Who's who

Trustees of L.E.A.D. Academy Trust: 

  • Diana Owen CBE
  • Mark Blois
  • Deryn Harvey
  • Peter Berry
  • Howard Dowell

Directors of L.E.A.D. Multi-Academy Trust

  • Diana Owen CBE
  • Mark Blois
  • Chris Richards
  • Ian Hancocks
  • Melvin Kenyon
  • Teresa Shrestha
  • Nick Yidlibi

Members of L.E.A.D. Multi-Academy Trust

  • Mark Blois
  • Deryn Harvey
  • L.E.A.D. Academy Trust

Directors of L.E.A.D. Services

  • Diana Owen CBE
  • Peter Berry
  • Michael Brunner
  • Bobby Thandi
  • Catherine Taylor

Staff Members

  • Diana Owen CBE
  • Bobby Thandi
  • Matt Lawrence
  • Neil Spencelayh
  • Dale Hardy
  • Louise Bird
  • Ayshia Broughton
  • Sophie Hayes-Watson
  • Tanya Jones
  • Nigel Hinson
  • Nadia Hinson
  • Kim Slater

Diana Owen

Diana Owen CBE

Diana is a Trustee and the Chief Executive of L.E.A.D. Academy Trust. She has a wealth of experience, having worked in a number of different schools. She was the headteacher of Huntingdon Academy (founding school of the Trust) for fourteen years and led the school from special measures through to two consecutive outstanding Ofsted judgements. In 2010 she became an executive head taking responsibility and accountability for more than one school. Diana’s previous teaching experience has been in both Nottingham and London. She has supported other schools as a National Leader of Education, a Primary Strategy Consultant Leader, coach and mentor. Diana has also lived and worked in San Francisco and Hong Kong. 

In 2008 Diana became a National Leader of Education which has involved her working with and supporting schools’ leadership teams nationally. As part of this role she has also met with ministers on a number of occasions to help steer government agendas. 

Diana has been involved in a number of national leadership steering groups and research projects, most recently with the Centre for Social Justice on the report Breakthrough Britain 2015: Closing The Divide, tackling educational inequality in England.  Diana has delivered presentations to audiences nationally and internationally. 

In June 2015, Diana was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for her services to education.


Mark BloisMark Blois

Mark is a Partner and Head of the education team at Browne Jacobson, a leading national education law firm. He has almost twenty years’ experience as an education lawyer and over ten years as a governor across the maintained school, academy and further education sectors. He is a National Leader of Governance (NLG) and has been recommended as a Leader in the field of education in the Chambers UK & Legal 500 legal professional directories for over ten years, the former of which has described him as “an industry leader”. Mark has chaired L.E.A.D. throughout its journey from a primary school to a stand-alone academy and onto the large multi-academy trust that L.E.A.D is today. He has previously served as a member of the Regional Council of the Learning and Skills Council and as a Director of the National Governors' Association. Mark regularly speaks at conferences including those of the Association of School & College Leaders, National Association of Head Teachers, National Association of School Business Management and National Governors’ Association and he has been interviewed by BBC Panorama, BBC Radio Four and Sky News. He has contributed over 100 papers, articles and book chapters to education literature on a variety of aspects of education law and has given oral evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee. He is also a long-standing Teach First mentor. Mark is married with twin daughters. 

Deryn HarveyDeryn Harvey

Deryn joined The Learning Partnership as a non-exec Director in August 2009. From 2002 to 2009 as Director of The Innovation Unit, Deryn supported hundreds of schools, colleges and LAs in their quest for solutions to the biggest challenges facing the system. In her former privileged position of senior civil servant in the DFES, she and the IU team had direct access to ministers and policy makers, thereby helping bridge the gap between practitioners and policy formation.

Formerly, Deryn was the Headteacher of Willow Tree Primary School in the London Borough of Ealing. One of the largest primary schools in England, Willow Tree was the result of an amalgamation of three schools undertaken by Deryn in 1993. She had seventeen years of headship experience.

During her time as a management consultant with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Deryn worked with a variety of government departments including the then Department for Children Schools and Families.

Currently Deryn is leading on the National College New Models of Leadership Programme, where she and her team are “out there” with practitioners, finding out what is going on on the ground and in turn advising practitioners, LAs and policy makers on the possible ways forward and implications for leadership. 


Peter Berry

Peter Berry

Peter is a marketing consultant working with a wide range of clients in the education, government and private sectors.

He has worked with the Department of Education on policy marketing issues and recently on its competitions for New Schools across the North of England. Other education projects include commissions for Teachers TV. He has also provided advice for numerous schools, education think tanks, a number of Children’s Services departments and a leading education recruitment consultancy. 

Peter was Director of Marketing and Communications for the National College of School Leadership (NCSL) for five years from its inception and played a leading role in establishing its reputation and impact nationally and internationally. His involvement across the range of policy and implementation issues associated with school leadership initiatives ensured and continues to ensure a depth of understanding of the schools’ landscape.

Prior to NCSL, he was Assistant Chief Executive (Marketing & Corporate Affairs) for City of York Council. He has worked as a consultant with public and private sector organisations in Slovakia, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark and Australia, as well as the UK.

He has been a member of the CIPR Awards Judging Panel and holds an Advanced Diploma in Public Relations. He studied at the University of Kent, the University of Wales Aberystwyth, Leeds Met University, and Manchester Grammar School. 


Howard DowellHoward Dowell

Howard’s professional background is as a Chartered Surveyor; he is a partner at Freeman Mitchell Chartered Surveyors, where he has worked for over thirty years.

He has many years of experience as a charity trustee; for twenty five years Howard was a Trustee for The Nottinghamshire Hospice.

Originally from the Nottinghamshire area, Howard attended West Bridgford Grammar School and obtained his degree in estate management from Reading University.


Chris RichardsChris Richards

Chris has worked in education all his life. After seventeen years as a Teacher, he worked in School Improvement Services in four local authorities. He was an Ofsted Inspector for many years and Head of School Improvement for two large local authorities. He has worked on several national projects and strategies, including the National Challenge and Achievement for All.

Chris set up his own education consultancy company in 2006, and is a Professional Partner and School Improvement Partner to a group of schools. He has supported many schools and local authorities in challenging circumstances and school improvement activities.

Most recently, Chris has become involved in school governance. He is Chair of Governors for three schools, Chair of the Management Committee for a local pupil referral unit, and on the governing body of a fifth school. He is passionate that all children have the right to achieve, and determined that deprivation should not be a barrier to success.


Ian Hancocks

Ian Hancocks

Ian Hancocks is part of the senior leadership team at Kaplan in the UK, a leading provider of finance, business and management training. He joined Kaplan's professional development business in 2010 as its managing director and during 2013 was appointed as leader of client solutions and account management across all of Kaplan UK’s businesses.

Ian is based in London; however, he spends much of his time around the UK meeting clients, prospective clients and his team. He is responsible for growing the business by winning new clients and ensuring innovative, high quality and consistent service to help Kaplan develop existing and new client relationships.

Ian previously worked in PricewaterhouseCoopers in corporate finance, before seven years at United Business Media in strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and digital and business unit leadership roles. He completed his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification in 2004.

After 10 years living in London he escaped to the countryside in 2011 and now lives in Lincolnshire with his wife, son and daughter.


Melvin Kenyon

Melvin Kenyon

Melvin worked for 20 years in retail for the John Lewis Partnership, Richard Shops, Boots, and T&S Stores where he was a member of the plc board for five years.  He later spent almost 10 years working for the National College for School Leadership, an agency of the Department for Education, in a variety of leadership roles, including Chief Operating Officer.  His core skills are in IT and he still carries out occasional pieces of IT consultancy.

He has also been responsible for a variety of other corporate services including HR, procurement, membership, and facilities management; he is qualified in programme and project management and in the management of risk.  Melvin is a non-executive director of Ongo (formerly North Lincolnshire) Homes where he also serves on the Audit and Risk Committee. Originally from Oldham he attended Manchester Grammar School and then studied at Oxford University where he gained a degree in Classics and Modern Languages.  He now lives in the East Midlands.


Michael Brunner

Michael Brunner

Michael has a pharmacology degree and spent a year in research working at the Wellcome Foundation before moving into the commercial world. He also studied for and gained a Diploma in Marketing from the Institute of Marketing.

He has over 30 years’ experience in sales, marketing and training, and team development in the healthcare and pharmaceutical arena. He has worked in the UK, as well as the Middle East, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

In 2008 he founded Harlaxton Associates, a consultancy based in Nottingham offering help to growing businesses, and training and development for staff and managers.


Catherine Taylor

Catherine Taylor

Catherine is a Partner and Head of the International Employment Team at Olswang LLP.  Catherine works on employment issues, both contentious and non-contentious and has specific expertise in complex multi-jurisdictional and High Court litigation (especially bonus and employee competition disputes) board level disputes and data protection.  Her practice is primarily employer focused, with a particular interest in the financial, media and technology sectors.  On occasion, Catherine also acts for senior executives in those sectors.

Catherine is a published author (see, for example, Employee Competition, Ed. Paul Goulding QC, 2nd Edition OUP) and a member of and sits on the management committee of the Employment Lawyers Association as Treasurer.


Bobby ThandiBobby Thandi

Bobby became the Deputy Chief Executive of the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust in February 2016.  He originally joined L.E.A.D. as the Business Director in January 2013 and is responsible for the strategic financial management, systems and operations of L.E.A.D. Academy Trust.

Bobby is a qualified chartered accountant and has previously worked within a large secondary school, free schools and the Children and Young People’s Department of a local authority.

Bobby has provided consultancy services for schools covering finance, ICT, catering, project management, premises design and development. He has also previously held senior finance roles with employers ranging from the Audit Commission to Derbyshire Police Authority.

Matt Lawrence

Matt Lawrence

Matt is a Director of Schools within the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust.  He is a member of the Senior Leadership Team and is responsible for leading on school improvement and quality assurance strategies across the academies. He plays an integral role within the Trust leading, both strategically and operationally, the support, advice and guidance that enable the academies to succeed and ensures the consistent delivery of L.E.A.D.’s principles and values.

Matt was an experienced, successful headteacher who recently led a school to an outstanding Ofsted judgement.  He has considerable experience of providing school-to-school support and has worked alongside other headteachers, both in mentoring and coaching roles, to drive forward the raising of standards and build capacity to ensure that improvement is sustained. 

Matt was acknowledged as being a very effective, inclusive headteacher, and was one of only 18 ‘Achievement for All’ Ambassadors supporting schools to improve the attainment of vulnerable and disadvantaged children, including those identified with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in reading, writing and maths. He has worked closely with schools to develop a tailored programme of observation, coaching, professional development and challenge.

Neil Spencelayh

Neil Spencelayh

Neil became the Director of the L.E.A.D. Multi-Academy Trust in February 2016.  He is responsible for leading on school improvement and quality assurance strategies across the academies.  He plays an integral role within the Trust leading, both strategically and operationally, the support, advice and guidance that enable the academies to succeed and ensures the consistent delivery of L.E.A.D.’s principles and values.

Prior to this, Neil worked in Lincolnshire schools, gaining significant experience through a range of leadership roles, including over 11 years of headship experience in two contrasting schools. During his first headship at Spitalgate Primary School, the school was recognised for its rapid improvement and was judged to be one of the 100 most improved schools in the country. Neil’s second headship involved establishing a new school, Witham St. Hugh’s Academy, within a new community. This academy was judged outstanding by Ofsted across all aspects of its work. The academy also received accreditation as a National Support School and National Teaching School under Neil’s leadership.

Using a range of coaching and mentoring strategies, Neil has led school-to-school support since 2007, working with colleagues in many varied settings and contexts. He became a National Leader of Education in 2013, primarily working with leadership teams of schools judged as inadequate or requiring improvement. Neil has also undertaken the Additional Inspector role during Ofsted inspections. 

Dale Hardy

Dale Hardy

Dale is a Director of Schools for the secondary phase within the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust.  He is responsible for leading on school improvement and quality assurance strategies across the academies.  Dale offers the support, challenge, advice and guidance that enable the academies to succeed and ensures the consistent delivery of L.E.A.D.’s principles and values.

Prior to this, Dale has worked across both primary and secondary phases in a variety of roles as a secondary principal and senior leader, primary strategy consultant, NQT monitoring adviser for a local authority and as an Advanced Skills Teacher for MFL across Lincolnshire.

Dale was responsible for opening and leading one of the second tranche of free schools from April 2013 in one of the most deprived areas of the country. This academy was judged ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted across all aspects of its work in April 2015.

Dale has led school-to-school support since April 2002, working with colleagues in many varied settings and contexts across the country including regional and national delivery as a leader in primary and secondary languages.

Louise BirdLouise Bird

Louise has worked within education for most of her career. After five years of working for a local authority in different administrative positions, Louise became the Office Manager at Huntingdon Academy in 2006.

After completing the Certificate of School Business Administration, Louise then progressed to become the School Business Manager. During 2010 Huntingdon began a close partnership with Edna G. Olds Academy and Louise worked jointly between the two schools, helping to support and develop their school office. Louise worked very closely with the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust especially as it began to develop and evolve and is now the Business Manager for the Trust.

In 2013 Louise became involved in school governance by becoming a Parent Governor at her daughter’s school.


Ayshia Broughton

Ayshia Broughton

Since 2004, Ayshia has been applying her HR knowledge and skills in a range of settings in both the public and private sector.  Much of Ayshia’s career has been spent within the educational environment, working across primary and secondary schools, as well as a further education college.

After providing Nottinghamshire schools with a comprehensive HR service for a number of years as a member of the local authority’s Children and Young People’s department, Ayshia joined the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust as the HR Business Partner in August 2014, assuming responsibility for the operation and development of the HR function within the Trust.

Ayshia is a CIPD qualified practitioner with a wealth of experience gained through supporting leaders with a range of complex casework. 


Sophie Watson

Sophie Hayes-Watson

Sophie joined the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust in September 2015 as Finance Officer.

Sophie is currently studying for her AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification and is hoping to go on to complete the CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) qualification, to strengthen her knowledge and understating of finance and accounting.

Sophie has a background of managerial and sales roles and most recently worked for a local charity as Finance Officer, which she found very rewarding. 


Tanya Harrison

Tanya Jones

Tanya joined the L.E.A.D. Academy trust in March 2016 as Finance Business Partner.

Tanya is a qualified accountant and has worked in a secondary school and the head office of a multi-academy trust in a variety of roles, including Business Manager, Financial Accountant and Internal Auditor.

Prior to working in schools, Tanya was in the Civil Service in a range of finance and non-finance roles.



Nigel Hinson

Royal Society of Musicians

Nigel is a Senior Consultant at the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust. After lessons with Alan Hacker, he gained a scholarship audition at the Royal Academy of Music, being taught by Georgina Dobree and Keith Puddy. He subsequently gained a Masters Degree in performance and composition with Colin Lawson at Sheffield University. 

Nigel set up Veloce Classics recording company and recorded much of the solo clarinet repertoire with Malcolm Martineau and Keith Puddy. In 2000 he was awarded an ARAM by the Royal Academy of Music for distinction in the music profession. He is a partner in a successful private music school "The Hinson School of Music" with his wife Nadia.

Nigel is in demand as a soloist, Chamber musician and as an adjudicator and is a regular soloist on Classic FM and BBC Radio 3. He was elected to the Royal Society of Musicians in 1995 and is listed in the International Who's Who of Music and Musicians. Many composers have written pieces for Nigel including Sir Richard Rodney Bennett "Ballad in Memory of Shirley Horn", Paul Harris "Encore" and many clarinet works by Paul Harvey including "Hinsong".

Nigel owns the late Big Band leader Artie Shaw's Buffet clarinet. 


Nadia HinsonNadia Hinson  GRSM (Hons) LRAM LTCL
Royal Society of Musicians

Nadia is a Senior Consultant at the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust.  She graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 1989. Having studied the violin with Manoug Parikian and piano with Jean Harvey she began a career as a freelance violinist and accompanist, and co-founded the VELOCE ensemble (clarinet quintet), touring throughout Britain performing specially commissioned works and her own arrangements and compositions for that genre.

She is currently an owner and Director of Hinson School of Music and an International examiner for the ABRSM, and much in demand as an adjudicator for the British and International Federation of Music Festivals. She is also a member of the Royal Society of Musicians.


Kim Slater

Kim Slater

Kim is our Writer in Residence and runs the L.E.A.D. Urban Pen creative writing groups and other creative writing initiatives, in our academies.

She holds a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing and also an MA in Creative Writing, both from Nottingham Trent University. 

A critically acclaimed author, her debut Young Adult novel, Smart, which is set in Nottingham and published by Macmillan Children’s Books in 2014, has been shortlisted for the 2015 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and the East Midlands Book Award, together with four other regional awards. 

Kim is A.A.T. qualified, with more than twenty years of experience working in school finance and she also works with a number of the L.E.A.D. academies as a self-employed bursar.


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