The Board of Trustees
Governance at Beacon Academy
The role of the Board of Trustees is critical to the effectiveness of the school and the over-arching aim of all trustees (or governors) is to ensure that the children and young people in our school are able to achieve to the very best of their ability. Trustees do this within the formal regulatory framework that applies to the Academy. This is an important, challenging and rewarding role for anyone who cares about the education children receive and wants to make a different to the lives of young people and the local community.
Three core functions of the board
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.
- Holding the Headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its students, and the performance management of staff.
- Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
Effective governance is characterised by the following features:
- Strategic leadership that sets and champions vision, ethos and strategy
- Accountability that drives up educational standards and financial performance
- People with the right skills, experience, qualities and capacity
- Structures that reinforce clearly defined roles and responsibilities
- Compliance with statutory and contractual requirements
- Evaluation of governance to monitor and improve its quality and impact.
Beacon Academy’s trustees meet termly at formal board meetings and at regular sub-committee meetings to ensure regular and proactive support and challenge. Minutes from these meetings are available on request by emailing the Clerk to the Board.
Audit and Risk Committee
This Committee meets three times a year and is responsible for directing the trust’s programme of internal scrutiny, to ensure that risks are being addressed appropriately through internal scrutiny and to report to the board on the adequacy of the trust’s internal control framework, including financial and non-financial controls and management of risks.
Trustee working groups
The board also operate two informal working groups:
Teaching and Learning (TAL) – the key role of this group is to rigorously monitor, evaluate and review Academy practice to ensure all students receive an excellent education via teaching and learning that inspires and challenges every student to make excellent progress via a broad and balanced curriculum.
- Business and Finance (BAF) – the key role of this group is to rigorously monitor, evaluate and review Academy practice to ensure the viability and effectiveness of the organisation through effective business and financial planning.
Trustee Link roles
The board has delegated the role of some scrutiny, oversight and decision making to identified link trustees within specific areas and they are responsible for regularly reporting back to the board. Link trustees regularly meet with the relevant senior members of staff to monitor progress against the specific strategic priorities and objectives that they are responsible for.
The Board of Trustees is made up of the Academy Members as the overarching body of the Trust and they are responsible for appointing the trustees to the board. In addition, the board has parent trustees who are elected by the parent body. Staff trustees are elected by those who are paid to work at the school. Ex-Officio Trustees are trustees who have a place on the Board of Trustees by virtue of holding a particular office, i.e. the Headteacher.
Mr Nigel Timothy Gourlay
My wife and I have lived in Sussex for the past twenty five years, prior to which we were in London, Africa and America. After doing a degree in agricultural economics, I became a chartered accountant and then spent twenty years working in industry here and overseas. In 2002 I started a business consultancy firm that advises a wide range of clients and have sat on the boards of various public and private companies. My ambition at Beacon is to do all I can to help Anna Robinson and her team take the school from strength to strength and make Beacon a place of which students, staff, alumni and the wider community feel proud. Outside of work, and of following the careers of my wife and three sons, I enjoy playing sport and doing creative projects. I became a trustee in April 2012 and served as the chair of trustees for 7 years. Although I have now stepped down from the board, I am delighted to retain my link with Beacon as an Academy Member.
Mr Jeremy Colin Drew
I was born in 1951 in London, but grew up in Orpington, then moved to Southborough near Tunbridge Wells at age 10, finally moving to Crowborough in 2003. My main schooling was from Michael Hall in Forest Row. I am married to June Drew and have a son Adam, previously at Beacon, now studying for a degree in Natural Science at Peterhouse, Cambridge. I have worked for the majority of my career in Information Technology (IT) and for many years managed a Middleware (a type of computer software) Support and Development group developing online/realtime/database software for Philips Electronics worldwide, the large Dutch multi-national. In 1991 became a senior consultant for what is now known as ATOS Origin (“spun off” from Philips), whilst at Origin I was involved in Database technologies, Document Management systems and image compression techniques (JPEG & Fractal). In 1995 I set up my own IT company, Apollo Technology, providing consultancy, development and support for a range of computers from mainframes to PCs. In 2003 I took early retirement, although I still enjoy a fair amount of dabbling in IT! Although retirement was put on hold when I handled the start-up and running of Livewire Electrical on the Crowborough Mill Brook estate from late 2003 until 2006. Outside of work I enjoy listening to music, socialising with friends, bit of gardening and a fair amount of playing around with computers! I was elected as a Parent Governor to Beacon Community College in 2008 and resigned as a Trustee when my term of office expired on the 31 March 2016. I am delighted to still remain a Member.
Mr Garry Paul Davis
I previously served as a Governor at Beacon from 2005 to 2010. During this time, we won a County award for our vision and strategy to become the school of first choice in the area. Some years on, I’m delighted to re-join in the capacity of an Academy Member.
My family has lived in Crowborough for almost 20 years, my wife works in a local primary school and both my children attended Beacon.
Having served a good number of years in the John Lewis Partnership (Group HR, an independent critical role, Project Change Lead) I am presently working as a freelance coach, leadership trainer, workshop facilitator and employee engagement specialist. Much of my focus and passion is around inspiring leaders, teams and individuals to align their behaviours with organisational vision and values; It’s amazing what can be achieved when we have a collective sense of purpose and shared responsibility for delivering outcomes!
I’m a chartered member of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, a certified NLP practitioner (how language and thinking affects behaviour), I hold a degree level coaching qualification and am a trained mediator in conflict resolution.
In my spare time I facilitate on a victim awareness and restorative justice programme with offenders in Lewes Prison (seeking to prevent reoffending) and mediate in neighbourhood and family conflict for a local charity. Any remaining time (!) is divided between riding my motorbike, wandering our fabulous forest, making odd noises on the guitar….and (still) dreaming of playing for Liverpool FC.
Dr John Robert Maddison
Parent Trustee and Academy Member
I am currently working in IT on technical R&D projects mainly related to image processing which I have done for 20 years. I studied Electronic and Information Engineering, BEng Hons (1st), hold a PhD and am a Chartered Electronic Engineer. I hold an MBA in Business Administration, As well as having been exposed to both the academic side of study I have a broader understanding of management issues having held various mainly technical management positions. I have been through a fair amount of education myself, both academic courses and for other more fun things like learning to sail and the theory that comes with that. Without a doubt, well-structured and well taught courses presented by enthusiastic teachers were the ones I did best in and enjoyed the most. I consider that the environment is certainly critical for learning and achieving.
Ms Clare Collins MBE
Chair of Trustees
Clare has been involved in school and trust governance for over 20 years. Currently she works for the NGA, leading and managing a team of consultants who provide specialist, bespoke support and development to all types of boards. She also contributes to NGA’s guidance and publications, and represents and speaks for the organisation. Clare gained her knowledge and experience of governance by sitting on and chairing boards in a number of schools, some in challenging contexts and in both maintained schools and academy trusts. She has also chaired her local authority’s schools forum, and sits on admission appeal panels and independent review panels.
Clare was a trustee of the National Governance Association for ten years, chairing the trust board for three of these. Prior to taking a career break she worked for Marks and Spencer and the civil service, and whilst focusing on raising her four children (all of whom went to local West Sussex schools), she worked for an independent bookseller, probably the best job in the world for someone for whom reading is a central part of their life.
Clare hopes to contribute to Beacon’s continuing success so that it can realise its ambition to provide the best possible education for all its students locally, nationally and globally. Clare was elected as Chair of Trustees in September 2020.
Mr Christopher Michael Hinton
Trustee and Lead on Teaching & Learning
I joined the Trustees in October 2015. I have been immersed in education since gaining a degree in Modern History at Oxford University in 1974. I qualified as a teacher, and initially taught in London before moving to Crowborough, and working for many years at Beacon CC as Head of History, and latterly as a Deputy Principal. I have also co-written 5 History textbooks and worked for 3 years as a teacher trainer at Sussex University. Beacon has rather enveloped my life, as my wife also worked here as an advanced skills teacher in Textiles; and my three children all thrived when attending the school. They subsequently took University degrees and are all achieving well in their chosen careers of marketing, law and journalism. I have always supported comprehensive education and my passions have been in trying to develop a curriculum that gives all the children a chance to be successful, and in exploring and implementing the teaching methods that work best for them. I understand the pressures on the teaching staff and am always interested in trying to create the environment in which they can best perform their role. Refreshed, after several years of retirement, I now enjoy contributing to Beacon remaining the natural school of choice for the local community. My personal interests centre on family, reading, walking, politics, going away (for the first time out of the school holidays!) and watching sport; particularly football.
Mr Viral Dinkerrai Desai
Trustee and Chair of Audit & Risk Committee
I am a chartered accountant and specialise in providing corporate finance advice to a variety of institutions, focusing on financial services (banks, insurance and investment management). I have lived in Crowborough since 2000 and am married with 2 children (boy aged 10 and girl aged 8). I came to the UK with my family in 1974 as a refugee from Uganda, initially living in the East End of London where I attended primary school. I went to a comprehensive school in Enfield, North London and then obtained a 1st class degree in Mathematics at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. I have advised many institutions in my professional career (ranging from SMEs to multinationals and also including charities and not for profit organisations) and have worked across the globe, including living in New York for 2 years. I have previously advised a London based Montessori on its strategic plans and also spent 6 months at the Employers Forum for Disability advising them on using the 2012 Olympic Games as a springboard for greater inclusion of people with disabilities (mental and physical) within the workplace. I was previously appointed as a governor at a local primary school and am keen to continue in a similiar role locally and to contribute in some way to the wider community in Crowborough. I have a keen interest in promoting greater social mobility, especially given my own life experiences.
Ms Anna Ruth Louise Robinson
Headteacher Ex Officio & Trustee
I attended Greenacre School for Girls in Banstead Surrey from 1985-92. This was swiftly followed by four fantastic and challenging years at the University of Brighton (1992-1996) where I graduated with a BA Honours Degree with Qualified Teacher Status in Physical Education and English. I started my career in teaching in 1996 at Hailsham Community College in East Sussex as a PE and English teacher. During my years there, I then went on to be Head of PE, Director of Sport and Assistant Principal between 1996 and 2008. In 2008 I was appointed as Deputy Head of School and it was in this academic year that I successfully completed the National Professional Qualification for Headteachers (NPQH). In 2011 I was appointed as the Head of School at Hailsham Community College. This was to be my final role at HCC. After 16 inspiring and happy years at Hailsham I was ready for some new challenges. It was then that I applied to Beacon and I was appointed as the Head of Academy in April 2012. I relished being in a new school, working with new students, staff, parents, governors and a new community. During my time in that role I also undertook Ofsted Inspection training 2014. After a rigorous selection process in November 2014, I was delighted and privileged to be appointed as Headteacher in December 2014 and took up the post fully in September 2015.
I was delighted and privileged to be appointed as Headteacher in December 2014 and took up the post fully in September 2015. In July 2017, I was appointed as Consultant Headteacher for East Sussex and as National Leader for Education (NLE) when Beacon Academy was designated as a National Teaching School and National Support School. In March 2018 I was invited to be part of the South-East Headteachers Reference Group and from September 2018, I was appointed as a member of the then newly formed East Sussex School Improvement Board and elected as the Chair of Area Group One – Wealden and Coastal Schools. I am now in my third year in this role.
As the Headteacher of our school, I feel passionately about providing every student at Beacon Academy with the best possible education to transform their life chances and allow them to compete on a global scale in their chosen career. Over the last few years we have all worked extremely hard to achieve our collective vision of ‘providing the best possible education for all of our students and to become and exceptional school both locally and nationally’. We are incredibly proud that our relentless and rigorous approach to achieving this has meant that we have exceeded and continue to exceed our ambitions.
We remain a forward thinking, highly successful and ambitious fully comprehensive school, Teaching School and National Support School. I make no apologies for having extremely high expectations of our students and staff, with a rigorous and relentless focus on providing high quality teaching and learning alongside a disciplined standards agenda, ultimately enabling our teachers to teach and our students to learn, in a happy, safe and purposeful environment for all of our students and staff. We are the number one school in Sussex and East Sussex and have been for over three years for the government’s headline Progress 8 measure. Furthermore, we are in an esteemed group of 5% of schools nationally, who for three years in a row are rated as ‘well above average’ and we are in the top 1.8% of schools nationally for our Progress 8 score.
Despite our success over the last few years, complacency is never an option. My ambitions and vision for our students, staff and our school to sustain our local and national positions and most importantly for our students to leave Beacon Academy with the best possible set of qualifications for them, are as strong as ever. We want our students to thrive academically, socially and in terms of their overall well-being, both in school and beyond. Ultimately, we want them to be happy and successful in life and be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with their contemporaries be it locally, nationally or globally.
Mrs Margaret Elizabeth Stebbing
Vice Chair of Trustees
I have lived in Crowborough since 1986 and been associated with the academy as both a community member and parent. My two daughter‘s have successfully gone onto University, one is a Diagnostic Radiography the other a Weather Scientist having gained a M.Met. in Meteorology and Climate Studies. I graduated with a B.Ed. Hons degree in Physical Education from Chelsea School of Human Movement, Eastbourne. Initially a teacher, but then transferring my knowledge of education and school governance, to working as an Associate Assessor Trainer for East Sussex Governor Services. Currently I am a part time supply teacher, Exam invigilator and Clerk to Governors. I am also a representative on the East Sussex Governors Forum and a governor at Northease Manor School. My own personal interests are sport and dance, but have wider community interests in Crowborough, including horticulture and Tangent Ladies.
Mr Alan Powell
I joined the Board of Trustees in September 2017, having previously been an associate trustee, whilst employed by East Sussex County Council, throughout 2016-2017. I am now largely retired following a long career in education. I graduated with a BA in Modern Languages and went on to undertake a MA in Education. I started my career in Inner London, before moving to Kent and subsequently to East Sussex in 2004. I was a headteacher for 17 years, leading one school in Kent before moving to East Sussex. I was a National Leader of Education and have been seconded to schools in challenging circumstances twice as well as carrying out school improvement work for the Local Authorities in both Kent and East Sussex. I still undertake some consultancy work in schools as well as school inspections in the south east. My other interests are principally based around sport but more now as a spectator rather than as a participant. My aim is to play an active role as a trustee providing both support and challenge to leaders as well as helping the school achieve its ambitions in any way I can.
Mrs Gwen Young
I joined the Board of Trustees in March 2018. I was born and educated in Scotland, I studied for a BSc in maths at Strathclyde University in Glasgow then took a PGCE. I taught maths in Scotland for nine years before moving to Australia. On returning to the UK, I moved to Crowborough in 1989. I became parent governor and chair of St John’s C E Primary where my children attended. I also became chair of the Crowborough Governors’ council and attended the East Sussex Governors’ committee where I represented the views of Crowborough district schools. I have been involved with the charity Cancer Research UK for over twenty years and I am chair of a local fund raising committee. This has provided an opportunity to make contacts with businesses and councillors in the local area. In 2000 I joined the staff of Beacon maths department, where I taught mostly sixth form on a part-time basis. Over these years I have seen Beacon develop into an excellent school for the local community. I am keen to further develop the aspirations of students of all abilities. I retired in 2017 and now enjoy having time for my interests including sailing and gardening.
Mr Mark Francis Creamer
I have lived in Piltdown, Sussex for over 25 years with my wife Harriet having been born and brought up in London. I studied Geography and Land Economy at Cambridge University and went on to become a qualified Chartered Surveyor. Since qualifying I have worked in London as a commercial property valuer valuing large commercial properties such as shopping centres and office buildings both in the UK and across Europe. I have held various managerial positions in my career including Chair of two work based pension funds and latterly was Head of EMEA Valuation and advisory Services for CBRE, which is an international property advisory company. I retired in September 2017. I have three grown up children and enjoy travelling, gardening and hill walking especially in places like the Lake District. I am also the Chair of Trustees at Chailey Heritage Foundation. Chailey provides for the education and care of people who have physical disabilities and other complex health needs, particularly but not exclusively children and young persons. I became a trustee at Beacon in July 2018.
Matthew Colin Street
I am proud to have all my children currently at Beacon Academy - in years 13, 10 and 7. I studied BA (Hons) in History and Politics at Warwick University. Since then I have completed a PGCE, a Graduateship in Coaching Practice and a Post Graduate Certificate in Food and Grocery Management (with University of Edinburgh).
I moved to Crowborough in 2007 and am pleased to be have been an elected Town Councillor since 2010. In terms of work I have been the Branch Manager of Waitrose Crowborough for the past eight years, as well as being elected to the Partnership Council (one of the governing authorities in the John Lewis Partnership). I am also privileged to be a trustee in the Crowborough Foodbank and an “actor” (word used loosely) in the last seven Crowborough Player pantomimes. I have been married to Mel for twenty years and am part of All Saints Church, Crowborough.
Ms Lorna Louise Conroy Simm
I am delighted to be a part of Beacon’s Board of Trustees. I have one child at Beacon and am passionate about the inclusive culture and ethos Beacon cultivates that encourages all students to be the best that they can be. Before going Beacon my children where at St Mary’s Primary school in Hartfield where I served as a governor for 7 years, and as Chair of Governor’s for 3 years. In that time we saw the school move from Requires Improvement to Outstanding in our last SIAMS inspection. Ofsted judgements are just an indicator of the hard work that schools do beyond the classroom and I strongly believe that school culture plays a huge part in enabling students and staff to excel.. If students are happy, healthy and felling safe then they are ready to learn.
I am also a Trustee at Allsorts Youth Group in Brighton, a role that has drawn on my experience in governance and training and my strong values of inclusivity and equality. Working as a Trustee at primary, secondary school and a young people’s charity over the last 9 years has brought a huge breath of experience and knowledge that I really enjoy using at Beacon. I am particularly interested in Wellbeing and Mental Health issues as well as Diversity & Inclusion.
I love Beacon’s modern and holistic approach. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for education, but I see Beacon’s flexibility and understanding in supporting its students and the impact that support has on attendance and mental health. I would like to support the Academy in continuing with this approach and ensuring that staff and students are able to best use their talents and to feel inspired and enriched by their time there.
Mr Richard Paul Finnis
I joined Beacon on the first day of becoming an Academy back in 2012, during this time I have many positive changes. As a site operative I see the day to day life of the Academy, and fully believe in the vision of Beacon. Before this I was a Retail Manager for a large company.
I have been involved in a variety of different projects at the school; from refurbishing the reception area to designing the new toilets. In my spare time I have also revived the horticulture area to give staff and students an outside teaching and learning space. This has really started to take shape this year and now facilitates an extracurricular gardening club that will hopefully inspire future generations of gardeners and those who care for the environment.
I was nominated and won the Beacon Award (in 2018). In the role of Staff Trustee, I am looking forward to contributing further to the improvements across the school for the benefit of our students and staff. Outside of school, my hobbies include traveling, fitness, cooking and gardening.
Mrs Victoria Janette Horrell
I grew up in East Sussex and after completing my History degree at the University of the West of England in 2007, I returned to Sussex University to complete my PGCE. Beacon was my first placement as a trainee teacher, and I was lucky enough to be surrounded by inspirational colleagues who instilled in me not just a love of teaching, but a love of the school! Apart from a brief second placement elsewhere, I have been at Beacon ever since. In that time I have taught History, Science, Geography and Religious Studies, as well as spending many years as Head of Department and Head of Year. After having children of my own, I made the decision to become part time and have loved the opportunity to focus again on my classroom teaching. I was thrilled to be elected as staff trustee in September 2019.