The governing body has a strong focus on three core strategic functions:

  1. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  2. Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff; and
  3. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.

With effect from September 2015 the governing body of Damers First School has been reconstituted in accordance with the 2012 Constitution Regulations. The opportunity provided by this requirement has been taken to review and evaluate the effectiveness of the governing body and ensure that its constitution and membership is fit for purpose. The primary consideration in the appointment and election of new governors is the skills and experience that the governing body needs to be effective.

The new constitution of the governing body is as follows:-

5 Parent Governors 2 elected Ms Frankie Daly

Mrs Sophie Duke



  3 appointed


Mrs Joanne Wibley

Mrs Mandie Gillard

Mrs Michelle Cheeseman




Headteacher   Mrs Catherine Smith  
1 LA Governor   Mrs Margaret Moss (10/04/20)
2 Staff Governors 1 elected Mr Tom Bracey (06/12/20)
  1 co-opted Mrs Sandra Scott (01/07/19)
4 Co-opted Governors


  Ms Ruth Bettenson

Mr Terry Putnam

2 vacancies



(NB The dates in brackets are the current terms of office for those governors)


To enable the governing body to discharge its responsibilities effectively it has appointed the following committees to focus on specific areas of its responsibility:-

  1. Curriculum and Policy Committee, chaired by Mrs Joanne Wibley
  2. Finance and Staffing and Environment Committee, chaired by Mrs Margaret Moss
  3. School Improvement Group, chaired by Mrs Margaret Moss

All governors have voting rights on the committees that they serve on.

In addition, the governing body appoints specific lead governor roles to engage more deeply in key elements of its work. The appointments are as follows:-

SEN and Inclusion Mrs M Gillard
Literacy Mrs M Moss
Numeracy Mrs S Duke
Safeguarding (inc LAC) Ms R Bettenson
Disadvantaged Pupils Mrs M Gillard
ICT Mr T Bracey
Science and Technology Ms J Wibley
Outdoor Education and PESS Ms F Daly
Arts Mrs M Gillard
Main School Project Mr T Putnam
Humanities Mr T Putnam
Anti-bullying Ms J Wibley
Foundation Mrs M Gillard
Year 1 Mrs M Moss 
Year 2 Mrs S Duke 
Year 3 Mr T Putnam 
Year 4 Ms J Wibley 


 Summary of relevant business and pecuniary interest of governors at Damers School – 2018/19

Name Directorships, partnerships and employments with businesses that provide goods or services to the school (s) Trusteeships and Governorships Any other potentially relevant interest
Ms F Daly – Elected Parent Governor None None Occasionally represents the Children’s Therapy Dept at the DCC SEN Panel.
Mrs S Duke – Elected Parent Governor None None None
Mrs J Wibley – Appointed Parent Governor None None None
Mrs M Gillard – Appointed Parent Governor None None None
Mrs M Cheeseman – Appointed Parent Governor None None None
Mrs C Smith – Headteacher None None None
Mrs M Moss – LEA Governor None None None
Mr T Bracey – Elected Staff Governor None None None
Mrs Sandra Scott – Co-Opted Staff Governor None  None None
Ms R Bettenson – Co-opted Governor None People First Dorset None
Mr T Putnam – Co-opted Governor None None None


Governor Directory

    Michelle Cheeseman – Chair of Governors

As a parent at Damers First School since 2010, I am thrilled to be a member of the board of governors at our tremendous school. I have three children, two of which are still at Damers First School. I co-own a local business which has given me valuable experience of business and finance. I also am very proud to have been a primary teacher for 10 years prior to that which I hope will provide an all-round view whilst I serve as a governor. I am passionate about education as a whole and am grateful to have the chance to contribute where I can to supporting Damers in maintaining the fantastic provision that exists here for our children. I am also involved with the running of the junior section at Dorchester Rugby Club and have really enjoyed being a volunteer and the rewarding nature of putting in time to contribute to the broader community, including still playing the occasional game myself!


margaret_moss    Margaret Moss – LEA Governor

I became a Children’s Services Authority Governor of Damers School in June 2012.  I was a primary school Headteacher in Hertfordshire for 14 years.  I also worked as a School Improvement Partner in Hertfordshire.  In 2011 I retired to Dorset.  I am still a Hertfordshire Improvement Partner and I am working for Dorset County Council as a School Evaluation Partner.

  Ruth Bettenson – Co-opted Governor

My name is Ruth Bettenson; I have lived in Dorchester for most of my adult life.  When my son attended Damers I wanted to become more involved in the school and was lucky enough to be appointed parent governor when he was in Year 1 back in 2007.  I was pleased to have the opportunity to continue as Community Governor when my term as Parent Governor came to an end.  Although my background is in finance, I serve on the combined Finance/Environment committee.  I have a particular interest in Child Protection and have a specific role as link governor for this area.  I believe Damers is a fabulous school, and am proud and happy to be a part of it.

  Terry Putnam – Co-opted Governor

 I am a retired Headteacher from Dorset and am pleased to have served on the Damers Governing Body for 8 years.  I still do a bit of supply teaching here at the school, which I much enjoy.  I feel that Damers is a very special school and I enjoy supporting the running of it and hope to do so for many years to come.

joanne_wibley    Joanne Wibley – Appointed Parent Governor

I am secondary school science teacher and a Damers parent.  I was very pleased to become a Governor in 2012 and I am part of the curriculum committee which links very well to my own career. I wanted to be a Governor as I wanted to offer more to Damers as I believe it is a fantastic school and the enthusiasm and tireless energy the staff have has amazed me and I wanted to give something back.

   Frankie Daly – Elected Parent Governor

I am the PE link Governor and the Numeracy link Governor and I have joined the Curriculum Committee.  I have two children at Damers in Years 1 and 4.  In the day time I work as a Paediatric Physiotherapist at Dorset County Hospital.  I hope that my two roles will complement each other well.

   Sophie Duke – Elected Parent Governor

After a 12 year career as an Urban Designer, I moved back to Dorchester with my family. I am now a full time mum to 3 children, 2 of whom are pupils at Damers. I have always been impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm of all those who play a part in making our school so brilliant and having spent 2 years as vice chair of the PTA, I was keen to become more involved in the school. In 2018, I was elected as a parent governor. I feel privileged to be able to support the staff at Damers in providing fantastic opportunities for learning and in striving to ensure that our school continues to develop and thrive. 
  Mandie Gillard – Appointed Parent Governor

I am currently a full time mother to two children, one at Damers First School and one at Middle School. My daughter first started at Damers First School, Autumn 2015 where we were both warmly welcomed. I was very impressed with the quality of care, support and education that she was receiving as well as the vibrancy and enthusiasm of her class, the teachers and indeed the whole school. I was delighted to be appointed parent governor for SEN and Inclusion.  During my career I have worked in secondary education with key roles in pastoral care and inclusion, which is where my passion and interest lies.  I am genuinely thrilled to be part of the board of governors where I hope I can share my expertise as well as becoming an active part of the wider school community.

Sandra_scott   Sandra Scott – Co-Opted Staff Governor

My name is Sandra Scott and I am a member of staff at Damers First School. I have been a school governor for four years. I am vice chair on the Environment & Premises committee. I decided to serve on this committee as I am interested in making a positive contribution towards a safe and healthy environment for all our children to learn in.

  Tom Bracey – Elected Staff Governor

I am a member of the teaching staff at Damers First School and have worked here since September 2013. Prior to this I worked in local government in a variety of roles including project management and strategic governance. Damers is a creative, supportive and fantastic school and I am proud to have been chosen by my colleagues to represent the school staff on the governing body. This is my first experience of being a governor and I am enjoying assisting the governing body in its work.

   Natalie Green – Clerk to the Governors

I moved to Dorset in 2012 following a public sector career in the Home Office and latterly policing where I worked as a training manager for the largest non-metropolitan police force in the country. I have Clerked for a number of Governing Bodies in West Dorset for several years and I really enjoy the flexibility and variety of the work. I also work freelance as an adult teacher and event manager.

For more information about becoming a School Governor, please click here.  If you would like to contact any of our Governors, you can get in touch with them via the Office.