Academies are schools funded by the government with the freedom to govern independently - but all are accountable to the Secretary of State for Education. To share resources and best practice, many are part of multi-academy trusts - a network of schools under one legal body.

Ark Ayrton Academy is part of Ark Schools - a leading education charity and one of the country's top-performing academy operators. Ark is non-denominational and does not make any profit from running its schools.

Ark's relationship with the Secretary of State is set out in the master funding agreement. There are also supplemental funding agreements for each individual school in the network, including Ark Ayrton.

Every school in the Ark network is the legal responsibility of the Ark Schools Board. This board focuses on statutory duties and delegates most day-to-day responsibilities to each school's individual Local Governing Body (LGB). This means that Ark Ayrton's governors are able to concentrate on the things that really matter - educational strategy, school outcomes and aspiration.

Master Funding Agreement

Ayrton Supplemental individual funding agreement

The Ark Schools Articles of Association and Decision Making Framework scheme of delegation can be found on the Ark Schools website here.

Our local governing body

From September 2017 Ark Dickens Primary Academy and Ark Ayrton Primary Academy share one local governing body. This decision was made to provide the schools with further opportunities to work more closely with each other, enabling more effective school to school support and bringing the benefits of governor skills to both schools.

The Ark Portsmouth Primary LGB is made up as follows:

Six to twelve members appointed by Ark, to include the Chair - usually people with a local connection or interest who are committed to supporting educational opportunity in the area

Ark aims to create a balanced group that will have the right skills, connections and dynamic for the LGB to work well and support the school in achieving exceptional performance:

  • Good insight into the specific challenges at the school and the general challenges of operating top-quality schools
  • Excellent community links
  • Specific skills as needed by/relevant to the school
  • A link to the senior executive team of Ark
  • Staff governors
  • Parent governors

The LGB meets four times a year.

The LGB does not have separate committees but has designated Governors with particular responsibility. 

Contacting the governors

The current Clerk to Governors is Valerie Oldland ( Governors can be contacted through Valerie.  If you are interested in becoming a governor, or have any governance-related queries, please contact Valerie.

Current Governors

Katie Oliver (Chair)

Katie Oliver was formerly Ark’s Director of Operations and now heads up Ark Start, a pilot programme to broaden and extend work in early years education.

Marina Bernard Damiba (Safeguarding Link Governor)

Marina is an award winning transformative education expert, speaker and innovator with 25+ years of experience. She began her career in the US as a Teach For America Corps Member and primary school teacher; then as a public speaker focusing on the role of transformative education in diversity, equity, belonging and inclusion. In 2010, she continued her career in the UK as Assistant Head of Teaching and Learning at Ark King Solomon Academy. From 2012, Marina has divided her focus between raising her daughters and working as a Senior Independent Education Consultant.

Dinah McKenzie (Finance Link Governor)

Dinah has spent her working life first in the City, leaving HSBC Asset Management when her children were small, and then in the voluntary sector, working at New Philanthropy Capital, a consultancy and think tank, since its founding in 2001. With two children now finishing their education, Dinah has left their school's PTA, where she was a long-standing member, but wants to continue working with students and teachers to make a contribution to school life. Skills include research, analysis and consultancy - with 15 years' experience of consulting to charities at NPC - as well as financial analysis and audit. Dinah has been treasurer of a local charity for the past decade, and now would like to be able to contribute to an Ark School.

Mohamed Hassan Sayed (Parent Governor)

Mohamed is the Director of Chemical and sustainable engineering programs at the University of Southampton, an experienced academic with a demonstrated history of working in higher education and industry for 20 years. Mohamed was motivated to join the governance body at Ark Portsmouth Primaries, to help enhance service to the community, engage in children safeguarding and mental and general wellbeing , bridge the gap between primary/secondary elements and tertiary education and to champion sustainability across both the schools at a strategic and an operational level.

Sarah Shreeve (SEND Link Governor)

Sarah trained as a teacher in Portsmouth, training jointly in SEN and primary, before starting her career as a KS1 teacher, progressing to lead KS1 and, at different times taking responsibilities within Maths, Literacy and Computing leadership. Sarah was a member of the Senior Leadership Team at a local primary school for 2 years before moving to work at Teach First, where she now delivers primary initial teacher training across the South Coast. Sarah is completing an MA in Education, and has an interest in developing high quality mentor education and building capacity in schools. Sarah is national lead for mentor development at Teach First and an experienced coach, used to working with both established and new teachers. She has a particular professional expertise in supporting SEN and children demonstrating challenging behaviour. In her free time she enjoys running, baking, reading and volunteering in local community projects.

Evanthia Soukara

Evanthia is a qualified early years teacher. She has a Master of Education and a Master of Business Administration. Evanthia has diverse working experience in childcare, education, social care and business settings both in Greece and U. K. Her passion and main interest is education and learning. Evanthia currently works with adults who have additional needs and lives in Portsmouth with her two children. She is honored to be a governor at Ark Primary Academies and is committed to actively support both the leading team with their strategic decisions and children with their learning.

Rob Wood 

Rob Wood works in cloud computing, is an Honorary Alderman and former Lord Mayor of Portsmouth. He is Vice-Chair of Governors at Ark Charter.As a strong family-oriented person, Rob knows the importance of keeping our young people safe and wishes to ensure they have the best possible opportunity to develop to their full potential. A Portsmouth City Councillor from 2010 to 2022 and Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Children and Education since 2011, Rob was previously the Cabinet Member for Children and Families between 2018 – 20, Children and Education between 2011-14 and Chair of Governance and Audit in 2010. Rob has a vested interest in improving education outcomes, as both grandchildren (and children) attended local authority schools. He has contributed to the LGiU paper on the "Middle-Tier" role in delivering Education and the local authority's role within this and has chaired and spoken at several national seminars on the subject of Education.

Anne Hibberd-Chapman (Executive Principal, Ark Ayrton and Dickens Primary Academies)


Meetings attendance for governors can be found here: Meetings Attendance Primaries LGB 2021-22.pdf

Governor Declarations of Interest can be found here: Declarations-ArkPortsmouthPrimaries.docx

All appointments are made by Ark's Director of Governance.  The term of a governor is three years, except for the Principal, who remains a governor for the duration of their time in post.