Academies are schools funded by the government with the freedom to govern independently – but all are accountable to the Secretary of State for Education. To share resources and best practice, many are part of multi-academy trusts – a network of schools under one legal body.
Ark Castledown, Ark Blacklands and Ark Little Ridge are part of Ark – a leading education charity and one of the country’s top-performing academy operators. Ark is non-denominational and does not make any profit from running its schools.
Ark’s relationship with the Secretary of State is set out in the master funding agreement. There are also supplemental funding agreements for each individual school in the network, including Ark Castledown.
Every school in the Ark network is the legal responsibility of the Ark Schools Board. This board focuses on statutory duties and delegates most day-to-day responsibilities to each school’s individual Local Governing Body (LGB). This means that Ark Castledown's governors are able to concentrate on the things that really matter – educational strategy, school outcomes and aspiration.
The Ark Schools Articles of Association, Master Funding Agreement and Accountabilities Framework can be found on the Ark Schools website here.

Our local governing body

In July 2018 Ark Castledown joined the Ark Hastings Primary Academies LGB (also including Ark Blacklands and Ark Little Ridge). This means that the schools are provided with opportunities to work closely with each other, enabling more effective school to school support and bringing the benefits of governor skills to all three schools. Ark Hastings Primary Academies LGB is made up as follows:-

  • 6 to 10 members appointed by Ark, to include the chair - usually people with a local connection or interest who are committed to supporting educational opportunity in the area, and may include up to two parental Governors.
  • Ark Blacklands, Ark Castledown and Ark Little Ridge Executive Principal.

Ark aims to create a balanced group that will have the right skills, connections and dynamic for the LGB to work well and support the school in achieving exceptional performance:

  • Good insight into the specific challenges at the school and the general challenges of operating top-quality schools
  • Excellent community links
  • Specific skills as needed by/relevant to the school
  • A link to the senior executive team of Ark

The LGB meets four times a year.


Becoming a Governor or Contacting the Governors

The Regional Governance Officer is Charles Shaw ( If you are interested in becoming a Governor or have any governance related queries please contact Charles.

Current governors

Micky Sandall (Chair, Finance Link Governor)
I am now retired having joined Ark in March 2009 as Chief Finance Officer of the international charity that shares a Head Office with Ark Schools, moving into the role of Director of Governance in 2017. Prior to this I was Finance Director of the Royal Society of Medicine. Originally qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen, I worked in Malawi, East Africa, for over three years. I have nearly 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and was Finance Director for the Caribbean and Middle East regions of Cable and Wireless. I have three adult children, live near Tunbridge Wells and have had a long association with the Hastings area as my parents and grandparents have lived in and around the town.
Natasha Tewkesbury (Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Link Governor)

I live in Hastings and have two daughters, both of whom are at Ark Blacklands Academy. I work for Hastings Borough Council as a Senior HR Partner, and have over 15 years’ experience as a Human Resources professional in the public sector. I have a keen interest in the area and the primary academies, and believe that as a governor who offers both support and challenge, I can aid the improvement and development of the academies.

Amie Barr (Teaching & Learning and Outcomes Link Governor)

Amie is Head of Assessment at Ark. Prior to this Amie was Network Vice-Principal for Mathematics at Ark, leading a School Improvement Fund project across 12 schools in Hastings to improve the quality of teaching and learning of mathematics in Key Stages 2 and 3. Before joining Ark she worked in a variety of Maths related roles for Harris Academies as well as being a Maths Teacher and Head of Post-16 Maths at Lord Williams School in Thame. Amie has a first degree in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Bristol and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Oxford University.


Chris Connor (Ark Link Governor)

I am passionate about both education and Hastings. I have lived in Hastings all my life and have taught in the areaa since 2006. I am Vice Prinipal at Ark Alexandra and a member of the school's Senior Leadership team. Education plays a vital role in soccial mobility and the Ark Primaries are the starting point for many journeys.
Maureen Sheridan

All my adult life I worked in training and development. As well as being the mother to five boys, I am now a grandmother and great grandmother. I am Legal guardian of two boys and a girl who are aged between twelve and fifteen.

I believe passionately in the potential of schools to transform the lives of children and young people, and that every child deserves the best possible education. I am committed and feel strongly about improving the quality of education for our children and to support inclusive education for all members of the school community. I have the willingness to contribute my skills, knowledge, and experience to help the schools provide the best education for all members of the school community and to improving standards in the school.


Holly Woods

I have taught in a special needs school in Hastings for the last 15 years. As part of my role, I work closely with many mainstream schools across the county to ensure appropriate provision is required for children with behavioural difficulties or a diagnosed SEN. I have 3 children who all have been educated in Ark schools, primary and secondary. I have witnessed and been part of the change to an academy and understands the strengths and areas of development needed in his process.




Mark Rankin (Executive Principal)

Mark is a Governor on the Ark Hastings Primary Academies LGB by virtue of his role as Executive Principal of Little Ridge Academy and Ark Castledown Academy


Natalie Rankin (Blacklands' Principal)

Natalie is a Governor on the Ark Hastings Primary Academies LGB by virtue of her role as Principal of Ark Blacklands Academy

Sarah Kowitz (Founding Partner & Associate)

Sarah is a Founding Partner and although she does not attend meetings she continues to support Hastings Primaries as an Associate. She moved with her family to Hastings from New York in 2004 and has been involved with a number of community issues ever since. Born and educated in London, she graduated from the faculty of English and American Studies at the University of East Anglia in 1984 and then trained as a reporter at the Kent and Sussex Courier. She later worked in Hong Kong as the Education Editor of the Hong Kong Standard before becoming a freelance writer and photographer based in Kuala Lumpur. She cares deeply about the importance of primary education and believes passionately in the educational and therapeutic qualities of the natural environment.


All appointments are made by the Governance Director for Ark. The term of a governor is three years, except for the Executive Principal and Principal who remain a governor for the duration of their time in post.

The Register of Attendance for 2020/21 can be found here:  PDF iconArk Hastings Primaries LGB Attendance 2020-21.pdf

The Declarations of Interest can be found here:  Ark Hastings Primaries LGB Governor DoI 2020-21