Governor Profiles

Howard Morris

Howard Morris - Chair of Governors & Member

Howard is a founding Member of the Trust and has been Chair of Governors since the school opened in 2012. As a chartered surveyor with over 25 years in the property industry, Howard has been responsible for the concept, implementation and delivery of some of the most successful development projects in the UK. His career has ranged from providing major retail and leisure developments during the 1990's, to high profile major mixed use regeneration schemes in more recent years. Howard has held a number of senior posts at director level within a number of companies including Wilson Connolly plc. (now Taylor Wimpey plc.), London Merchant Securities plc, and Muse Developments, the mixed use regeneration subsidiary of Morgan Sindall plc.

In more recent years Howard has acted as property consultant advising private and public sector land owners on major mixed-use developments, that often include education facilities including provision of new Free Schools.

Howard has previously completed the National College for Teaching and Leadership Governance Training Programme. Howard is married with a daughter and lives in Cobham, Surrey with keen interests outside work, including sailing, skiing and cycling.

Michaela Khatib

Michaela Khatib - Ex Officio Governor as Executive Head & Founder

Having graduated from Homerton College, Cambridge University with a degree in Education and Music. Michaela has gained over 25 years teaching and education management experience, primarily in independent schools. She has held a number of posts of responsibility, including Director of Music and Head of House in a high-achieving London prep school. Michaela worked as a Partnerships and Outreach Education Manager at the world-famous Yehudi Menuhin School before producing the Education Plan and Vision for Cobham Free School as one of the original proposers. Having passed the rigorous DfE Future Leaders Assessment she was selected to lead the Primary School as Principal Designate in September 2012, and following a second successful bid to the government to open a senior department, was appointed Executive Head of the all-through school in 2014. Michaela has taken a central role on the delivery and establishment of Cobham Free School as part of the project steering group. She is also a member of the advisory council for Parents and Teachers for Excellence, a team of educationalists campaigning to raise standards nationally.

Rafil Khatib - Founding Member, Company Secretary & Governor

Having graduated from Cambridge University with an MA in Engineering, Rafil's early career was in the oil and gas industry, before he moved into telecommunications, where for the last 23 years he has held a variety of commercial, strategic and cost/margin management roles. His career has spanned a number of blue chip organisations, including BP, BT, Cable & Wireless, Centrica, Carphone Warehouse, Go-Ahead/Govia group, TfL and Virgin Media. Rafil also has significant experience of establishing start-up companies .

Now working as an experienced interim programme director and telecommunications consultant, his most recent assignments include delivering key elements of the launch of Wi-Fi on the London Underground in time for the 2012 Olympics and establishing a programme to enable the roll-out of Wi-Fi on 1000 trains for 2 rail operators in UK.

Rafil lives in Cobham with his wife and two children. He is an accomplished violinist with a passion for classical music.

Julia Rangasamy

Julia Rangasamy - Founding Member & Deputy Chair of Governors

Since graduating from University College London with a Bsc Econ (Hons) in Economics and Economic History, Julia has spent much of her career working for the Bank of England, including roles in banking regulation and financial risk management. She also spent a period of time working in the Seychelles as Corporate Treasurer for Air Seychelles and more recently was seconded to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards as a committee specialist.

Julia enjoys singing and is a member of The London Oratory School Choral Society.

Paul Merlino - Risk Governor

With over 28 years of experience in the finance industry specialising in insurance, Paul has designed and implemented the risk management and insurance programmes of numerous Global 100 organisations. He has held senior positions in all three of the major insurance brokers, Marsh, Aon and currently Willis, where he has successfully led operations in the UK, US and Russia. Paul is a Managing Director and a member of the Willis Partners Council. He is viewed as an expert in the insurance industry for Property, Casualty and Employee Benefits, and has been published in the Insurance Times, Business Insurance and National Underwriter.

Paul completed a Master’s Degree in International Management at Thunderbird University, Phoenix, and studied at the Institute of International Studies and Training (MITI) in Fujinomiya, Japan. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College, St Petersburg, Florida, and undertook advanced business training at INSEAD, France. Paul holds a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation (CPCU).

He is an avid collector of art and antiques, and enjoys hiking, cycling and fishing.

Miles Unwin

Miles Unwin - Admissions and Appeals Governor

Miles and his family live in leafy SW18 and has strong connections with Cobham through his position as a partner with Mundays LLP whose offices lie immediately across the Portsmouth Road from the School and his involvement with various local organisations including Cobham RFC.

Having graduated from Queens University, Belfast in 1975, Miles qualified as a solicitor in 1980 and has spent his working life as a lawyer in public service, commerce and industry and latterly in private practice. He has been with Mundays since 1995. He specialises in property work with an emphasis on commercial real estate, acting for national, international and local clients.

Miles is married with two sons, both of whom were educated at Tiffin School, Kingston and a daughter who is in Year 12 at Putney High School. Outside of work, he participates in as many sports as his body still allows, remaining a keen follower and collector of “popular” music and has recently taken up singing with the Putney Parents Choir.

Talib Mandan - Staff Governor (Head of Senior)

Talib has a degree in Sociology with Philosophy and an MA in Educational Leadership and School Improvement from Manchester University, in addition to a PGCE from Homerton College, Cambridge. Since joining CFS he has successfully completed the National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership at the Institute of Education and is now studying for the National Professional Qualification in Headship.

Talib has over 14 years of successful teaching and leadership experience in both the state and private sector. In his early career, he taught in a large, high-performing comprehensive school in Cheshire, leading the Religious Studies and Sociology Department, and taking responsibility for Key Stage 4 Curriculum Design, and Teaching and Learning. He moved to the Independent British School in Manila, Philippines in 2010, where he undertook the role of Assistant Headteacher, leading Key Stage 3.

Talib joined CFS in January 2014, in the pre-opening phase of the senior department, and has worked as a member of the senior leadership team, to set in place the strategies and processes to deliver the vision for the school.

Gill Rolfe

Gill Rolfe - Staff Governor (Head of Junior)

Gill has over 24 years experience in both the private and state sector, undertaking roles as a teacher, senior leader, lecturer, governor and education advisor over the course of her career. Originally from the Natal Drakensberg, South Africa, Gill completed a Nursery Foundation Teaching Diploma through the London Montessori Centre before gaining a Bachelor’s degree in English, Education and Psychology and a postgraduate degree in Psychology from the University of South Africa.

Gill has gained her UK Qualified Teacher Status through London University and a number of Masters Credits through Brunel University. She trained as a facilitator for the Middle Leadership Development Programme through the National College of School Leadership and is currently studying for the National Professional Qualification in Headship.

Gill joined CFS as Head of Junior in January 2016, just two terms before the school's first ever Key Stage 2 SATS examinations. She achieved impressive results in a very short space of time and, as a member of the senior leadership team, is now looking forward to embedding strategies for the continued success of CFS over the forthcoming years.

Martyn McCarthy - Parent Governor (Senior Department)

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Pritesh Shah - Parent Governor (Junior Department) & Responsible Officer

Having graduated from the University of Warwick with an MENG in Civil Engineering, Pritesh’s career for the past 19 years has been working as a Management Consultant. Specialising in the areas of Procurement and Programme delivery, Pritesh has worked for a number of global organisations delivering large-scale programmes. Major clients have included American Express, BP, McLaren and Sony.

Pritesh lives in Weybridge with his wife and two daughters who are both in the Junior school at CFS. He is a keen cyclist and took part in a bike ride across the USA in August 2013 with some of the other parents from CFS to raise funds for the Friends of Cobham Free School (see

Clare Constant - Education and Safeguarding Governor

Clare is an experienced, enthusiastic, educationalist, who, for over twenty one years, has been a best-selling author of English resources. As an Outstanding practitioner, experienced in teaching the full ability range from KS3-5 in urban secondary schools Clare has been consistently commissioned by leading education publishers and exam boards to produce resources in response to government policy changes, national education initiatives, and specification, curriculum and pedagogical developments. In 2014 Clare was appointed as an OFQUAL External Expert for English.

Before becoming a freelance Education consultant, Clare spent four years working as Director of Teaching and Learning in a mixed ability, CRESTED, independent school.

She is the mother of two girls and enjoys baking cakes, running (to offset the cakes!), belonging to a film club and looking after the family house rabbit Blu.

Ian Smith

Ian Smith - Governor

Ian joined Surbiton High School in September 2008. He is a member of the Executive Leadership Team and Vice Principal, with strategic responsibility for pupil enterprise, leadership and community (House system, Charitable endeavour & School Councils). He previously had oversight for Pastoral care and Staff development, coordinating the ISI inspection of May, 2011.

He is passionate to promote social enterprise and entrepreneurial thinking to develop confidence, curiosity and creativity amongst pupils and staff, leading local, national and global initiatives across the School with Young Enterprise, Free the Children, 7Billion Ideas, IBM, Virgin, BP and Entrepreneurs in Action. Ian was awarded the 2013 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion.

Ian is married to Susan Stark (HR Senior Manager at Proctor and Gamble). Both of their children attend Surbiton High School.

Catherine Beddison - Governor

Catherine Beddison is part of the Executive Leadership Team at Cranleigh Prep School, working on logistics and day-to-day operations. She also runs the Prep School Music Department within the outstanding ‘Cranleigh Music 7-18’ programme that links the musical education for children throughout the junior and senior schools. An expert in music education, she has an impressive proven track record of setting high standards, enthusing children and encouraging them to fully develop their musical skills.

She is Head of Strategy within the choral charity ‘Sing for Pleasure’ and helps to facilitate new ideas and strategic developments within a wide range of courses, publications and singing events for adults and children. She also works as a freelance conductor, adjudicator, consultant, lecturer and singer; and has recently presented workshops for ABCD, the MMA and the Music Education Expo. She conducts Harlequin Chamber Choir, Cranleigh Prep School Choirs and Cranleigh Choral Society.

Catherine lives in Cranleigh with her husband and young daughter, and enjoys relaxing by playing netball, walking in the countryside and visiting Scotland.

Janet Poppe

Janet Poppe - Member

Janet Poppe Janet has taught in state, independent and international schools for over 30 years and has experience of every age group from 3-18. She currently lives in Horsley and works locally in the junior department of a specialist arts school. Janet is a Biology graduate from the University of York and has a PGCE, also from York.

In 1999 The Society of Heads, (SOH) invited Janet to join their subcommittee of 'Heads of the Society's Junior Schools'. Janet worked on this committee for 13 years, helping to organise annual conferences and workshops which provide valuable INSET training for Heads of Junior Departments within independent schools throughout the UK.

She is married to a helicopter pilot and has two grown-up children who have both attended independent schools in Guildford. Janet's interests include diving, sailing, skiing, walking and spending time in her garden.

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Patrick Daly - Founding Member

After a short career in the City of London and the Channel Islands with what was then Coopers, Lybrand & Deloitte, Patrick started teaching Classics in 1994. He has taught at both primary and secondary level, from boarding schools (Abingdon, Downside, St Johns, Beaumont ) to London day schools (St Benedict’s and Durston House in Ealing, where he led the department) to single sex girls’ schools (St George’s, Ascot). He is currently Head of Classics at Westminster Under School in London. Being a keen amateur sportsman, Patrick has throughout his career been heavily involved in coaching school games. He also has an active interest in the theatre and has translated several Greek tragedies for the professional stage. Patrick is a graduate of University College, London, with a BA and MA in Classics. He has a young family, with a daughter of school age.

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