Meet The Governors

Geraldine O’Brien – Chair

I am very pleased to bring many years of accumulated skills and knowledge of school leadership and school improvement in South Buckinghamshire to a governor role at St. Judes.  My diverse career in primary education spans headship, school to school system leadership and local authority school improvement adviser.  Having gradually stepped back from full time work, I now enjoy a more limited role as an independent consultant predominantly focused on senior leadership performance appraisal and coaching/mentoring of senior leaders.

The move from South Bucks was precipitated by the desire to live closer to our three adult children and their growing families all of whom live in south London.    Our eldest grandchild is currently in Year 1 at St. Judes where he is absolutely thriving both in his personal and academic development.  Hopefully, the family association with the school will be extended next year when his younger brother reaches school age.  It is very exciting for me to be joining such a committed team of nurturing professionals dedicated to ensuring that children achieve to the best of their abilities within a safe and happy environment.

Declan Dunford-Crozier – Headteacher

I joined St Jude’s as Headteacher in October 2021. It is an honour and a privilege to be part of, and lead our St Jude’s family. Outstanding governance is pivotal to the  success of our school.

At St Jude’s we are proud of our committed team of governors, who continue to work closely with teachers and senior leaders.

Governors visit St Jude’s regularly, they are involved in learning walks, meetings with subject leaders and school council pupils, so that they remain well informed about school priorities.

Claire Douch – Deputy Headteacher

I joined the St Jude’s family in September 2013 as a class teacher and feel proud to have been involved in the journey the school has taken during these years. As Deputy Headteacher at the school since Easter 2020, my priority is to ensure we provide excellent teaching and learning for all our children and they are ‘happy, inspired and loved’.

Our strong and skilled Governing Body have supported the school by ensuring they have a clear understanding of school life, working with our staff and children to ensure our very high standards are maintained on a daily basis.

My role as PTA link ensures that our amazing parents have a line of communication with the Leadership Team, and also that we collaborate effectively on clearly defined priorities set by our strategic school development plan. As Maths Lead, it is also always fantastic to communicate the school’s vision for mathematics with the governing team and share our successes year on year.

Hellen Hay – Vice Chair and Chair of Pupil Achievement & Curriculum Committee

From an undergraduate laboratory assistant during my Ph.D. to my current position as a Lead Practitioner I have always had a passion for education and have been teaching secondary school chemistry for over 10 years. When my daughter was accepted into St Jude’s Primary School, I was delighted that she had become a part of a supportive community that would encourage her determination and instil values for life.

I wanted to support the school, offering my skills and experiences in secondary education and data management to drive strategic leadership, and was awarded a place as a Foundation Governor.

Science is the most powerful tool humans have of understanding the world. Therefore, when I was asked to be the link governor for the broad and balanced curriculum I realised the importance St. Jude’s places on the science that underpins our everyday life.
It is a pleasure working with the St. Jude’s team to make sure our happy and confident pupils reach their full potential.

Maggie Owolade – Associate Governor

I have been a governor at St Jude’s since 2014 – first, as a parent governor, and now, as an Associate Governor.  As a parent of children with SEN, I currently sit on various Lambeth strategic SEN and SEMH working groups, helping to define and implement effective, accessible and meaningful policies and services in the borough.

I am currently on sabbatical from my teaching assistant post of 5 years, launching a Lambeth-based charity, which promotes awareness of hidden disabilities like Autism and ADHD.

I am a long-standing supporter of our wonderful school, watching it grow and blossom over the years.  I am so proud of its nurturing, skilled and dedicated staff team.  What a wonderful foundation we gift our children as they make their way in the world.  I feel blessed to be part of the St Jude’s family.

Kathrine Price  (LA Governor)

I am looking forward to being a Governor of St Jude’s School.  I have lived in Herne Hill for over 20 years and enjoy being involved with community activities and groups.  I bring to the school many years of experience in education.  

I am a Primary trained teacher, and spent 9 years in a Church of England Primary School in Westminster with a similar ethos to St Jude’s.  I have gained additional qualifications in SEN leadership, dyslexia, autism and child mental health.  

My particular interests are in autism, emotional health and parental involvement.  I am currently the SENCO in a local mainstream Secondary Academy and am also one of the safeguarding team.  I hope that my experiences in education will be a useful reference point when being involved in the development and governance of St Jude’s.  

As a new Governor I also look forward to learning new skills and from being involved with a school from a different angle.  Although the current pandemic has prevented any face to face visits I can already tell that St Jude’s is a thriving and nurturing place.

Rory Dunnet – Chair of Resources Committee

Having lived in Brixton for eight years and enjoyed being part of various community activities, I am very much looking forward to being a Governor of St Jude’s School. I am passionate about the importance of a happy, fulfilling and well-rounded education – and I am excited to work with the teachers, fellow governors and wider school community to achieve this.

My background is in finance, risk management and business improvement through my career in banking and consulting. I hope to be able to bring these skills to the Resources Committee to ensure that the school continues providing the best opportunity for children to thrive and be happy in the challenging times that we find ourselves in.

Vanessa Kurankye

I am a specialist paediatric speech and language therapist (SALT) specialising in early years and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), I have been working for Merton Council and schools within the borough for over 5 years. As a senior therapist in my team, I have experience supervising newly qualified SALTs, teaching assistants, and providing specialist training and coaching to teachers. My daughter started school at St. Jude’s in September 2021, and so I am invested in supporting the school to thrive to be its very best to not only meet the needs of all the children but ensure they reach their full potential.

I am delighted to take on the role as parent governor and looking forward to using my experience and knowledge working with primary aged children with speech, language, and communication needs (SLCN) to support the school and more importantly the parental viewpoint to support the strategic management of the school.

I am very passionate about the importance inclusion, providing all children with early intervention and universal communication approaches to ensure they can fully access the curriculum and as a governor I am committed to supporting the school to provide a positive and enjoyable learning environment.

Barrington Bent

I have had a long career experience in mentoring individuals as well as business start ups and growth. In my early career as a recruitment consultant I sourced candidates for specific roles in a selection of industries operating at both senior management and executive levels.

After a period of illness from suffering a PE (pulmonary embolism) I worked alongside surgeons from University College London Business (UCLB) & established The Compression Advisory. These experiences have enabled me to travel extensively and engage with people of all types of differing backgrounds, ages and cultures.

Seeing the monumental changes driven by Brexit and Covid 19 throughout workforces and communities, I co-founded an online collaborative career platform. HeadstartED was created to become an informative, inspirational online community where the younger generations can collaborate outside their usual social bubbles and set out informed on their career journeys and help them find their way through the maze of opportunities.

I am looking forward to working within my community as a governor at St Jude’s and bring my experiences to the Resources committee.

Karina Cruz

I have been part of St Jude’s community for six years, with one daughter in year 6 and another in year 2. Because of my job as a Youth Engagement Coordinator, I have great knowledge of activities that are happening in the borough. I always promote Lambeth children’s programmes with parents, such as after-school clubs and holiday clubs.

I was elected as a parent governor in 2021 and currently link governor for Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) ensuring best practice on the board of governors as well as teachers, school staff and working towards a more diverse and inclusive curriculum.

After completing a programme called Black on Board, I knew I wanted to make a difference to my daughters’ school, by bringing a different perspective to the board of governors and using my knowledge of the community and ethnic minorities, to ensure their voices are heard and children from all backgrounds are able to thrive in our lovely school.

Polly Sanderson

I was delighted to be appointed as a School Governor at St. Jude’s in April 2022. Having moved to the area in 2019, I’m really pleased to have the opportunity to apply my accumulated skills (finance-related in particular) and contribute as a member of the Resources Committee.

Post-university, I qualified as an ACA chartered accountant at Deloitte and have several years’ experience in Audit, Assurance and Executive Services. From there, I moved to central government in Cabinet Office as the Head of Strategic Finance, where I led the departmental Spending Review and Business Planning budgets. My current role is Head of Office to a Cabinet Office Minister.

St Jude’s is a fabulous school with excellent values and committed staff. With my knowledge of budgets and strategic planning, I’m excited to support St Jude’s to continue to be the best school possible for our children and our community.

Reverend Steven Sichel

I have been parish priest of St Matthew’s and  St Jude’s  Brixton, in which the school is situated, since 2001. I have lived and worked in Lambeth since 1995 and been a governor at the school since 2002. St Jude’s is a really great little school and it has been a privilege to see its achievements and success.  St Matthew’s welcomes children and families of all kinds and a good many children come to St Jude’s through attendance at the church. I take assemblies at St Jude’s regularly.
I am married to Sue, a Fine Artist and School Counsellor, and have three grown up children and two Corgi’s (Peggy and Dolly -often to be seen in Brockwell Park).
Among my interests are theology, philosophy, politics, spirituality and watching TV drama’s.