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The Hermitage School

Inspire, Learn, Achieve

Meet Our Governors

Louise Lawford - Chair of Governors


I have lived in Woking for 16 years together with my family, including two teenage children. I qualified as a solicitor in 2003 specialising in corporate law and lived in London, working for an international law firm for a number of years. In my spare time I am a rowing coach in Guildford, helping to develop aspiring teenage athletes and having lots of fun along the way!

I am passionate about education and what a difference it makes to our children’s development. I believe that great teachers are not only the gateway to learning but also, eventually, to promising future opportunities for children as they grow towards adulthood. With my own children, I have seen first-hand what a difference inspiring and committed teachers make. I believe in helping our young people to reach their full potential, including and especially those with challenges.

I would like to use my skill set to help support our schools in providing a first-rate education within our local community. I believe that learning should be fun and rewarding and that our children should feel secure, nurtured and supported in their educational journey.

Having previously served in the role of Safeguarding Governor, I have got to know our schools well. As Chair of Governors, I am delighted to continue on as part of a dedicated and experienced team of staff and Governors and I look forward to welcoming you to The Oaktree and Hermitage Schools.


Gill Carter - Vice-Chair of Governors

My name is Gill Carter and I am a retired lecturer. I have three children, now adults, and my daughter and son are both primary school teachers. I worked full-time while bringing up my so I do understand the pressures on family life! I worked as a lecturer in English in Further Education in Coventry and at the University of Warwick. I have also worked as a development officer for National Open College Network, an accreditation agency, where I designed qualifications for large and small training providers. I then worked on a government funded project based at London South Bank University to encourage students on vocational courses to progress to university.

After I retired I decided to follow my passion for education and volunteer as a school governor. I believe that every child should have the best that education can offer and I thoroughly enjoy being part of  the Hermitage and Oaktree Local Governing Council and watching the school develop its quality and excellence.

My particular interest is in the schools’ teaching of English and Literacy and I am impressed with the quality that is delivered to our children. I love the way the children are engaged with their learning and are friendly and confident when I visit the classes. I am also impressed with the Orchard Centre and the work that is done at both schools by the SENCOs. The caring and inclusive behaviour of all the children in both schools is to be commended.

My particular role as a Governor is to oversee and be responsible for the teaching of English and Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (SEND). I take pride in being a Governor of your schools and look forward to continuing to support the head teachers and their staff in achieving excellence for the children.


Robert Clark

My name is Robert Clark and I was delighted to be appointed as the Parent Governor for The Oaktree School in December 2020.  I have lived in the area for over 12 years and I have two children both attending The Oaktree School.

I am a lawyer, with over 15 years' experience working with clients, large and small in the public and private sectors.  I was inspired by the commitment I saw from the staff, children and parents of The Oaktree School and The Hermitage School to make my own contribution by applying to be a Governor.

I strongly believe that parents, staff and governors working together can provide a fun, safe and creative environment for children to thrive.  I have been so impressed by all the hard work by the school team to adapt to recent challenges and I want to help them in their endeavours.      


Matt Dawson

I joined the Local Governing Committee in November 2019 as a Community Governor and assist with Health and Safety assessments. I am an ex-pupil of Oaktree and Hermitage Schools (attended 1979-1987), before moving up to Winston Churchill School.  I work in the Legal profession as a Solicitor in Financial Services. Although I lived in London for many years, I moved back to Surrey in 2015 with my wife and young son. I have maintained strong links with the local area over the years and firmly believe that my early schooling provided me with a solid foundation for my future studies and career.



Louise Finke

My name is Louise Finke, and I am married with 2 children that currently attend both the Oaktree and Hermitage Schools.  As a family we love to explore and enjoy this wonderful local area that we have called home these past 10 years.

I began my career 20 years ago in the pharmaceutical industry and have worked in many various roles from commercial leads to training and development and marketing.  I am passionate about health and wellbeing and this is reflected in my chosen career and my past times, which include instruction of martial arts to children and adults.

I have observed the school evolve over the years: seeing the move to academy status; changes in leadership; and weathering recent challenges such as the global pandemic.  The values held by the school replicate our own; I want to give something back to the school and my community, helping a school that we are very fond off achieve the best possible environment for our children’s education.


Clare Spires - Executive Headteacher

I am delighted to introduce myself as Executive Headteacher of The Oaktree and The Hermitage Schools.  My role commenced in September 2021. I lived in Woking for 22 years before moving out of the area in 2019. All of my teaching and leadership experience has been gained in Woking Schools with my most recent headship being at Barnsbury Primary School.  I really value the diversity that Woking offers and wish to celebrate this, building greater respect and tolerance of one another, within the community in which we live.  I am passionate about providing the children in our care with the very best education possible, ensuring the schools continue to grow from strength to strength. I want to ensure that each child believes in their own abilities, strives for great things and becomes a well-rounded citizen, one who looks after their environment, each other and treats others the way they wish to be treated.


Debbie Kimani

My name is Debbie Kimani and I have been a teacher at The Hermitage School since October 2015. I am the Year 5 team Leader and also the Reading lead. I love working at The Hermitage and want to help to make sure we provide the best education and opportunities that we can for our students. 

I live in the Woking area and have 2 secondary school aged children. I have been teaching for over 20 years both locally and internationally, so feel I have a lot of experience to offer the school. I provide a link between the members of staff and the governors, so that we can all work together to help move the school forward. 


Mary Martin

My name is Mary Martin, and I am a Special Educational Needs (SEN) Teaching Assistant at The Oaktree School, in addition to being one of its governors.

Following a career at Sony and James Walkers, I have now worked at The Oaktree School for over two decades and seen it grow and evolve. We pride ourselves on creating a safe, happy, and supportive environment for children of all backgrounds and all abilities.

My husband and I have always lived in the area, and our children were lucky enough to attend both The Oaktree and Hermitage schools. 

I have seen first-hand – as a teaching assistant, a governor, and a parent – the high standards both schools hold themselves to and the genuine care every staff member provides.

I am hugely honoured to welcome new children to our school and see the next generation flourish.


Beverley Prentice

I moved to Woking in 1982 and worked for an investment bank until 1987 when we started our family. When our daughters went to secondary school I trained with a charity to read with children in a local infant school. The charity eventually pulled out of Woking and around the same time I was invited to become a governor of The Oaktree School where I have worked since 2004. I am a ‘hands on’ governor who enjoys coming into school to attend events and work with the children.