing contractual (CCA, Onsite Audits & File Reviews) and quality assurance (SQM & Peer Review) for the business and leading counter-fraud activities. He was a principal business contact with representative bodies and the National Audit Office. He has led business improvement programmes to improve operational efficiency, reduce costs and improve customer service and consistency.

As a contribution to public service, Geoff has been a Board Member of a North Somerset Housing Association, Employer Representative for Investors in People and a Member of the Statutory Strategic Schools Forum.

Geoff has a degree in Economics and a Master in Business Administration from Bath University.

Geoff has been a Director and Trustee of the school since it’s conversion on 01/04/2013, and a previous Governor of the school from August 2010.

Geoff is a member of the Curriculum and Standards and Audit and Finance Committees.

Mike Shelley

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Mike has been a Governor for Birdwell School Academy for over 12 years and during that time have seen many changes. Mike has three daughters who have attended Birdwell and they all had such a wonderful experience with some very special memories of their time spent in a vibrant, friendly, safe environment.


Mike has been heavily involved in the development of the school during his time here, from the building of the Nursery to the re-build and expansion of the current school.


Mike comes from a background in Horticulture, Police and Facilities Management. Mike feels very privileged to be able to offer his knowledge and experience to help continue the wonderful development of a very special learning environment.


Mike has been a Director of the school since it’s conversion on 01/04/2013 until July 2014, and a previous Governor of the school from September 2010. Mike remains a Trustee at this time.

Birdwell School Directors

The Academy’s Board of Directors comprises the Headteacher, a minimum of 2 elected Parent Directors, up to 3 Staff Directors and up to 6 Other Directors.  Directors are appointed for an initial four year period, except that this time limit does not apply to the Headteacher.  Subject to remaining eligible to be a particular type of Director, any Director can be re-appointed or re-elected.

Dr Tabetha Newman

Tabetha’s qualifications include a degree in Zoology and a Ph.D. in Animal Behaviour. In 2000 she moved from academia into the field of science communication and e-learning, producing solutions for clients such as GlaxoSmithKline, the NHS, and KPMG. In 2003 she left to set up Timmus Limited; a research agency that specialises in qualitative and quantitative research, often for Government education agencies. In 2009-10 she carried out research about the effective use of technology by children, which led to improvements in the primary and secondary curriculum. She was subsequently invited to assist the EU in their work in this area.

Tabetha is principal consultant at Timmus, an honorary research fellow at the University of Bristol, and preferred analyst for their R&D team. She is also a mum to two children, one at Birdwell and the second due to start in 2014. Tabetha is excited to join the Directors at Birdwell, and hopes to support staff in continuing to innovate the curriculum and create some fun and informative learning experiences for the children.

Tabetha chairs the Premises, Health & Safety Committee and sits on various other committees. Tabetha has been a Director at the school since November 2013.


Maxine Houghton

Maxine grew up in North Somerset and returned to live in Backwell a few years ago. She has worked as a secondary English and Drama teacher, Learning Mentor and SENCo in South Gloucestershire schools since 1998. Since 2003 Maxine has taken a particular interest in working with young people who struggle to access learning, particularly those with special educational needs and disabilities. She is an advocate for inclusion and believe that anything is possible given the right support, a lot of resilience and a solution-focused approach.

Recent ill-health gave Maxine the push needed, to re-evaluate my work/life balance and in 2016, she travelled to Kerala, Southern India, learning yoga and meditation. Maxine came back full of energy, ready to find new challenges and opportunities and keen to give back to the local community through voluntary work. Although Maxine is not a parent herself, she has 5 godchildren aged from 5 - 15 and a niece and nephew who attend a primary school in Nailsea. Maxine hopes to be able to share her knowledge and experience of child development, school leadership and SEND and is proud to be a new member of the Birdwell family.

Maxine became a Director in October 2016.


Nick Thompson

Nick became a Director in October 2016. Nick is a Parent Director.  He chairs the Audit and Finance Committee.


Paul Sainsbury

Paul is the Headteacher of the school and sits on all of the Committees.


Emma Bellis

Emma is Deputy Head and SENCO.  In addition to her role as a Staff Director, she sits on the Audit and Finance Committee.


Lucy Durham

Lucy is an Assistant Head and Reception Class Teacher at Birdwell School.  She has been a Director since 1 April 2013.  Lucy is a Staff Director and member of both the Curriculum and Standards Committee and Premises, Health and Safety Committee.


Emily Jones

Emily joined as a Director in November 2016. She works as an Early Years LSA and runs the Birdwell School Holiday Playscheme.  Emily is a member of the Premises, Health and Safety Committee.


Julia Cavill

Julia is a Year 6 Teacher at the school.


Company Secretary


Hannah Jones

Hannah joined the Governing Board as the Clerk to Governors in April 2011 and following the school conversion to an Academy, she then became the Company Secretary. Hannah attends every meeting, providing administrative support to the regular sub-committee and Full Directors Meetings.

Birdwell School Register of Interest