Meet the Governors

Mill Water School is part of the SENtient Trust, a cooperative trust made up from 10 special schools in Devon. The Governing Body provides strategic leadership and creates robust accountability, oversight and assurance for the educational and financial performance of the school. It has three core functions:
  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction. This involves setting the school’s overall strategic framework, including its vision and strategic priorities. It also includes responsibility for setting and modelling its culture, values and ethos.
  • Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff. Mill Water Governors are the ultimate employer of school staff.
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
If you would like to know more about the Governing Body, or become involved in its work, please contact Bobbie Potter -
Please scroll down to view the member profiles of our Governing Body...

Andrew Gardner – Chair of Governors
Andrew was a Parent Governor from September 2014 until July 2019. He has since been co-opted onto the board and currently serves as the Chair of Governors. Andrew has demonstrated his commitment to improving outcomes for all pupils over his time as a Governor. Having originally studied engineering, he is now involved in business; developing, marketing and selling medical products worldwide.

Andrew has a smallholding that he runs, helped by his son, who was a pupil at the school, breeding sheep and keeping chickens.

Maggie Carter
Maggie is a Local Authority Governor. She currently works for Scomis, part of Devon County Council that deals with IT services for schools, but previously worked for Children’s and Young People’s services in Plymouth. She has many years of experience working with and for young people. She started her career as a special needs teacher.

Maggie enjoys Pilates – exercising lying down! She also likes cooking and eating with friends.

Helen Newton
Helen has worked at Mill Water school since 2017 as a Grade D teaching assistant. She is a Mental Health First Aider and has previously run the school student council. Helen trained at Rolle College as a teacher before working in tourism on boats as a Skipper and Instructor for 13 years. She worked at Exmouth Community College before joining Mill Water.

Helen spends a large portion of her free time outside with her son, his pony and his chickens in any weather!

Jason Scholey
Jason is a Parent Governor, with a son in the Lower School. He has over 20 years experience working within Government in a range of roles including project management, product development, user research and marketing. He now leads a team responsible for a portfolio of products sold worldwide to support the safety of international shipping. He is a Chartered Marketer, recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and is keen to use his experience to help the school grow. Outside work, Jason enjoys kayaking and spending time at the beach with his family.

Sue Williams
For the past forty years, it has been my privilege to have worked in the field of Social Work with some of the most vulnerable adults and children in our society. Helping them gain opportunities to improve their life chances. 

Now, on this next journey as a Governor in the field of Education I look forward to learning from all of you. Hopefully in the process share my skills and knowledge so that together we can work in partnership to deliver the vision of the school and seize every opportunity to continue to enable the Children to learn, and realize their hopes and dreams for their future. 

Paul Charlton - Vice Chair of Governors
Paul spent his business career working in a variety of senior roles for a UK based International Insurance Company, including a spell setting up a new business in Singapore. Having worked away from Devon and recently retired he is keen to spend some time lending his wide range of skills and business experience in supporting local causes.

Living in Sidmouth and having been introduced to the work of Mill Water school by one of his daughters, he can think of no better cause.

He loves to travel, is interested in the arts and books - he’s a member of a local book group- practices yoga, enjoys walking and golf.

Julie Cornwell
Julie is a Senior Social Worker and Safeguarding Professional with over 30 years of experience. She is the Safeguarding Lead for the Governors, where she is able to apply her professional knowledge for the benefit of our pupils. As well as working closely with the schools Designated Safeguarding Lead, Julie has also provided bespoke developmental training for the full governing body. 

Julie likes to read and travel. She is also the chair of Devon Link-Up a charity that works with adults with a learning disability.

Sarah Pickering
Sarah is our Head Teacher and also sits on the Governing Body. She is committed to continuing our school improvement and to seeing the school provide the best possible outcomes for pupils.

Away from school Sarah enjoys spending time with her family. She is an experienced musician, who loves to watch a show and has been known to get up on stage herself.

Debbie Knowles
Debbie was elected as a Parent Governor in July 2019. She has a child in the senior part of the school.

Pene Duffelen
I live very close to Mill Water School in East Budleigh and am dedicated to the local community. I have been a small business owner, running fitness and well-being classes to support people suffering from mental health issues, and I have a passion for art and the outdoors. I very much look forward to supporting Mill Water over the coming years. 

Cherie White
My name is Cherie White, a recently retired Headteacher with over 20 years experience in the special school sector. I am a careful thinker, never rushing to make changes without strategic consideration. I am very pleased to be a new Governor at Mill Water School, looking forward to being part of the team.