Governors at CNCS
Cardinal Newman Catholic School is a Voluntary Aided School within the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.
The Diocese appoints 10 Foundation Governors, who are joined by the Principal, 1 elected Staff Governor, 2 elected Parent Governors, 1 appointed Brighton and Hove City Council Governor and 3 Governors co-opted by the Governing Body.
The role of the Governing Body is:
Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, as well as the effective and efficient performance management of staff;
Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.
The Governing Body holds regular Full Governing Body (FGB) meetings and also has a Resource Committee to oversee finance, premises and staffing issues. There is also a Teaching & Learning Committee to oversee curriculum matters and the quality of education. Governors also conduct monitoring visits at the school.
The Governing Body Chair is Gerard Silverstone; the Resources Committee Chair is Mel Fane; and the Teaching & Learning Committee Chair is TBC.
Do you have a question for our governors? You can email our chair Geri Silverstone firstname.lastname@example.org
Geri Silverstone | Foundation Governor & Chair since July 2017
Committees: Admissions; Principal appraisal
Experience: As a professional PR consultant, I have worked with some of the most well-known brands in the UK. I am experienced at developing and implementing high level fully integrated communications and stakeholder strategies. I have been involved in Governance structures of Catholic schools in the City for over ten years as a previous Foundation Governor of St Mary Magdalene’s Primary School, including a time as Vice Chair of Governors. I also have direct experience of local government; having served one full term as an elected Councillor in a London borough.
Connection to CNCS: As a practising Catholic, I regularly attend St Peter's Church.
Key Skills: Strategic Communications, Public Affairs, Lobbying and Governance Strategies.
Personal Comment: I passionately believe in the value that Catholic education can contribute to the lives of its pupils. I am determined to hold the school to account and challenge them to ensure that it is offering all of its students the best possible experience.
Mel Fane | Associate Member & Vice Co-Chair since October 2019
Committees: Resources; Pay; Principal appraisal
Experience: I have been a governor for over 6 years, and currently sit as a Chair of Governors in a primary feeder school in addition to CNCS. I sit on the Local Authority’s Schools Forum. I am experienced in budget management, performance management, buildings management and health and safety including risk assessing.
Connection to CNCS: I have a personal connection to CNCS as both my children and my niece are currently pupils here and in fact, I was a pupil here myself, many moons ago!
Key Skills: I have worked in the NHS for over 20 years. Key aspects to my role are the line management and development of administrative, front of house and facilities staff. This covers a variety of HR functions including recruitment, training and induction , performance and objective setting and appraisal, absence management.
Personal Comment: I believe that education is key in ensuring the best start in life for young people, not just academically but holistically. It is a privilege to be involved in the education and wellbeing of young people and as a governor I am fully committed to working with the school in support of the best outcomes for our young people.
Samer Bagaeen | Foundation Governor since March 2019
Experience: Samer is currently Thought Leadership Relationships Manager at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in London and Founding Professor of Planning at the University of Kent. Before that, he worked with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation as Associate Director with the City Relationships team where he delivered resilience strategies for Amman, Ramallah, Rome and Byblos. He established the urban planning school in Brighton in 2008 and before that worked at the universities of Aberdeen and Strathclyde. He served as Director of Urban Studies at the National Resources Investment and Development Cooperation (Mawared) in Jordan with responsibility for master planning former military sites and before that he was the training programme and master plan coordinator with the Welfare Association’s Old City of Jerusalem Revitalisation Programme. Some of Samer’s published outputs include Sustainable Regeneration of Former Military Sites (Routledge, 2016) and Beyond Gated Communities (Foreword by Saskia Sassen) (Routledge 2015). Samer is a serving Trustee of the Town and Country Planning Association, the world’s oldest town planning charity in London, and had previously served as a Trustee of the Royal Town Planning Institute.
Connection to CNCS: Previously served as Chair of Governors at a feeder school in Brighton and currently has children at CNCS
Key Skills: Professional planning and surveying skills, relationship management, community engagement
Personal Comment: Having served as a primary school governor for 8 years in Brighton and Hove, I am relishing the new challenges that lie ahead in a secondary school and help shape 21st century global citizens
Fi Branagh | Co-opted Governor since November 2018
Experience: I am currently a Science teacher-educator at the University of Sussex, where I have been working for about ten years. My role involves the recruitment and training of approximately 35 science teachers each year, as well as convening undergraduate modules for science students that relate to education. Before moving to the University, I was a Science teacher both here in Brighton and before in Essex.
Connection to CNCS: I am a parent to one CNCS student, and have been a tutor to a number of teachers in the science department. I send two science trainees a year to CNCS as well as a group of undergraduate Science students. The Science department at CNCS are an excellent partner to the University and are always keen to be involved in projects that will help bring more Science teachers into the career.
Key Skills: Lesson observations; training of new staff; induction of new staff; support of teaching staff; data analysis; impact of research on practice; curriculum design; communication with pupils.
Personal Comment: My role at the University has obvious links to schools, but I hope that my role as a governor will allow me to spend more time in a school community. I hope that my skills and knowledge of teacher training and my time as a teacher will be useful.
Melvyn Charles | Co-opted Governor since May 2023
Experience: Mel Charles is a qualified solicitor and began his career in private practice. He later joined the Civil Service, holding senior positions in policy, financial management, risk and programme delivery. He has worked in various Departments including the Department for International Development and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Connection to CNCS: Parent of a student at the school.
Key Skills: He now works at The Pensions Regulator where his roles have included Director of Transformation leading the organisation’s approach to regulation, Director of Change leading a range of technology and business programmes and he is currently Director of Automatic Enrolment responsible for regulating employers’ provision of workplace pensions for their staff.
Kate Crees | Foundation Governor since 2020
Experience: I qualified as a teacher in 1996 and have worked in schools ever since. During this time, I have taught in primary schools, completed post graduate studies in education and also have gained a range of experience in school to school support. I am currently the head teacher at St Peter’s Catholic Primary and have been in post since 2014.
Connection to CNCS: I have both professional and personal connections to Cardinal Newman. I have had the pleasure of working in two of the feeder schools currently served by CNCS. I also have experience of being a parent at the school.
Key Skills: Teaching, school development and leadership, monitoring and implementing SEND provision.
Personal Comment: Offering support in the capacity as a school governor is a privilege; especially when it is as a school like Cardinal Newman. A school which is committed to ensuring the students get the best education possible.
Mary Grey | Foundation Governor since January 2023
Experience: I am currently a teacher at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Portslade where I have worked for eight years. Prior to working in education, I spent nearly 20 years working across a variety of business sectors. This culminated in being Head of Media and Marketing for Camelot (operators of The National Lottery). I was responsible for numerous high profile marketing campaigns including the launch of EuroMillions and generating revenue to help fund the London 2012 Olympics.
Connection to CNCS: I am a former pupil with two of my three children currently attending CNCS, as well as my niece and nephew. My uncle also taught here while I was a pupil. Our family has links with St Thomas More's Church and we attend St Mary's Church in Preston Park.
Key Skills: Understanding the perspective of the child, curriculum development, data analysis, stakeholder management, marketing communications and strategic development.
Personal Comment: It is a privilege to serve as a foundation governor. I am particularly aware of the importance of our children’s mental health and wellbeing, and of equipping them with the emotional tools to navigate life. My overriding passion is to ensure all children, regardless of background or ability, fulfil their potential. I look forward to upholding the Catholic ethos of our school, being guided by Caritas values in all that we do.
George Guerges | Foundation Governor since 2021
Experience: I have a broad range of experience and insight from working within the health care sector for my entire career. I qualified in Physiotherapy in 2001 and I have worked as a clinician and a manager in the acute, community, and mental health sectors. I continued with my personal and professional development and I completed MSc in Physiotherapy & Management in 2019. I’m the co-chair for the BAME network in East Sussex NHS Trust and I link across the South East of England to promote Equality and Diversity.
Connection to CNCS: I’ve two children at CNCS, my elder son is in the 6th form college and my younger daughter is in year 8. We regularly attend Our Lady of Lourdes church in Rottingdean and St Mary & St Abraam Coptic church in Hove.
Key Skills: Organisation development, managing change, finance and performance improvement.
Personal Comment: I’m delighted to be a governor at Cardinal Newman Catholic School, I will take this opportunity very seriously and give the time and commitment it needs to ensuring CNCS is a loving, safe and friendly environment, where the individual child is valued and their talents are recognised and developed.
Lucy Hughes | Co-opted Governor since April 2022
Experience: I’m co-CEO of Mankind UK delivering therapeutic trauma services for male survivors of sexual abuse. I’ve worked with young people in schools and community settings for over 10 years as an Integrative Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor. Previously as Assistant National Officer for Unison I represented members working in Ofsted and Cafcass, and as Information Officer at NCVO (National Council of Voluntary Organisations) I delivered capacity building resources for charity CEOs and Trustees. One of my children is autistic and I sit on the Brighton and Hove Parent Carers Council which represents the needs of children with SEND and their families. I sit on various lobbying and governance groups including the Brighton and Hove Council’s Mental Health in Schools Support Teams Steering Group, the Sussex NHS Partnership Foundation Trusts Trauma Informed Care Group and the Male Survivors Partnership. I went to a Catholic Primary and a Catholic Convent Secondary School myself so have lived experience of a Catholic Education.
Connection to CNCS: I worked as a school counsellor and clinical supervisor at Cardinal Newman from 2018-2021 when I was an employee of YMCA. My eldest son also now attends the school.
Key Skills: Strategic Planning; Risk Management; Trauma Informed Best Practice; Organisational Supervision
Personal Comment: I will do my part to help support a nurturing, positive school culture. This will include enabling psychological wellbeing to be prioritised across all aspects of school life, empowering students to support themselves and each other with their mental health, and ensuring that points of difference are not ignored or stigmatised but recognised and valued.
Fr Rod Jones | Foundation Governor since 2021
Experience: I am a Benedictine monk and priest from Worth Abbey, Sussex. Before joining the monastery, I studied architecture at Brighton University. As a student I became involved in the Catholic chaplaincy, situated at that time in central Brighton. It was through the chaplaincy that I first visited the abbey. In response to what I discerned to be an ‘invitation’ from the Lord, after completing my studies, I joined the monastic community at Worth. The monastic life I live, inspired by scripture and the Rule of St Benedict, is a way of life rooted in prayer, community living and pastoral ministry. I have been involved in several different ministries, including teacher, chaplain, parish priest and more recently, working as director of the retreat centre at Worth Abbey. This brought me into regular contact with groups of young adults and students.
Personal Comment: My appointment in September 2019 as the Roman Catholic chaplain to Sussex University, brought me back to the place, where in a significant way, my vocation as a priest and monk developed. There is something fascinating about the ‘spiritual symmetry’ of God’s loving providence! Now that I am back living in Brighton, I look forward to being involved as a governor, in the life and mission of Cardinal Newman School.
Natalie McCarthy | Foundation Governor since March 2022
Experience: I have been a qualified teacher for over 25 years, working as a primary practitioner in several diocesan schools throughout this time. Whilst working on school to school support, I had the opportunity to work in another secondary school in the Diocese. I am currently Headteacher of St Cuthbert Mayne Catholic Primary School.
Connection to CNCS: I have experienced the importance of the school home parish link as my children have attended Newman both in the school and the college.
Key Skills: Learning and teaching, school development and leadership, monitoring and implementing SEND provision, school finance and budgets, strategic vision, safeguarding
Personal Comment: I am passionate about children’s right to an inclusive and diverse education, in a school where they are known, loved, respected and valued as an individual. I am privileged to have the opportunity to be given this role and work with fellow governors and staff for the benefit of all children at Newman.
Celine Lawden | Staff Governor since July 2023
Experience: I have been teaching at Cardinal Newman for 16 years now. I arrived as a supply teacher and I was lucky to develop many skills which led me to become a Pastoral Leader 10 years ago. I have always felt at home here and was always impressed by the level of care and kindness that every member of staff displays on a daily basis.
Connection to CNCS: I have been a teacher for 16 years and I have watched both of my children pass from Yr7 to Yr13 at CNCS.
Personal Comment: Cardinal Newman is like no other school and with the challenges that running such a big school present, I would like to be part of the team that supports the strategic direction of the school In my capacity as a teacher and a pastoral leader, I have always been committed to achieving the best outcomes for the pupils and make their journey with us a successfully one.
Matthew Conneely | Associate Member since July 2022
Experience: I am entering my 14th year teaching at Cardinal Newman, where I started my teaching career as an NQT in 2009. I am currently the subject leader for the History and Politics department, however in previous roles I have been a pastoral leader and held responsibility for PSHE for school. I’ve always felt very passionately about the extracurricular opportunities at the school and have taken part in numerous trips as well as helping to run sports teams.
Connection to CNCS: I have two children who currently attend one of our local Catholic feeder schools, who will in the coming years move to Newman, and I am a member of St Peter’s parish in Hove (although have recently also started attending St Theresa’s in Southwick. Since 2006 I have been involved as a volunteer helper with HCPT – taking disaabled or disadvantaged children and young people to Lourdes each Easter. I currently lead HCPT Group 210 (Brighton & Eastbourne).
Key Skills: Undergraduate degree in International Politics and Law, Masters degree in International History. Various school-based and external training on senior leadership, promoting the school’s Catholic ethos and leading PSHE.
Personal Comment: Having worked at Newman for 14 years, I have a huge passion for the school, its staff and students, and its place in our local community.
Rittick Ckakraborty| Parent Governor since October 2023
Experience: As the Health & Safety link Governor a tBrunswick Primary School, I actively contribute to the Resources and Pay committees. With 25 years of experience in Risk and Operations Management, financial services, and sustainable business consulting globally, coupled with my Masters in Sustainable Development from Sussex University, I bring a unique global perspective to educational governance. My commitment to positive change is ingrained in my heritage. I am actively involved as a volunteer mentor in Brighton University’s Identity Match Mentoring program, championing empowerment for young minds from varied backgrounds.
Connection to CNCS: I have a daughter currently in year 10.
Personal Comment: I am passionate about contributing to Cardinal Newman's values of 'Caritas, Excellence and Together', ensuring an environment where every child's potential is nurtured.
Link/ Support Governors
Link/ Support governors are members of, and are appointed by the Governing Body to oversee specific aspects of the work of the school. Current responsibilities are set out in the document below
Full Governing Body Minutes
Please use the links below to download copies of Full Governing Body Meeting Minutes:
The full governing body meets every month. At these meetings, the governing body carries out its three core functions, as identified by the Department for Education in the Governors’ Handbook:
ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure money is well spent
You can view Governor meeting attendance here: Meeting attendance 2022-2023