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The Diocese of Coventry

Multi Academy Trust

Together, pursuing life in all its fullness

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The Trust Directors

The Executive Board of the Multi Academy Trust, fulfilling the role of both Directors under company law and Trustees under charity law, exercise the powers and carry out the duties of the Multi-Academy Trust. The Board of Directors are responsible to the Members of the Multi-Academy Trust as well as the parents, pupils and staff at the academies. Directors may also be known as governors of the Trust.


The Directors are responsible for the three core governance functions – setting the strategic direction of the Trust and the academies within the Trust, holding the Headteachers to account and ensuring financial probity. Directors work with the Academy Governance Committees to ensure the quality of education and financial management provided at each academy.


Five committees operate under the Trust Board. The Education and Ethos Committee, the People and Pay Committee, the Business and Finance Committee, the Audit and Risk Committee and the Trust Governance Committee.


Paula Whitfield – Paula is an FCA, having trained as a chartered accountant with PWC, working in their London, Cardiff and Sydney offices. Paula worked for PWC for 15 years, finishing her career as a director in their pensions audit and assurance business.  Paula also worked for British Airways for 3 years in their engineering division reviewing business performance and being involved in the sale of a business.  From 2007 to 2022 Paula worked for the GEC 1972 Plan and Telent Ltd specialising in pensions accounting for the company and the pension plan and supporting the Board's Audit Committee on various topics such as risk management, controls, financial reporting, taxation and audit (both internal and external).  Paula is an experienced school governor, having started on the governing body of her local infant school in 2007 where she ultimately became Chair of Governors.  She is currently a governor at two local primary schools and is a governor and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee at another secondary academy trust.  


Mandy Coalter - Mandy is the Founder of 'Talent Architects' with a simple mission: helping schools become places for pupils to learn by being great places for adults to work. Talen Architects provides consultancy/advisory support to school groups, coaching and mentoring, training and events/conferences. Mandy's successful book: 'Talent Architects: how to make your school a great place to work' was published in 2018.
From 2012 to 2019 Mandy was Director of People at United Learning, responsible for HR, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Marketing and Communications. United Learning is one of the largest school groups in the UK, running circa 80 schools across State and Independent sectors employing over 8000 staff.  Mandy built the group reputation as an employer, taking forward key priorities such as developing leaders, talent management, employee engagement, well-being, recruitment, pay and performance management.

The United Learning HR team won the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development ‘HR Team of the Year’ in 2016.  HR Magazine listed Mandy in the top 10 ‘HR Most Influential’ in both 2018 and 2019 - where she was ranked the 7th most influential HR Director in the UK.  Mandy was also shortlisted for the HR Excellence Awards ‘HR Director of the Year’ 2018.   

Mandy has previously worked in the NHS, Local Government, the Charity sector and with schools.  She is also a very experienced Board Director and advisor on aspects of corporate governance. 


Ian Dewes – Ian is the CEO of Odyssey Collaborative Trust, an academy trust in Derby with seven primary schools. Prior to this he was the executive headteacher of the Dunchurch Schools' Federation in Warwickshire. Over the course of his career he has taught and held leadership roles in Warwickshire and London. Since 2016 he has been a National Leader of Education and in this role he has supported a number of schools in a wide variety of contexts. He has taught in Early Years and Key Stages 1 and 2 and was formerly part of the inaugural cohort of Haringey's Leading Teachers Scheme.  As well as school improvement, Ian has a particular interest in school governance having a cumulative total of over 25 years' experience of governing in maintained schools, local governing boards in trusts and central trust boards. He is currently the Chair of Governors at Northlands Primary School. He is studying part-time for a professional doctorate where he is researching the influence of neoliberalism on governing boards who are considering joining an academy trust. He lives and worships in Rugby.


Ruth Marlow - Ruth retired in March 2022.  Prior this  Ruth had a 40 year career firstly in Local Government, where she undertook a diverse range of roles in housing training, housing management and homelessness, ultimately serving as a Local Authority Chief Executive for 18 years.  Following over 30 years in Local Government, Ruth joined the Diocese of  Coventry as Diocesan Secretary. During her time in the Diocese Ruth was a member of the Diocesan Board of Education and also served as a Trustee and Chair of Together for Change: Coventry and Warwickshire (TfC), a charity which works with churches helping them alleviate poverty in their communities.  Ruth is currently a Trustee of Transforming Notts. Together, a charity with similar objectives as TfC but operating in the Diocese of Nottingham and Southwell.


Barry Cockcroft - Barry Cockcroft is a dentist by training and worked in mainly NHS general dental practice in Rugby from 1975 until he joined the Department of Health in 2002. At the Department of Health he was Chief Dental Officer for England until his retirement in 2015. Whilst in post he was influential in the establishment of two new dental schools. Barry joined the Board of Integrated Dental Holdings, the largest provider of dental care in Europe, in June 2015 and retired from the Board in 2021. Barry is Chair of the British Fluoridation Society and a mentor on the Alumni Leadership Mentoring Programme at Birmingham University. He was awarded a CBE in the New Year's honours list in 2010.

Barry and his wife, a former teacher in Rugby, have three children and eight grandchildren who have all been brought up and educated in Warwickshire. 


Steve O'Neill - Steve has spent over 20 years in marketing and PR leadership roles for large consumer organisations in the UK and Europe, across the retail, telecommunications and financial services sectors. After starting his career at the John Lewis Partnership on their graduate scheme, Steve has worked for Orange, Carphone Warehouse, HSBC, Amigo and PayPoint. He specialises in developing high performance teams, spearheading proactive corporate communications, leading digital transformation and championing customers through research and behavioural insights. He is currently Interim Corporate Affairs and Marketing Director for PayPoint plc, leading their marketing, PR and investor relations efforts in the UK. 

Steve studied French and Drama at the University of Bristol. Originally from Liverpool, he now lives in Rugby with his partner and two daughters.


Keith Tudor - Keith is the founder and CEO of Company Guardian, which works alongside the Executive boards of companies to maximise their potential and to enable owners to realise value from their lifetime investments.  

A graduate in finance from the City of Birmingham University and a Chartered Accountant, he held senior financial positions at Cadbury Ltd and Sandvik Ltd before progressing into general management.

For over 20 years he has been leading international companies through significant growth, with all the structural and cultural changes and challenges which that entails. His companies have picked up some accolades along the way including a number of Queen’s Awards for Export and Scottish Company of the Year.

A native of Birmingham, he and his wife, a former teacher, lived happily for 15 years in Binley Woods, where their daughter received her primary education.


Andy Burbidge - Andy originally qualified as a Mining Engineer at Imperial College, London. He is now the Strategy and Performance Director for an International Construction Equipment business based in the West Midlands.
He initially held leadership roles in the Buildings Materials sector and after completing his MBA at Warwick University spent 15 years in a Business Improvement Consultancy, which resulted in him living in the Middle East for 8 years, and working in sectors including construction, health, education and financial services.
Andy has significant experience in driving performance improvement both within individual businesses and also across a portfolio of companies ensuring change is effectively managed whilst being sensitive to the cultural differences that exist in those businesses and geographies.
He lives with his wife and daughter in Warwick.


Lindsey Wright - Lindsey has over thirty years’ experience in education, fifteen of which were in senior leadership. 

She was Associate Principal at an all through (ages 2 to 16) Church of England school in Leicester serving a social priority area in the city. As a senior leader in the school, responsible for the day-to-day leadership of the school, Lindsey played a key role in establishing the ethos and culture of the school, appointing and developing the large teaching & learning team, and developing a distinctive approach to pedagogy which combined the best of primary with the best of secondary teaching.

Prior to this, Lindsey worked for two years as Area Schools & Community Officer at Warwickshire Local Authority, supporting Headteachers and Governing Bodies in over 50 primary, secondary and special schools throughout South Warwickshire.

In 2003, she was seconded from her post as Deputy Headteacher in a large secondary school to work with the DfES Innovation Unit on a project to research how organisations, such as Microsoft and Honda, at the cutting edge of their practice established cultures which encouraged creativity and innovation in their staff in order to discover lessons to be learnt for schools.

Before retiring in 2014, she was employed as a Leadership Coach working with young and aspiring middle leaders in schools in challenging circumstances.

Now retired, she is a governor in three schools in the Coventry Diocese, Chair of the Diocesan Governors Reference and Advisory Group, a Director on the Diocesan Board of Education and works as an external advisor for Headteacher performance management with a number of schools, both primary and secondary.


Jianhua Yang - Dr. Jianhua Yang is a currently an Associate Professor at the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), University of Warwick. He leads the Electrical and Digital Discipline Group. He is a Fellow of the Warwick International Higher Education Academy (WIHEA) and a co-chair of Warwick's Working Parents Staff Network.
Jianhua started his career in higher education in 2006 as a postgraduate research fellow at the School of Engineering, Warwick University, while working towards a Ph.D. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Intelligent Systems Engineering in 2010, following which he has been working as a bioinformatics researcher first, and then as a lecturer teaching various ICT undergraduate/postgraduate courses and supervising research projects. Jianhua has also worked in the automotive industry before returning to Warwick in 2018.
Jianhua is a member of the British Computer Society, a Chartered Engineer, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA ), a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He serves as a reviewer for a number of international journals.


Heather Lees - Heather is a CIMA qualified accountant and history graduate who has worked for several different styles of organisations so has collected a wide range of experience from the commercial, public and third sectors. This includes working in challenging situations for example for an Ombudsman, a Regulator, a Police Force and a Local Authority as well as charities and membership organisations. Heather has also gained her experience of the broader corporate services such as estates, IT, governance, HR, information management as well as finance.

Heather is the CFO for Brooke Weston Trust, a multi academy trust based in Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire so brings knowledge of the MAT sector to the board. Heather is also an ex-pupil of one of our schools, St Bartholomew’s, she lives in Coventry with her 2 children and her granddaughter.


Jessica Moore - Jessica has worked in a variety of educational settings, both in the public and private sectors, since qualifying as a teacher in 1990.  She has worked extensively with school leaders, local authority teams, SENCos and education inspectors as well as other professionals in multi-agency settings.  She currently offers strategic support as an independent education consultant, as well as working with a Coventry based Christian charity helping with their policy development and governance.

Her roles focus on delivering improved outcomes for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of children and young people, especially those identified with special educational needs.  Her responsibilities have included school leadership development, service restructuring and local authority SEND commissioning.  Recent work includes establishing peer review programmes across systems of mainstream and special schools, coaching SEND leaders to increase their effectiveness and maximise resource efficiency, leading a strategic review of Alternative Provision and project managing a pilot delivering therapeutic intervention in mainstream Primary schools. Jessica has personal interest in emotional well-being and mental health and was part of the national programme that created and disseminated the DfES Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning within the National Strategies.


Mr Michael Cowland - 
Michael has been working in multi academy trusts since 2011 having made a successful transition from local government.  This transition started with Northampton Academy, a large secondary academy run by United Learning, and then with the Diocese of Peterborough, where he was part of the senior leadership team who established the Peterborough Diocese Education Trust (PDET).  Michael held the post of Business Director and spent time acting as Interim Chief Executive Officer to cover a period of absence where he led the trust through four Ofsted inspections, the trusts's twenty third academy conversion and the successful secondment of a Head of Learning and Achievement, a post which resulted in a step change in the trust's academy improvement services.  Michael is a Cranfield School of Management Executive MBA, a Chartered Manager and a member of the Chartered Management Institute having passed his level 7 Senior Leader Masters Degree with a Distinction in 2021.


Sarah-Jane Anderson

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