Meet the Governors
DR PAUL GRAY
I was Deputy Chief Education Officer for Devon between 1990 and 1996 and went on to be CEO for Surrey for the following decade. I set up the UK’s first integrated children’s service and also the first public/private partnership for school support services. I had many national roles including Chair of the influential QCA Curriculum Committee. I was Lord Dearing’s personal adviser on Education and Social Care.
In 2006 I was invited to be part of the then Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit and led interventions in underperforming Councils.
I am a senior Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Visiting Professor and in 2004 was granted the Freedom of the City of London for services to education.
Prior to that I was a senior officer in Cambridgeshire and developed the Local Management of Schools. Previously I was an academic, teacher and college Vice-Principal.
I am mostly retired and devote myself to community work. Amongst other things, I am Chair of the Exeter Council for Voluntary Service.
I live in Exeter with my wife and eleven year old son.
I am a passionate believer in good education being about helping children to fulfil their potential in its broadest sense, and to support their wider health and well-being. I am currently a ‘full-time’ Dad following the adoption of my son in 2011. As well as Chairing the South Devon Adoption Panel and being a member of the Somerset Panel, I also have a number of voluntary commitments including being a governor and with my local church.
Previous paid work included 12 years as Chief Executive of Exeter Community Initiatives (ECI), a local charity which develops, manages and supports a wide range of community groups and projects in the Exeter area. During part of this time, I represented the charity sector on the Devon Strategic Partnership which brought together local authorities, business and charities to help improve the quality of life for people in Devon.
I moved to Exeter in 1998 and before that worked for 12 years in London as a community development worker, trainer and adviser. I have also been involved for 30 years as a volunteer, including being a bereavement counsellor, a Buddy for the Terrence Higgins Trust, and trustee of a number of charities including chairing the Council for Voluntary Service in Westminster for four years.
To relax, I enjoy walking and playing tennis.
My experiences and skills learned are varied, originally training as an Electrical Engineer; I then served three years as an Inspector in the Royal Hong Kong Police and twenty-seven years in the Fire Service in Devon, retiring as an Assistant Chief Officer. I then represented the Chief Fire Officers Association on a special project within a Government Department and my final post was as part of a multi-disciplined team carrying out a strategic review of the Civil Defence Force in The United Arab Emirates.
I have also served as a Trustee and Chairman of Victim Support Torbay. I have experience of strategic planning individually and as a team member, industrial relations as an organisation lead officer and management of property and vehicle fleet portfolios. I also have experience in health and safety management and risk assessment. I have worked with and managed a varied range of paid staff and volunteers.
I was elected to the Board of Governors in December 2015.
I have lived in Exeter since the start of 2014, having previously lived in Cambridgeshire for many years. I grew up in Berkshire, then read English at Oxford University, before moving to the north east, which is where I trained as a social worker. A career in Cambridgeshire Social Services and then the NHS followed, with a focus on children’s services, older people and mental health. For the last eight years of my career I worked for the Audit Commission as a performance specialist. This involved working with local authorities and NHS bodies on governance, performance and value for money.
I was a parent school governor at our village primary school in the 1980s, and on the Parish Council from 2012 until moving here. My interests include walking, swimming, photography and local history.
Originally from Exmoor in Somerset I moved to Exeter 23 years ago.
I read History of Art at Plymouth University and prior to this Degree I studied Interior Design.
I have worked at Exeter College since 1999 and started as an in-class enabler. I then progressed into teaching and completed my Certificate in Education in 2001.
I started teaching on the GCSE Fast Track course in 2003, becoming Team Leader in 2004.
The subjects I teach are GCSE English, Sociology and Art. I am also a tutor.
I became Deputy Head of Foundation, Learning and Support in 2009.
My interests are: swimming, boxing, painting and walking. I live in Exeter with my husband, 2 cats and 3 geese.
I am born and bred on a dairy farm on the Blackdown Hills. I spent my childhood there training and racing horses. In the 1980s I moved to London to take a degree in philosophy and while there I was co-founder of an artists’ group making physical theatre. I continued to work with a number of artists in London as writer and performer until 2004 when I moved to Falmouth for a year to take my masters in writing.
I finally returned to the farm in 2008 where I continue to write. I took my PGCE at Exeter and went on to become a classroom teacher at Southbrook in 2018. My specialism is secondary English but I have taught science, PE, computing, maths and life skills. I bring a wide experience of collaboration and creativity to my teaching role and I hope to provide an alternative perspective on education as someone who has entered the profession from the outside.
Becoming a teacher at Southbrook is the realisation of a long-held ambition and I am thrilled to be able to work here, to share our young people’s journey, to develop my skill as a teacher and to have the chance as staff governor to be part of the school’s progress and development.
In my spare time I have been able to rekindle my interest in training and racing horses and I also enjoy swimming, walking my dogs and helping out on the farm.
AMY WILLS (Associate Governor)
I initially trained in Outdoor Education at Haven Banks OEC in the city. In the following 10 years I taught children and adults around the world. I specialise in water sports, predominantly kayaking and windsurfing, but I also delivered a range of land sports including skiing and climbing. A highlight of this was working with the British Sailing Team in preparation for the 2012 Olympics.
Upon returning to the UK, I began working in the SEND classroom whilst studying a BA Special Educational Needs and Disabilities at the University of St Mark and St John in Plymouth, making links between the Outdoor Learning and SEND. I undertook my postgraduate teaching qualification through the Torbay Teaching School Alliance before beginning work as a class teacher in a Special School for pupils with Moderate Learning Difficulties and on the Autistic Spectrum.
I began working at Southbrook in September 2020, and I hope to be able to share my experience and skills to contribute to help shape Southbrook into providing a highly personalised education journey for each of our young people.
Outside of school I have been involved with GirlGuiding UK for 30 years, and I am currently the lead volunteer of a successful Brownie unit. I have been lucky enough through GirlGuiding UK to be involved with several global education initiatives, most memorably in Thailand, Borneo, Japan and India.
I am also an enabler for Torbay Children's Services working at the Torbay Special Needs Playscheme, predominantly working with young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties.
I live in Torbay with my husband and in my spare time I love travelling, being outside, spending time in the gym and being creative.