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Meet the School Governors

Welcome to the Governors' section

Rachel Patel

Chair of Local Board of Governors 

Date of Appointment: 19th September 2023 (third term)

​Term of Office: ​4 years (third term) to 04/09/2025

​Appointed by: ​Trustees (Parochial Church Council)

Relevant business and pecuniary interests: Trustee of Shenfield Parochial Church Council and Trustee of


I became involved with St Mary's Church when I moved to the area in 2007 and became linked to the school when my son started in 2011. I was invited to become a PCC governor in 2013 (the same year that my daughter started school) and also became a member of the school's PFA (St Mary's Parents and Friends Association), helping with many events and organising the children's discos. I have always believed in the power of a good education, having had a Headteacher for a father, and I have a first class biochemistry degree and a PhD from St John's College, Oxford University. My profession is science editing, but my main focus since having children has been voluntary roles within the community. As a Local Board Governor, my goal is to ensure that pupils continue to have the wonderful experience that my children had at Shenfield St Mary's School.


John Dray

Local Board Governor - Vice Chair

Date of Appointment: 01/01/2023

Term of Office: 4 years to 31/12/2027

Appointed by: Elected Parent

Relevant business and pecuniary interests: None


I have two children who attend St Mary’s. They have benefited from wonderful teaching as well as the opportunity to enjoy creative and sporting activities beyond the core curriculum.

Ensuring all children can benefit from a great education which sets them up for life is a key passion of mine. I have myself benefited from my school education, being supported to overcome the challenges of dyslexia and going on to achieve a History PhD from King’s College, London. I have worked at the Department for Education for over 10 years.

As a governor, I hope to ensure that St Mary’s is an inclusive, happy environment where all children are able to obtain the academic skills and confidence to thrive at secondary school and beyond.

Liz Bundy

Head of School 

Date of Appointment: 5th September 2023

Relevant business and pecuniary interests: None



Having always wanting to be I teacher, I attended university studying for a BEd specialising in English and Drama. My first teaching job in September 1999 was in Barking and Dagenham, followed by five years in a four-form entry primary school in Ilford. It was in these schools where my passion for inclusion was born and continues with me today.

I joined the wonderful team at St Mary’s in September 2011 having worked in Havering following the arrival my two children (now 17 and 13.)

My first role at St Mary’s was as SENDCo. A role that is vital for all pupils and parents. In 2019 I was appointed Deputy Head Teacher, developing my skills, knowledge and understanding of leadership within a primary school, whilst still ensuring I never gave up the day job (teaching) as it is imperative to ‘walk the walk’.

Having been appointed as Head of School in September 2023, I endeavour to continue the ethos and vision of the school, I believe that children have an infinite number of possibilities and through developing a love of learning, in a kind and caring environment, every child can reach their potential and they can all achieve their dreams.


Dan Brimelow

Local Board Governor (Buildings and Premises Specialist) 

Date of Appointment: 01/11/2022 

Term of Office: 4 years to 31/10/2026

Appointed by: Trustees

Relevant business and pecuniary interests: None


I moved to Shenfield with my wife over ten years ago and have two daughters, one of which attends Shenfield St Mary’s.


Previously, working in the energy industry, I have managed the procurement of energy for some of the UK’s leading electricity companies. I currently work in the tech industry with a specific focus on energy flexibility.


Having trained in counselling skills/studies I’m acutely aware of the importance of a child’s formative years and run a pop-up play centre that gives dads and grandads of pre-schoolers one-on-one time together.


Laura Judd

Local Board Governor

Date of Appointment: December 2020 (third term)

​Term of Office: ​4 years (third term) to 31/12/2024

​Appointed by: Elected Staff Governor

Relevant business and pecuniary interests: Teacher at Shenfield St Mary's C of E Primary School


I joined the friendly school community of St Mary's in 2001, having previously taught in Walton on the Naze for four years. I attended the school as a child, so it was a dream come true to be offered the job by the then head teacher, Mrs Hutton. I was initially appointed as a Year 5 teacher and the P.E. coordinator. Most of you will be aware of my passion for sport. I am incredibly proud of the sporting successes of the school and of the variety of sports we offer our children. More recently I was also put in charge of Maths. After several years teaching in Year 5, I was asked to take on the challenge of Year 6 and I think I have now become part of the fixtures and fittings in the upper school! I enjoy working with the older children immensely. They provide much banter. I love preparing them for the transition to secondary school and watching them mature into confident, well-rounded young adults.


Before completing my P.G.C.E. year at Aberystwyth University, I studied for a B.Sc. (Hons) Psychology degree, which has helped me to better understand and communicate with my pupils. As a Teacher Governor, I strive to ensure there is a mutual respect and understanding between staff and governors working together to make a positive contribution to all involved with St Mary's.


Joanne Gurney

Local Board Governor (Education Specialist) 

Date of Appointment: 01/01/2023

Term of Office: 4 years to 31/12/2027

Appointed by: Trustees (Parochial Church Council)

Relevant business and pecuniary interests: Brother is a MEAAT Trustee


I have two daughters; one who started at St Mary’s in 2016 and one who started in 2021. I enjoy being part of St Mary’s; at school, in church, and the wider Shenfield community. Before I became a stay-at-home Mum, I was a secondary school teacher for 14 years. I trained as an English teacher and went on to hold various roles, such as being responsible for the newly qualified teachers. I was latterly appointed as the SENCO. Since becoming a parent I have learnt Makaton sign language and taught it in a pre-school setting. I volunteered at Shenfield Library running the weekly Rhyme Time sessions.  I jointly run ‘Footprints’ and I am in charge of the Parish Magazine distribution. I am passionate about education and for a children to have the best opportunities at school and to achieve the highest standards they can. The COVID-19 situation has showed us that life can be a challenge and what an important role school plays, not just in educating, but nurturing, caring, and socialising our children.


Shefali Kulkarni

Local Board Governor 

Date of Appointment: 10/02/2022

Term of Office: 4 years to 09/02/2026

Appointed by: Trustees (Parochial Church Council)

Relevant business and pecuniary interests: None

I joined the governing body in February 2022. I have two daughters who have both attended and enjoyed their time at St Mary’s. In my day job I work in IT, managing releases and deliveries of IT systems for a telecommunications company.

In the short space of the time, I have been governor, I have been amazed at the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes and I look forward to getting more involved in the near future.


Maria Stevens

Local Board Governor 

Date of Appointment: 01/11/2022

Term of Office: 4 years to 31/10/2026

Appointed by: Trustees

Relevant business and pecuniary interests: None

I have two children currently at St Mary’s, and another who has just begun his secondary school education at Becket Keys following a very positive experience at St Mary’s.

I have a broad experience in the education sector, having worked in schools in Thurrock and Essex for over 20 years. Former school roles have included Head of Year, Head of English and in senior leadership. In 2012, I was appointed to lead a newly established Teaching School Alliance. For 9 years my role as Teaching School Director facilitated working with schools across Thurrock, Essex, and the wider region, focusing on initial teacher training, continuing professional development, research and development, and school-to-school support. I have been involved with a variety of educational initiatives ranging from establishing a regional Pupil Premium hub through to leading a DfE Primary School PE and Sport Premium project across 40 schools.

I currently work for a small Multi-Academy Trust comprising three primary schools and three secondary schools, with a focus on leadership development, Early Career Teacher support and recruitment and retention. I also continue to teach English. I have previously been a governor at a secondary school, and am a current volunteer for a local community group.

Being a parent of school-aged children and seeing education from an alternative viewpoint has been invaluable as a teacher, a leader and a parent, and I hope I am able to use my experience to support the school as a parent governor.

Sarah Vohmann

Local Board Governor 

Date of Appointment: 01/01/2023

Term of Office: 4 years to 31/12/2027

Appointed by: Trustees

Relevant business and pecuniary interests: None

I have always lived in Shenfield and having attended St Mary's I was excited for both my children to follow in my footsteps. They joined in 2018 and 2022. I have always been part of the church community and continue to enjoy this aspect of my life. I also run 1st Shenfield Rainbows and have been a part of the Shenfield guiding community for over twenty years. 

I currently work for Westminster Children’s Services and see everyday how important it is for all children no matter what their background to have a good education alongside a safe space to grow and develop. As a Governor I am looking forward to being part of the continued development of St Mary's and seeing the enjoyment pupils get from attending school. 

Sheree Grainger

Local Board Governor 

Date of Appointment: 01/01/2023

Term of Office: 4 years to 31/12/2027

Appointed by: Elected Parent 

Relevant business and pecuniary interests: None


My family and I have lived in Shenfield since 2015. We have two children at St Mary’s. I have always worked in the financial industry, most of which in investment banking and now currently within technology. This is my first experience as a Governor and I am looking forward to helping to ensure St Mary’s continues to provide an excellent and rewarding primary school education and experience.

Reverend Darren Barlow

Local Board Governor 

Date of Appointment: 21/01/2024

Relevant business and pecuniary interests: Trustee of Shenfield Parochial Church Council and Shenfield Parish Hall


Darren was ordained in 1998 after training residentially at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Prior to then he worked for a national training charity as a Training Consultant providing inhouse consultancy in leadership, teamworking and communication skills. He served his curacy in the Parish of Rayleigh before moving in 2001 to serve as Team Vicar in the Billericay & Little Burstead Team Ministry where he was the vicar of St John’s Outwood Common and St Mary’s Little Burstead. In 2006 Darren was appointed as Team Rector of the Grays Thurrock Ministry overseeing four, later to become, six churches, leading a large team of clergy and lay ministers. Darren’s primary focus of ministry was as vicar of Grays Parish Church, a large multicultural, mixed age and gender congregation. Whilst Darren was in post, he oversaw a project to reorder and improve the church building costing in excess of half a million pound.  In 2011 he was also appointed by the Bishop of Chelmsford as Area Dean of Thurrock, a post that he continued to hold until his move to the Parish of Shenfield in January 2024. In 2015 Darren was made a Canon of Chelmsford Cathedral and continues to serve as a member of the College of Canons. He has represented the Diocese of Chelmsford at several national conferences and events addressing the topics of Occasional Offices (Baptisms, Weddings & Funerals), Vocation and Mission, all of which in his role as Rector, reflect his passion to make Christ known and see the church grow.


Darren is married to Sarah, who is a teacher, and they have three adult daughters. He is a keen runner and can often be seen running around the roads of Shenfield early in the morning. He also interested in gardening, DIY, current affairs and politics. 


Darren has previously been a Governor at six different South Essex schools and corporation member at a sixth form college.

Historic (left within the last 12 months)








Attendance Record for Local Governors at Local Board Meetings at Shenfield St Mary's from 01/09/2023 to 31/08/2024


Local GovernorPositionMeetings AttendedOut of a possibleApologies have been received and accepted for meeting missed
R PatelChair44 
L BundyHead of School44 
D BrimelowGovernor44 
M StevensGovernor34 Yes
J GurneyGovernor4 Yes
S KulkarniGovernor44 
L JuddGovernorYes 
J DrayGovernor4 
S VohmannGovernor2Yes 
S GraingerGovernor4 
D BarlowGovernor (joined 21/01/2024)22 




Constitution - The school's LGB will be made up of 1 Headteacher, a minimum of 4 trust appointed governors (including 1 Incumbent), 2 parent governors and 1 staff governor.


For Governor and Trustee attendance from previous years, please see the Academy page. 


To contact a Governor, please email: