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Damson Wood Pen Portraits

Francesca Eley- Damson Wood LGB

I live in Sutton Coldfield with my husband and two young children. I have been a primary school teacher for the past 13 years at schools in both Solihull and Birmingham.

I was appointed to the LGB in October 2023. As I left teaching at the end of 2022, I wanted to maintain strong links with education, building new skills and capabilities to leverage when I return. When I came to see Damson Wood, I instantly knew this was the school I wanted to volunteer my time in. The school has a nurturing environment with an incredible team of staff that work together to give the children a fantastic start to their school life.

Throughout my career, I have taught children in every year group and held many positions in primary schools that will support the LGB, such as DSL, Key Stage 1 and Early Years Lead. I have also been a Trust Lead for EYFS, working across all schools in the Trust to develop their Early Years provision. Through this role, I became an SLE for Early Years and delivered EYFS training for new teachers in Solihull and across the Trust. I progressed to Deputy Head of School in 2018-19 and after having my two children in 2020 and 2021, I decided to take a break from teaching to spend more time at home with them before they begin school.

I enjoy spending most of my time with my two children, finding new things to do each day. They like to explore the outdoors and ride their bikes, as well as learning through play and being creative. In my free time, my hobbies include swimming, meals out, going to the theatre to watch musicals or attending concerts and visiting my friends and family back home in Solihull.

Meena Gabbi- Damson Wood LGB

Meena Gabbi recently (July 2023) been appointed as a governor of Damson Wood infant school by the trustees at Central Schools Trust. Mrs Gabbi is a secondary teacher by profession and started her teaching career in Coventry as an English teacher she progressed in her career to Head of Department, faculty, Assistant Head, Deputy Head, Head of school and more recently as Headteacher in a secondary school in Northamptonshire. She has a range of school improvement and change management experience, working at local and national levels with a range of stakeholders. She is currently an education consultant, a leadership performance and assessor for a national leadership qualification provider. Mrs Gabbi also coaches and support headteachers and senior leadership teams

Mrs Gabbi has been in Education for over 20 years and views this role in education as a huge privilege to make a difference to the lives of young people and their communities. She is committed to ensuring that all the pupils she encounters, have a good quality education and the best start in life. Being a governor is one way in which she remains fully committed to this.

Mrs Gabbi lives in Solihull, with her husband and two children, she enjoys walking with family/friends and yoga in her spare time.

Sarah Begley- Damson Wood LGB

I joined Damson Wood LGB in March 2023. I chose to volunteer to be a parent governor as my son attends Damson Wood and I also went to the school many years ago. I have fond memories of my time there and my son is thoroughly enjoying his journey, having been there since nursery.

I am a parent governor for Health & Safety and Compliance.

In my working life, I am an employment solicitor at a local firm of solicitors in Shirley. I have held this role for over 7 year and have been qualified in employment law for over 15 years.

I advise employers and employees on both contentious and non-contentious aspects of employment law. My day-to-day analytical, communication and pragmatic skills will hopefully be an asset to the trust in delivering their aims. I am also regularly engaged in the firm’s own CSR initiatives.

Outside of my professional life, I am a keen runner and enjoy engaging in community-based activities. As someone who has lived in Damson Wood for most of my life, I am passionate about the area and want to give back in any way I can.

Becca Maxted – Damson Wood LGB

I have worked in education for the last 18 years, and I began my career as an English teacher because I wanted to make a difference to young people’s life chances through the power of education. 

I have a background of successful senior leadership in economically deprived, inner-city schools, with a proven track record of school improvement leading to positive Ofsted inspection gradings and nationally recognised student outcomes.  I then spent three years as a national leader in one of the country’s largest multi-academy trusts with a continued focus on improving provision for disadvantaged students.

I now work as a school improvement consultant, coach, NPQ assessor and moderator. 

I was appointed as a governor at Damson Wood in Spring 2024. 

Rositta John Crosslin - Damson Wood LGB                                                                  

I was appointed as a governor of Damson Wood Infant School in May 2024.  I have worked as a secondary school teacher for nearly 25 years across four schools.  I left teaching at the end of 2023. I chose to volunteer for this role as I have a desire to use the knowledge and experience I have gained in my teaching career to support the continued development of the Damson Wood Infant School. I also wanted to maintain my genuine passion for education and strong desire to make a positive impact on students' lives and the community of Damson Wood Infant School. I find great joy in witnessing students' growth and seeing them achieve their full potential. Being a governor is one way I can commit to make sure the students of Damson Wood Infant School are achieving their full potential.

I started my teaching career as a Computer Science teacher then progressed into many  roles such as Head of Department , Head of Faculty Business, ICT and Media studies, and Director of Mathematics. I have completed an ofsted shadowing program. I have experience delivering  CPD training sessions to primary school teachers to enhance their computer science skills. I am very experienced in improving and working on school data analysis,  curriculum and timetable modelling, assessments methods, quality of teaching and learning. I have years of coaching and mentoring experience of teachers and middle leaders in teaching and learning and management of departments in a Solihull school . As part of my role I have also delivered regular training sessions to trainee teachers and newly qualified teachers on quality of teaching and learning.

I live in Hall Green with my husband and son. During my spare  time I enjoy going for long walks, reading books and cooking.

Claire Price - Damson Wood LGB

I joined the LGB as a Parent Governor in April 2024. I have a son at Damson Wood School who started in reception in 2023.

I was born in Solihull, and attended Damson Wood myself in the 1980s. My family still live in the local area.

I wanted to join the team as I am passionate about co-production and ensuring that children and parents' voices are heard in how the school develops.

In my professional life I am a Midwife and a Nurse and have held multiple senior roles in the NHS. Currently, I manage part of Solihull Community Midwifery services. This includes the immediate Elmdon area surrounding Damson Wood School. I have a BSc in Midwifery and an MA in Medical Ethics & Law. I have worked in co-production with families, local organisations and charities for all of my career across Coventry, Warwickshire and Birmingham. 

I am married to Dominic, who is a Physiotherapist and also works locally. As a family, we enjoy travelling, fitness and the outdoors.  

Lisa Evans - Damson Wood LGB

I have sat on the local governing body at Damson Wood since January 2017, and since September 2018 as Chair. I joined the board as a parent governor. I already had governance experience and I was keen to support the school when it first became an academy with a new local governing board. My youngest child left the school in 2021, but I have remained on the local governing body as a co-opted governor.

I have been a teacher since 2008. I currently work at a local village school, and have done so since 2018. Prior to that, I took time away from full-time teaching to care for my young children, keeping in touch with education through doing supply teaching, tutoring and completing my Masters degree in Educational Leadership and Management.

I live very close to the school with my husband and two children, both of whom attended Damson Wood. We enjoy bike rides, camping and walks in the nearby countryside. When I am not reading books about education, I also enjoy a good novel.