Governors ~ Who's who?

Teresa Cussen - Vice-Chair of Governors

I have been a Foundation Governor at St. Joseph's since September 2013. I was elected Chair at the end of March 2016 having previously been one of two vice chairs with James Kelly. We chair alternate Governing Board meetings which take place monthly, help plan the priorities for the school and the agenda for the meetings.  In September 2020 I became the vice-chair.


Governors are responsible for ensuring the School's clarity of vision , ethos and strategic direction; supporting the Head but at the same time  holding him to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils  and overseeing the financial performance of the school making sure its money is well spent. At St Joseph's, we are committed to ensuring every pupil is able to achieve the best they can.


I was previously a parent governor when my three children who are now in their 20s, were at primary school. I was born and brought up in Plymouth attending Notre Dame High School. I have a strong sense of connection with St.  Joseph's which my mother and her brother and sister all attended a very long time ago.


I have worked as a solicitor for most of my working life specialising in family law, dealing with relationship breakdown and arrangements for children. I hope that I will be able to bring all the listening, negotiating and management skills which I have developed throughout my career to the governing board.  



Nikki Hirst - Parent Governor

I became parent governor in January 2018. As a teacher of computing and business, I already have an involvement in secondary education.  However, it is now exciting to embark on supporting and understanding the primary sector and even better, in a school that has become so important to my family.

Although I am not Roman Catholic, I am a practicing Anglo Catholic and value the christian ethos that St Joseph’s represents .  I am proud to be joining the governing board at St Joseph’s.  I am always impressed by the considerate and caring nature of the St Joseph’s community: governors, students and staff.

I enjoy working with young people and try to help out where I can, I regularly volunteer and support a local junior choir.   I have been teaching in Plymouth at Stoke Damerel Community College since 2004 and recently moved to Tor Bridge High.  Before teaching I had a career in Marketing in London working for Thomas Cook, Ealing Council and the BBC. Since having children and as well as teaching, I have been working part-time as a marketing consultant, helping small businesses to get up and running

If you want to catch up with me after school, I collect my children on a Tuesday and Friday and am more than happy to speak to parents at this time.

James Kelly - Chair of Governors

I am Michael James Kelly and I became the Chair of governors for St Joseph’s in September 2020 having previously been the vice-chair. I was invited to be a foundation governor in September 2013 and have enjoyed being part of the school community since then. At present I am the link governor for Health & Safety.

I am married to Fran (who works at St Joseph’s) and we have three sons who all attended Catholic schools within Plymouth.


I left the Royal Navy in 2015 after 32 years as a Weapons Engineer and am now employed as a Community Rugby Coach for the Royal Navy Rugby Union - a constituent body of the Rugby Football Union. I am lucky to be able to combine my great passion of rugby with my job. When not on the side of a rugby pitch I enjoy the beach or the moors or a good book.


If you need to contact me as the chair of governors please address correspondence to James Kelly, Chair of Governors, St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Chapel St, Devonport, Plymouth PL1 4DJ.

Karen Pilkington - Parent Governor
Whilst this month was my first ever School Governors' meeting (what an eye opener that was - such a lot of great work done by teachers on top of actually teaching!), I have a fair bit of experience in having children as well as running a small family business without collapsing from nervous exhaustion!
We have seven children ranging in age from 32 to nearly 6, with our youngest in Year One in St Joseph's.
Two of our other children were also pupils here - completely different personalities, so my husband and I are well aware that each child is an individual.
I am convinced that the ethos of St Joseph's is designed to support each child, and the staff go to extraordinary lengths to facilitate this within the best interests of the whole school, and I have certainly experienced that for my children.
I home-schooled some of our children for 10 years, and four of them have reached adulthood intact, one gaining a masters degree at Oxford, one working in a support team for autistic children, one in the army, and one managing an estate agent - again all really individual personalities.
I hope to use this experience along with experience in keeping a business afloat to the best use possible making sure that parents and their children have a good experience at St Joseph's, loving Jesus, loving learning and loving  life.