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Meet the Governors

The Governors have overall responsibility for the school and are representative of the community in which it is based. They have a responsibility to uphold the Catholic ethos of the school, with additional responsibilities for the curriculum, for premises and finance. Our Foundation Governors are appointed by the La Sainte Union Sisters; the Local Education Authority nominate a representative, and the remaining Governors are elected by the teaching staff and parents. The Head of School is also a Governor. They are an active and dedicated group whose wisdom, guidance and hard work are given voluntarily throughout the year for the benefit of our children.




Foundation Governors (7)

Ms. F. Chissim (Chairperson)

  • Appointed Nov 2014 to Nov 2018
  • Member of Resources Committee and Chair of Pay Committee
  • Member of the Partnership Board 
  • Safeguarding Link Governor and Link Governor for Leadership & Management

Mr. P. O’Hanlon

  • Appointed
  • RE/SMSC Link Governor

Mrs P. Johnson

  • Appointed
  • Member of Resources Committee
  • Link Governor for Standards

Mrs J Iwobi

  • Appointed
  • Chair of Resources Committee and member of Pay Committee
  • Link Governor for Finances and Health &Safety

Mr B D'Souza - appointment to be confirmed 


Mrs L Roche - appointment to be confirmed




Parent Governors

Mrs. S. Harris (Vice-Chairperson)

  • Appointed
  • SEND Link Governor
  • Member of the Partnership Board
  • Member of the Pay Committee 



LA Governor



Staff Governor:

Mrs Andrea Osborne

  • Appointed



  • Mr C Birtles (Executive Head Teacher)
  • Mrs H Westrop (Assistant Head Teacher)


Associate Governor

  • Ms Mercy Wasike (with full voting rights)


Clerk to Governors:

  • Mr Paul Swinden


To find out more about the Governors, please read their biographies:


Frankie Chissim – Foundation Governor; Chairperson


I am privileged to be the elected Chair of Governors at Holy Cross. Previously, I was Chair of Governors at a school in Redbridge (for 4 years) and served as a Community Governor for 9 years. My 2 children currently attend Trinity Catholic High School in Redbridge and I am a resident of the Borough.
I work full time as an education consultant, with specialisms in social cohesion, child-led development, global citizenship and SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural) aspects of learning. I have a degree in International Development and spent my early career working for various Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Africa and London. Much of my expertise and experience is in working with vulnerable children.  Over the past 13 years I have become increasingly involved in supporting leadership teams in schools, particular in the area of school governance. A few years ago I worked for Thurrock, supporting governing bodies, children's centres and schools in various capacities.
I am also a Local Authority Governor at Ilford County High School, a boys' grammar school in Redbridge.


I am the Safeguarding Link Governor at Holy Cross and I try to conduct regular monitoring visits each term. I meet with the Head of School regularly to discuss standards and pupil outcomes. 

Sonia Harris – Parent Governor; Vice-Chairperson


I was nominated as a parent governor for Holy Cross in 2012 when my eldest son was in Reception and re-elected in 2016.
My husband and I have 3 sons and have been married for 12 years. Our eldest son is now in year 6, our middle son is in year 4 and our youngest son is in Year 2. 
I am a director of a day nursery and pre-school in London and I have experience of working with young people aged 16-18 years old living in difficult circumstances. Both my husband and I have a passion to see young people develop and aspire to be respectful, successful adults.
I was born and brought up in East London and have lived in Essex since 2005.
When I am not working or looking after my family, I enjoy shopping, visiting friends and turning my hand to creative projects.
As a governor I monitor the Inclusion aspects of the Strategic Plan.


Paul O’Hanlon- Foundation Governor


I joined the governing body at Holy Cross as a foundation governor in 2012. I am passionate about Catholic education and fully support the mission of the school to “address both the academic and spiritual needs of the children in our care, and provide them with the opportunities necessary to develop all aspects of their personality.”
I have been Head of Religious Education at Grays Convent High School since 2003 and before that I was Deputy Head of Years 8 & 9 at the La Sainte Union Catholic Secondary School in London. I am married and have two children.
At Holy Cross, I am the Link Governor for R.E. and SMSC. My background in education helps me to understand what the school does well and what needs improving. Holy Cross is a school with both the ambition and capacity to achieve highly, and I am proud to serve on its governing body.


Mrs Penny Johnson-Foundation Governor

My name is Penny Johnson and I am delighted to have been appointed to the Governing body at Holy Cross this December 2016. As an ex-pupil I have come a long way since then, and hope that my experiences will help support the school and the governing body. I am really pleased that the school is doing so well, and hope to be a part of its success in the future, as it has been part of mine.

 I am the Head teacher of Grays Convent, which is one of the five La Sainte Union Schools in England, and therefore a sister school to Holy Cross.  I live close to my school in Grays, and although I have lived and worked away from the area for most of my working life in East London, I know this area very well.  I have four children and I hope that my experiences in education as well as a parent will be of value to the school, and help me to support Holy Cross in continuing to deliver an excellent standard of education.

 I have an MBA (International) with a focus on leadership, as well as many other leadership qualifications. I am an English teacher of many years, and still teach to this day. I am an active parishioner of St Thomas of Canterbury where I am an extraordinary minister and also deliver children’s liturgy.

Just like Holy Cross’s mission statement, I hope to ‘give my best in all things’.


Jennifer Iwobi-Foundation Governor

I am married with two children, my youngest is currently at Holy Cross Catholic Primary School, and my son has just gone into Year 7 at Campion

My relationship with the school has been a lengthy one as several of my nephews and nieces have passed through this school.


I have a degree in psychology and have worked in the Civil Service since 1998 when I came back to England.  I worked for Department of Work and Pensions for 16 years in various supervisory roles, managing staff and performance. I also worked as a Disability Employment Adviser in which I attained my British Sign Language Level 3 and Advice and Guidance Level 3

I currently work for HMRC as a Policy Adviser in Transport Taxes.


I am very passionate about Catholic education, being raised a Catholic myself and experiencing first hand the moral and spiritual values that are manifest in Catholic schools. I feel privileged for the opportunity to contribute towards the continued development and progress of Holy Cross Primary School.


In my spare time I enjoy baking, reading, watching movies and listening to Music. I am also a member of the Westminster Charismatic Praise and Worship Group since 2000.


Ciara Manning - Head of School

Having being born in Co Antrim, N. Ireland, I fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming a teacher, training at St Mary’s University College, Belfast, where I completed a Bachelor of Education Honours Degree, with Irish as my main subject. I moved to England in 1998 after securing my first teaching post in Bethnal Green, East London, in a Catholic Junior school. The school amalgamated with an infant school in 2001 and I became part of the senior leadership team of the new primary school, being responsible for Inclusion. I worked there for 14 years, and taught most year groups. In 2006 I became the Year 6 teacher and in 2007 I became the Acting Deputy Head teacher, posts which I held until I left in 2012. It was then that my journey with Holy Cross began, having being appointed as the Year 5 teacher in September 2012. The following year I was appointed the KS2 Phase leader and in 2016 I job shared the role of Deputy Head teacher. In September 2017 I was appointed as Head of School at Holy Cross, a role which is an honour and a privilege. I hope to continue to see the school through its journey of improvement, with the core values of respect, honesty forgiveness, tolerance and justice underpinning all that I do.


Andrea Osborne-Staff Governor

My name is Andrea Osborne and I was elected as Staff Governor during the Autumn Term 2016. I work as Office Manager at the school and my role is a very challenging one; no two days are ever the same!


I am very proud to have worked at Holy Cross Catholic Primary School since 2006. I have seen the school successfully develop, culminating in our long awaited and deserving recognition from Ofsted!


I have had a long term involvement with the school as both of my daughters attended Holy Cross. My youngest daughter left Holy Cross in 2008. They received a solid grounding to their education here. Both have very fond and happy memories of their educational years at this school.


Prior to working at Holy Cross, I worked for Social Services, facilitating the running of day centres across the borough. This was a very challenging, but rewarding role. I also spent many years as a Youth Worker for Essex County Council and in a voluntary capacity at Holy Cross Church. When my youngest daughter was a toddler, along with a couple of other parents, I set up ‘Little Angels’, parent and toddler group at Holy Cross Church. This, like the Youth Club, was very successful! During both my daughters’ time at the school, I was an active member of the PTA.


I am fully committed in extending my continued support as Staff Governor by supporting the on-going improvements and successes of Holy Cross School, where all of our children should have the opportunity to access the best quality education to achieve their full potential in a safe, supportive and happy environment.


Mercy Wasike (MA, Bsc, RN, BEd, FHEA) - Associate Governor

I am a qualified teacher and an adult nurse. Two years ago I completed a Masters in Clinical Education at IOE- University of London. Upon completion of my MA I gained fellowship into The Academy for Higher Education. I am currently working at North East London Foundation Trust as a Practice Experience Facilitation Manager. This role allows me to combine my passion for empowering others through education with the privilege of being a nurse. My skill set includes coaching, mentoring, negotiating and supporting work based learning to enable others learn through and for the workplace. I primarily work with student nurses and newly qualified nurses to help them maximise the opportunities available for learning within the clinical setting.
I was appointed by the L.S.U as a Foundation Governor of Holy Cross in November 2013 and stepped down from this in 2016 but remain as an Associate. 


Chris Birtles: Executive Headteacher (Observer)

Having studied at St Mary’s College, Twickenham I qualified as a teacher in 1985. Initially, I taught in a Secondary school in Surrey before moving to Havering to teach in a Catholic Primary school. In total, I have worked in seven different schools in five different Local Authorities. I was appointed to my first Headteacher post in January 1996 and have led and managed schools both large and small.

I was recently appointed as the Executive Headteacher of the three school partnership between Holy Cross, St Joseph’s, Stanford Le Hope and St Thomas of Canterbury, Grays. I am a Local Leader of Education for the DfE and work as an inspector for OFSTED. I also work for the Brentwood Diocesan Education Department supporting Catholic schools and governors.

My wife is also a Catholic Primary School Headteacher and my eldest daughter teaches in a Catholic Primary school.