Meet the Governors

Mill Water School is a member of the SENtient Trust, a cooperative trust comprising of a group of 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 the Clerk to the Governors.

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 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.

Martin Bevan – Vice Chair of Governors
I have worked for Devon County Council for 7 years dealing mainly with schools in North Devon as a Health and Safety Advisor. For the past two years I was seconded onto the Devon Public Health team where I led on the Covid 19 response in Devon schools. It was always my wish when I retired to use my skills to help schools provide children with an excellent place to learn and thrive in.

I am a Chartered Member of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. I have a BSc and a MSc in Health and Safety Management as well as being a qualified teacher in post compulsory education. I have taught in the further and higher education sector.

Throughout my working life I have been a volunteer in various capacities and have been a Trustee for both The Council for Administration and for Bristol Family Mediation Service as well as a staff governor in the Further Education Sector.

My skills are in the areas of premises management, health and safety compliance, teaching, and training. I have an in-depth knowledge of the education sector. I have been a Trustee and Governor in organisations that have gone through mergers and restructuring and played a major role in the due diligence process of these mergers.

Maggie Carter
Maggie is a Local Authority Governor. She worked 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.

Debbie Knowles
Debbie was originally elected as a Parent Governor in July 2019, when she has a child in the senior part of the school. Debbie was reappointed into the Parent Governor role in July 2023 for further four-year term. Debbie has taken part in Hearing Committee work at Mill Water and also offering her help to other schools within the SENtient Trust.

Julie Cornwell - Safeguarding Governor
Julie is a social worker with over forty years experience in safeguarding. She has extensive management experience working in both the public and private sector. Julie has worked extensively with adults with autism and or a learning disability and in this vein she is the chair of trustees of Devon Link-Up a local specialist charity.

Julie lives locally in Budleigh with her family and two lovely dogs.

Sarah Pickering
Sarah is our Headteacher 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.

Andrew Maker
Andrew is a class teacher and Assistant Head who sits on the Governing Body as a staff governor. Andrew is keen to develop the school further, making it the best it can be and provide the best possible outcomes for pupils.

Away from school Andrew enjoys spending time with his family. Andrew is passionate about sport and will play Football, Racketball and Golf with varying degrees of success.

Jason Scholey
Jason was a Parent Governor, with a son in the school, he is now a co-opted Governor. 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.

Nigel Fletcher
Nigel was appointed as a Co-opted Governor in June 2024. He lives locally and runs a retail fuel business trading across the South West. Nigel is also a Governor at Exmouth Community College.