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Welcome to

Hillside Avenue

Primary and Nursery School

Everyone will grow to be the best they can be

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Chair of Governors' Message

Welcome to the Governors’ section of the website, and thank you for visiting the Hillside Avenue website. We have a very active Local Governing Body at Hillside which works closely with the Head teacher and Senior Leadership Team. As founding members of the Yare Education Trust, we also co-operate closely with the officers and trustees of the Trust to ensure that Hillside plays its part in promoting the whole Trust and children’s opportunities from ages 3 to 19.


The role of the Governing Body is to help shape the strategic direction of the school and to safeguard the public interest in it. As our role is strategic, we do not get involved in the day to day running of the school, as this is the responsibility of the Head teacher and the Senior Management Team. We ensure that they are accountable for their decisions and actions. We oversee the maintenance and improvement of standards of achievement within the school. We are also responsible for ensuring that the school policies and administration meet statutory and Trust requirements and that all our children are able to maximise the opportunities, academic and otherwise, provided for them. We are responsible to the community for ensuring that the money provided to the school is used to give good value.

The Governors are appointed to provide:

  • An independent view
  • A wide experience of the outside world
  • A visible form of accountability for the Head teacher and Senior Management Team
  • A focus on long term development and improvement
  • Support for the Head teacher and staff

In addition to the regular meetings of the full Governing Body, we run two sub committees, covering Resources (Staffing, Buildings, Safety and Finance), and Standards (Academic, School Improvement, Evaluation and Quality Assurance). Each committee meets at least once a term.

All Governors share the responsibilities and work as a team.

          Revd James Stewart
                Chair of Governors

Meet the Governors

The Revd James Stewart

I am the local Rector here in Thorpe St Andrew (known as 'Fr James') and am delighted to be involved with Hillside Avenue Primary School and Nursery in a number of ways. I originally qualified and practised as a Family Lawyer in the west of county but trained for the ordained ministry 10 years ago and, after other posts, came to Thorpe in 2016. I joined as a Governor in 2017, and served on the Standards Committee and I am now the Chair of the Local Governing Board. I grew up in Thorpe in a house about 100 metres from the school so it is a privilege to give something back to this lovely community. My hope, as a Governor, is to ensure high standards of teaching and learning and that the children and staff experience joy each and every day.


Mr Phoenix

I became Headteacher of Hillside Avenue in September 2019. I have worked in primary education for over 20 years, teaching all ages from Reception through to upper juniors, and having various leadership roles including my previous headship at Hampsthwaite CE Primary School in North Yorkshire. I am proud to be part of Hillside Avenue School, and to be able to lead and support such a committed team of staff and governors.
In my spare time, I enjoy being out in the countryside, cycling and constructing (not playing!) with Lego!


Susan Buttifant

I moved to Thorpe St Andrew from North Norfolk just over 30 years ago. I worked in retail when I left school until I moved to Thorpe. I become a parent helper in school then after several years I was offered  a job here at Hillside which I still enjoyed to this day.  I got involved with Hillside when my eldest started his reception class. He didn’t go to the nursery as it was not open then, my two youngest children were lucky  to both attend the Nursery. I first joined the Friends of Hillside 25 years ago and still are heavily involved with them. In the time on the Friends I have been vice Chair for two years and also Chair. I still enjoy raising money for the school to buy extras for the children.

I joined the governors around 20 years ago after having  a chat with one of the teachers about the school. It is so important that every child is given the chance to develop and flourish.

In my spare time I like to take photographs and relax and read a good book.


Nicki Everitt

I am a Co-opted Governor and was appointed in December 2018. I currently work for The Yare Education Trust as their Estates and Facilities Manager and joined their central team in March 2018. Prior to that I worked for fourteen years as a School Business Manager at a Norfolk high school. My aim in being a governor is to utilise my qualifications and experience to support and constructively challenge the Headteacher and Leadership Team. As a governing body our aim is to ensure that Hillside Avenue Primary and Nursery School provides an environment where all pupils can thrive and flourish.


Sarah Howarth

Sarah is a senior lawyer who worked in corporate finance for 11 years at law firms in the UK and Australia, before moving into a commercial role in-house at Aviva in 2014. Sarah became a Parent Governor in 2018 when her eldest daughter started at Hillside, and both of her daughters now attend the school. Sarah was elected a Co-Opted Governor by the LGB in December 2021. Sarah also serves on the Standards Committee and is the school's nominated Wellbeing Governor. As a Governor, Sarah strives to ensure high standards of teaching and learning throughout the school, actively contributing to all discussion, and providing robust challenge and collaborative support whenever needed. In her spare time, Sarah is studying a part-time MBA at the University of East Anglia, and also enjoys practising yoga, running, and exploring the Norfolk countryside with her family, and has a keen interest in interior design and photography.


Jo Love

Jo Love joined as Parent Governor in 2017, her daughter attends Hillside School. Jo has run her own marketing and PR business for the past 15 years and previous to that worked for national business advisors Grant Thornton in their communications department. Born and raised in Norwich, Jo moved to Oxford following her degree at Liverpool University, but returned to Thorpe in 2012. In her spare time, Jo enjoys making the most of our wonderful county and also plays tennis for Norfolk…veterans!


John Podmore

John joined as a Co-Opted Governor in July 2019 and has lived in Thorpe St Andrew for the last 10 years.  His daughter, Francesca attends Hillside School.  After 20 years’ service in the Royal Air Force and following 9 years within the construction and engineering industries, John now works in Norwich for Aviva within the Portfolio Management Office.  Educated to degree level in Aerospace Engineering – so he can teach the children how aircraft fly (!) - and with numerous business and project management qualifications, including a MBA, John is dedicated to making sure all children have the best possible start in life.  In his spare time, John enjoys music, spending time with family & friends and following his favourite football team.


Governor responsibilities

NameGovernor TypeTerm FromTerm ToRoles and CommitteesBusiness InterestsOther Governance Roles
Susan ButtifantCo-opted governor1 Sep 202031 Aug 2023Resources CommitteeNone declaredNone
Nicki EverittCo-opted governor20 Nov 201819 Nov 2022Chair, Resources CommitteeEmployee of Yare Education TrustNone
Sarah HowarthParent governor17 Sep 201816 Sep 2022Standards CommitteeEmployee at Aviva 



Jo LoveCo-opted governor21 July                202121 July     2024Chair, Standards CommitteeNone declaredNone
Lizzy PendletonStaff governor1 Sep 202031 Aug 2023Standards CommitteeNone declaredNone
Mr A PhoenixHeadteacherWhile in post Attends all committeesNone declaredNone
John PodmoreCo-opted governor15 Jul 201914 Jul 2023

Standards Committee

SEND Governor

None declaredNone
The Revd James StewartCo-opted governor1 Sept 202031 Aug 2023

Chair, Local Governing Board
Attends all committees

Governor with responsibility for Health and Safety.


Sports Premium Governor

None declaredNone