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 (governors) is to ensure that the children and young people in our schools 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 it’s students, and the performance management of staff;
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent

The board meet regularly at formal meetings and at sub-committee meetings to ensure regular and proactive support and challenge.


The Board of Trustees has two main subcommittees:

Teaching and Learning Committee

The main duty of the committee 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.

The key focus areas are to monitor and review:

  • the progress against targets of the Beacon Academy Improvement Plan and department plans
  • the self-evaluation form (SEF) of Beacon Academy
  • the extensive analysis of target-setting and performance data, including homework, assessment and examinations for all students
  • the development of an appropriate ethos that facilitates learning and student achievement, and the establishment of appropriate rewards and disciplinary procedures in support of this ethos
  • the provision of careers and business links, including work experience programmes
  • the implementation and review of Academy policies relevant to teaching and learning, including curriculum, SEND, safeguarding, behaviour and welfare.

Business, Audit and Finance Committee

The main duty of the committee is to rigorously monitor, evaluate and review Academy practice to ensure the viability and effectiveness of the organisation through effective business and financial planning.

The key focus areas are to:

  • ensure that the Academy Trust monitors and takes action to meet the requirements of the Academies Financial Handbook and relevant accounting regulations
  • approve the Academy’s budget
  • recommend the annual accounts to the Trust Board
  • monitor and review income and expenditure on a regular basis and ensure compliance with the overall financial plan for the Academy Trust
  • monitor and review procedures for ensuring the effective implementation and operation of financial procedures
  • ensure the Academy Trust’s commercial and fundraising activities are carried out effectively
  • oversee significant investment and capital financing decisions
  • appoint an external auditor and review the annual financial statements for submission to the board
  • keep under review the effectiveness of internal control systems
  • to ensure the review and implementation of Academy policies relevant to Business, Audit and Finance, including human resources, facilities and buildings and lettings policies.

Members and Trustees

The Board of Trustees is made up of the Academy Members, and the Trustees who are Directors appointed by the Members. In addition, the Board of Trustees has parent trustees who are usually parents (or have parental responsibility) of children at the school. Most are elected by the parents, however if not enough stand for election then the board of trustees can appoint an individual to the position. Staff governors are elected by those who are paid to work at the school and appointed by the Members on nomination by the Headteacher or by ballot. 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
    Chair Of Trustees & Company Member

    Photo of Mr Nigel Timothy Gourlay

    My wife and I have lived in Sussex for the past twenty three 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 governor of Beacon in April 2012 and was delighted to become chair of trustees in September 2013.

  • Mrs Sheila Margaret Holden
    Local Authority Trustee and Vice Chair

    Photo of Mrs Sheila Margaret Holden

    Sheila has lived in Sussex for nearly 40 years with her husband David. After doing a degree in Geography at Bristol University she went on to study Civil Engineering at City University in London. Additional studies at Brighton University enabled her to become a chartered civil engineer and subsequently a chartered town planner. She worked in local government for 30 years, initially developing and planning traffic management and highway schemes and assessing major development proposals. She moved into management at East Sussex County Council and went on to be an Assistant Director at Brighton and Hove City Council and Director of Planning and Environment at the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. Her roles included responsibility for delivery of local authority services including transport planning, highway maintenance, traffic management and planning, (policy and development control). She has been an independent consultant since 2006 providing advice on planning policy, sustainable transport and development management to public sector clients across the UK. During 2011/12 she worked with London 2012 advising business on how to reduce their travel demands in preparation for the Games. Sheila is also a Planning Inspector and has determined over 700 planning appeals in the last eight years. During 2013/14 Sheila served as President of The Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT).She was awarded the OBE for services to transport planning in 1996. Sheila and David enjoy outdoor activities including hill-walking (especially in Scotland) and ski-ing. They have travelled extensively in the USA visiting friends. She became a governor at Beacon in February 2015.

  • Mr Jeremy Colin Drew
    Company Member

    Photo of 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.

  • Dr John Robert Maddison
    Parent Trustee and Company Member

    Photo of Dr John Robert Maddison

    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.

  • Mr Christopher Michael Hinton
    Trustee and Chair of Teaching and Learning Committee

    Photo of Mr Christopher Michael Hinton

    I joined the Governing body in October 2015. I have been immersed in education since gaining a good honours 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. Beacon has rather enveloped my life, as my wife has also worked there 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 also co-written 5 History textbooks and worked for 3 years as a teacher trainer at Sussex University. Now retired I do a small about of educational consultancy work in the areas of curriculum and timetable. 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 would now like to contribute to Beacon becoming the natural school of choice for all the local community and feel I can offer some expertise towards this ambition in being a member of the Governor’s Teaching and Learning Committee. My personal interests centre on family, low level DIY, reading, walking, going away ( for the first time out of the school holidays!) politics, and watching sport; particularly football.

  • Mr Viral Dinkerrai Desai
    Trustee and Chair of Business, Audit and Finance Committee

    Photo of Mr Viral Dinkerrai Desai

    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

    Photo of Ms Anna Ruth Louise Robinson

    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 appointed as a member of the newly formed East Sussex School Improvement Board and elected as the Chair of Area Group One –Wealden and Coastal Schools.

    As the Headteacher 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 rigorous approach to achieving this has meant that we have exceeded our ambitions. We are the number one school in East Sussex and have been for the last two academic years for the government’s headline Progress 8 measure. We are also now in an esteemed group of 7% of schools nationally, who for two years in a row are rated as ‘well above average’. Despite our success over the last few years, complacency is never an option. My ambitions and vision for our students, staff and our school are a strong as ever for us to sustain and retain our local and national positions and for our students to leave Beacon Academy with the best possible set of qualifications for them and therefore stand shoulder to shoulder with their contemporaries be it locally, nationally or globally and to ultimately be happy and successful in life.

    Beacon is a forward thinking, thriving and ambitious school, Teaching School and National Support School. We provide a happy, safe and purposeful environment for all of our students and staff. 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.

  • Mr Peter Anthony Weston

    Photo of Mr Peter Anthony Weston

    I have been a Governor since January 2007. My two daughters attended Beacon CC during the nineties, went on to University and have now embarked on successful careers in fashion design and journalism/PR. My own career begun in science teaching, continued in a psychotherapeutic community for young people before I took up a post in East Sussex CC where I was Assistant Director for ‘Pupils and Families’ until 2005. For the next three years I served as Director for Children and Learners for the South East Region with a national role in respect of Safeguarding and SEN. I am now semi-retired, taking on the odd piece of consultancy and pursuing my interests in photography, walking and gardening. My ambition is to try in whatever way I can to help Beacon CC continue to strive for excellence in all it does and to repay in small part all that the College did for my daughters.

  • Mrs Margaret Elizabeth Stebbing

    Photo of Mrs Margaret Elizabeth Stebbing

    I have lived in Crowborough since 1986 and been involved at all levels with the college. Currently as a parent (two children, one in Y12 and another studying Radiography at UCS) , but previously as a teacher and adult education student. My own personal interests are sport and dance, but have wider community interests in Crowborough, including horticulture and Tangent Ladies. I am currently working as supply teacher and an Associate Assessor Trainer for East Sussex Governor Services.

  • Mr Alan Powell

    Photo of 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

    Photo of 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

    Photo of 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 a trustee of Chailey Heritage Foundation, which 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.

  • Mr Christopher Richard Robin Courtney
    Staff Trustee

    Photo of Mr Christopher Richard Robin Courtney

    I attended Brownlow College an integrated mixed comprehensive secondary school, before studying for a BEd in Business with Maths at the University of Queens, Stranmillis Campus. While studying for my degree, I earned a scholarship between Year 2 and 3 which allowed me to study at Morningside College, Iowa, with a focus on Business, Economics and Education. While in America, I was able to spend my spare time travelling across the country, with the most enjoyable trip being a 12 day missionary trip to Louisiana and Mississippi, shortly after hurricane Katrina. After graduating, I moved to England and have worked at a wide range of schools, including a grammar school, Church of England School and a state comprehensive. I joined Beacon in September 2014 as Head of Business, Economics and ICT and during that time I have enjoyed the atmosphere at the school and the beliefs the school have, with a clear focus on teaching and learning across the Academy. I have also, enjoyed the opportunity to work on vocational qualifications at Beacon, an area which I have a real passion for.

  • Mrs Emma Austen
    Honorary Officer

    Photo of Mrs Emma Austen

    I joined Beacon Academy Board of Trustees in September 2015. I was educated at a local comprehensive in Tunbridge Wells and went on to West Kent College. I am an associate member of CIPD and have worked at a local, global insurance company for 20 years, the last of which have been in Human Resources. I feel passionately about fairness and equality which is why I went in to HR. In my day to day job I can ensure everyone gets opportunities regardless of their ability. My daughter (Year 13) and my son (Year 7) attend Beacon and I think it is a great school. With my technical background I can help the headteacher and her senior leadership team have the right people in the right place to get the school going from strength to strength. I want this school to outshine all other local schools; giving the young people that attend the best start in life through a fabulous education.

  • Matthew Colin Street
    Honorary Officer

    Photo of 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.

Trustee attendance 2017/2018

Trustee Register of Interests 2018/2019

Beacon Academy Trustee Information 2018/2019

Articles of Association

Governance Scheme of Delegation