Meet Laurel Avenue Community Primary School Governing Board

Mrs Claire Linfoot; Chair of Governors, Co-opted Governor

I first served as a parent governor in 2005 – 2009 when my two eldest children attended Laurel Avenue. Due to a house move I had a break in term however returned in 2012 as a Community governor when I had a change in career and started work at Laurel Avenue Community Association as the Centre Manager. I now have four children and after my youngest two were born there was no doubt as to which school I would choose for them to attend. Knowing how dedicated staff are at Laurel Avenue at ensuring all children have a safe and stimulating learning environment I know my children will be given the best possible start to their education.

As well as working at the Community Centre, I work voluntarily as a Special Constable with Durham Constabulary and also volunteer at the local food bank. These roles enhance my ability to make positive contributions to school as community governor. Having grown up in the area I have extensive knowledge of the needs and challenges the community faces.

During my time previously serving as parent governor I worked closely with the head teacher, governors and other parents to establish ‘The Friends of Laurel Avenue Society’ (FOLAS).  I am proud to see that FOLAS continues to excel in the promotion of school and community links.

I feel honoured to be part of the governing body at Laurel Avenue and am excited for the times ahead.


Mrs Helen Blakey; Vice-Chair of Governors, Parent Governor

I was appointed Parent Governor in 2011 and have just begun my third term.  Since being made redundant, I have been a stay at home parent of my boys.

I am Treasurer of FOLAS (Friends of Laurel Avenue Society) and am involved with many of the school's events.

I became a School Governor because I care about the education my children receive and I’m keen to be involved in the school.


Prof Stewart Clark; Co-opted Governor

I was invited to be a Governor at Laurel Avenue to begin in 2024. Having previously been a governor at another local school I understood the governor role well and so I'm very pleased to be involved with Laurel Avenue. 

Being a school governor is crucial to the effective functioning and development of a school, overseeing the school's policies, performance, and overall direction. I was particularly pleased to join the governing body as my daughter is currently in the nursery and my family attends and helps organise many events at Laurel Avenue Community Centre.

My own professional life, I am a Professor of Physics at Durham University and have been proactively involved in the education sector for over 30 years. As a dedicated advocate for quality education, I believe that serving as a school governor provides an opportunity to actively participate in shaping the future of our children. I am passionate about supporting schools in creating successful learning spaces, where everyone can thrive.

I very much look forward to working with the governors and staff at Laurel Avenue, making an enjoyable and successful environment for the children.


Ms Katie Corrigan; Authority Governor

I have been a School Governor at Laurel Avenue Community Primary since 2013. I have really enjoyed being part of the school community. My family has a strong history of the Sherburn Road area which dates back to my Dad and Grandad growing up on Sherburn Road. I was delighted to be its local County Councillor from 2013-2021 and also the Mayor of Durham 2019-2021. 

I am also heavily involved in Laurel Avenue Community Association and have been its Chair for the last 2 years. It's great to see the partnership the school and association have, and to see it go from strength to strength over the years. 

Laurel Avenue Community Primary School has brilliant record of supporting the community and giving every child the opportunity they deserve. I feel extremely proud to support the Headteacher and staff by being part of the Governing Body. 


Mrs Ellen Cottrell; Co-opted Governor

I was appointed Governor in 2009. I am a Parent Governor with responsibility for Safeguarding. I'm employed as a Senior Residential Worker by Residential Services, working with children with disabilities. I am an ex pupil of Laurel Avenue (1976).

I am chair of FOLAS (Friends of Laurel Avenue Society) and helped establish the school's free Breakfast Club.

I became a School Governor because I cared about the education my daughter received and then I stayed on to be a Co-opted Governor once she moved to secondary school.


Ms Gaynor Davison; Headteacher Governor

I have worked closely with the Governing Body of Laurel Avenue for a number of years since taking up my role as Deputy Headteacher in 2000 and whilst working as Acting Headteacher on many occasions over the years. In 2011 I was honoured to be appointed as Headteacher.

Leading and managing change in the current climate can be challenging but I enjoy each day. I am fortunate in working with a fantastic staff team and governing body who have a wide range of skills and talents. We value our work with families and their support. Together we strive to create a wonderful, warm and stimulating environment for our children. We all share the same vision, children first and we hope to give them the foundations for life and future learning.

I am passionate about my work here and wanting the school to continue to grow and flourish in order for us to meet even greater outcomes for our children and their families. As Head teacher, I report to and attend all committee and full governor meetings.


Mrs Ann Elliott; Co-opted Governor:

I first joined the Governing Body in March 1997. I was invited to be part of the governors as I worked very closely with the school in my day job as Head of Year at Durham Gilesgate Sports College. I was keen to work for the school and so accepted the invitation. In 1999 I was asked if I would like to stand for the position of Chair. I had enjoyed working for the school so much I agreed to stand and was voted into the position. Since then I have worked with 3 different headteachers and have seen the school grow from strength to strength. I am proud to be part of the school. The children and staff are also proud of their school. The staff work tirelessly to ensure that they are up to date with all aspects of education to ensure they deliver an excellent curriculum to the pupils and help develop all aspects of the child as an individual. The most recent initiative - Read, Write Inc. is a very powerful tool which helps children to achieve their potential and the children are enthusiastic about their learning through this programme. In my experience the children are always polite and friendly and are happy to come to school. I look forward to continuing to work for the school and for the Governing Body to assist the Headteacher in providing the pupils at Laurel Avenue Primary School with a very good all round education.


Mr Steve Linfoot; Parent Governor

I currently have two children who very much enjoy their attendance at the school and feel it’s very important to support their education and the ongoing improvements that the school strives to achieve by fulfilling this role to the best of my ability.

My own working profession is operating a Health and Safety Consultancy, where I work closely with many diverse clients to improve the working environment for their staff. This involves challenging employers and management to meet their legal and moral obligations to provide a safe, healthy and efficient working environment; involving many analytical and communication skills that I feel are readily transferable towards the role of a Parent Governor.

I’ve also previously gained over fifteen years of invaluable experience as a Special Constable within Durham, including working with schools and youth groups promoting activities to divert children from anti-social behaviour and improving their awareness of opportunities available to fulfil their potential.

I look forward to working alongside other Governors and staff to gain the best possible and most enjoyable education for the children who attend this school.


Mrs Helen Walters; Staff Governor

I began my teaching career at Laurel Avenue in April 2000 and in 2008 was appointed as a teacher governor to the board of governors. My role is to represent the teaching staff and to work alongside other Governors to ensure the highest possible quality of education is being provided. During my time as a governor my role within school has progressed from class teacher, to member of the Senior Leadership Team to, in 2011, Deputy Headteacher.  Being a part of the governing body and its various committees allows me to share with other governors direct experience of the impact of decisions we make. It is a real team effort here at Laurel Avenue and both staff and governors work hard together, with the child at the centre of all we do. I am extremely proud to be a class teacher, Deputy Headteacher and teacher governor at such a fantastic School!