Trustees, Members and AO Register of Interests 2023-24 v1 (Oct 2023)

Trustees Attendance 2022-23

Further listings of Trustees, Members, the Accounting Officer and Chief Finance Officer can be found here.

Valerie Dunsford


Valerie graduated from Manchester University with a degree in French and PGCE in modern languages. Valerie has worked in both the maintained and independent sectors for over 30 years and was Headteacher at the independent Sheffield High School until retiring in 2018.

Areas of professional expertise include strategic planning, leadership development and the delivery of school improvement. Added to this, Valerie has also been a schools inspector for 15 years in the UK and abroad.

Having worked in both education sectors, Valerie is a passionate supporter of partnerships across the two with the aim of learning from best practice and improving outcomes for all children, regardless of background.

At Sheffield High School, Valerie works with 14 primary schools in the Sheffield South East Learning Partnership and on several programmes with secondary schools in Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley to achieve this sharing best practice to continually improve teaching and learning.

Valerie is also a member of the DfE’s Independent/State School Partnership Committee, meeting termly to continually break down barriers between the sectors and to provide a structure for funding and co-operation.

Faye Craster


Faye graduated from Northumbria university with a degree in Biology before teaching Science in London. Faye is currently the Director of Teacher Development at Teach First, leading their approach to developing teachers and mentors across their ITT programmes and ECF Programmes and is responsible for the training and development of over 10 000 teachers on various programmes. Having worked in education and charity leadership for 14 years, Faye has professional skills and expertise relating to programme design, strategic planning, teacher development, organisational leadership and contract bidding and management.  Faye is particularly passionate about raising outcomes for children in the most disadvantaged of circumstances to ensure a fair education for all.

Faye has worked closely with schools and the Department for Education on numerous strategies, including membership of the expert advisory group for teacher wellbeing, advising on the new Ofsted education inspection framework for Initial Teacher Training and supporting the development of the reformed NPQ in leading teacher development.


Dr Tesca Bennett


Dr Tesca Bennett is a member of the Federation Executive of the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation Trust and the Executive Principal of Haberdashers’ Aske’s Knights Academy in London.

She sits on a number of groups including the strategic project board of the Lewisham Secondary Challenge, a Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF) project, the Children and Young Peoples Strategic Partnership Board and chairs Lewisham secondary headteachers’ forum.

Dr Bennett is a facilitator for various leadership development and educational improvement programmes including the BAME Inclusive Leadership Programme and was a member of the review team for the Challenge Partners’ pilot MAT reviews.

Formerly a Director of a recruitment consultancy and a R&D scientist, Dr Bennett joined the profession through the NCSL Fast Track Teaching programme and has taught the sciences in inner London schools. Dr Bennett has a strong interest in organisational culture, research based leadership development and is committed to social regeneration through education, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Matthew Robb


A Gatsby Scholar with a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, Matthew is a leading consultant in the education sector as well as in organisation design, performance management and leadership.

Matthew is currently the Managing Director at Parthenon having joined in 2010 and has worked in the education support services sector and leading teams working on school improvement, academy development, the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme and on children’s services technology and management information.

Having worked in both the public and private sectors within the education industry, Matthew previously worked at McKinsey & Co where he led strategy and organisation projects in a range of contexts.

Since joining Parthenon, Matthew has led their education work in the UK and Europe. He has led teams across every stage and sub-sector of education including vocational and further education, universities and support services. He has worked in buy and sell-side diligence, international strategy, marketing and sales force strategy as well as general corporate strategy.

Matthew has an incredible depth of experience and has been a major player in market leading work across the education industry.

Ben Brown

Chair of Trustees

Ben Brown Is currently Head of Market Development and Strategic Relationships for Promethean having previously headed the educations businesses for Hewlett-Packard, Samsung and XMA in the UK.  He has worked in the education technology sector for over 15 years and has developed a real passion for advancing the use of technology to support teaching and learning. He had previously sat on the Board of Trustees at the David Ross Education Trust and still sits as Chair of Governors at one of the schools there.  His real focus was to support the development of technology and innovation strategy at the trust, he was also heavily involved with the Risk and Audit committee throughout his time as a trustee.  More recently he has been a trustee at the Tackley Education Trust. Ben has, throughout his career, looked at the challenges in education and how technology is best placed to resolve them.  This has led to him working closely with the DfE as well as Academy Trusts such as ARK, Reach2 and United Learning on driving forward the use of the right technology for them and their schools. Ben lives in Northamptonshire with his young family and enjoys his chance to visit Sheffield at the weekends to support his beloved Sheffield Wednesday.


Nick Cragg


A graduate in engineering from Lougborough University, Nick spent almost 30 years in the steel industry with a career progressing through to a number of business leadership positions based in the UK and subsidiary board appointments overseas. On leaving the steel industry at the end of 2006, Nick formed his own consultancy company and worked mainly in North America in the oil & gas sector on business improvement and interim management projects.  He later joined his main client, Wellstream International, a UK based manufacturer of flexible subsea flowlines and risers, as V-P Operations. After the Company was acquired by GE Oil & Gas in 2011, Nick ultimately became Global Sourcing & Capex Director, working between the UK and Brazil.

Nick left GE in late 2013 to re-start his consultancy company where he still undertakes selective assignments whilst making more time to pursue other interests. He is a keen rugby supporter but his annual indulgence is skiing.  A Freeman and Past Master Cutler of the Company of Cutlers in Hallamshire, he is also a Liveryman of the Company of Pewterers in London. He is married to Liz; they have three grown-up children and four grandchildren.

Chris Rossiter


Chris is the Chief Executive of Driver Youth Trust, a national charity dedicated to improving outcomes for young people who struggle with literacy. As an applied psychologist, Chris has worked across the private, public and charitable sector for over ten years. He has particular expertise in special educational needs, disability and employment. The combination of his understanding of equality and organisational psychology is a particular strength he believes and applies both rigour and research to DYT’s programmes of work. Chris has held a number of volunteering roles, including as a soldier in the Army Reserve and a non-executive board member of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology. He is also Chair of Governors in a primary school, member of the literacy sub-committee of the Hastings Opportunity Area and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Married to Geoff, Chris lives in Berkshire and has interests which include cycling, wine and twentieth century art. Chris’ real passion is his Labrador, Dolly.

Peter Burrows


Peter is Chief Executive of The Cambridge Building Society, a position he has held since 2019.  He is a chartered accountant with over 20 years’ experience in financial services, gained in a combination of executive management and consulting roles in the UK and overseas. His vision is for The Cambridge to be a thriving, independent, mutual business, dedicated to helping people have a home and being a trusted place for people to save.  He is deeply committed to the further development of the Society’s ‘Making The Difference’ programme aimed at supporting its members and their local communities, and in 2020 launched the Cambridge Building Society Community Fund, supporting charitable groups committed to helping vulnerable people with their housing needs. Prior to joining The Cambridge, Peter was Chief Executive of Engage Mutual, a mutual insurance business.  His earlier career was spent with Aviva plc and Ernst & Young.  Peter has also served as a director of the Association of Financial Mutuals, and for ten years was a governor of York College, a leading further and higher education college.

Peter is married with two daughters.  He is a mathematics graduate of Oxford University, a keen road cyclist and rugby union watcher.

Louise Cooper


Louise has been the Chief Operating Officer at E21C Academy Trust since April 2022. She brings a rich and diverse set of skills and experiences from more than 25 years in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Her experience in education has encompassed being the Business Development Director at Academies Enterprise Trust, CEO of Governors for Schools, and Business Development Director at London Early Years Foundation, where she grew their nursery portfolio. Her private sector experience was with the retailer Tesco and a strategy consulting firm, and she also worked in HM Treasury for a few years.  She has an MChem from Oxford University and an MBA from Harvard.

Meesha Warmington


Dr Meesha Warmington is a Cognitive Developmental Psychologist and is a senior academic in the School of Education, University of Sheffield. As an academic, her research focuses on the intersection between cognition (and memory), language and literacy in multilingual individuals across the lifespan.  Dr Warmington’s work also focuses on intersectional inequalities in healthy ageing and multimorbidity and she is the Co-lead of the Inequality and Intersectionality workstream in the Healthy Lifespan Institute at the University of Sheffield.

She is a Co-Director for The Centre for Equity & Inclusion at the University of Sheffield where she leads on strategy for the Centre’s mentorship scheme and project evaluation; and is the Faculty of Social Sciences Deputy Director of Education: Inclusive Learning Environments at Sheffield. Dr Warmington is also involved in institutional research which is focused on understanding cultural awareness in institutional leadership through the lived experiences of BAME staff and students.

She is the independent Chair of the of the Health and Safety Executive Research Ethics Panel.

Bill McHugh


Bill is a professional with extensive experience as Chief Probation Officer, Regional Offender Manager and Senior Civil Servant within the Ministry of Justice. He is currently Culture and Transformation Lead with Doncaster Council. Throughout his career he has promoted learning and education as a means of positively impacting on the lives of everyone in society; particularly those in hard-to-reach communities. His experience leading numerous transformation programmes and initiatives, will assist Astrea Academy Trust to successfully respond to future challenges, for the benefit of students, staff and wider groups affected by our work.

As a Trustee Bill wishes to provide high support and high challenge, enabling Astea to excel in all it does and celebrate its achievements. Working on the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, as well as being a Link Trustee for Doncaster, he hopes he can help raise our profile and reputation as an organisation that enables everyone to be the best they can be – in all aspects of their lives.

Having previously studied at the University of Cambridge he is now working on his doctoral thesis, in the Faculty of Education, researching the efficacy of mandated education on offenders under probation supervision. He looks forward to meeting students, colleagues, and others to learn more about our organisation as well as offering his knowledge, skills, and experience to support our aims and ambitions.