Trustee & Member Profiles

Andrew Smith
Trustee, Member and
Chair of the Board of Trustees

Andrew was born in Burslem and has spent most of his working life in Stoke-on-Trent, including a long spell as solicitor and then head of business services at Grindeys llp, a well-respected local legal practice.

Andrew has extensive experience of school governance. During his time as Chair at Abbey Hill School and Performing Arts College the school was graded twice as “outstanding”. He also gave a strategic to the school in gaining awards including dyslexia friendly status, Autism Accreditation and the Inclusion Quality Mark. Andrew has experience of supporting school leaders with complex and sensitive HR issues, including talks through ACAS to resolve a long-running dispute with Unison over single status and negotiating with the LA to successfully secure a new building for the school as part of the “Building Schools for the Future” initiative. He has also served as chair of Stoke-on-Trent Schools’ Forum.

More recently, Andrew has volunteered as a classroom assistant in early years in a special school. He is also on the board of University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, where he chairs the Quality Committee and has championed equality and diversity.

Outside work, Andrew is a trustee of Ministry@Work (a charity part-funded by Lichfield CofE diocese), trained in chaplaincy to give pastoral support to people working in business and the professions in Staffordshire.

Louise Riley

With over twenty years of extensive experience within education as a school leader, advisor and coach, Louise has a wealth of knowledge supplemented with a real passion for inclusion. Her leadership of pastoral work and alternative provision has been commended as Outstanding by Ofsted and recognised nationally as part of the National College training programme.

Having worked in challenging secondary schools nationally and for three large multi academy trusts, as well as being a Chair of Governors of a large special school, she currently supports a number of secondary provisions in her role as an Educational Improvement Lead. As an associate of Independent Thinking Ltd she has most recently had her work published alongside a number of educators from across the UK who call on all those working with young people in schools to adopt a more enlightened and empathetic approach to children in challenging circumstances.

Louise ensures that schools are equipped in providing appropriate inclusive education for the most vulnerable learners and assists with robust quality assurance procedures, empowering schools to review and self-challenge traditional methods of leadership in order to secure the best possible outcomes for learners in an ever changing and financially challenging landscape of education.

Sue Thomas
Trustee and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees

Sue has extensive experience of working within the public, private and voluntary sectors in the Midlands, North of England and occasionally elsewhere. She works to champion co-production and collaboration between children’s services, most of all championing the ‘voice’ of children, young people and young adults facing significant challenges in their lives. Through her wide variety of roles, she has worked closely with Children’s Services, Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards and other strategic partnerships.

As part of her role as National Outreach Manager for Children England, Sue is currently Programme Manager for Stoke City Council Inclusion Service’s ‘Listen to My Voice’ programme, devising toolkits and training to assist any organisation to think about how they engage young people in their services. Her previous role was as Regional Manager for the Safe Network (NSPCC/Children England and ‘Champion for Children’ for Stoke-on-Trent.

As an external consultant, Sue works to assist organisations review their safeguarding, engagement, inclusion and anti-bullying policies, and helps small and large children’s charities develop/review their constitutions, leadership and management skills and plans.

Sue has been an independent member of the Stoke-on-Trent fostering panel for some years and has also held the role of national trustee and vice chair of the Pre-school Learning Alliance.

Margaret Tatton

Personal: I am married with two daughters, my husband is retired. Our elder daughter works at Horton Lodge School and is a specialist in Conductive Education. Our younger daughter is Head keeper at Zoo2U, they take animals into schools to support the curriculum and visit children’s hospitals and care homes as therapy. We have one Granddaughter aged 2.

I am a retired deputy head teacher; I worked in a large inner-city high school. Prior to my senior leadership roles I was Head of Religious Studies; also teaching history, citizenship and law. I had particular responsibility for training new teachers as well as the appraisal and professional development of all staff both teaching and support. I was also involved in developing strategies   for effective classroom management and safeguarding procedures. I supported staff in a range of educational settings to implement and monitor these strategies effectively. I served on strategic board for the GTP programme. I was a member of SACRE which is responsible for writing and monitoring the Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education. I was a member of the consultative management group of one of the largest examination boards charged with developing and tracking new national qualifications and grading systems. I have experience in inspecting and observing the conduct of external examinations including Key Stage 2 SATs. I have served on short listing and interviewing committee appointing a range of staff including head teachers. I have conducted competency and capability procedures including coaching staff to successful outcomes.

I am a governor at two Primary Schools; Oakhill and Alexandra Federation; I am link governor for Pupil Premium, Key stage 2 and Head teacher’s performance Management in both schools. Committee responsibilities include Resources, HR, Staff Welfare, Appointments and Exclusions.

I am a member of West End Methodist Church and Centre, two churches came together to convert an almost derelict pub into a church and community centre. Having raised just under a million pounds to convert the building we were successful in obtaining a lottery grant for £490,000 to employ three staff. I was part of the group which put together bids for grants and am now vice chair of the Management Committee. Recently we were runner up in the Sentinel Heroes Awards in the Community section. I volunteer with Foodbank and I am the safeguarding officer for the church.

Rev Sally Smith
Trustee and Member

Sally is the Vicar at St Mark’s Church, Shelton in the Hanley Team Ministry. She was previously a Registered nurse for learning disabilities, and worked in this field before her ordination in 2009. She also has extensive experience in fostering and adoption and sat as a lay member of Staffordshire’s fostering panel between 2004 and 2007. Sally was also the Safeguarding Advisor for Vulnerable Adults in the Lichfield Diocese between 2012 and 2017 and part of this role was to help to deliver safeguarding training. Sally is also the Managing Director of Sanctus, a social enterprise supporting asylum seekers and refugees in Stoke-on-Trent. She initiated this project in 2013. She served as a school governor at Pirehill School in Stone between 2010 and 2012, and currently on the Shelton and Etruria Federation since 2015.

Christopher Tarr

Chris has recently retired after a very long and active career working in a range of business sectors. As a GPO technical apprentice, he rose to the rank of technical officer and also acted as assistant area engineer. He then set up his own textiles manufacturing company supplying major high street stores together with securing overseas contracts. Chris has also worked for a health and safety company handling the requirements of national and multi-national companies. He was ultimately responsible to the directors to run and manage the tender department which involved tenders valued in excess of £10 Million.

Chris is from North Staffordshire and is actively involved in charity work. He is keen to support children from disadvantaged areas such as Stoke-on-Trent achieve their full potential and would like to offer his professional skills to support the Trent Community Trust.

Gini Cotton

Gini has over 10 years’ experience as a HR professional and is fully CIPD qualified. She has provided HR support to schools and academies across Stoke-on-Trent as well as neighbouring authorities. Gini has a wide range of experience in HR and has also supported many schools in relation to the academy conversion process. She has broad knowledge of the national terms and conditions for teaching and support staff.

Gini has been chair of governors at the Shelton & Etruria Federation for the past 3 years and previously served as a governor on the interim executive board at Etruscan Primary and 2 other primary schools with Stoke-on-Trent.

Christine Bray

I have decided to offer my services as a Trustee at the Trent Community Trust because my experience and skills will enable me to continue to offer challenge and support into the future in order to continue to improve outcomes for children and young people in the area, this has been my driving motivation since 1981. I have acted as Link Officer to all of the school in the Trust with the exception of Oakhill Primary and feel well placed to offer support and challenge whilst understanding the context of the area and each individual school. I welcome the opportunity to continue to support the educational achievements of children and young people within the Trust and to help promote, above all, equality of opportunity for all.

Brief career resume of Christine Bray:

  • 1981 began career as teacher of mathematics in Stoke-on-Trent
  • 1988 took up teaching post at Endon High School, promoted to Second in Mathematics, Head of Mathematics, Assessment, Recording and Reporting Co-ordinator, Assistant Headteacher
  • 2003 took up post as Mathematics Consultant with Stoke-on-Trent local authority. Promoted to Mathematics Adviser, qualified as Primary SIP (School Improvement Partner) leading to a far more generic school improvement role as local authorities evolved away from supporting subjects. This developed over the years and I held a large number of different responsibilities within the local authority, all of them involving both challenge for and support for schools, primary, secondary, Special and Pupil Referral Units. By 2017, I was supporting schools and academies in responding to any complaints made about them to Ofsted, was a member of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, a member of the Channel panel and the link officer for around 50 schools and academies. This meant brokering support for schools causing concern and helping celebrate the wide variety of very good practice in the City by supporting and facilitating school to school support programmes. I also acted as lead officer for schools in Ofsted grades 3 and 4, holding leaders to account for the rate of improvement made and balancing the need for support with the need for challenge.
  • 2005 qualified as team inspector for Ofsted. I inspected primary, secondary and special schools, and Pupil Referral units. I retrained at each stage of Ofsted’s development and continued to inspect until January 2017, across the West Midlands. I am now a “paused” inspector and will be invited to take part in new handbook training during 2018/19.
  • March 2017 I discovered a health condition which led to me taking extended leave from work. I decided to retire from full time paid employment in April 2018. I have set up a small educational consultancy and have been invited to work in a number of schools in Stoke, supporting governors as an external adviser for headteacher/Principal appraisal and also as part of teams conducting school reviews.

Robert Johnstone

Robert is currently the Senior Executive Leader of the Trent Community Trust-MAT. He is an experienced education professional with many years of experience in this field. He is a qualified teacher and has during his career been a teacher, deputy Headteacher and he has been a Headteacher of two schools. He has worked for different local authorities as an Advisor, Strategic Manager and most recently as the Acting Assistant Director for Learning Services. Robert is experienced in supporting and challenging schools to help them to improve and has experience of developing teaching and learning across Early Years settings and primary schools. He is also skilled in developing leaders to sustain improvement in their schools. He has managed a wide range of LA education services, including Schools improvement, Special Educational Needs, Admissions, Traded Services, Governor Support and Employment Learning and Skills. Robert is a skilful negotiator, communicator and can motivate colleagues to learn and do well. He also has experience as an OfSTED Inspector, School Improvement Partner and a Primary Assessment Moderator. He has been an Opportunity Area board member in Stoke-on-Trent. Robert is currently a Trustee on a local Multi Academy trust board and is a Governor in a local Primary School.

Philip Kidman

Philip retired in August 2017 after working in a variety of special schools which, collectively, covered the range of needs as outlined in the SEN Code of Practice.

He was a head teacher for 20 years of two very different special schools. The first one was a small school specialising in sensory and physical needs. He then became head of a large 3-18 special school (250 pupils) for communication and interaction difficulties and cognition and learning needs.   Both schools are held in high regard and this is reflected in the Good and Outstanding Grades gained at the schools through the Ofsted Inspection Process.

Philip has had a commitment throughout his leadership of working with other schools, both mainstream and special. This is reflected in his role of Chair for the Stoke Association of Secondary, College and Academy Leaders (SASCAL), a position he held for five years. Over this period SASCAL grew in outlook and influence, supplying quality training for school leaders, and developing effective school to school clusters which both supported and challenged schools. SASCAL members also had an agreed protocol for data sharing, so that SASCAL could review its impact upon school development.

Debbie Campbell

Debbie has worked in local schools for the majority of her career and has experience of both the primary and secondary phases. As head of a teaching school alliance, she helped to develop collaborative support programmes within local schools and support newly qualified teachers across the city. Debbie’s most recent role was as an acting Head in a city school.

Throughout her career Debbie has specialised in the study of English and has been both an LA advisor and a Lead English teacher within the city. She is a lead advocate for the Chartered College of Teaching and a Specialist Leader of Education.

Debbie is currently Assistant Director at Keele and North Staffordshire Teacher Education. She also works for Ofsted as a team inspector which is both an exciting and challenging role.

As a practising Catholic Debbie is a member of her local parish and has previously been both staff governor and director of a Catholic MAC.

Ann Stone

Ann has over 20 years’ experience as a qualified teacher. Whilst working at St Mark’s CE(A) Primary School her roles have included Inclusion Leader incorporating the roles of SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator), Leader for EAL (English as an Additional Language) and more recently Designated Safeguarding Leader.   Now retired, Ann is keen to continue to play an active role in supporting young people in Stoke-on-Trent.

Ann is a practising Christian and an active member of her local church. She has also had responsibility for leading Religious Education and Collective Worship at St. Mark’s C.E. (A) Primary School and is a member of Stoke-on-Trent Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education.

David Wells

David has over 30 years’ experience of working within the manufacturing industry, predominantly Automotive and Off Highway, with the later 17 years dedicated to supporting people from disadvantaged backgrounds with work placement and employment opportunities. He obtained his MSc in Engineering & Business Management in 2005 as part of his ongoing personal development.

Following 12 years of working for Remploy Ltd, with responsibility for the local factory in Stoke-on-Trent, David founded Ayudante CIC in 2012 to deliver a range of quality services to local and national businesses, whilst looking to offer employment and work placement opportunities to local people facing barriers to employment such as disability, mental health and long-term unemployment.

Operating out of a factory in Fenton, Ayudante currently employs 12 people, of which 90% have personally faced barriers to employment. Ayudante also aims to demonstrate the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce and increase awareness around this.

Ayudante also operates a Bicycle Recycling Project with a dedicated shop and maintenance/refurbishment area. Bikes are either donated directly into the project or come via our contract with Stoke City Council where anything cycling related is collected at the 2 main recycling sites in Burslem and Hanford.

Lorna Maden

Lorna Maden was appointed interim Director of Finance Business Partnering at the Ministry of Justice in November 2018.

She joined the Civil Service in the early 1990s. Previous roles include:

  • Head of Finance Business Partnering at HM Prisons and Probation Service (HMPPS)
  • Regional Finance and Performance Manager for London prisons and probation
  • Area Accountant to London prisons
  • Head of Finance at HMP Stafford

As Director of Finance Business Partnering, Lorna has responsibility for providing business partnering support to the Ministry of Justice corporate services, policy groups, and three executive agencies – the largest of which is the Legal Aid Agency. She also has oversight of the work of the Office of the Accountant General.

As well as being a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Management Accountants, Lorna has a background in Criminology having graduated from Cambridge University with a Master of Studies degree in Advanced Criminology, Penology and Management.

In her spare time, Lorna actively pursues a health and wellbeing regime, including indoor cycling, weights and resistance training.

Nick Carter
Associate Trustee

Before recently retiring from teaching Nick worked for 36 years at an Independent School in Newcastle-under-Lyme. During his career at the School Nick had a wide range of responsibilities with the main focus being pastoral care. As Head of Year 7 he was responsible for organising transfer from a range of Junior Schools into Year 7. In 1995 Nick completed a Masters Degree in Education with a focus on the teaching of Sex Education in Schools. Nick has been Contingent Commander of the Combined Cadet Force at the School since 2003 and he continues to undertake this role in his retirement.

Nick became a Governor at Abbey Hulton Primary School in 2017. Since his retirement he has volunteered at the School assisting with Science teaching in Year 5 and 6.

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