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Governance Group

TPS Governors -

Chair of governors - Geoff Chapman 

Geoff Chapman is currently chair of the Governance Group. For his first career he served for 16 years as an officer in the Royal Navy. As a training specialist he ended up as second in command of the RN’s School of Educational and Training Technology.  He left the RN to carry out research in fluid dynamics and gained a PhD in Applied Mathematics from Bristol University. For the past 15 years he has been a maths teacher at Exeter School where he is also a Head of House with pastoral responsibility for around 70 pupils.  His daughter currently attends TPS.  

Headteacher - Laura Manley

Laura Manley is the Head Teacher and a member of the Governance Group. Before training as a teacher Laura worked as a solicitor and is a member of the Law Society. Laura graduated Nottingham University with a Law LLB Honours Degree and Austin University, Texas, MA American Law. After working in America, Laura returned to England and completed her LPC postgraduate course, qualifying as a solicitor specialising in professional indemnity and negligence. Laura worked in America and London before moving to a small holding in Devon with her family. Laura has been working in education since 2008 and completed a GTP with Majorns University. Laura joined TPS in 2015 and was appointed as Head Teacher in 2020. Laura sits on the board of two local companies.


Principal - Ross Robens 


Director - Dale Lockett - Governance Clerk 

Dale acts as the Clerk for the Governance Group. Liaising with the Chair of the group, he ensures that dates of meetings are shared with the group, agenda items are gathered and disseminated, and that minutes of meetings are kept.

Nominated Safeguarding Governor - Fiona McCarthy (Alumni parent)

I have a professional background in various community focused disciplines, including youth intervention and addiction treatment. More importantly as a mother of adult children, I understand the need for individually tailored education. TOPS provided an environment which enabled them to thrive as individuals. We often reflect as a family how fortunate they were to have received such an education.

In my spare time I am an artisan jewellery designer, selling at local fairs and markets around the South-West. I enjoy spending time with my family, walks by the sea, reading sunshine, and more recently cross-fit.

Nominated SEN Governor - Jill Bird

 Jill Bird has lived in Totnes for 20 years. During this time she was Head of Music and then Assistant Principal at KEVICC and now teaches piano privately. Over the years she has developed her knowledge and interest in trauma and SEN and is very keen to support Totnes Progressive School and it's students by being the SEN governor.

Nominated STAFF Governor - Oli Bowen-Ashwin 

I have been an English Teacher since 2017 and since joining TPS have become Staff Wellbeing lead. In this job I strive to make TPS an even happier place to work and believe this role compliments being the staff connection on the Governance Group. Alongside teaching, I am also a Non-Executive Director for ‘Think for the Future’, a social enterprise that partners over a hundred schools and aims to reduce exclusions and support students who need it most. This role has given me a wealth of experience on planning, decision making and working on a board.

Nominated Health and Safety, and Site Managing Governor - Hedley

Having worked most of my career in Garden Centre retail, predominately in management and also project management. To my surprise I developed an interest in systems and procedures on a practical level. Translating overriding systems to a particular setting. I am hoping that this experience will help assist the Tops team.
I am a down to earth person who likes to get the job done.
We live on a small holding south of Totnes. I originate from Totnes, as do my parents.
Interests are horticulture, wildlife, and motor sport.

Nominated Parent Representative - Kat Steel

Kat has worked at the school for a number of years now and all 3 of her children have attended TPS over those years. She is passionate about education and new and progressive ways of delivering education to children. Having lived in many countries she has seen many different styles of teaching and how the education system works in various places. She is looking forward to her role in the governors group and bringing a parental view point to the table.

 TPS Governance Group Terms of Reference

The Governance Group has a strategic role, acting as a trusted advisor and critical friend to the school, and being accountable for its decisions.

The group helps set aims and objectives, as well as reviewing, agreeing and monitoring policies, targets and priorities.

The Governance Group will:

• Hold 6 meetings per year
• Elect a Chair
• Receive Head teacher reports
• Ensure that relevant policies (i.e. Safeguarding Policy) are updated, fir for purpose, and follow the latest, appropriate government guidelines
• Review, approve and monitor the School Improvement Plan
• Review and monitor results
• Monitor attendance of pupils
• Help set pupil performance targets
• Review, adopt and monitor the procedures for dealing with complaints from parents/ carers
• Organise relevant support/training for governors
• Receive a regular report on Safeguarding


Membership of the group will be reviewed annually by the Directors, in conjunction with the current chair, to ensure that the group is fit for purpose. The Governance Group aims to have 7 active members, including the Chair, of which 5 are required to proceed with each meeting.


Governance Group meetings will require a minimum of 5 members in attendance. If this quorum is not achieved then an alternative date will be decided.


The draft minutes of each meeting will be circulated with the agenda for the next meeting of the Governance Group, and will be presented at that meeting by the Chair (or in his/her absence another member of the committee).


The governance group may be contacted by emailing the governance clerk, Dale Lockett dale@school.co.uk

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