Governance – The Management Committee

Welcome from Pete Whelan, The Management Committee Chair

Danesgate is a truly special place providing outstanding support and personalised education to young people aged five to 16 from all over York and surrounding counties. Many of our young people have started life a long way behind the starting line but our dedicated staff are determined to help them move on successfully to their next stage of education and training. We will give every child every chance to flourish and achieve.   It is the role of Governors to ensure that this happens day in and day out.

The Danesgate Management Committee fulfils both a strategic and an advisory role, in addition to having statutory responsibility for certain specific functions or tasks.  They are actively involved in most decision-making to ensure that Danesgate is run effectively and that we provide a suitable education for all our learners.  Committee members will be from one of a number of categories including community members, parent members and staff members. Initial contact for the Management Committee should go through either the headteacher or contact direct via our governor’s email: [email protected]


In 2017 we adopted a new model of Governance at Danesgate and we hold half termly Full Management Committee (FMC) meetings. The Management Committee may appoint associate members to serve on the committee; such members may have voting rights only as determined by the Management Committee and within the terms of the School Governance Roles, Procedures and Allowances Regulations 2013.  In addition the committee may also informally invite individuals, on a non-voting basis, to provide specialist support, advice and guidance.


What makes a good governor?
The true measure of a nation’s standing is how well it attends to its children – their health and safety, their material security, their education and socialisation, and their sense of being loved, valued, and included in the families and societies into which they are born.”
What do governors do?

The role of Governor is strategic and focuses on the longer term priorities. Governors do not get involved in the day to day operational aspects of school – this is the job of the Headteacher and school staff. Among other responsibilities they:

  • Set the Vision & Values
  • Be a “critical friend” to Headteacher and other professionals
  • Ensure school is meeting its legal duties
  • Sit on specific panels to review appeals, exclusions, complaints etc.

The most important quality is the desire to make a difference to children’s lives through education. In addition to this, attributes that a make a good school governor include:

  • A willingness to have courageous conversations for the benefit of young people
  • A desire to understand & support the local community
  • The ability to work as part of a team
  • An external perspective
  • The time to get involved


How might I become involved?

The FMC meets six times every year and governors also belong to one or two of our committees which meet at other times throughout the year. Governors are also linked to specific areas of school life and are expected to visit the school to meet with staff and provide written reports to the FMC.

Foundation Governors do have some additional responsibilities to support the spiritual and moral dimension of school life.

We will let you know when there are vacancies on the Governing Body. If you’d like to have an informal discussion about the possibility of becoming a Governor, do contact Pete Whelan, Chair of the FMC, via the governors email or getting int ouch with the headteacher.


Welcome from Pete Whelan, The Management Committee Chair

Danesgate is a truly special place providing outstanding support and personalised education to young people aged five to 16 from all over York. Many of our young people have started life a long way behind the starting line but our dedicated staff are determined to help them move on successfully to their next stage of education and training.

We give every child every chance.   It is the role of Governors to ensure that this happens day in and day out.

Introducing our Governors

Pete Whelan - Chair of The Management Committee

My name is Pete Whelan and I have worked in education for over 40 years as a teacher, Head of Department and Headteacher in a variety of  settings in Yorkshire, Tyneside and North East Lincolnshire.

Currently I working as a School Improvement Partner and as a coach for a number of Multi Academy Trusts and Local Authorities across the country.

In my spare time I undertake voluntary work with the Youth Justice Service and I am a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) teacher. 


Doug Adams

Hello, my name is Doug and I am staff governor at Danesgate. At Danesgate I work as a teacher, but also coordinate and deliver mental health and wellbeing support for our students. I’ve worked at Danesgate for 10 years and prior to that I taught in schools in London and Leeds. My background is in SEN and psychology; I am passionate about enabling all young people to reach their potential through practice informed by understanding of what allows children to access learning, in spite of their social, emotional, communication or learning needs.

I love working at Danesgate, and I hope that through being part of the governance team I can help to make it an even better place to work and attend. 

Sarah Blakeman

Hi. My name is Sarah Blakeman and I have been a governor at Danesgate since January 2022. I have worked as a benefits and debt adviser, a probation officer, a primary teacher and am now working as an administrator at the University of York.  I was a governor at another school for 10 years but when I moved on, thought that would be the end of any Governor role. However, then I came to visit Danesgate and was truly inspired by what I saw happening here. Now, as the Primary Link governor, I  feel honoured to be part of this special place and helping to support Danesgate be the best it can be for all the Danesgate community of pupils, staff and parents and carers. 

Mandy Bowers

In my day job I work for a Mental Health Wellbeing Organization and I am responsible for all things people.  I feel that in my role as governor I can bring experience to support the SLT of Danesgate.

In addition to being a school governor, I  have also seen first-hand how important not only children’s mental health and wellbeing is, but also how important it is for all teaching and support staff , especially since Covid-19.

Being out and about up the hills in the Lakes is how I look after my own mental health and wellbeing!!

Sophie Brigstocke

I have worked as a psychologist for the last 17 years. I have always had an interest in children’s reading, language and number skills development and how to support children with neurodiverse profiles to achieve their potential. I work directly with children and their families doing educational and social-emotional assessments. I also have a teaching role, working with undergraduate students and counselling psychology doctorate trainees and supervising research projects at York St John’s University. I also enjoy with school staff delivering teacher training courses on mental health and wellbeing, through the Anna Freud Centre  and I visit Hong Kong on a biannual basis to deliver a course on best educational practise on supporting children with special educational needs to groups of teachers funded by the Education Bureau/ Education University of Hong Kong. 

I take great pride in working as a community governor for Danesgate Community School. It is a unique place which plays a pivotal role in turning around the lives of young people in the City of York by recognising not only their challenges but also their talents and providing a supportive, safe base from which they have a diverse range of opportunities to explore them and develop them. It is a very special place thanks to the dedicated staff, and range of children and young people who work together. 

Away from work, I enjoy living in Fulford with my family and walking our dog along the Ings when the floods allow! 

John Hart

I am in my second 4-year term as a Governor at Danesgate.  I in the past served as a member of the Academy Scrutiny Committee at Ainthorpe Primary Academy in Hull.

I am currently the Danesgate Link Governor for Health and Safety.

I retired from full-time work in 2015. I am a Mechanical Engineer by profession; my career background is in the rail transport and mining industries.

I am a Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.

Since retirement I have taken on volunteer roles primarily focussed on my interest in the provision for education and skills acquisition for the upcoming generations of our successors to ready them for life’s journey after leaving education. 

I also wish to play a more active role in supporting the provision of suitable and appropriate infrastructure which will encourage improvement and progression through that education journey. 

Further, to the best of my knowledge and ability, to ensure that the selection of personnel fit within the values of the education establishment to ensure effective and efficient management and delivery of the education process. 

Vikki Langford

I’ve lived in York for 4 years, having moved from London and a career in SEN education for 25 years.  After teacher-training I trained as a dyslexia specialist and then switched to a post-grad autism qualification. I was Headteacher of a small SEN school and then worked for a children’s charity as Head of alternative education provisions and a Post-16 learning centre. I currently work remotely for a large special school in London, managing compliance and accountability across their sites.

Researching York schools I was intrigued by Danesgate and applied successfully to become a community Governor. I love working with a warm and highly professional group of Governors who are passionate about Danesgate and are committed to moving forward with the provision. I enjoy working with Chris Nicholls and look forward to our regular sharing ‘best practice’ meetings.

I’m married to a psychotherapist/councillor and have a grown-up daughter who is a university lecturer in Southampton.

Steven E. Lawrie

My name is Steven Lawrie and I joined the Board of Governors at Danesgate in May 2023. I live in the Fulford area of York with my wife Susan, our young daughter (Charlotte) and 5 year old Cockerpoo (Toby).

After 22 years distinguished service with UK Armed Forces and 4 years as a Civil Servant, I took up post as Deputy Chief Digital Information Officer with York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust in August 2023.

I have a passion and commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion – as well as wider social

issues in both my personal and professional life. I believe in giving all children, regardless of background or ability, parity with their peers and the best opportunity(s) throughout their school journey. Be it curriculum based or after-school activities, I want our young people to be aspirational, and (best) prepared for the world beyond the boundary of Danesgate.

I have significant experience of working at Executive and Board level, and I am a confident, proactive change maker; personable, with an ability to enthuse and inspire. I will work with the Board as a collective to make a value adding difference, whilst challenging assumptions and acting as a ‘critical friend’. I will support the school, its staff and the Senior Leadership Team to continue the great work and successes achieved to date for the benefit of our children and wider community.

Management Committee Membership – Danesgate Community – 2023-24
Member’s Name Category of Member Appointing body Term of Office

Additional responsibilities

(e.g. Chair / Link Governor)

Start date End date
Mr Chris Nichols Headteacher In post by virtue of their office (ex officio) 17/04/2023  –
Mr Doug Adams Staff Staff body 30/03/2023 29/03/2027
Mr John Hart Local Authority Management Committee 17/07/2023 16/07/2027 ·         Health & Safety link
Mr Peter Whelan Local Authority Nominated by LA and appointed by Management Committee 17/09/2020 16/09/2024 ·         Chair of Full Management Committee
VACANCY Parent Parent body
Vikki Langford Community Management Committee 22/03/2022 21/03/2026
Mrs Amanda Bowers Community Management Committee 21/09/2021 20/09/2025

·         Vice Chair of Full Management Committee

·         Chair of Finance and Resources Committee

Ms Sarah Blakeman Community Management Committee 16/11/2021 15/11/2025
Dr Sophie Brigstocke Community Management Committee 24/01/2023 23/01/2027

·         SENDCO link

·         Safeguarding link

Mr Steven Lawrie Community Management Committee 21/03/2023 20/03/2027
VACANT Community
VACANT Community
VACANT Community
Register of Interests

The Management Committee maintains a register of relevant interests for current members and those who have served on the Committee in the past 12 months. 

Management Committee Meeting Attendance


Governors Skills Dashboard 2023-24