Meet the Governors

Thowheetha Shaah – Chair of Governors Thowheetha Shaah

Portfolio – Ethos, Vision, Strategy (Lead)

I am a Consultant Solicitor and specialise in Family Law.  I deal with all issues arising from the breakdown of a family relationship, in particular, financial settlements and child related issues. I am also a qualified Mediator and assist couples in finding a resolution which suits them and sits within the legal framework, as well as allowing them and their children to move forward with minimum disruption and expense.

I train trainee & qualified Mediators for National Family Mediation and I do pro bono work by advising at the Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau.  I have been a Trustee of various charities in the past and President and Treasurer of my local Law Society. I have been a school governor at Dysart since 2010.


Leigh Edser – Principal Leigh Edser

I began my career in special needs approximately 20 years ago as a Health Care assistant working with adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. After a couple of years working rather strange shift patterns, I moved onto an LSA role at Dysart School. The school, at this time, was situated on the old site in Ham. It was during this time that my passion for ensuring pupils with SEN have access to a high quality education that enables them to be the best they can be, was ignited.

After working at Dysart for approximately 2 years I started my teacher training course at Kingston University, whilst working part time as a family support worker providing after school and holiday support for several children with SEN. After my training I secured my first teaching post at a Special Needs school in Farnborough, Hampshire before moving back to Dysart in 2005 as a class teacher (by this time Dysart was on its current site). The rest of my career to date has been here at Dysart. During this time I have been honoured to see many children flourish, grow and develop into amazing young adults, whom we are all very proud of. I am extremely thankful to our wonderful families for the support they provide the school and for allowing us to be such a large part of theirs and their children’s lives.


Jackie Van West – Vice Chair of Governors Jacqui van west

Portfolio – Health & Safety, Child Protection and Safeguarding (Lead)

I have 19 years’ experience working with children and adults with learning difficulties/disabilities. I began teaching at Orchard Hill College in 2007 and it was here that I carried out my research study to gain my Master of Arts Professional Study in Education, which I completed in 2010.I currently hold the position of Director of Learning Support Services at Orchard Hill College and Academy Trust.


Tony Williams – Governor 

Portfolio – Finance & Resources (Lead)                                                       

I am passionate about making a difference to the lives of children and being a Governor at Dysart has given me the chance to make that difference.  I feel privileged and proud that I have been given this opportunity.

In respect of my school experience, I am also a Governor at Hillcross School (encouraged by my eldest grandson who is a pupil there), have been a Board Trustee for the Radius Trust (managing three schools focussed on special educational needs) and was Deputy Chair of Governors at Malden Manor my children’s primary school.

My background and work experience are a mixture of public, private and not for profit sectors. I have worked as the Director of HR Services in the Home Office, a consultant for Insight HR Consultancy and the Executive Director of People at the Orbit Group Housing Association. I now run my own consultancy Tony Williams Associates which focuses on transforming people and organisations. I have also set up Project4Africa which raises funds to Make a difference to the lives of children (we have built a school and maternity unit in Malawi).

What has always driven me is an interest in people and making a difference to their lives. My key skills focus on coaching and mentoring, strategic planning, transforming organisations and people engagement.

In my Governor’s role at Dysart I am the lead for finance and resources.

Patrick Mazzotta – Parent Governor 

Portfolio – 

Picture and statement to follow.

Daniel Masillamani – Parent Governor 

Portfolio – 

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Sadie Cawood- Governor 

Portfolio – Teaching & Learning (Lead)       

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You are rightly proud of your work around pupil wellbeing, and ensuring pupils are ready for learning.  This has enabled you to establish a calm and purposeful learning environment for pupils with considerable needs.

Ofsted 2018

Latest News

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Our Outreach programme got off to a flying start this term with a workshop for colleagues who teach in mainstream schools on 12th January. Steph Cruse, Assistant Principal, who leads the Outreach Programme, said: “What an amazing turn out for …

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Congratulations to our winners for the Orchard Hill Academy Trust Christmas Card Competition. William’s design was chosen as the winner of the Primary School entries by the independent judge. His design will feature on the official OHCAT Christmas card this …

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