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posted 24 Apr 2017, 02:53 by James Dorey

I first became a governor in around 1998 when my stepson attended our predecessor school, The Hayward. At the time Essex Country Council were proposing to cut over 1000 special school places, because they considered that all children with moderate learning difficulties would be better off educated in mainstream schools with additional support. We had seen, and rejected, the offering for MLD in various mainstream comprehensives and therefore I attended some “consultation” meetings with Essex County Council’s education professionals to make the case for continuation of this provision. The then Headteacher was also at these meetings and asked me to volunteer as a parent governor.

After my son left, I was asked to continue as an Authority Governor. This meant that I was involved through a massive and significant period of changes, including:

  • The development of an autism speciality within the Hayward including accreditation by the National Autistic Society; 
  • Starting to work more closely with the Woodlands School; 
  • As that joint working grew, the development of the Essex New Model Special School concept, which led to the two schools being “federated” with a single joint governing body and the senior leadership teams merging and assuming responsibility for both schools – now known as Chelmsford New Model Special School; 
  • Amalgamation of the two schools into one, which was named Columbus; 
  • Bidding for, and receiving, funding under the government’s “Building Schools for the Future” project, allowing us to move into our two state of the art campuses; 
  • Deciding to become an Academy, and joining the country’s largest Multi-Academy Trust – the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET). 

After a period as vice-chair, when the previous chair had to reduce his involvement due to health and family reasons, I was elected by the governors as Chair, around five years ago. As chair I communicate with the Principal several times each week, discussing issues that have arisen within Columbus – be they related to staffing matters, pupil issues, problems with the building or internal IT networks, or anything else that crops up. I am also one of the first to learn of most of the good news – whether it is achievements by our young people or successes by the fundraising team in persuading people and companies to part with their money.

I spent three years as a trustee of AET, representing the interests of all Special Schools within the group.

Professionally, I am an Internal Auditor – this is a role within a company that reviews all company activities and reports to senior management on the effectiveness of process and management of risks. I have previously worked for two multinational car manufacturers and a mobile telephone company; my current employer is a vehicle leasing company – the largest in the world with over 600,000 customers, all of whom are disabled.

I have been married 20 years, and have three adult stepsons, who between them have given us five grandchildren, one of whom lives with us and keeps me young and very busy.

My main interest outside of work, when family commitments permit, relates to model aircraft flying. I am the Treasurer of the National governing body (we are to model flying what the FA is to football), and I am heavily involved in the organisation of the annual National Championships which is believed to be the largest such event outside of the USA.

I am proud to be part of the Columbus team, and look back with pleasure at what we have achieved.

Keith Lomax
Chair of Governors