Governing Body

The Purbeck School Governors

The Purbeck School Governors – Updated October 2023

Parent Governors

Sarah de Leon: I was born and raised in Swanage and attended the Purbeck School before leaving to study Humanities at university.  Post-university, I was fortunate to be able to spend six years living and working in Mexico, which has helped foster my love of learning languages and discovering other cultures.  I am a primary school teacher (with a subject leadership role for MFL and History), and have two daughters (one currently in Year 9 at Purbeck and one who finished Year 11 in July 2021).   I have served as a school governor before at my daughters’ primary school, first as a Parent Governor before being becoming a Foundation Governor. I held this post for seven years, and had the additional responsibilities of being link governor for English and Humanities. Working in education, I feel passionately about schools providing a high-quality education for pupils of all backgrounds and abilities. In addition, I know the importance of parental involvement in school development, and this is one of the reasons I became a school governor so that I can support my daughters’ school in any way possible, while also representing the views of parents.

Simon Woolford:  I did not get the best out of comprehensive education, failing most subjects due to my school environment and my teenage attitude towards education, in equal measure.  However, I have also experienced the transformative benefits of education, studying part time whilst working full time, I was first in my family to attend University, achieving a 1st class honours in Food Science and Masters in Business Administration.

The ethos of the Purbeck School is inspiring, in line with my values and I am honoured to be part of supporting the Board, staff and pupils in further bringing its ethos to life and driving positive change in our community through my professional experience.

I have worked across many disciplines and for the last 10 years for the corporate headquarters of a large multinational corporation (Mars Incorporated).  I partner with the Board and Corporate Leadership Team in connecting strategy with delivery, by establishing, governing, and driving progress of strategic initiatives.  Currently I am leading an initiative to modernise the Finance function across the organization.

My wife, family, (two girls, two dogs, one cat) and I moved to Purbeck in early 2020.  Our eldest daughter joined in September 2022with our youngest joining in September 2023; knowing The Purbeck School was available to us was a contributing factor in moving to this wonderful area.

I believe in the comprehensive system and its pivotal role in helping every student understand and achieve their full potential, as Governor I will devote my time to supporting the Board, Staff and pupils in achieving this.

Staff Governor

Claire Allen: Originally from Newcastle upon Tyne, I completed my undergraduate degree at Durham University and then my PGCE at Exeter University. I began working at The Purbeck School in 2019, during my interview I was drawn to the fact that students seemed happy, inspired and supported in their learning. I was fortunate enough to gain a position teaching History across all the different year groups. In my role as staff governor, I hope to help The Purbeck School improve performance and outcomes for all students, enabling them to achieve their fullest potential.

In my spare time I am studying for my Masters in Medieval History at Birmingham University, with a particular interest in disability history. I am Head Referee for the Open-to-All team at Dorset Roller Derby, as well as being the owner of one of the largest collections of abandoned crafting material.


Adam Darley:  I have been the Headteacher at The Purbeck School since April 2018, having joined the school in 2014 as Deputy Headteacher, and previous to this I had been an Assistant Headteacher at Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester.

The Purbeck School is a fantastic place to work and I am very proud of the achievements of our students. The watchwords of the school are ‘respect, aspiration, and perseverance’ and I truly believe that students thrive when in a caring, happy, and challenging environment.

On a personal level I enjoy current affairs, history, reading, and sport – where I show considerable perseverance on a regular basis by being a Yeovil Town fan.

Co-opted Governors

Steve Clarke: We moved to Purbeck in 2011 but our relatives have lived in Swanage for over 40 years and our great nieces and nephews have attended the school. I was Deputy Director of Education for Surrey County Council, then Chief Executive of a large school improvement and support company, and after that a DFE consultant on academies and a specialist in school reorganisation and regeneration. My wife and I now run the Gallery at 41 in Corfe Castle specialising in Dorset artists. I am currently Chair of the Corfe Castle Parish Council.

Ashley Pellegrini: Born in Hove, East Sussex, resident in Ridge for 30 years, since moving from London to become a secondary school headteacher in Poole. Now retired from headship. Experience of educational consultancy, working with schools on various national government initiatives and mentoring potential school leaders. Mad keen on dogs, owning a Briard, a French cattle herding dog, necessitating many long rural and seaside walks. A strong advocate of comprehensive education.  Passionate that education should provide the route for students of all backgrounds and abilities to aim for and achieve the very best. Vice-Chair of Governors and Chair of the Teaching and Learning Committee.

Tracy Drake: I am a single parent with a family history of attending The Purbeck School. I have one son who has completed all of his educational life at the various schools in Wareham (Lady St Mary, Wareham Middle and now Purbeck). He achieved a good level of success in his A levels in the Upper Sixth at Purbeck and is now attending Bath Spa University studying Business Management.

On leaving The Purbeck School at 18, I attended Portsmouth University where I achieved a BA (Hons) in Politics and then joined the Civil Service. I have worked for the Ministry of Defence for 34 years carrying out a variety of jobs including; finance, HR, management training, commercial and property management. I currently work at the Armour Centre in Bovington Camp where I am the Senior Budget Manager, HR and Business Advisor. I have served as a Governor for 10 years now, initially at Lady St Mary as a Governor then as the Chair prior to joining The Purbeck School in 2014.

I have no specific education expertise other than as a parent but am using my work experience as a member of the school Finance Committee and Chair of the Pay & HR Committee. I firmly believe in giving back, getting involved and supporting the local community where I live. I have a special interest in supporting the needs of children of Serving Personnel as I represent the Bovington Garrison population as a Governor at the school.

Richard Bond: I was born in 1947 and brought up in Purbeck. In 1970 I qualified as a Barrister and practised in London. My work mainly concerned cases involving children whose families were in difficulty and where the local authority had applied to the Court for a care order.

In 1997 I was appointed a Circuit Judge. From 1999 I worked in the Courts at Bournemouth. My workload consisted mainly of care cases. In 2001 I was appointed the Designated Family Judge for Dorset, a position which I held until shortly before my retirement in 2015. From 1999 until 2006 I was also Course Director for Family Law of what was then called the Judicial Studies Board. This involved devising and delivering both introductory and refresher courses for family judges.

Since retirement I have remained a Trustee of the Etches Collection (The Kimmeridge Trust), a museum of marine life at Kimmeridge. I am a member of the local committee of the Country Land and Business Association. I am a Vice President of the Wareham and Swanage Rugby club. I also owns a farm which I let and am in the process of restoring the woods and hedges. I am interested in 19th Century European history and in historic buildings.

My interest in the Purbeck School was stimulated when about 2 years ago I attended an evening which launched the appeal. I was later invited to consider whether I would become a governor and was given a tour of the school. The commitment of the Head teacher and staff illustrated how important it is that the nation gives a sound education to our young people. It will both give them self- esteem, contribute to a local society and ensure that the country can prosper in the very competitive global world. It will be a privilege to be of help in achieving this. 

Michelle Nash: I live in Swanage and attended The Purbeck School myself. I am married and have a daughter who left TPS a few years ago, she then read Psychology at The University of Winchester and has just received her master’s degree. Our son is currently in the Sixth Form enjoying studying Triple Sport.

I have been a governor for nearly ten years and have enjoyed seeing the school change from an Upper school to a Secondary in that time, there have been extensive building projects and big educational changes over the years. I am now Vice-chair. Having always worked in education, I am currently Pastoral Lead in a Purbeck Primary School. I am passionate that all young people should receive equal opportunities and am particularly interested in Special Educational Needs and Disability as well as the pastoral care, mental health and wellbeing of young people. In my spare time, I enjoy being the Safeguarding Officer at Swanage Cricket Club and in the summer months spend time watching the game.

Emma-Louise Walsh:  I am currently serving in the Army, Based at Bovington with the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, which is an Army Reserve unit.  Prior to this, I spent 12 years teaching at a local college, and before that, 8 years at a local education authority.  I believe that my experience in Education before joining the Army full time will stand me in good stead to support the school and Governing Body.

John Bird: My connection with Purbeck dates to 2019, when I moved to Swanage on taking early retirement from a career as a chartered engineer.  I was the first generation in my family to attend university, gaining a degree in electrical engineering from Imperial College after attending state schools.  I spent my career first in the telecommunications industry, then moved abroad to work for NATO based in The Hague, and finally moved back to the UK to work in public sector IT consulting.  In retirement I volunteer as a roving ranger for the National Trust, and I also serve as an online A Level maths tutor for a registered charity called The Access Project, which aims to help disadvantaged school students gain places at top universities.  I spend a good deal of time outdoors, walking, cycling and sailing.  I am married with one son aged 25.

Particular themes I am keen to pursue as a governor include ensuring that sixth formers fulfil their potential, especially if they come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and the promotion of STEM education and careers.

Prof. Matthew Almond: I am an Emeritus Professor of Chemistry Education at University of Reading. I obtained my BSc from University of Reading in 1981 in Chemistry with Physiology and Biochemistry and subsequently was awarded my DPhil from University of Oxford in 1984 and a second, higher doctorate (Doctor of Science) from University of Reading. I am a Chartered Chemist, a Fellow of Royal Society of Chemistry, Principal Fellow of Higher Education Academy and a National Teaching Fellow

I have worked as an academic at University of Reading since 1986 and has held a number of managerial and administrative roles including Head of Department, School and Faculty Director of Teaching and Learning and Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

I enjoy walking, running, weight training, reading, listening to classical music and visiting historic houses and art galleries.

Clerk to the Governors

Karen Hall: Having grown up in Somerset throughout the whole of my child-hood, I moved to Dorset in 1994 to make a new life with my husband Andrew. We have been married for 27 years and have two grown up children, Michael and Christopher who both attended The Purbeck School. My eldest son is currently studying for his Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Surrey and my youngest son has recently completed his A Levels and is currently undertaking a Degree Apprenticeship in Electrical Design with a local company.

I have always worked in local government, spending 16 years with Dorset Probation Trust and then in 2011 I undertook a home study course to become a teaching assistant and qualified in 2011. In 2013, I took a change in career path to become a Teaching Assistant at a local Purbeck Primary School and I have been there for 10 years now.  I love my job and I am very passionate about being able to make a difference to the children’s education.  I am currently working towards HLTA status.

Being involved with school life is very much a part of me- I started off as a parent volunteer within the reception class when my eldest son started school in 2006 and I continued to play an active part within school by becoming Secretary, Vice Chair and Chair of school PTA over the years.

Outside of work I am a keen Short Mat bowler and have played for Dorset County for the last 26 years.  In 2019 I trialled for the England Ladies team and was successful. I have been representing England now since 2019 and enjoy every minute of it.  I also enjoy card-making in my spare time.