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The Trustees

  • Victoria Del Giudice, Trust Board Chair+

    Victoria brings to the board a variety of experience from industry, including Finance, recruitment and business management. After taking a break from employment to raise her own two children Victoria felt she needed to put her skills to good use and made enquiries about joining the original Management Committee of the Pupil Referral Service (PRS). After a year as Parent Governor, supporting the PRS to move from maintained schools to academy status, she was elected Chair of the new Trust board.

    Victoria’s passion and commitment to Ethos Academy Trust is driven by a desire to connect with people who want to share their expertise and passion with causes throughout Kirklees that need help to support the most vulnerable in our community. She actively seeks out opportunities to network and introduces charities, schools and the corporate world so that they work together for the benefit of all. Being part of shaping the future of education for those with Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties is an honour and a privilege that Victoria doesn’t take lightly. She will strive to ensure that Ethos Academy Trust only enhances the opportunities open to those young people in Kirklees.

  • Lorraine Absolon+

    Lorraine has almost 30 years’ experience of working for Kirklees Local Authority. Whilst taking on a number of roles during this time, the focus has always been on improving educational outcomes for vulnerable learners.

    Following an initial period of time as an Education Social Worker, Lorraine moved into a role which enabled her to work in partnership with schools to develop whole-school strategies aimed at improving attendance. This developed into a wider role across the local authority providing strategic advice and guidance regarding attendance and behaviour, linking in to the broader school improvement offer.

    When the opportunity arose to concentrate on improving outcomes for children and young people in care Lorraine saw this as a natural move, linking her social work training and qualifications with the extensive experience of working within the learning services. She is currently a Team Manager in the Kirklees Virtual School for Looked After Children with key responsibilities that include ensuring that every child looked after by Kirklees has an appropriate school place, they are making at least the expected level of progress and are able to experience success within their learning journey.

    Lorraine has continued her own learning journey, achieving a MA in Education Management in addition to seeking out opportunities for continued professional and personal development.

    As a Trustee Lorraine’s focus will be:

    Ensuring that there is a high-quality curriculum offer that is flexible enough to meet the needs of students who have experienced barriers to their learning;
    Ensuring that members of staff have the skills – and support – necessary to enable students to make progress and achieve their potential;
    Ensuring that the Trust is able to contribute to building capacity in schools across the local authority to meet the needs of vulnerable learners.
    Away from work, Lorraine’s interests include reading, gardening and travel.

  • Jane Acklam OBE+

    Jane is the founding CEO of South Pennine Academies (SPA). The Trust has eight open academies, including secondary, primary, two of which are primary free schools. There are plans for a further academy to join in the autumn term. In addition, the trust has two preschools serving the two to four age group. The trust also operates Huddersfield Horizon SCITT with over forty trainees. SPA has modest plans for growth over the next two years.

    Jane has extensive experience as a secondary Headteacher, achieving two outstanding inspections, in a highly deprived area of West Yorkshire. She has been involved as a System Leader in School to School Support for over eight years. Whilst a Head she also led a very successful Teaching School Alliance.

    Jane became an NLE in 2011, was awarded Headteacher of the Year for the North in 2009 in the Teaching Awards and has received an award from the General Teaching Council in 2009 for Excellence in Professional Development, Equality and Diversity.

    In the 2017 New Year’s Honour List she was awarded an OBE, for her services to Education. She continues to be highly committed to her belief that high-quality educational experiences are a right for every child in our society and South Pennine Academies is determined to improve life chances for all students in its academies.

  • Graham Dewhirst+

    Graham enjoyed a long career as a partner in a private equity company having originally qualified as a chartered accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers. He has served on a large number of boards including a number of not for profit organisations.

    In 2015, with his family, he helped to create a charity focussed on helping young people in North Kirklees. The charity, Let June Make A Difference, is named after his late wife who died in April 2014.

    Graham enjoys music and watching sport from the comfort of an armchair.

  • Gary Cox+

    Gary brings 28 years of business leadership from his EMEA role working for Johnson and Johnson. He is a Chartered Management Accountant and successfully led Marketing, Finance, Strategy & Insights and IT functions during his tenure. He brings a wide range of experience, from creating commercial strategies in EMEA, to introducing initiatives to help improve employee performance through mentorship programs. He is passionate about people being given the opportunity to develop themselves and maximise their skills. He spent six years as a voluntary school governor at his old primary school. He is an official mentor at Leeds University Business School. He recently left Johnson and Johnson to pursue a career in mentoring & coaching to help businesses and individuals. He is also keen to help people improve their mental wellbeing and overall outlook on life. He is in the final stages of completing a book and program to help people improve their chances in life.

  • Rob Whitehouse+

    Rob is a skilled practitioner who brings a wealth of teaching and leadership experience. Over the past three decades, he has worked in Education, fulfilling many roles in both the Voluntary and Maintained sector. He helped to devise guidelines for safeguarding young people, in response to the Children Act, for the Church of England in the early 1990s. Rob has valuable experience overseeing the implementation of the Local Management of Schools in North Sheffield and taking part in strategic social action including sitting on the Sheffield Crime Prevention Panel. He has worked as an Associate QCA Consultant helping to implement GCSE and A Level reforms. He sat on the Teacher panel of Farming and Countryside Education, an environmental charity, for several years and is a keen advocate of outdoor education.

    With a track record in troubleshooting, rebuilding damaged relationships, resolving disagreements and team building, Rob has developed a unique skill-set which includes SEND, analysis of systems, data, and school improvement.

    He looks forward to serving as the SEND Link Trustee and hopes to help see the exciting vision of the Trust realised.

  • Karen Bennett+

    Karen has over 25 years of experience in a wide variety of HR roles gained within both a multinational chemical company and a professional services environment. Karen is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personal and Development and she brings this HR background alongside her Operational leadership roles, significant project management exposure and experience in managing diverse organisational and cultural change programmes to the board.

    After chairing two apprenticeship trailblazers and supporting the development of the new T level qualifications, Karen changed career two years ago and is now a Senior Policy Advisor within the Apprenticeship Directorate for the Department of Education.

    Karen brings with her a passion to support young people to achieve their full potential in all areas of life and is a school governor at the Manchester Academy. Karen brings both her private sector career and HR background combined with her more recent experience of developing policy options within the civil service to the trust.

    Karen enjoys continually learning and trying new hobbies.  She is a qualified yoga teacher, Reiki Master, British Sign Language (Level 2), enjoys meditation and has recently taken up knitting – although still has not managed crochet!

  • Donna Tandy+

    Donna is the Deputy CEO and Academy Improvement Partner for Focus-Trust whose vision is ‘great academies at the heart of their communities’. The Trust has 15 primary academies across West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire West. Four of these are in Kirklees. Donna works in partnership with school, ensuring all staff and children are able to fulfil the commitment of ‘learning together, making the difference’.

    Donna has extensive experience as a Primary Headteacher on the East Yorkshire coast and a proven track record of securing sustainable improvement in her own schools and through supporting others. She has been a Pupil Premium reviewer and has a particular interest in improving the life chances for disadvantaged pupils. She is passionate that the curriculum on offer recognises and celebrates the context, but also provides opportunities for pupils to ‘look out’ and experience the wider world to build their social capital and improve life chances.

    Donna is keen that this role will promote MAT to MAT working and collaboration across the sector that will benefit both Ethos and Focus-Trust, as both organisations enter a new and exciting phase of their development.

  • Jem Greenwell+

    Jem is an executive business leader in the global food and beverage industry. Having progressed her career in different roles covering Sales, Marketing, New Product, and Packaging Development, Business Development and most recently General Management, she has created a strong platform on which her leadership credentials are built.

    Bringing a wide experience in strategic business planning for sustainable growth, successful change management, commercial leadership and customer understanding she considers these experiences valuable to support the central Ethos Academy Trust team in their mission to nurture inclusive learning communities. Believing that people are the key to any successful organisation; she brings experience of mentoring to help and support people to excel and realise their potential.

    She believes education should be available to all regardless of background and circumstance, and that the work of the Ethos Academy Trust plays a great part in ensuring the life chances of its students are maximised.

    Jem hopes that as a trustee, her business experience will help the Trust realise its growth aspirations and that it is able to support more and more children achieve their dreams.

Get in Touch

Ethos Academy Trust

Field Hill Centre
Batley Field Hill
WF17 0BQ

Telephone01924 478 482


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