Oakleigh School Governing Body

Steve Holt

Chair of the Governing Body

Gilbert Knight

Vice Chair

Ruth Harding

Head Teacher

Rev Shaun Sanders

Co-opted Governor

Jackie Silverman

Co-opted Governor

Moira Newton

Co-opted Governor

Cllr. Sachin Rajput

Local Authority Governor

Sameerah Siddiqu

Parent Governor

Nabil Dar

Parent Governor

Rachel Preston

Staff Governor

Jane Nicklin

Co-opted Governor

Nikki Bennet

Co-opted Governor


Our Governing Body is responsible for ensuring that our School conforms with the legal guidelines laid down by Parliament and the Local Authority (LA).

Their responsibility is for overall policy. The day-to-day business of organising children’s learning and of managing time, space, staff and resources is for the professional team led by the head teacher.

Together with the professionals in school they share responsibility for:

  • The school’s standards
  • Its value for money
  • Its proper management
  • Its fairness in dealing with its staff and pupils
  • Its communication with parents and the public

The governing body must ensure that in delivering its responsibilities, it promotes and safeguards the welfare of children.

The Governors act through a series of committees. Copies of the Minutes of their meetings are available below.


Steve Holt - Chair
Responsibilities: Finance & Staffing Committees
Key Areas: Headteacher’s Performance Review, School Involvement
Contact Email: stephen.holt@oakleigh.barnet.sch.uk

I have been involved with the school for a number of years, firstly as a parent in which my son Ben attended the school for 5 years before he passed away in 2008. Steve Holt - Vice ChairMy involvement at this time also resulted in joining the team of governors as a parent governor.

Following this term, it was very important to me to continue supporting the school through the governing body and I was very pleased to be voted in as the new chair of governors after being a co-opted Governor for a period of time. This has given me the opportunity to fully support and assist the Head Teacher and school staff to continue making Oakleigh school an outstanding place to learn and teach. In addition to this role I am also a member of the finance committee and regularly join the staff in fund raising activities.

I have worked for Unilever ice cream for 15 years as a regional sales manager, Unilever ice cream are more commonly known as Wall’s ice cream. My role within this business is to work with 3rd party agency field sales to sell ice cream to large independent leisure customers such as theme parks and zoo’s across the UK. Main tasks with in this role are operational priorities, budget control, target setting, training, personnel requirements and performance tracking and monitoring. This has given me the experience and opportunity in working with many different types of people with different needs, requirements and challenges.

Interests and Hobbies
My main interests are spending time with my family which include 2 dogs doing all different activities. Amateur dramatics, Football and Rugby are also big passions in my life. I believe passionately in Oakleigh school and working alongside the teaching staff to ensure that every child enjoys their time at Oakleigh school and every child develops to their full potential.

Gilbert Knight – Vice Chair
Responsibilities: Finance & Staffing, Premises, Health & Safety Committees
Key Areas: Governor Training, Barnet Schools Forum

Gilbert  Knight – Chair of GovernorsI am a Retired Chartered Surveyor (FRICS) - I was an Associate in major international firm of surveyors 1981-1995. I specialised in commercial property management for pension funds, UK and international investors. Department of 45 staff financial control of income in excess £40 million 1995 figures, property value approximately £900 million (1995). I co-wrote Health and Safety manual for Chartered Surveyors. I project managed first computerised Estate Terrier for international corporations incorporating plans and photographs with automatic translation of system, values and areas into either the local or HQ language, currency and imperial or metric.

I am married with two daughters the youngest with Angelman’s Syndrome. I fought and won Tribunal case against Barnet 1998-99. I set up Children’s Action Group to assist other parents with SEN and disability matters with the assistance of Barnet Mencap. I was asked to participate in various committees dealing with disabled young people. I was invited to join with others to form Barnet Voluntary Partnership in 2000 to liaise with senior council officers – I am currently Chairman. I have been a member of the Inclusion Strategy Group since 2003, Transition improvement group since 2006, Choice Board 2007-2012, and various working groups on specific topics.

I have been a School Governor at Oakleigh since 1999, Parent Governor for 2 periods then Community Governor. Chair since 2007/8 to 2017. I am a Member of the Barnet Schools Forum since 2007 and Chairman for the last 7 years.

Ruth Harding - Head Teacher
Responsibilities: Finance & Staffing, Premises, Health & Safety and School Improvement Committees

Ruth Harding - Head TeacherI have worked at Oakleigh School since 1994. During my long career I have been responsible for leading on Autism and became an Assistant Head managing Acorn from 2005. During my time in Acorn it expanded to incorporate an Acorn on the site of Colindale School. This was extremely exciting and challenging. I joined the Governing body in September 2013 where I sat on school Improvement.

In September 2015 I took on the challenge of Acting Headteacher where I fully immersed myself into the role and set a high expectation that all the children at Oakleigh will receive outstanding teaching, as I am passionate about this. In September 2017 I became substantive Head and I am committed to continue making Oakleigh outstanding.

Rev Shaun Sanders – Co-opted Governor
Responsibilities: Premises & Health & Safety Committees
Key Area: Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development (SMSC)

Rev Shaun Sanders – Co-opted Governor

I am the minister of Manor Drive Methodist Church which is just around the corner from Oakleigh School and has long-standing links with the school. I am also minister of Methodist churches in East Barnet, High Barnet and Hendon – but not on my own! I share it with another minister and many lay people. It is a privilege that my work brings me into contact with so many different interesting people and community groups.

Previously I have been a minister in Milton Keynes, Hackney and Golders Green. I grew up in Cornwall where I saw how my nephew benefitted from the positive impact of a special school. I therefore want to support a similar school in the community where I now live.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading, photography and walking.

Jackie Silverman - Co-opted Governor
Responsibilities: Finance & Staffing Committees
Key Areas: Headteacher’s Performance Review, Safeguarding (including CP), and Pupil Premium

Jackie Silverman - Co-opted GovernorI qualified as a social worker in 1977 and started my career at the Royal Free Hospital, with a particular interest always in working with children and families. Following the arrival of my own children, I worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau in New Barnet, lived in Paris for 3 years and then in 1989, joined Barnet Mencap as Family Support worker to research the needs of families with young children and set up projects for them. I stayed with Barnet Mencap for 24 years! In that time, I set up the Open Door project for under 5s and their families and the Family Support service for parents of over 5s too, becoming the manager of the service but always continuing to work with families directly. I was responsible, as part of the senior management team, for recruitment, budgeting, staff appraisal and supervision etc.

Through my work, I got to know Oakleigh School, the staff and the preschool teaching team very well and Open Door Fun Days were held at the school for many years. The staff has always struck me as a fantastic team of experienced, supportive and positive people who have a really holistic way of working with the children and their families. I have worked with many of the families and they never want to leave Oakleigh! I didn’t hesitate when asked to join the Governing Body as I have always enjoyed my visits into school. I hope I bring to the group a real enthusiasm for all that Oakleigh offers, together with my experience over the years.

I recently retired from Barnet SENDIASS - but still help there in a voluntary capacity.

Moira Newton - Co-opted Governor
Responsibilities: Premises, Health & Safety and School Improvement Committees
Key Area: Headteacher’s Performance Review, PE & Sports Premium

Moira Newton - Co-opted GovernorI have been a Co opted Governor since June 2016. By profession I am a Physiotherapist, and I retired in December 2015. I worked in the Health Service for nearly 45 years. During my working life I was employed at University College Hospital and Barnet General Hospital. In 1981 I began working at Oakleigh School (at that time it was known as Friern Barnet School ) and worked continuously until my retirement. In those years I saw many changes both in education and the Health Service, and I was very privileged to be part of the Oakleigh Family, and to work alongside so many wonderful and dedicated staff. I feel very passionately about enabling all children to fulfil their potential, and feel very strongly that all therapy is a learning opportunity.

My particular interests are Health and Safety and Continuing School Improvement. I have three grown up children and two beautiful grandchildren. In my spare time, I do voluntary work at the North London Hospice, and The Jewish Museum in Camden Town. Since retiring I have been using my Physiotherapy skills in supporting elderly people at a Care Centre.

I love travelling, and have been very fortunate to visit Oakleigh’s partnership School in Zambia. I enjoy cooking and entertaining. I am a keen theatre goer, and sing in a local choir. Because I was such an integral part of Oakleigh School for so many years, I feel that I can be an effective Governor of Oakleigh School.

Cllr. Sachin Rajput - Local Authority Governor
Responsibilities: Finance Committee

Cllr. Sachin Rajput - Local Authority GovernorI have been a school governor at various different schools in the London Borough of Barnet since 2001.

I have been a governor at Oakleigh School for over ten years now and am passionate about serving such a unique, valued and specialised school. Aside from my role as a governor I am also a councillor and a lawyer.


Sameerah Siddiqu - Parent Governor
Responsibilities: Premises, Health & Safety Committee & Early Years Teams

Sameerah Siddiqu - Parent GovernorAfter leaving University with a BA in Economics and Statistics, I joined KPMG in Abu Dhabi as an Intern Auditor but it was clear even then, that I enjoyed interacting with people more than account books and that was the beginning of a wonderful career that spans just a little under 20 years!

I joined Ziff Davis Middle East, one of the largest IT publishing house in the world as an Account Manager and loved learning about the operations of a new industry and managing clients in over 60 countries in the Middle and Near East. After almost 3 years in the IT domain, I joined The Forbes Group in a similar capacity but once again the environment was more business oriented than technology – and I loved learning something new!

An exciting opportunity with Teradata Corporation as their Northern Europe Marketing and Public Relations Manager not only allowed me to learn something new but to use my skills at managing people with multicultural and multi-ethnic backgrounds to work together as a team and achieve set targets in addition to getting our message across to various media channels, publications and blogs in Northern Europe.

I'm currently a full time mum to my daughter Ariana who is at Acorn and I can honestly say, this is the best job ever!

Nabil Dar - Parent Governor
Responsibilities: Finance & Staffing Committee

Nabil Dar - Parent Governor

I joined the Governors at Oakleigh in 2020, and am also a parent at the school. I have deep roots in the local area, having grown up and gone to school locally.

After moving away to read Economics at the University of Cambridge, I returned to London and entered the world of work as a Management Consultant, specialising in the Strategy and Commercial Due Diligence space. After picking up some invaluable skills (and racking up more than a fair few 100 hour weeks!), I moved across to a Strategy role at Virgin Media where I acted as an adviser to the CEO and CFO, tackling a multitude of issues and leading multiple cross-functional projects to help drive the long-term vision of the business. I subsequently moved across to my current role where I head up the Strategic Planning function at GoCardless, a London-based FinTech, looking to lay the blueprint for the company's future as it looks to scale-up and expand internationally.

Away from crunching spreadsheets, I am an avid fan of all things sporting and tech. I also have a somewhat unhealthy obsession for quizzing and random trivia. As a parent to two boys with extra needs, I am passionate about giving our kids the best possible platform to thrive and hope to help the governors guide the school in continuing to provide this.

Rachel Preston - Staff Governor
Responsibilities: Finance & Staffing, Premises, Health & Safety and School Improvement Committees

Rachel Preston - Staff Governor

My interest in becoming a teacher started whilst working as a Teaching Assistant at Mapledown School, a secondary school for children with Special Educational Needs. My time there motivated me to complete my PGCE. After completing my teacher training, I joined Oakleigh School as Newly Qualified Teacher in September 2011.

Whilst at Oakleigh, I have been given lots of fantastic opportunities to develop including managing a department within the school, completing a secondment to the Local Authority where I worked as an Autism Advisory Teacher for mainstream schools in Barnet.

During this time, I have also completed a Masters in Special Education, that enabled me to further develop my knowledge, skills and understanding of working with children and young adults with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Becoming an Assistant Headteacher, responsible for managing Acorn, has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding parts of my career. I feel very lucky to be part of an incredibly positive and supportive organisation and having the opportunities to work with so many wonderful families, children and staff.

I am very excited to be taking on a new role as staff governor at Oakleigh School, where I will continue to support the school in delivering meaningful, motivating and positive learning opportunities for all children.

Jane Nicklin - Co-opted Governor
Responsibilities: Premises, Health & Safety and School Improvement Committees

Jane Nicklin - Co-opted GovernorI have been an associate governor since September 2018. By profession I am a teacher. I have worked in Oakleigh and Acorn for over 20 years. I was an active member of the Parent School Association and enjoyed participating in all aspects of school life. I have worked alongside the drama and music therapists supporting therapeutic family work which I continue to do one afternoon a week with the Drama therapist. I have also worked with the music and drama therapist running Reflective Practise sessions for class staff. I also maintain a role doing some staff supervision with Acorn LSA’s. During my time as a full-time teacher I had responsibilities for History, Geography and Behaviour.

I have always enjoyed the creative challenge of making the curriculum relevant, accessible and meaningful to our youngsters enabling them to broaden their experiences and develop their interests. I have seen over the years how Oakleigh and Acorn have embraced new ideas and ways of working and made them work for our children.

I was involved in setting up our school partnership with a school in Zambia and was privileged to go on the first visit to Zambia with the teacher running the project. I was able to host some of the visiting teachers when they visited us and learn more about the challenges of education in other parts of the world.

Oakleigh and Acorn have been a very important part of my life. I have known and worked with remarkable children and their families. In class I have worked with committed and talented colleagues and enjoyed the satisfaction of being in an effective team. I also appreciated being able to work closely with professionals from related disciplines benefiting from their advice and skills.

Nikki Bennet - Co-opted Governor
Responsibilities: Finance Committee

Nikki Bennet - Co-opted GovernorI am a retired paediatric physiotherapist. I worked in the NHS both as a clinician and a manager in Haringey and then Barnet. Within my working time in Barnet I had some close working with all of the special schools in the borough including Oakleigh, I am delighted to join the governors and continue my passionate interest in children with SEN/ disabilities and supporting in some way to strive for them and their families to have the best opportunities through life.

In my working career I worked with some amazing children and their families in good times and in bad, as well as seeing many changes and developments both positive and negative within the health, education and social care systems.

Outside of work I have always been involved in other aspects of voluntary work supporting people, being involved in fundraising, set up learning programmes and since I have more time available I have also in the past few years been able to volunteer at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice.

I have always enjoyed seeing others around me develop as well as support those less fortunate than I am in various ways. After a family journey that took us to Belarus, we set up a charity supporting communities there initially and then since 2013 in Western Ukraine as well. For the last 5 years we have taken UK youth, trained them in the UK and they have led summer camps. The development pathway of both our UK and Ukrainian leaders has been incredible.

I have a passion for travel and exploring different cultures, as well as a love of cooking. I have always lived in the local area and actually went into Oakleigh School for a days work experience in my school days.

I have one amazing daughter and I cherish spending time with her and my husband.

Updated: January 2021