Governing Board- Annual Governance Statement

Purpose of this Governance Statement

This governance statement has been prepared and published by the Governing Board of St James’ Catholic High School (hereafter referred to as the Governing Board) in compliance with our duty to report on the ways in which we have fulfilled our obligations and responsibilities relating to (i) our overarching duty to conduct the school in accordance with its Catholic character and (ii) our core functions (which are explained below) during the 2021/22 academic year.

Role of the Governing Board

As the Governing Board of a Catholic school, our overarching responsibility lies in ensuring that the School is conducted in accordance with its Catholic character at all times, and this overriding duty (which is also a legal duty) permeates everything that we do. Further, in accordance with our legal obligations, the Governing Board endeavours to operate at a strategic level leaving the Headteacher and senior school leaders responsible and accountable to us for the operational day-to-day running of the School. It is by achieving these aims that we can be sure that our School has effective governance.

The three core functions of the Governing Board:

  1. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  2. Holding the Headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff
  3. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent

As an integral part of the vision for the holistic formation of children and young people, Canon law (Church law) also requires that Catholic schools are “…at least as academically distinguished as that in the other schools of the area” and the Governing Board are mindful of this requirement in all that we do.

Scope of Governing Board’s Responsibilities

The Governing Board acknowledges that we have overall responsibility for ensuring that St James’ has an effective and appropriate system of control, financial and otherwise. However, such a system is designed to manage rather than eliminate the risk of failure to achieve our objectives, and can provide only a reasonable (as opposed to absolute) assurance against material misstatement or loss.

The Governing Board has delegated the day-to-day responsibility to the Headteacher for ensuring financial controls conform with the requirements of both propriety and good financial management.

Governance Arrangements

Composition of the Governing Board

The Governing Board is made up of six Foundation Governors, two Staff Governors (including the Headteacher), two Parent Governor(s), one Local Authority Governor.

Roles & Responsibilities of a Foundation Governor of a Catholic School

Foundation Governors form the majority on a Catholic school’s Governing board. They have the responsibility of assisting the Bishop by sustaining and developing the Catholic ethos and distinctive Catholic nature of the school in which they serve. Foundation Governors have a specific commission to ensure that the school, is at all times conducted in accord with the provisions of the Diocese of Shrewsbury Trust Deed. Foundation Governors follow these principles:

  • To give clear witness to the teaching of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and assume responsibility for governing the School according to Canon Law, the Catechism, and the teachings of the Catholic Church in general and Diocesan norms in particular
  • To comply with the guidance on admissions, staffing, building maintenance and curriculum as published by the Bishop or his delegate through the Diocesan Schools Commission and convey this to the other members of the governing board
  • To seek to appoint Catholic teachers who combine personal conviction and practice of the Faith with the qualities and experience required by particular posts
  • To represent the Bishop or his delegate on the Governing Body with particular reference to the Catholic ethos of the school by ensuring that the whole curriculum of the school is rooted in an understanding of life in conformity with the teaching of the Gospel and the Catholic Church
  • To achieve this, they must ensure that the general religious and liturgical life of the school conforms to Diocesan guidelines. To take particular care that Religious Education has first place in the curriculum, and embraces and enlivens every subject; and that the school follows a truly Catholic programme of religious and moral education approved by the Diocese
  • To consider not only the interests of the school in which they serve as Foundation Governor, along with its pupils, staff and parents, but to comply with Diocesan policy and the interests of other Catholic schools and the interests of Catholic education throughout the Diocese
  • To be eligible for appointment, enquirers must be practising and committed Catholics. Since holding the office of Foundation Governor is a form of service or ministry in the Church, enquirers have to confirm that they are eligible and willing to serve in accordance with the commission from the Bishop
  • The appointment of Foundation Governors is entirely at the discretion of the Bishop of Shrewsbury, or his delegate (Director of Schools), for schools within his jurisdiction

Governor Committees and Governors attendance at meetings

Quality of Education Committee (QofE)

The Governors’ Quality of Education Committee meets termly where current progress is analysed and leaders throughout the school are held to account. Robust questioning and challenge ensure that actions are focused around areas for development. The Quality of Education committee scrutinise:

  • Intent; curriculum design, coverage and appropriateness
  • Implementation; curriculum delivery, teaching and assessment
  • Impact; achievement, knowledge and skill development and destinations

Personal Development & Behaviour Committee (PDB)

The Governors’ Personal Development & Behaviour Committee meets termly where items below are analysed and leaders throughout the school are held to account. Robust questioning and challenge ensure that actions are focused around areas for development. The areas that are scrutinised are:

  • Behaviour and attitudes; behaviour, attendance and punctuality and safeguarding
  • Personal development; careers guidance, citizenship, health and well-being as well as the
  • Catholic ethos; denominational self-evaluation and improvement planning

Leadership & Strategies Committee (L&S)

The Governors’ Leadership & Strategies Committee meets to ensure the Headteacher and School Business manager are held to account for the vision and ethos of the school, student experience, Health and Safety and financial aspects of the school including recruitment. Vigorous discussion ensures value for money and that the deployment of resources is linked directly to the school improvement plan.

Headteacher’s Performance Management

Three non-staff Governors will have responsibility for conducting the Headteacher’s Performance Review. The review will be carried out with the support of an independent advisor.

Pay Committee

This consists of a minimum of 3 non-staff governors who have no interest in the pay proceedings and have declared any such interests.

Pay Committee Appeals

This consists of a minimum of 3 non-staff governors who have no interest in the pay proceedings and have declared any such interests.

Staff Grievance and Complaints, Staff Absence, Staff Disciplinary and Dismissals and Appeals against Grievance, Absence and Dismissal procedures and Admissions Committee

The Chair of Governors shall nominate any eligible Governor who has had no prior involvement in the case.

Governor Attendance

Individual Governors’ attendance during the year at Governing Board meetings and committee meetings can be found by clicking on the attendance links at the bottom of this page.

Minutes of Governing Board and Committee meetings

Minutes of Governing Board and Committee meetings are public documents. You can request copies of the documents by contacting

Review of Value for Money

The Governing Board has used its resources to provide good value for money during the academic year and has assessed where value for money can be improved including the use of benchmarking data where available.

The Risk and Control Framework

The School’s system of internal financial control is based on a framework of regular management information and administrative procedures including the segregation of duties and a system of delegation and accountability, where appropriate. In particular it includes: –

  • Comprehensive budgeting and monitoring systems with an annual budget and periodic financial reports which are reviewed and agreed by the Governing Board
  • Regular reviews by the Leadership and Strategy Committee of reports which indicate financial performance against the forecast and of major purchase plans, capital works and expenditure programmes
  • Setting targets to measure financial and other performance
  • Clearly defined purchasing (asset purchase or capital investment) guidelines
  • Delegation of authority and segregation of duties
  • Identification and management of risks

Capacity to handle risk

The Governing Board regularly reviews the key risks to which the School is exposed together with the operating, financial and compliance controls that have been implemented to mitigate those risks.

Review of effectiveness

The Governing Board has responsibility for reviewing the effectiveness of the systems in place in the School to identify and manage risk and plan to address any weaknesses (if relevant) and ensure continuous improvement of the system is in place.

How to contact the Governing Board

We always welcome suggestions, feedback and ideas from parents, carers and the wider school community. Please contact the Chair of Governors, Patricia Adams via the Headteacher’s PA email;

Anthony Pontifex

I am honoured to serve on the Governing Board at St James’ Catholic High School in my capacity as Headteacher. I was appointed to the position of Headteacher in July 2018. During this period, I have led a transformation at St James’ in the physical environment as well as the culture of the school which is rooted in our three values of family, faith and excellence. My philosophy for Governance and education is simple but powerful; children at the centre of everything we do.
Previously I worked at Pleckgate High School in Blackburn as Deputy Headteacher, a school which upon my appointment was rated by Ofsted as “Requires Improvement”. Three years later it was rated “Outstanding” in all areas. I have a wealth of experience of working in other Catholic High Schools in Blackburn, Manchester and Liverpool.

Julia Cunningham

My appointment as Foundation Governor at St James’ is my third appointment in this role in as many contexts during my 18 years’ service in Catholic education. The two roles prior to this have also been in Stockport schools, one primary and one secondary, so I understand St James’ wider context. As a Foundation Governor, it is my job to represent the Bishop within the Governing Board, and to ensure that the Catholic ethos and religious character of the school are preserved and developed. As a former Head of RE and serving Diocesan RE Coordinator I understand the importance of preserving and promoting the distinctive religious identity of St James’ with Christ at the centre. I would like to support and challenge the school to be the best that it can be, whilst living out its mission to ensure that each member of the school family ‘has life in abundance’ in a faith-filled environment, one that proclaims the Good News, promotes the formation of the whole person and contributes to the common good of society.

Marion Fletcher

I have worked in the education sector for 35+ years and have a genuine interest in the education of children and supporting the local community.

I have supported the leadership and management of schools in a HR capacity for 20+ years.

I have previously served on two LGB's (St Benedict's as a Foundation Governor / Vice Chair of Governors and at St Anthony's as a staff governor).

I was Vice Chair of the PTA at St Benedict's and devoted a lot of my spare time to fundraising and supporting the school in a voluntary capacity.

In my current role, I am a member of the Executive Leadership Team of the Wythenshawe Catholic Academy Trust, and as the Strategic HR Officer I attend the Executive Committee Meetings at the Trust by invitation and present reports and KPI's.

Emma Loughran

Profile coming soon

Louise Maguire

I joined St James’ Board of Governors in 2016. I have worked in catholic education for over twenty years and wish to support St James’ in providing the very best opportunities for our young people.

Julie Johnson

Although I have only recently been appointed as a Foundation Governor at St James’, I have been a Governor in 5 different schools during my 40 years’ service in education in three roles-as an elected teacher Governor, as Headteacher Governor, and, for the last 6 years, as Foundation Governor at Cardinal Newman Catholic High School, Warrington. As Foundation Governor, it is my job to represent the Bishop within the Governing Board, and to ensure that the Catholic ethos and religious character of the school are preserved and developed. I would like to support and challenge the school to be the best that it can be, whilst living out its mission to ensure that each member of the school family achieves their full potential in a faith filled environment, knowing that their contribution to the school is valued.

James Allerton

I became one of the Parent Governors in October 2020. I have a daughter in Year 9 and another who has just started at St James’ in Year 7. My role as Parent Governor is to be able to give the perspective of a parent when the Governing Board make decisions. I am also a governor in two other Stockport Schools, one a Catholic Primary and the other a maintained nursery school. I have been a governor for almost 10 years.

Laura Moss

Jodie Tyrrell

I became Local Authority Governor at St James’ in September 2019. I am a Pharmacist and Lecturer at Manchester University. I believe every child should have the opportunity to access high quality Education in a way that helps them learn and develop both academically and personally. In my role as Governor, I bring a wealth of experience of risk management and governance assurance. I also have a higher education background and am particularly interested in widening participation at university; enabling students from diverse backgrounds to attend university if they wish to. I want to provide strategic support and be confident that the school is living out its mission to ensure that everyone within our school family achieve their full potential.

Cath Duffy

As a Foundation Governor, it is my role to represent the Bishop within the Governing Board, and to ensure that the Catholic ethos and religious character of the school are preserved and developed. I have 38 years’ experience in Catholic education as a teacher of Religious Education and, latterly, as a Lay Chaplain. I currently serve as the Diocesan School Chaplaincy Coordinator. I am wholly committed to ensuring that the joy of the Gospel and the beliefs, practices and traditions of the Roman Catholic faith are at the heart of school life so that the whole school community can participate in the life, mission and work of the Church. I would like to support and challenge the school to be the best that it can be, whilst living out its mission to ensure that each member of the school family of St. James’ achieves their God-given potential in a faith filled environment, knowing that their contribution to the school, the Church and society is valued.

Pat Adams

I am privileged to be a Foundation Governor on the Governing Board at St. James’ Catholic High School.
I recently retired as Executive Headteacher of 2 primary schools in North Manchester after serving as a Headteacher for over 20 years. As a Local Leader of Education, I supported schools in Ofsted categories of Requires Improvement and Special Measures.
I am a Director on the Executive Board of a Catholic Multi-Academy Trust which is made up of a High School and 3 Primary Schools.
I am passionate about student centred education and the involvement of parents in the education of their child. I believe the collaboration of Church, family and school is essential in order that all students and staff are enabled to achieve to their full potential and be the best that they can be.
Governor Name Category of Governor Term of Office (end date) Committee Responsibility Material & Business interests or other Governance roles
Ms Pat Adams Foundation

(Appointed by the Diocese)

31.08.24 QofE


Chair of Governors Governor at Wythenshawe Catholic MAT
Mrs Julia Cunningham Foundation

(Appointed by the Diocese)

31.08.23 PDB Employee of The Diocese of Shrewsbury Department for Education
Mrs Cath Duffy Foundation

(Appointed by the Diocese)

31.08.23 PDB Partner in Good News Retreats
Mrs Marion Fletcher Foundation

(Appointed by the Diocese)

31.08.24 L&S (Chair) Chair of L&S Executive Leader at Wythenshawe Catholic Academy Trust. Attends Executive Committee meetings but by invitation only
Mrs Julie Johnson Foundation

(Appointed by the Diocese)

31.08.23 PDB
Mrs Louise Maguire Foundation

(Appointed by the Diocese)

31.08.24 QofE

PDB (Chair)


Vice Chair of Governors

Chair of PDB

Mrs Jodie Tyrrell Local Authority

(Appointed by the LA)

09.09.23 L&S
Mr James Allerton Parent

(Appointed by the Governing Board)

30.10.24 L&S Governor at Our Lady’s RC Primary and Hollywood Park Nursery School.

Day Retreat Provider at Good News Retreats

Mrs Emma Loughran Parent

(Appointed by the Governing Board)

31.08.24 PDB
Mrs Laura Moss Staff (Appointed by the Staff 18.11.25
Mr Anthony Pontifex Headteacher

(Appointed by the Governing Board)

Headteacher QofE



Foundation Governor at St Lewis’ Catholic Primary School
Mrs Louise Birch Ex. 03.11.21
Mrs Una Devlin Ex. 07.09.21
Ms Olivia Woods Ex. 31.08.21
Mr Damian Cunningham Ex. 05.01.21


Click here to download the Governor Code of Conduct

Jesus looked at them and said,
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”

Matthew 19:26