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Ryton Infant and Junior School Federation

Positive, Respectful and Safe

Pen Portraits

Governor Pen Portraits

Mrs Deborah Ashcroft

I have been privileged to have been Executive Head teacher at Ryton Federation since September 2018. Prior to this role, I was head teacher of a school in Gosforth for 9 years. Throughout my career I have loved teaching. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching in Norfolk, Durham, Newcastle and Gateshead. So my experience is certainly wide-ranging! Another side of my role is to visit other schools to evaluate the quality of their education. This can be very interesting!

It is a joy to be part of the lives of your children. I take delight in chatting with children, seeing them take pride in their achievements and we love to share a joke!

In my spare time, I like to watch my teenage daughter thrive, walk my big, bouncy dog, read, serve my community and explore the World.


Mrs Rachel Lawson

I work for the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) as a Policy and Research Officer. My background is Criminal Justice System, I worked for 10 years with Durham Probation Trust and 7 years with Northumbria Probation Trust.

I have lived in Crawcrook and Ryton for the whole of my life, I am a local business owner- M Lawson Removals and I am the volunteer events coordinator for Barmoor fireworks and part of the team looking to expand the free events available to our community.


Mr Jeff Austen 

I am currently a co-opted Governor at Ryton Infant and Junior School Federation, and have been since February 2019. I am a father to twin girls Isobel and Katherine who are currently in Year 5 at Ryton Federation. 

I come mainly from a catering and hospitality background, having spent over 20 years in the industry. I am very customer service driven and enthusiastic, skills which I believe are good to have on board. I am also an active member of the PTA, Friends of Ryton School. 

I will always strive to make sure that every child in Ryton Federation gets the best education and learning experience that we can offer. 


PC Andrew Hyde 

I am  PC 473 Andrew Hyde from Northumbria Police’s and  was part of the Outer West Neighbourhood Policing Team,  with responsibility for Ryton, Stella, Crookhill, Crawcrook, & Greenside.

I have over 15 years policing experience, all of which has been in the Gateshead area and previously worked as a 24/7 response officer covering the Outer West Area before becoming a Neighbourhood Beat Manager.

I am an ex pupil of Ryton Federation having attended both Ryton Infant & Junior Schools between 1988 – 1996 and have maintained strong links to the school & the local community since I left Ryton Comprehensive School (Now Thorp Academy) in 2003. 

My responsibilities are Pupil Premium, PE Sport Premium, and Safeguarding.  


Mr Mayang Patel

I am Mayang Patel, father to  Ameya  who is a student at Ryton and former pupils Eashan and Rivan. We have made Ryton our home for over 10 years and we cannot think of a better place to bring our kids up. I am privileged to represent the Ryton Federation as a parent governor. We have been associated with Ryton Federation School for over 7 years now since Eashan started in reception. The school is more than just a foundation for our children to get the best start in their lives. The school is the focal point in Ryton and it is the one thing which brings all local  families together for a common purpose. We have got to know some wonderful people in this time, children, families and staff alike. There is a real community spirit about the place which makes it something special.

My job working alongside the NHS in delivering the best patient outcomes in a challenging financial and target driven environment  is not too different to the education system. I believe with this experience I will add value to the ongoing governance and development of our school we can continue to be proud of. Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my partner Vicki and the kids, eating out, listening to music, travelling and watching movies. I also coach Rivan’s  Football Team which takes up plenty of time.


Mrs Ashleigh McNeill

I am Ashleigh McNeill, Mum to Travis and Tommy McNeill who attend the Federation.

I have lived in Ryton for most of my life and also attended all of Ryton Schools throughout my education years.

I am proud to be part of the Ryton Community and I’m well aware of many of the children and families who also attend the schools.

I have spent all of my working career in Children's services for Gateshead Council, mainly working within the Children’s Homes,

and my current post is Registered Manager. Within this I am responsible for providing a high level of care and support for some of our most vulnerable Children and Young People with a wide variety of needs, including Looked After Children and Children with Disabilities.

I have lots of current knowledge and experience around SEND and this is a particular area I have an interest in.

Children’s Homes are highly scrutinised by Ofsted with twice yearly unannounced inspections, so I have lots of knowledge and experience in managing quality assurance, working within inspection frameworks and ensuring that children and young people are being supporting to achieve positive outcomes and reach their full potential. I also have responsibilities for managing the Health and Safety of the homes, budget monitoring and ensuring financial viability and manage staff teams. This equips me with lots of transferable knowledge and skills to support the federation and I hope to support in any way I can to ensure our children and young people thrive.


Reverend Alison Stewart-Smith

I was born and raised in Northumberland and worked in various roles in education before training to become a priest in the Church of England. I became the priest-in-charge of the parishes of Ryton and Winlaton in February 2020 and was co-opted onto the governing body of Ryton Federation in June 2020. Having worked variously as a Modern Languages teacher, a teaching assistant and in school administration, I am passionate about education and the opportunities it gives to all children. I am looking forward to becoming part of the school community as a governor and getting to know and supporting our wonderful staff and students.

I am married to Richard who works in IT and sound engineering. In my spare time I am a keen musician and I enjoy playing in a ceilidh band and singing, I love dancing and my two cats, and I spend most of my time off trying to subdue the overgrown Rectory garden!


Mrs Lucy Saint

I joined Ryton Federation as a co-opted Governor in July 2022. I am a qualified accountant currently working for an educational charity. I hope my financial expertise will be beneficial in providing knowledge, challenge and support in budget setting and monitoring. I am really looking forward to getting to know the fabulous staff and students at the school! I'm born and bred in Gateshead but love to travel and spent time living in New Zealand. I have a dog called Ned who I enjoy exploring new places with on a weekend


Mrs Xanthe Horne

I have lived in Ryton since 1997 and love being part of the community. I was part of the teaching staff of Ryton Junior School, for 25 years, until July 2015 and for the past seven years taught at St Mary & St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary School, in Blaydon, teaching roles I both loved. From an early age, I always knew I wanted to teach and come from a teaching background. My Mum was a primary school teacher as were her two sisters. Although I have recently retired, I have loved my career in teaching, often rewarding and never a dull moment! By becoming a curriculum governor, at Ryton Federation, I hope to be able to support the school, children and staff. The most precious thing in my life is my family: my two, grown- up sons, my beautiful daughter in law, my lovely Mum, forever supportive husband and not forgetting my gorgeous ‘grand-dog’ , Mabel!

In my spare time, I make slate and resin coasters and placemats- which my husband and I sell on a stall at Tynemouth market, every weekend. Also, I love meeting friends for meals out and walking  Mabel 🐾. 


Mrs Charlotte March

I am a mum of three -  Olivia in year 1, Leo in Nursery and Ted who is 6 months old. At 18 I came to the North East from Lincolnshire to complete my dance training at Dance City in Newcastle. I worked as a performer before deciding to work in Education and moved to London to train at the Royal Academy of Dance on their PGCE programme. This was an amazing start to my teaching career working in thriving performing arts departments alongside professional dancers, choreographers, and a diverse groups of amazing young people. I currently teach performing arts and PE in a Northumberland secondary school. I am delighted to be able to contribute to Ryton Federation, as parent governor, supporting our children at the start of their journey of lifelong learning.