Gary Thomas
Chair of Local Governing Body

I served in the Army for almost 40 years and since retiring in 2015, I found the time to pursue other interests. My son Ben was a pupil at Iffley from 2014-2019 and as a family we felt that this was a place of learning where he belonged, rather than somewhere he just attends, so I volunteered to become a governor here in January 2016. The main reason for volunteering was that after every visit to an assembly, open day or pupil review, I was always impressed by what I had seen and wanted to get involved. A combination of friendly staff, happy pupils and a calm homely atmosphere made it seem like a really nice place to be, which it is. The completion of the new school buildings will finally give our children and staff the environment they deserve.

I sit on the Site Health & Safety and Finance & Personnel Committees and I am the link governor for Safeguarding and Careers Independent Advice & Guidance. In August 2019 I was elected to be Chair of the Iffley Academy Local Governing Body.

As well as supporting the school, I am also a Trustee in The Gallery Trust, which is a community of special schools to which the Iffley Academy belongs.


Karen Shaw

Governor, Vice Chair

My name is Karen Shaw and I am a Governor at the Iffley Academy.

I am the Link Governor for SEND and have experience of Site Health & Safety, Teaching & Learning and Finance & Personnel.

I became a Governor because I wanted to be part of the bigger picture as it were and to help the school wherever I can to achieve the highest standard in all areas, not just the educational parts but also the welfare of the students in our school.

My background is in Estate Agency where I worked for a local Independent Estate Agent in Oxford for 30 years.  Recently I had a change in employment and now work for a firm of Chartered Surveyors selling their services and generally organising their workload and day to day running of the office.

On a personal note, I am a very proud parent of two sons. One of whom attended Iffley Academy until 2013 when he completed Sixth Form. He has a Speech and Language disability, Cerebral Palsy, moderate learning disabilities and Epilepsy. He is now enjoying his current role in permanent employment as a Resources Assistant. My other son has a degree in Business Management and is currently a Personal Trainer/Sports Massage Therapist as well as a Fitness Teacher.


Katharine Horrocks
Parent Governor – Chair of Personal Development Welfare and Safeguarding Committee

I am delighted to be a new parent governor, joining the governing board in June 2019. I have two sons, one of whom is at Iffley Academy where he is thriving.

I have previously been a governor at John Hampden and Tetsworth Primary Schools Federation, am a Trustee and former Chair of Down’s Syndrome Oxford (a registered charity), and in the past my professional experience has encompassed advertising and marketing, human resources, corporate relations and hospitality. Most recently I have been a Lay Representative for Health Education England (Thames Valley).

I am excited to be part of the team and look forward to seeing the new developments, both physical and across the curriculum, come to fruition.


Claudia Piller
Governor – Chair of Teaching and Learning Committee

I am convinced that all children learn most effectively in an atmosphere that is safe, secure and fun, and the Iffley Academy provides this special environment for our special children in a very impressive way.

My son started at the Academy in September 2015 as the youngest pupil in the school and it was amazing to see how quickly he settled in, thanks to the care and professionalism of the staff and I am impressed by their dedication and warmth to help the children achieve their potential.

My background is in advertising and marketing, and now I teach modern languages at a local independent school but I also want to give back to the Iffley Academy what they do on a daily basis for my son. I therefore joined as a Parent Governor in early 2016. I am keen to be involved in helping to shape the future of the Iffley Academy, building on the excellent work that is already in place and hopefully allowing more children to access this wonderful learning environment.


Nicola Baptie
Teacher Governor

This is my first year as a Teacher Governor at The Iffley Academy and looking forward to being part of the wider school community. I joined The Iffley Academy in 2017 as an NQT in my first Teaching Post. I originally trained as a Primary Teacher and have a degree in Early Childhood Education, which has helped me tremendously in my understanding of child development and adapting provision for pupils with SEND.

I work in the Tate Gallery of the school, supporting new and younger students in their start to life at The Iffley Academy. I absolutely love teaching and try to make learning as playful and creative as possible.

I look forward to supporting the school and all our students as a Teacher Governor.


Chris Woodward
Staff Governor

I am Chris Woodward, and am proud to serve as Iffley Academy’s Support Staff Governor. I have many years experience working in schools and have worked my way up the ladder to becoming Facilities Manager. I have worked here at the academy since June 2014. As FM, my primary responsibilities surround Health and Safety compliance, reactive and planned maintenance, and management of external contracts such as cleaning and grounds maintenance.

I take enormous pride in ensuring that the academy site and facilities are well presented, welcoming and safe for our children, and for everyone who comes through the gates.

Outside of work, I am an elected Councillor for Witney, currently serving as Deputy Town Mayor. I have 6 years experience in school governance having served on both primary and secondary governing bodies, one of which I was Chair of the Governing Body for 2 years. I am a keen supporter and trustee of the Witney Educational Foundation.

I am really excited to join the Local Governing Body to see what other ways I can make our students’ lives here as fulfilling as possible.


Tom Procter-Legg
ex-officio Governor

As Head Teacher of Iffley Academy I am passionate about outcomes for young people with special educational needs and disabilities. I have nine years experience of teaching students with complex needs and was accredited as a Specialist Leader in Education in 2016. In addition to my work at Iffley Academy, I have worked on national projects through Whole School SEND and NASEN, worked on the successful Free School bid for Bloxham Grove Academy and have worked extensively on the Gallery Trust’s wider development.

Prior to working in education I worked for Tate Galleries and as the Gallery Manager at Modern Art Oxford. My creative background hugely benefits the work I currently do at Iffley, allowing me to think creatively about curriculum opportunities and ensuring that we provide the very best, broad and balanced curriculum for vulnerable learners in Oxfordshire.


Kay Willett
ex officio Governor and Trustee

Kay Willett has worked in special and mainstream education for 25 years. Kay was Head Teacher of Iffley Academy (formerly Iffley Mead School) from 2003 to 2018, during which time the academy increased its roll from 80 to 155, and is now Oxfordshire’s largest special academy. Kay is now Executive Head Teacher of Iffley Academy and Chief Executive Officer of The Gallery Trust.

Kay’s extensive knowledge of SEND has developed through a variety of roles and in different contexts, including Head of Inclusion at an Oxfordshire Middle School, senior teacher at a primary SEMH school, heading up inclusion projects and an AP unit. Kay has a strong track record of providing School to School Support and acts as a mentor to Head Teachers and aspiring school leaders through her work as a coach for ‘Women Leading in Education’. Kay has served as Chair of Oxfordshire Special Schools Association, chaired High Needs funding block reviews (Oxfordshire), and works with the LA on the SEND provision map, growth strategy, and school improvement.

Kay’s SEND and leadership expertise is complemented by her ability to identify and promote creative approaches and strategies, which are based on research and peer review, to enhance the curriculum and broaden the range of opportunities for pupils at school and in their future lives. For example, Kay introduced Restorative Approaches to Iffley Academy, and it is the first special school in the country to achieve the Restorative Services Quality Mark. Iffley Academy is working towards accreditation from the Autism Society, using action based research and lesson study, and the recent introduction of a qualified therapeutic support team is designed to support students’ resilience, self-belief, independence and attendance.

Kay is a National Leader in Education, working alongside colleagues in Oxfordshire schools to effect positive and lasting change.