Board of Governors
We are fortunate to have a highly professional and committed Board of Governors who work hard to ensure that the school is always moving forwards.
To contact the Chairman of Governors, please address correspondence to:
Mrs J Mark, c/o The Bursar, Clerk to the Governors
Abbot’s Hill School
Board of Governors
Chairman: Mrs Janet Mark BA is a former headmistress of two GSA schools. She was educated at a Grammar School in Sheffield and Bedford College, University of London where she read German. As a teacher of German and French she worked in both the maintained and independent sector including 12 years at St Albans High School. She has extensive experience as a Governor, as a Team Inspector for the Independent Schools Inspectorate and as a Trustee of an Academies Trust. She works as a volunteer for Parentline, the helpline service of the charity Family Lives. As well as being a guide at St Albans Cathedral and Abbey Church, she is also a qualified Green Badge Guide for St Albans.
Vice Chairman: Mr Neil James MA (Oxon) Mr Neil James MA (Oxon) is a Solicitor and a partner in a leading City law firm. He specialises in finance and banking law and has practiced in the United States as well as England. His daughters each attended Abbot’s Hill. His wife is a former Treasurer of The Friends of St Nicholas House. He lives in St Albans and in his spare time he enjoys playing the clarinet.
Chair of Finance Committee: Mr David Walters BSc, FCA is a Chartered Accountant and was, until his retirement in 2019, the Office Senior Partner for PricewaterhouseCoopers in St Albans, which involved leading a multi-disciplinary team of nearly 200 professionals. After studying Economics at Cardiff University he moved to London to train as a chartered accountant, initially practising in audit before switching to corporate tax. David is married with a son and a daughter, the latter having attended Abbot’s Hill for five years. He lives in Hemel Hempstead, is a passionate follower of Welsh rugby and enjoys watching most sports. He cycles and plays golf regularly.
Mr Nigel Chadwick is the Managing Director of a North West London based Building Company where he has worked for over 33 years. His two girls were both educated at Abbot’s Hill, starting in the Nursery and continuing till they left at the end of Year 11. He is a Deputy Church Warden at his local village church. He brings with him a strong financial background and the experience of running a business employing over 60 members of staff.
Mrs Christine Edmundson, BMus, MBA, PGCE, LRAM, ARCM has over 30 years’ experience in Independent School Leadership as a Head and Deputy Head in girls’ schools. As a musician and educationalist, she was educated at Royal Holloway College (London) and Emmanuel College (Cambridge), subsequently gaining an MBA from Exeter University. She is a Governor of two other schools – a London Preparatory Day School for Boys and an International 4-18 Co-educational Day and Boarding School. After taking early retirement from headship, she was Interim Operations Director for the GSA, consequently being a Board Member of the ISC (Independent Schools Council) and the ISEB (Independent Schools Examination Board). As an ISI Team Inspector, she has been a member of Inspection Teams in the UK and Channel Islands for the Independent Schools Inspectorate. A singer, pianist and lapsed viola player, she currently examines for the ABRSM and is Musical Director of Lyra Davidica, a chamber choir specialising in sacred choral music. She is also a volunteer trainer for the St Albans Diocese, delivering courses in Safeguarding and Safer Recruitment.
Mr Jonathan Gillespie MA (Cantab) FRSA is Headmaster of St Albans School. After Cambridge University he taught French and German at Highgate School before moving to Fettes College, Edinburgh where he was Head of Modern Languages and then a Housemaster. Prior to joining St Albans School in September 2014 he was Head Master of Lancing College, West Sussex.
Mr Martin Hart MA (Cantab) MBA lives in Apsley and has a daughter at the school. He studied at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and has an MBA from Warwick University. He has worked in broadcasting and media regulation and is a Fellow of the Royal Television Society. He currently works in the regulation of medical education and is also a member of the Corporation (Governor) of Oaklands College.
Mr Gordon James MA (Oxon) PGCE is a recently retired head of a large, stand-alone prep school. He also has several years’ experience as an ISI Team Inspector. Primary-trained and focussed, his teaching career has been spent in HMC and IAPS Prep Schools, though he has taught children of all ages, from 3 to 18. He also taught for a year in the United States as a participant in the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Programme. He is a mentor of Prep School heads, as part of an IAPS support scheme for colleagues new to headship.
Mrs Jill Myers BTEC HND is a former Abbot’s Hill parent and has worked for the British Diabetic Association. With a background in Home Economics, Jill has produced two cook books for the Diabetic Association. She has previously worked for Tesco as a developer of ready meals, before transferring across into product selection and buying. Jill is married with two daughters who were both educated at Abbot’s Hill, leaving in 2013 and 2016. During their time at the school, she was a key part of fundraising for the PE Department helping them to raise funds to purchase the trophy cabinet and gazebos.
Jean Ross graduated from the University of Manchester in 1972 with a degree in Modern Languages. Having gone on to acquire a post-graduate qualification in commercial translation, she worked for a number of multi-national companies in the UK and abroad, gaining extensive experience in marketing and public relations. In 1996 she realised a lifelong ambition to become a teacher and worked in both the independent and maintained sector before becoming Headmistress of St Mary’s School in Gerrards Cross in 2010. She is an ISI inspector and, following her retirement, works in a voluntary capacity with vulnerable young people. She has three children, all educated in single sex, independent schools, and is committed to an ethos of empowering every child to achieve their best, whatever that best may be.
Martin Sims BA MBA. Educated at Tonbridge School and Royal Holloway College (London) with a BA in History and subsequently an MBA in International Business from City University Business School. Martin brings over 15 years’ experience as School Bursar and as Clerk to the Governors at two highly successful local IAPS preparatory schools – initially, Manor Lodge School, and subsequently, Edge Grove School, from where he is retiring at the end of December 21.
Dr Linda Summerton MA (Cantab), PhD studied at King’s College, Cambridge and then pursued postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco. She has worked in a variety of scientific and management roles in the Pharmaceutical Industry in the UK and abroad, and then became a Partner in a small private equity firm investing in Biotechnology and Healthcare, where she sat on the Boards of investee companies. More recently she became CEO of Dialog Devices Ltd on a part-time basis and also is a Senior Partner at TranScrip Partners, a specialist provider to Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Companies. She lives in Harpenden with her husband John and two daughters.
Dr Shori Thakur studied Pharmacology between 1996 and 2000 and subsequently went on to complete a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology at the University of Hertfordshire. This was followed by a 3 year GlaxoSmithKline-funded postdoctoral fellowship before taking up a position as a Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology in 2007. She has continued her research career, successfully supervising PhD and Masters Students and currently leads a team of 12 researchers studying for PhDs or Masters Degrees. She is currently a Principal Lecturer in Pharmacology and the Deputy Associate Director of the Doctoral College for the Schools of Life and Medical Sciences and Health and Social Work. Dr Thakur has recently been appointed as only one of six Ambassadors of the British Pharmacological Society in a pilot scheme that has been launched to promote pharmacology nationally and internationally.
Who owns the school?
Abbot’s Hill School Limited is a non-profit making charitable trust, which uses any surplus it makes from its operation for the benefit of the school. The Board of Abbot’s Hill School Limited acts as the Board of Governors of the School.
What do the Governors do?
The Governors are responsible for determining the strategic direction of the school and for appointing the Headmistress. They are also responsible for making sure the school complies with its obligations as laid down by company and charities law and in accordance with the Company’s Memorandum & Articles of Association. The Governors are unpaid trustees of the charity.
The Board of Governors meets once a term and holds an annual strategy day. In addition, the Board has a number of sub-committees made up of governors and staff, which meet regularly in accordance with their terms of reference and report back to the Full Board each term. Governors visit the school on a regular basis including attendance at school events.
Who are the Governors?
The Board usually comprises between twelve and fifteen governors at any one time. Typically a Governor serves eight to ten years. The Chairman is elected for a period of five years. We look for an appropriate balance of talent and professional experience amongst our trustees, and from time to time seek people with appropriate professional skills and experience to join us.