I would like to welcome you to the website of Farney Close School.

As the Chair of Governors, I feel privileged to be leading – alongside the Vice-Chair – a dedicated board of governors and directors who bring valuable opinions and expertise in areas including business, education, IT, adolescent counselling, care and safeguarding. Together we oversee the school’s development strategy, aims, objectives and goals following governance, legal and regulatory requirements.

We are all excited to be working closely with Sara Hack, the school’s Principal and members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to drive the school forwards during these exciting – and sometimes challenging – times. We have recently expanded our SLT to include James Mills (Head of Education) & Dawn Lashley (Operations Manager) as well as Sara, Ray Lau (Vice Principal) and Steve de Souza (Head of Care).

As the Chair of Governors, it is important to me that the Board – myself included – are not only holding the SLT and employees of the school to account but also supporting them to ensure that our provision offers a quality service. As part of this process we all make regular visits to the school, not only monitoring our designated areas of responsibility but also taking time to speak with staff members and children and young people to gather their views.

The school is currently facing several challenges including COVID-19, major repairs being undertaken on the main building and extensive damage caused by a direct lightning strike in July 2021. However, there are also many exciting developments such as the new year 5 & 6 primary provision, our opening up to day pupils whilst maintaining our residential provision, a variety of fundraising projects, new technology being implemented to mention just some of our ongoing work.

All of the good work that happens at Farney Close School would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of all of the people who work at the school. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your work and the positive impact you have on the lives of the children and young people that attend our school.

I would also like to thank the parents and carers of our pupils for their support and let you know that if you ever need to make contact, we are all here for you. Finally, I would like to thank the children and young people because without pupils there is no school and without your co-operation, we cannot help you to succeed.

If you would like to contact me, please get in touch via the school.

Carole Johns



Company Management

The board of Directors/Governors is responsible for the overall governance and strategic direction of  the school, developing the school’s aims, objectives and goals in accordance with the governing document, legal and regulatory guidelines.

(Place your mouse over underlined names for more information)

Directors and Governors

  • Carole Johns – Chair with Safeguarding responsibilities. Carole has worked with children and young people in several residential special schools for children with SEMH in a number of roles including Head of Care and as a Family Inclusion & Safeguarding Manager. Carole was elected as Chair of Governors in September 2021 after three years on the board. She continues to be passionate about Child Protection and Safeguarding.
  • Sue DeaneSue Deane first became involved with the School nearly 20 years’ ago as a member of the Employment Team of Farney’s long-standing legal advisers. During that time she advised on all HR related matters. Sue sat as a magistrate in Brighton for over 20 years and gained valuable experience in chairing courts and meetings.
  • Martin Gibrill
  • Jenny BowryJenny was brought up in South Wales and moved to Sussex to study. After graduating, Jenny joined Farney Close in 1975 as a teacher until her retirement in 2016. Jenny states, “this wonderfully stimulating and exciting environment has become a huge part of my life and when I retired I was very pleased to take on the position as a Governor of the school”.
  • Nicki Bartholomew I have a BA (QTS) in English and have taught across the age ranges, I took early retirement from my job as Deputy Head  at a local independent school but really missed teaching and being involved with teachers, pupils and the educational world. Consequently I became a tutor for children who were finding areas of the curriculum and school life a bit of a challenge. This only fills a small amount of time compared to teaching, so when a friend suggested that I might enjoy being a school governor that seemed the be the answer. Farney Close school impressed me with its ethos, inclusivity and broad and varied curriculum and shares many of my own personal teaching philosophies.


  • Mark Bennett
  • Sara Hack – PrincipalI have worked at Farney Close since 1982. Initially I worked on the care team, trained as a Social Worker at the end of the 90s and was promoted to Head of Care. In April 2019 I gained the position of Principal which was previously referred to as the Head. I truly believe in what Farney offers the young people that attend the school. Our ethos of “supporting each young person to become the best possible version of themselves” is embedded into my practice as is ensuring that all young people and staff are Safeguarded whilst in our care.
  • Sharon Radley – Staff Governor
  • Lester Speed – Staff GovernorLester has worked at the School for over 20 years and prior to this he has worked in the Care Profession since leaving school. He is very passionate about his role and is committed to ensuring the schools ethos is followed to allow the young people to become the best versions of themselves. Lester currently works as the Assistant to the Head of Care and was appointed as a Staff Governor in January 2020.

Governor & Director Responsibilities

Area of focus Lead Governors Link Governors
Quality of Education Nicki Bartholomew Jenny Bowry & Martin Gibrill
Behaviour & Attitudes including the Quality of Residential Care Carole Johns Sue Deane
Personal Development & Post 16 Provision Martin Gibrill Jenny Bowry & Nicki Bartholomew
Leadership & Management (including Health & Safety & Safeguarding) Carole Johns
Finance & HR Mark Bennett Sue Deane & All Board Members

National Minimum Standards, Std 20 Independent Visitor: Diane Thackrah