The local governing body is part of the Trust Board of the Wessex Multi Academy Trust and 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.

The composition of the local governing body is as follows:-

2 Parent Governors 2 elected Sophie Duke

Victoria Needham

Jonathan Dunne




Headteacher   Catherine Smith  
Staff Governor   Annie Hardinge (currently on maternity leave and role covered by Lydia Baker) (16/11/24)
8 Co-opted Governors


  Margaret Moss

Ruth Bettenson

Sandra Scott

Lesley Goldsack

Tom Amery

Miles King

Michelle Cheeseman

Phil Sales

Pete Bartlett










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


Governor Directory

  Tom Amery – Co-opted Governor

I was brought up on the Wirral in Merseyside and had an early passion for Horticulture. I studied Commercial Horticulture at Writtle Agricultural College and moved to Dorchester in 2000, where our family of 4 are now based.  Dorset is a fantastic county to bring up children, learn and of course grow my favourite crop – watercress. Being a Governor at Damers First School Governing Body is extremely exciting, Damers offers incredible opportunities for the pupils to learn and develop and it is a pleasure to help with that in any way that I can.

  Pete Bartlett – Co-opted Governor


  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.

  Michelle Cheeseman – Co-opted Governor

I am a Co-opted Governor, appointed by the Wessex Multi Academy Trust Board and serving a four year term.  I am a mum of three, who have all been lucky enough to attend our fabulous school. I qualified as a teacher in 2001 and during a career break ran a local business, before returning to teaching a few years ago. I rediscovered my passion for education, largely thanks to Damers First School and the excellent team of people who make it such a special place. I believe in the power of community and inclusive education and I am thrilled to be part of the governing body at Damers once more, this time as a co-opted community governor now that my youngest child is moving on to middle school. The opportunity to remain involved with Damers and to be able to give back some time for a school that goes above and beyond for every child, was an opportunity that could not be missed!

  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.
  Jonathan Dunne – Parent Governor


  Lesley Goldsack – Co-opted Governor

I have lived in Dorset all my life and I’m married to a farmer with whom I have four children in their twenties.   I have been a teacher for over thirty years and now do supply work at Damers First School where everyone in the ‘Damers Family’ has a rich, creative and forward thinking vision.  I am passionate about education and I strongly believe that the child must be at the heart of all educational decisions and this is exemplified at Damers.

  Annie Hardinge – Elected Staff Governor

I started working at Damers First School in 2019 where I have been teaching Year 4, and was elected Staff Governor in 2020. I have one daughter who made her way through Damers and therefore know first hand the incredible dedication, opportunities and magic work that is part of everyday life in the school. I am proud to be part of such an innovative and forward thinking team who strive to create the best environment for our children to learn and grow.

  Miles King – Co-opted Governor

I am a Co-opted Governor appointed by the Wessex MAT Trust Board and serving a 4 year term. I moved to Dorset nearly 25 years ago, and was a governor at Manor Park First School for eight years. I have worked in nature conservation for 35 years and am currently working with the Duchy of Cornwall to bring more nature into Poundbury. I’m excited to join Damers Governing Board and to help the children enjoy and value nature as part of their education.


margaret_moss    Margaret Moss – Authority 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.

  Victoria Needham – Elected Parent Governor

As a mum of two girls and teacher of History and leader of CPD at the Thomas Hardye School, I’m delighted to be a member of the Damers Governing Body as a parent governor.  I’ve been a teacher for 13 years and am very much committed to the Dorchester school community. I’m always slightly in awe of the amazing work that first school teachers do every day in inspiring our very youngest learners and the incredible care, attention and encouragement they provide.

  Phil Sales – Co-opted Governor


  Sandra Scott – Co-opted 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.


   Vicky Smyth – Clerk to the Governors


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.

To view the Governing Body Attendance Register for 2020-21, click here.

Damers First School is part of the Wessex MAT, for more information please visit the Wessex MAT website.   To view the Wessex MAT Register of Business Interests, please visit their documents page.  To read our Supplemental Funding Agreement, click here.  For our Scheme of Delegation, click here.