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Plaistow Primary School


The Governors at Plaistow Primary School have an important role in ensuring that the school provides a positive educational experience for all in our school community. They are committed to ensuring that all of our children get the best possible start in life.

Governors at Plaistow monitor the leadership of our school with regards to curriculum, standards and financial management, as well as the safeguarding of our pupils. 

Governors support, but also challenge the Head Teacher and wider leadership team in ensuring that the School Development Plan is a robust, comprehensive action plan that is followed, reviewed and reflected upon. They ensure that decisions, whether they be financial or human resources related, are informed by a well-thought-out and carefully constructed planning process.

The Governing Body of Plaistow 

Our Governors provide expertise and experience across a range of skills so as to ensure that the Governing Body is able to undertake its duty to support the creation of a strong learning environment.

Governors at Plaistow Primary School fully support the school’s aims, vision and ethos.

By being a challenging and critical friend, governors assist the school in maintaining an environment where:

  • all are respected
  • pupils are supported and stimulated to realise their full potential
  • staff are valued and feel motivated
  • the school continues to achieve high standard

The Governors would welcome any comments or enquiries from parents and members of the community. We can be contacted through the main school office.

Meet Our Governors

Sue Giddens (Chair of Governors)

I was born in London, have lived in London all my life and have taught in Newham schools for over 20 years. I have taught across the whole age range but probably spent most of my time teaching years 5 and 6. For several years, I served as a teacher governor. 

I have a passionate belief that all children are entitled to a great education and thereby a good start in life.  After retiring from my post as an Assistant Head in 2015 I joined the governing Body of Plaistow Primary School to support the school in delivering the very best for our children. I believe that I have the educational experience, the local knowledge and the commitment to assist the governing body.

Retirement has given me more time to spend reading and knitting, both of which I enjoy immensely.  I have 4 adult children and a great deal of my time is spent with a growing number of grandchildren!  The most exciting part of retirement for me has been the ability to travel, to experience new places and meet so many different people.


Henry Cooper (Vice- Chair of Governors)

My name is Henry Cooper and I have been a co-opted Governor since March 2019 and a member of the curriculum and finance committees I have a depth of experience in the financial services industry and have worked in a range of different leadership roles across the UK.

I am currently a Senior Commercial Manager working out of Canary Wharf. As a result, I bring a strong level of commercial and financial acumen to the governing body and enjoy proposing new innovative ways of solving problems. 

Having not had experience in the education sector, I’ve enjoyed being able to work with the Governing Body and learn how the school operates. I enjoy being able to bring fresh ideas from my experience in a different field. 

Outside of work I enjoy keeping fit, skiing, reading, and eating in the range of different restaurants that are on our doorstep in London. I also enjoy sport, particularly rugby. Although I stopped playing a few years ago, since moving to London I’ve been taking advantage of being close to Twickenham and trying to get to as many England games as possible. 

Since being a Governor at Plaistow I’ve seen the high standards that all staff and governors strive towards and I’m really proud to be a part of it.


Dean Benoit

I am incredibly proud to be the Head Teacher of Plaistow Primary School and Children’s Centre. 

I grew up in Canada but moved to the UK to complete my teacher training in Exeter. I started my teaching career in Tower Hamlets and developed a keen interest in language acquisition and the teaching of early reading and phonics.

I have had experience as a leader across several schools where I have led on teaching, learning and assessment with a particular passion for curriculum design and implementation. I am also interested in how coaching and mentoring can build strong teams and leadership at all levels in educational settings.

My interests outside of school include cycling, running and travelling to see family and friends abroad. 

Plaistow is a happy school that celebrates its successes whilst always looking for ways to develop and grow. The Governing Board at Plaistow supports and challenges the school on its journey of ongoing school improvement.


Muhammad Azam

My name is Muhammad Azam, and I am a parent governor at the school. I sit on the Finance, Staffing and Premise committee at Plaistow Primary School. I have over 20 years of experience in the Higher Education Sector - working as a senior academic responsible for leading an extensive portfolio of programmes.

As a governor, I aim to help the school make the necessary progress while retaining things that make the Plaistow Primary school so special. 


Racheal Dzumbira

I was born and grew up in former Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. I did a BSc/Education degree at a university in Sierra Leone. After which I taught high school science and maths in neighbouring Liberia.

Whilst undertaking postgraduate studies in the UK, I also did voluntary work at a centre in Newham which offered English, Maths and IT classes to refugees. I became a board member at this centre. I got interested in teaching individuals who were facing barriers of one form or another in education. This led me to teach SEND students in college and becoming a course tutor, which I enjoyed very much. At Plaistow Primary School I am very interested in our SEND pupils.

Since I became a governor in March 2019, I have taken every opportunity to develop as an effective school governor by learning from colleagues and attending training available to governors.

In my church I enjoy teaching Sunday school to children aged 3 to 15 years. It is such a joy seeing the children develop in many ways. As a school governor I am committed to supporting the school achieve the goal to enable pupils develop in every way.   

I have a passion for safeguarding. I was a safeguarding officer in my church for some time and am now a safeguarding facilitator, training members from different churches.  Safeguarding at Plaistow Primary school is very important to me. The wellbeing of pupils and staff at the school is very important to me too. As such I am committed to supporting the school as a whole to being a safe learning environment so that pupils reach their potential in all they do.

I enjoy swimming, baking and cake decorating all of which I learnt after retiring. I raised funds for a charity I did counselling work with primary school pupils. I do charity walks raising funds for Cancer Research UK.


Donna Occleshaw

My name is Donna Occleshaw and I have been a member of Plaistow Primary Governing Body since 2013. I am a member of both the curriculum and progress and standards committees and I currently serve as chairperson for the Curriculum Committee.

I have a wide range of experiences within education and education leadership. I have taught in all primary aged key stages in different schools within Newham, Havering, and in Early Childhood settings in Sydney - Australia.

I am able to support the governing body to understand the policy, structures and systems within our school as well as representing the voice of the staff within the governing body.

I enjoy reading and travel and have been lucky enough to travel and live in several different countries, including Brazil and Australia - I understand the challenges that some of our pupils face when they begin in our setting and do not understand the language that is spoken!  

I am a keen gardener and have recently taken on the co-ownership of an allotment plot and hope to have lots of tasty veggies to dig up soon!


Naziya Begum

I was born, raised and now live in Plaistow, therefore I have a special connection with the community and legacy we leave behind. My educational background is Economics, having completed a bachelors and masters in the subject. However, my interest in teaching stemmed from volunteering at a local secondary school, where I worked closely with underachieving pupils. I felt a strong passion and drive to devote my career to giving all pupils an opportunity to achieve their best through education.

I have been a Mathematics teacher and in the education field for the last 10 years, taking on various key roles in pupils’ progression within the school. I have worked with Primary schools to ensure that there is a smooth transition between KS2 and KS3. I am currently training to develop teachers within my school to embed ‘Mastery’ within Mathematics and mixed attainment classes.

My hobbies include hiking, keeping up with current affairs, travelling and learning about other cultures. I dedicate majority of my time to the nurturing of my three children, which is why I am now in a part-time role at my school.

I am new to the role of Parent Governor but I look forward to contributing, challenging and supporting Plaistow Primary’s students, staff and parents in its continual school improvement.


Sabine Pole

I am a proud member of Plaistow Primary School. I grew up in Latvia but moved to the UK in 2007 and I have been a part of the Newham community for the last 15 years.

I developed a keen interest in child development soon after I became a parent. I was fascinated by how the mind and behaviour of children works (from prenatal development through to adolescence) as well as how children grow and adapt at different life stages.To explore this interest further I realised that I had to be more involved, so I decided to volunteer at Plaistow Primary School. From there on my interest increased and I applied for a Teaching Assistant role. Since then, I have taken on various roles within the school setting and gained an experience of a lifetime. It began from supporting class teachers, working with SEN children, leading speech and language groups, becoming a HLTA, leading intervention groups, working with SEND and the Inclusion Team.

I have a great interest in maintaining high educational standards at Plaistow Primary School, both now and in the future. I have recently completed a Psychology degree at Open University based around the mental development of young children. I strongly believe that applying this knowledge will improve the learning process and promote educational success for all students.

I am fluent in three languages which is beneficial for both the school and our families. Being able to speak in their native language creates a sense of familiarity and comfort. As a governor I look forward to promoting more effective ways of teaching and learning.


Sophie Lakin

My name is Sophie Lakin and I have been a co-opted Governor since 2022. I work for the NHS within the Metropolitan Police Service as a Senior Criminal Justice Mental Health Practitioner and am engaging in a Doctorate in Psychology.

I have a wealth of expertise and experience in psychology and mental health as a senior clinician and take pride in being able to share this knowledge with Plaistow Primary School. The emotional and mental wellbeing of young people is of paramount importance to me and I am so proud of how Plaistow Primary School shares this value and actively engages our children. 

I have a passion for ensuring that all children have the opportunities to be the best they can be, whilst in a safe and fun environment and enjoy being able to contribute to the continual development of the school as a Governor.

In my own time, I enjoy family time with my children, where we bake, craft and go for picnics in the park. I also enjoy visiting unique dessert restaurants, usually involving candy floss! I enjoy listening to music and singing and have been lead singer in several rock bands!

I look forward to continuing to support Plaistow Primary School as a Governor and see what we can all achieve together.


Justin Fong

I was born and raised in Malaysia, before moving to London for university and have lived in Newham for the past 6 years. 

I’m a qualified chartered accountant, starting my career in Audit and now work as a Manager in Transaction Services and as such, I’m able to bring my experience in finance and accounting to the governing board.

Outside of work, you could find me in a yoga studio, cooking up a feast for my friends, or travelling to see more of the world.

I look forward to my role as a governor to provide effective challenge and to help the school grow to greater heights.


Fola Omoniwa

Governor Committees and Attendance

Governor Attendance and Committees

Governors Committees are as follows:

  • Curriculum (C)

Curriculum Committee Terms of Reference - Plaistow Primary School

  • Standards (S)

Standards Committee Terms of Reference - Plaistow Primary School

  • Finance, Staffing and Premises (FSP)

FSP Committee Terms of Reference - Plaistow Primary School

Finance Policy - Plaistow Primary School

  • Safeguarding (Sa)
  • Head Teacher's Performance Management (HTP)
Name Category Committee Membership Full Governing Board Attendance (2022/2023) Business/ Personal Interest Declarations
Sue Giddens Co-opted (Chair) C   S   FSP   Sa    5/6 None, Sept 2022
Dean Benoit Head Teacher C   S   FSP    5/6 HT of School, Sept 2022
Henry Cooper Co-opted (Vice Chair) FSP   HTP 4/6 None, Sept 2022
Muhammad Azam Parent FSP 4/6 None, Sept 2022
Racheal Dzumbira Co-opted C   S   Sa   HTP 5/6 None, Sept 2022
Donna Occleshaw Staff C     S     FSP 346 Employed by School, Sept 2022
Sabine Pole Co-opted C      S 5/6 Employed by School, Sept 2022
Naziya Begum Parent C     S 4/6 None, Sept 2022
Sophie Lakin Co-opted FSP     S        C 5/6 None, Sept 2022
Fola Omoniwa Co-opted
  0/6 None, April 2023
Justin Fong Co-opted
FSP     S        C 3/6 None, Jan 2022

Statement on Governor Expenses

The Governing Body of Plaistow Primary School and Children's Centre has adopted the policy that no expenditure outside of the Service Level Agreement with Newham Partnership Working will be authorised, with the exception of isolated cases which will be authorised by the Finance Committee (or the Chair of the Finance Committee or Chair of Governors where matters are urgent).

Instrument of Government

The Instrument of Government sets out the arrangements for the constitution of all governing bodies of local authority maintained schools.

Our Instrument of Government states our governing body shall consist of:

  • 2 parent Governors
  • 1 Local Authority Governor
  • 1 staff Governor
  • 1 Head Teacher
  • 5 co-opted Governors

Once appointed Governors serve a four-year term of office.

Link Governors

Safeguarding (Children in Care) Racheal Dzumbira and Sue Giddens
EYFS Naziya Begum
Inclusion, Health and Well-Being (SEND) Racheal Dzumbira, Henry Cooper, Sabine Pole, Naziya Begum and Mohammed Azam
Creativity (Curriculum) Donna Occleshaw, Henry Cooper
Training Link  Racheal Dzumbira