The Trust has over 1,900 staff committed to improving the life chances of young people across the network.
While the Trust provides the framework and foundations, our successes are the collective efforts and achievements of everyone associated with the network.
This is underpinned by the vision of the Trustees, and supported by the expertise of the Trust’s Chief Executive, Directors and Heads of Service and the educationalists who work across the Trust to ensure best practice and innovation is embraced and embedded.
Rowena HackwoodChief Executive Officer
Rowena has significant experience in leading a number of high profile organisations across the public, not-for-profit and private sectors.
Over recent years, her work focused more extensively on the education sector as Rowena has mentored CEOs of growing multi-academy trusts, sat as a Trustee on another large academy trust and has been a director of Education Support Services.
Through her previous role as Chief Executive of a not-for-profit start-up in the regeneration sector, Rowena set up and ran a £60 million regeneration project of national importance on behalf of a City Philanthropist, under the auspices of the Auckland Castle Trust.
Rowena joined the Trust in 2017 to grow and embed the sponsor’s vision by delivering further improvements in performance across the Trust, as well as increasing the Trust’s capacity to contribute to the wider national debate on enhancing life chances for children through education.
She provides clear and visionary leadership – both directly to those working in the centre, and through dispersed leadership to those in the academies. She lends vigour to an ongoing cultural change programme within the Trust that sees the organisation aiming to be the best it can be.
Bringing her knowledge of multi-academy trusts, combined with a hands-on experience of running organisations and improving public services, she leads the Trust towards its ambition of providing inspirational opportunities and educational excellence across its network of academies.
Mark NeildDeputy Chief Executive Officer
Mark joined the Trust in November 2018 as Deputy Chief Executive Officer. Mark brings to the Trust considerable senior leadership experience within the education sector and a strong track record in school improvement. Prior to his appointment, Mark was also a Trustee of the David Ross Education Trust.
In his previous role of Director of Secondary Education & Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Samuel Ward Academy Trust, Mark led on achievement of students at The Thetford Academy, raising the school from the bottom 9% in the country to the top 18% in terms of value added. He led Headteachers across all the schools within the Trust, with a particular focus on achievement and behaviour.
Previously, Mark has also worked as a secondary Headteacher and Vice Principal, led school reviews, acted as an educational lead whilst setting up a new school and trained as an Ofsted Inspector. He was also a delegate on the Shanghai Maths exchange programme in September 2014 and was a member of the Commission on Assessment Without Levels at the Department for Education.
Simon RoseDirector of Education - Primary
Simon has more than 20 years’ experience of primary education, including 10 years as a Headteacher. He has a proven track record of successful school and system level improvement in his current and previous roles as a primary educational specialist. Simon has held a number of senior leadership and Headteacher positions prior to joining the Trust, and was seconded as Interim Director of Education for a local authority in 2015. Simon specialises in school and system wide leadership.
Simon joined the Trust in September 2016, initially as the Regional Director for our 10 southern primary academies, before taking responsibility as Head of Primary Trust-wide in 2017. Simon led Principals and Headteachers across the Trust’s primary academies, supporting and challenging teams in their pursuit of outstanding outcomes and opportunities for all pupils.
Simon joined the Trust’s executive leadership team in June 2017. As Director of Education for Primary, he drives the educational performance of 23 academies serving some of the most varied communities in the country. He works closely with leaders across the Trust to ensure that the highest of standards are met. Simon works directly with his core team of Regional Directors and Subject Leaders who ensure that academies are supported and challenged to achieve their ambitious targets towards delivering world class education for all pupils.
Jane SpencerChief Finance Officer
Jane joined the Trust in March 2018 as Chief Finance Officer.
As a member of the Trust’s executive management team, Jane is responsible for ensuring effective financial management and control across the Trust. Jane also has responsibility, along with the rest of the executive team, for the development and delivery of the Trust’s strategy, objectives and business plan.
Jane is an experienced finance leader with a proven track record of delivering positive change in financial controllership and governance, as well as experience in more commercial finance roles. Jane trained initially as a Chartered Accountant whilst working in audit at Deloitte, before moving to Experian where she spent 11 years across a range of finance roles and ultimately as Financial Controller for Experian UK & Ireland.
Prior to joining the Trust, Jane was a Trustee and Finance Committee Member of Greenwood Academies Trust.
Rod WarsapRegional Director - Primary (Central/South)
Rod joined the Trust in January 2019 as the Regional Director for primaries in the south of England.
Previous to joining DRET, Rod has held two headships in Primary schools before becoming the Executive Headteacher of a small MAT in Cambridgeshire.
Rod has a considerable experience in successful school leadership and school improvement, having supported schools on their journeys to be good schools. Rod has several years’ recent experience as an inspector for Ofsted. This is an area in which Rod can add to the core education team’s offer, supporting schools in their preparation and readiness for inspection.
Rod works with schools in Northampton and Daventry as well as with Eresby Special School. One of his key objectives is to foster closer working between the Trust schools with the aim of ensuring the very best practice is shared. Rod focuses closely on ensuring we share the best practice in curriculum design and delivery, so the teaching and learning provision of our schools is the best it can possibly be.
Wendy BaxterRegional Director - Primary (North)
Wendy joined the Trust in September 2018 as the Regional Director for primaries in the north of England.
Wendy’s role involves providing guidance, support and challenge to the principals, governors and senior leadership teams so that all our pupils have access to the very best education and outcomes. In addition, Wendy is the Trust primary lead for attendance.
Wendy has worked in a variety of different schools in both the primary and secondary sector. More recently she has specialised in supporting some of the most challenging schools in the country. As such she is widely experienced in school ‘turnaround’ and is passionate about making sure that every pupil has high aspirations for their future. She has also visited and studied some of the very best schools, both in the UK and US, as part of her participation in the Future Leaders programme.
Prior to a career in education, Wendy spent nearly 20 years in health service leadership as well as running her own successful consultancy business.
Wendy is keen to support the development of new education leaders and has delivered training on Teaching Leaders, NPQSL and NPQH. She continues to support new heads through a formal mentorship programme as part of Ambition School Leadership. She has served as a governor at her local secondary school.
Sandra ApplebyRegional Director
I joined the Trust in 2015 and am currently one of four primary Regional Directors, as well as Principal of Greenfields Primary Academy in Kettering. In 2017, Greenfields was ranked in the top 3% of schools in England for progress in reading, writing and mathematics and was also rated as one of the top five schools in Northamptonshire for the same measure. The school was also recently crowned East Midlands Primary Champion at the prestigious TES Pupil Premium Awards, held at the House of Commons.
As a System Leader, my Regional Director role involves providing training, support and challenge to the Headteachers, senior leadership teams, staff and governors across my designated region in order to ensure the best quality of education for all children. I am also responsible for Trust-wide leadership of our strategy to support our most disadvantaged pupils, something we as a Trust share a deep passion for.
Nicki TaylorOperations Manager
Nicki joined the Trust in April 2014, initially working at Humberston Academy for 3 years before moving into a Trust-wide role as Regional Operations Manager. Nicki’s role has now progressed into Operations Manager (Secondaries) where she is responsible for overseeing all the operational aspects of the secondary academies, reporting to the Director of Operations.
Nicki, together with the operational/estates teams, ensure the Trust and the academies benefit from the best working practice environments and processes.
Nicki has 20 years of experience working in law, the NHS and the education sectors and is currently studying at Loughborough University for her MSc in Strategic Leadership.
Janey CooksleyPrimary English Strategic Lead
Janey joined the Trust in 2012. She is a passionate and innovative leader with a strong vision, relentless drive, in the pursuit of excellence in education. She has been in education for fifteen years, most of which have been at senior leadership level.
Janey is responsible for driving the Trust’s English school improvement strategy across its primary schools, working closely with the Principals and leadership teams.
Janey is also Principal at Briar Hill Primary School, part of the David Ross Education Trust. She led the school to achieve well above national average for attainment and progress in all measures of the SATS results in 2017, which placed the school in the 2nd percentile on student progress nationally, and in 2018 was also above national for SATS results again and top school in the county for attainment of disadvantaged pupils.
Janey has a deep understanding of strategic leadership and school improvement. Her specialist areas are; specialism is English, curriculum innovation, wellbeing, teaching and learning and the use of data, assessment and the curriculum in school improvement strategies.
Kim DuffPrimary Core Knowledge Curriculum Lead
Kim joined the Trust in 2014 and is the Principal of Kings Heath Primary Academy and the Trust’s lead for developing and implementing the Core Knowledge Curriculum within all primary academies. Kim has lead Kings Heath Primary Academy to being ranked in the top 1% for Reading and top 2% for writing progress measures in the county of Northamptonshire as well as being a systems leader for the implementation of the innovative schools singing programme.Kim has over 19 years teaching experience within a broad range of settings including: primary schools, secondary schools and University. She has also visited and studied some of the very best schools, both in the UK and US. Kim is resilient, dedicated to securing sustainable school improvement and able to motivate colleagues to strive for excellence through strong leadership and communication skills so every pupil has high aspirations for their future.
Kim’s focus areas include:
+Securing effective teaching and learning in the classroom.
+Implementation of new curriculums to meet the needs of pupils
+Use of assessment innovatively
+Implementation of new leadership teams
+Tailor making CPD to match individual staff needs to secure staff retention
Simon ToyneExecutive Director of Music
I joined the Trust in September 2015 to develop the musical enrichment programme across the network.
Working with partners including the Nevill Holt Opera, King’s College Choir and the Voices Foundation, our students benefit from unrivalled musical opportunities.
Through major music festivals and bespoke workshops, training and events, every child in every DRET academy has access to music making of the highest quality.
Singing now takes place every day in DRET’s primary academies, and it is real privilege to see greater numbers of students and staff making music a central part of their lives.
At the David Ross Education Trust, there is a shared passionate belief that we owe every child the chance to have the best possible education.
Music is an incredible example of how learning can unlock a child’s potential. It is a multi-facted discipline that sharpens our focus and opens our minds, connecting us with people throughout history and helping us to live happy and fulfilling lives.
Simon has over 25 years experience of working in music education in the state sector, as a classroom teacher, Head of Department and as a member of Senior Leadership Teams.
As Assistant Head and Director of Music at Tiffin School, Simon developed an arts outreach programme, which led to the foundation of the Thames Youth Orchestra and the Tiffin Children’s Chorus. He also set up the Choirs for Schools project, engaging all 32 primary schools in Kingston upon Thames, at the same time as delivering outstanding academic results across GCSE and A Level Music.
Simon led the Tiffin Boys’ Choir on tours all over the world, including to Australia, China, New Zealand, Russia and the USA; under his direction, the choir worked with the Royal Opera, Bolshoi Opera, Mariinsky Opera and all the London orchestras, as well as appearing on the soundtrack to many films, including Philomena and The Hobbit.
Simon’s musical life began as a chorister in Exeter Cathedral Choir, and continued as a Music Scholar at Eton College and as Organ Scholar of University College, Oxford. He is passionate about the importance of all children experiencing quality music education, and has given workshops on singing and choral music for the Association of British Choral Directors and Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Alongside his work for DRET, Simon is a Director of the Eton Choral Courses.
Heads of Service
Maria MaltbyHead of Governance
Maria joined the Trust in August 2018 as Head of Governance and Company Secretary. Maria is responsible for supporting the Trust Board and all academies in ensuring compliance with the appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks. Maria also oversees Trust complaints and has oversight of Trust policy development.
Maria has experience of working in the private sector, local government and the NHS in project management and corporate governance roles.
Ellis JacklinHead of IT
Ellis joined the Trust in January 2011.
He leads the IT Team on all issues related to service quality and management, working with all areas to improve systems across our IT architecture.
Ellis’s extensive experience in IT in Education, particularly major transformation projects across all systems, telephony and network services are drivers to ensure the Trusts IT architecture is world class.
Ellis is Chair of Governors for a Trust Primary Academy which secured a ‘good’ Ofsted rating in 2017.
Gary McGintyHead of Asset Management
I joined the Trust as Head of Asset Management in 2014.
As part of my role, I am the senior estates leader responsible for developing and delivering a fit-for-purpose Trust-wide estate.
From project management of new builds to overseeing maintenance, compliance, environmental and property management, I work with our academies to ensure that students across the network can benefit from high quality places to learn.
Gary is an Estates and Project Management Executive with vast experience of managing high performing project teams, involving the design and delivery of complex projects in the education, commercial and public sectors.
With over 25 years experience, Gary is committed to delivering value for money with an exemplary service. He has led many projects both small and large and worked collaboratively with a wide cross section of clients & stakeholders, contractors, industry leaders and design consultants.
Shane WardHead of Sports Enrichment
I joined the David Ross Education Trust in 2013, to develop the Trust’s Sports Enrichment programme.
As a Trust we know the incredible impact that physical activity has on developing social skills, confidence and communication. Not only does sport encourage students to develop healthy lifestyles but it can also provide them with key skills that will benefit them in later life.
As part of my role, I support academies to shape and deliver their annual sports enrichment plans. I am also responsible for delivering the Trust’s talent programme and offer CPD to develop our workforce.
At the heart of our programme are the Trust’s major annual events, including the DRET Winter, Spring and Summer Cups, Cross Country and other smaller events.
During my time at the Trust, it has been incredible to see our programme develop. Every one of our academies now embraces the importance of sport in a child’s development. Seeing students, who only started taking part and competing in sport through the support of their academies, going on to win national titles is incredible.
I am proud to work as part of a passionate and hardworking team who want to influence our students’ lives for the better.
Shane has a Sports Development and Coaching degree and fifteen years experience in education and sports coaching.
He has been working with the Trust for several years, meeting many people and offering some fantastic sporting experiences for students within our academies.
Shane’s previous experience includes County Sports Partnerships and National Governing bodies, including sports development, event management, and funding and club development.
David Ross is a UK based entrepreneur and philanthropist best known for co-founding The Carphone Warehouse Group plc in 1991.
David’s philanthropic work is carried out through the David Ross Foundation which he founded. The Foundation makes charitable donations to a range of educational, community and cultural initiatives, including the David Ross Education Trust, the University of Nottingham, Nevill Holt Opera Festival and projects in Lincoln with the Historic Lincoln Trust and Lincoln Cathedral.
In 2007, David founded the David Ross Education Trust. The first school to join the Trust in 2007 was Havelock Academy, a secondary school based in David’s hometown of Grimsby. Recognised as one of 11 system leaders nationwide, the Trust has 34 primary and secondary schools in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and London. David is also Chair of New Schools Network.
David is Chair of the National Portrait Gallery and Chair of The University of Nottingham’s Development Committee. David is a board member of the British Olympic Association and Commonwealth Games England.
David was educated at Uppingham School and Nottingham University. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen & Co, working with the firm from 1988 to 1991.
Christine Counsell taught history in state schools, in Gloucestershire and Bristol, for 10 years, holding positions as head of department, head of faculty and deputy headteacher and as local authority adviser for primary and secondary schools. After leading one of the first school-centred initial teacher training programmes (secondary history) for Gloucestershire’s headteachers, she was appointed Senior Lecturer at the University of Cambridge in 1997. There she built a history PGCE course which became renowned for a community of school-based subject mentors who, unusually, shared responsibility for the scholarly content of the course and engaged in extensive reading of research with their trainees, applying it in the school context. While at Cambridge, Christine was awarded the Pilkington Prize for outstanding teaching (2006) and the Cambridge University Students Union ‘student-led’ award for outstanding lecturing (2015).
Christine has carried out wide-ranging national and international work on curriculum policy and teacher education, working with teachers, scholars and policy-makers in America, Australia, Singapore, Europe and the Middle East.
Editor of the journal Teaching History, since 1998, Christine has also published widely, including academic works, practical guides and classroom resources. In 2015, she served on the DfE’s Workload Challenge group for Planning and Resources. In 2016, Christine was appointed Director of Education at a Norfolk-based Multi-Academy Trust, where she launched a Trust-wide knowledge-rich curriculum for primary schools, secured DfE funding to establish the long-term impact of a broad curriculum in boosting reading standards for disadvantaged pupils, implemented processes for Trust-wide collaborative curriculum design in secondary subjects and founded a large SCITT, distinctive for its subject-specificity. Christine is now an independent education consultant specialising in curriculum and teacher development, working nationally and internationally. She is also a member of Ofsted’s Curriculum Advisory Panel advising on the 2019 Ofsted framework.
David is a Chartered Accountant with over 30 years experience working as an external auditor. David retired from Deloitte in February 2017 after serving for 15 years as an audit partner based in the Midlands. After graduating from the University of Birmingham in 1985 David trained with Arthur Andersen rising to the position of audit partner, and joined Deloitte in 2002.
Over the last 10 years, David has worked extensively with clients in the Education sector, primarily in Higher Education. He served as audit partner for several Universities and led the Deloitte responses to technical accounting and other issues arising in the sector. He was the Deloitte representative working with sector bodies such as the British Universities Finance Directors Group and the Financial Reporting Group.
David is experienced in financial reporting and governance in Education as well as in risk management and internal control. He has also benefited from exposure to a wide range of organisations in the corporate sector as well as charities and government bodies.
The Rt Revd John HolbrookTrustee
The Rt Revd John Holbrook
The Rt Revd John Holbrook was installed as Bishop of Brixworth on 29 June 2011.
Before Bishop John came to Brixworth he had various roles in the ministry centred mainly in the South West of England, and immediately prior to his appointment as Bishop of Brixworth he was Rector of Wimborne Minster in Salisbury Diocese.
In addition he has been a governor of both primary and secondary schools, and was involved in an Ashridge Business School project to develop a programme in workplace spirituality. He has also represented Salisbury Diocese on the national Diocesan Missioners’ Network and been involved in diocesan lay training programmes.
Sir Andrew FosterTrustee
Sir Andrew Foster
Sir Andrew Foster has had a long career in public service. He served as Chief Executive of the Audit Commission for England and Wales between 1992 and 2003, and was previously Deputy Chief Executive of the NHS and Director of Social Services for North Yorkshire County Council.
He is currently Deputy Chairman of the Royal Bank of Canada and serves on the boards of a number of listed companies. Sir Andrew was recently appointed to lead an independent review into the Government’s ‘Building Colleges for the Future’ programme, having led two previous reviews into further education and the future of athletics. He was knighted for his work in health and government services in 2001.
Joanne Hoareau runs the David Ross Foundation which is the sponsor of The David Ross Education Trust. She is a Governor at Bobby Moore Academy and was previously a Governor at Newnham Primary. Joanne joined the Trust and help extend the vision to give all children the best opportunities through education, sport and cultural experiences. She studied Economics & Politics at Loughborough University and previously worked at Carphone Warehouse and also in private equity at Oxford Technology.
Ben has been a governor at Eastfield Academy for nearly four years, becoming Chair of the Local Governing Body in 2015.
Ben is passionate about improving educational outcomes with technology, having managed the Education Strategy for HP for seven years, before moving to his current role heading Education at XMA.
He has a wealth of experience in understanding how the use of various technologies can improve attendance, administration, results and importantly move pupils forward in their achievements. Working with many of the Academy Trusts, Ben also has a good overview of different strategies, what has worked and hasn’t.
Ben is also a keen sportsman and has played a number of sports locally including Golf, Football, Cricket and Rugby.
Nigel is a non-executive director of TalkTalk Telecom PLC and a trustee for a number of charities, including Renaissance Foundation and Ensemble Pour La Difference.
Nigel spent 18 years with Carphone Warehouse Group until its merger with Dixons Retail in 2014. He held a number of senior finance roles within the group, including UK FD and Group FD, before becoming CFO in 2010. He was also on the board of Virgin Mobile France.
Prior to this, he qualified as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen. He has an MA in modern history from Oxford University.
Richard is a Managing Partner at the global leadership advisory and executive search firm Korn Ferry, the largest executive search firm and the world’s leading talent and leadership consulting organisation.
He heads the Board and CEO services practice for the firm across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Richard has spent the last 18 years in the search and leadership consulting sector.
Prior to that, Richard was a partner at Arthur Andersen,where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant. In his last role, he led a large consulting practice across Europe.
Richard studied Law at Oxford University, where he gained a rowing Blue, and is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
Tracey is an Education Consultant, advising schools on improving academic performance across a range of sectors. She began her career teaching English, moving to becoming a Leading Teacher with a brief to exemplify excellent practice, followed by other roles as Head of English and Assistant Headteacher.
Tracey has a keen interest in education research and policy, completing an MA in English in Education at King’s College and working as a Senior Lecturer in Education at Canterbury Christ Church University. She also works on the development of curriculum resources for the London Grid for Learning; creating curriculum resources in conjunction with authors, theatres and museums. In addition to writing and delivering grammar courses for teachers across all key stages.
Tracey is part of an eQualitas team, carrying out whole school reviews for leading multi academy trusts and is a tutor at Buckingham University, providing mentoring for graduate teachers following the GTP route into teaching.