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Diocese of Worcester

Multi-Academy Trust

DoWMAT Board of Directors / Trustees: Pen Portraits

Hugh Richards is a barrister specialising in town and country planning and environmental law. He works in Birmingham and lives in Kidderminster. Hugh has been actively involved in the educational sector in Worcestershire for the last fifteen years with roles that include:
1996 to date: Local Authority governor at Chaddesley Corbett Endowed Primary School (CCEPS) (a single form entry Voluntary Aided school) including Chair of Governors 2000-2004.
2010 to date: Chairman, Chaddesley Corbett Educational Foundation (a charity owning the land and buildings of CCEPS and other assets valued at £4m) whose objects are to support CCPS and make grants to residents of the parish under 25 in the furtherance of their education.·
2009 to 2012: Member of Interim Executive Board of Lickhill Primary School, Stourport. Initially appointed as lay-member by the Secretary of State, but elected Chairman after 6 months by other 3 professional members.
September 2006: invited by Worcestershire County Council to present to Ofsted and the DfE on draft guidance on schools causing concern.
2004-2006: Chairman of Governors, The Marlpool First School (now St Catherine’s CE Primary School). Appointed by Worcestershire County Council as an additional Governor to a school in Special Measures.
2004: Chairman Appointments Panel for headteachers to Church of England primary schools in the Wyre Forest Review
2003-2004: Chairman of Governors, Cliffey House Special School, Hanley Castle. Appointed by Worcestershire County Council to this school which was ‘causing concern’.
2002 to date: Member Worcestershire County Council Independent Appeals Panel (exclusions).

Claire Davies qualified as a teacher in 1988 and has since taught across the primary age range in a number of different schools; all with their own distinct challenges.

In 2009, following a brief spell as the Acting Headteacher in a 2 form entry Church of England Primary School in Worcester, she became Headteacher of a one form entry Church school in Malvern Link; a school with a high percentage of disadvantaged children. This was a school in Special Measures and as such, her role in the initial years held many challenges; stabilizing staffing, tackling deep rooted underachievement, improving teaching and learning, introducing robust data / pupil tracking systems, building positive relationships / trust, improving behaviour and restoring staff confidence and morale. After a year of hard work, the school celebrated its removal from Special Measures.

In 2011, Claire supported this school through its conversion to academy status and helped form a learning community within the four partnership schools where high expectations were transformed into high levels of progress and attainment for all pupils. This experience strongly confirmed to Claire the substantial impact working collaboratively with other schools can have on continuing school improvement.

From September 2019, this headship role was combined with the Executive Headship of a small village school with mixed age classes.

Claire began her role as CEO role for the Diocese of Worcester Multi Academy Trust in September 2017.

Alan Soper has a business background, having been Managing Director of a number of companies in logistics and facilities management. Alan is a graduate in Mathematics and has an MBA from Henley Business School.

Former employers include AMEC, National Freight Corporation, EMCOR and Biffa.

Alan has recently joined Monmouthshire Housing Association where he a Director and Chair of Audit & Risk.

Previous roles include; director and Chair of Audit for Teign Housing Association and director of the Bishop Anthony Educational Trust, the MAT for the Diocese of Hereford.

Living in Alfrick, Alan was Chairman of Alfrick & Lulsley Community Shop for seven years and is a Churchwarden for Leigh & Bransford. His non-work interests include singing, acting and directing amateur theatre as well as extensive travelling.

Tim Reid became the Director Education for Diocese of Worcester in June 2021 after serving as the Deputy Director of Education from September 2016. During this time, he has been successful in creating, developing and implementing the Diocesan Board of Education’s (DBE) School Effectiveness work, whilst further improving the DBE’s wider offer of support. Tim manages the DBE’s central team and the team of School Effectiveness Advisers, providing training and support for the 100 schools within the Diocese as well as varying levels of bespoke school effectiveness support for around 40 Church of England and Community schools in Worcestershire and Dudley. He works closely with Worcestershire Children First and Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. He is a member of both Dudley and Worcestershire Schools Forum. Tim meets regularly with the Assistant Regional Director of Ofsted to provide insights and updates on the quality of Education in the Church of England Schools in the Diocese of Worcester.

Before taking up the role of Deputy DDE, Tim was headteacher of a Church of England Primary School and independent School Improvement consultant.  


Sam Porter graduated from Liverpool University in 1997 with a B.Ed. hons degree, specialising in English. During her training, she had the opportunity to learn from inspirational teachers and leaders who, in spite of significant challenges, encouraged and nurtured children to aim high. Sam relocated to East Sussex to take up her first teaching position and became lead for science. Two years later, she moved to Gloucestershire which is now home. After two further years teaching in Tewkesbury, where Sam led Mathematics, she became Deputy Headteacher at a single form entry primary school in Stroud leading aspects of School Improvement and Assessment. During this time, Sam worked alongside the Local Authority and became acting Headteacher of a small rural school and thoroughly enjoyed the challenges that school leadership brought. Securing her first Headship in 2004 and successfully completing NPQH, Sam balanced the demands of teaching and leading a small Church of England school with approx. 80 pupils on roll. Sam is currently Headteacher of a large Church of England Primary School in Cheltenham, with approximately 500 pupils on roll. She remains passionate about primary education and the value of leading Church Schools both now and in the future.

Sarah Riley was appointed CEO of Elements Trust in January 2023. She was previously headteacher of a large Church of England Primary school in Dudley and, from November 2021, this headship role was combined with the Executive Headship of another local Church of England Primary school.  In 2021-22, Sarah supported both schools through their conversion to academy status and helped form a collaborative learning community within the four founding schools. 

Sarah qualified in 1990 and worked as a teacher and school leader in a range of Birmingham and Dudley schools before joining Elements Trust in January 2023. Whilst teaching and leading in a range of primary schools, each with their own distinct challenges, Sarah developed a passion for educational change and development and is fully committed to the education of all children and young people, irrespective of their starting point.   

Chris Stephens has worked in Board and SLT positions in industry for 35 years in commercial and non-commercial organisations.

With a Marketing, Sales and Analytics background he has experience in delivering success in some of the largest blue-chip organisations in the world including UB, Kraft Foods, BT, Sainsbury and WHSmiths.
Working with famous brands and major clients across fast-moving consumer goods manufacturing and retailing to telecoms and professional services in the UK and across the globe.

Over last 8 years, he has worked in education and learning and in public finance Board roles with City & Guilds Group and CIPFA helping to commercialise these organisations in their evolution as sustainable social enterprises.
Moving to the West Midlands and living and working in the region since 1993 his non-work interests include gardening, sports (park-running, badminton and retired footballer), sightseeing and cars.

Marcus Iles is a founder and consultant with 25 years’ experience in activating business strategies.  He is also a globally award-winning creative, and an accredited and experienced mentor, coach and facilitator.

Claire Daffern studied Theology and Education at the University of Cambridge before completing her PGCE.  Claire taught across KS1 and KS2 in schools in Fulham and Wimbledon, taking on a range of additional responsibilities, before moving on to a Deputy Headteacher post in Kingston upon Thames.  Her role included responsibility for raising standards in Teaching and Learning, as well as leading Maths, English and RE, working alongside other lead practitioners in the area. She was also Designated Safeguarding Lead.  Claire took a break from teaching to get married and have children but has continued her interest in education as a Chair of Governors and overseeing the transition of a local school into the DoWMAT.  She is also a qualified bookkeeper.

As well as having a keen interest in singing and being a trustee of Platinum Choral Foundation, Claire is actively involved with her local churches.  Although a full-time mum to her three young children, Claire currently works with others in her benefice, and within the Diocese, to develop and nurture links between the church and children and young people.  She is involved in leading services for all ages, worship in schools and numerous outreach projects, including running a children’s choir and church toddler group.

Previous Board Members


Sean Witheford (Resigned 4.11.18) has a BSC(Hons) in Production and Operations Management. In his working life Sean is the Managing Director of a local company, Jet Plant Hire Limited, that has a turnover of over £12m and 120 employees based out of 2 sites in Evesham and Newton Abbot. Sean is responsible for the strategic development of the company, all commercial and financial aspects, personnel, health and safety, and he oversees the general operations. More information on the company is available at .

Outside of work Sean has lived in South Littleton for over 15 years and has 4 children that have all gone through the village school. Sean sits on the PCC of St Michael's church and until May 2016 was the Chairman of the Parish Council serving circa 8 years. Sean is the Co-Chair of Governors at The Littletons School. Sean also manages the under 16’s football team in the village as well.


Ann Mundy BA PGCE (Resigned 23.4.18) qualified as a teacher in 1978 and has worked in three schools, teaching the full range of primary aged children. She has been a school governor, a deputy Headteacher and was a primary school Headteacher for nine years.

Ann has been a Local Authority mentor for new Headteachers and was an inspector for the Statutory Inspection of Anglican Schools, inspecting regularly in the Diocese of Hereford and the Diocese of Worcester. She was a member of Herefordshire Safeguarding Children Board for four years and a member of Hereford SACRE for five years.
Ann became Diocesan Deputy Director of Education in the Diocese of Worcester in 2011 and was appointed Worcester Diocesan Director of Education in 2012. Ann has provided professional leadership, advice and guidance to the senior management of 100 places of education within the diocese, liaising with the DfE, Ofsted, the Diocesan Board of Education (DBE), Local Authorities, the National Society, the media, neighbouring dioceses and other agencies to sustain and promote the development of quality schooling locally and nationally.

Ann has extensive experience in all aspects of church school education, and has a passion for the Church’s work in schools and with children and young people. She fully supports the mission of the Church of England and has a thorough understanding of the distinctive nature of Church of England schools and academies.

She was a member of the National Society working group which produced Working Together, The Future of Rural Church of England Schools in October 2014 and is a Trustee for the Dudley Church of England Schools Foundation.
Ann is active and experienced in working within the changing landscape of education, including recent legislation relating to academies and free schools, informing and guiding the Diocesan Board of Education as it develops its vision for the future, providing professional leadership, advice and guidance in the understanding of educational issues and in all aspects of strategic planning, vision, policy formation and implementation.

Margaret James has worked in education since 1988. She qualified as a Middle School teacher and has mainly worked in this and the primary sector ever since. Her career began as a class teacher and has encompassed roles such as Special Educational Needs Coordinator, Safeguarding Officer, RE Subject Lead, Christian Distinctiveness lead, governor and Assistant Head. Between 2008 and 2011, she worked for South Gloucestershire Local Authority as Advisory Teacher for Religious Education, during which time she worked closely with both church and community schools in the primary and secondary phases. During this time, she also acted as an adviser to the South Gloucestershire SACRE.

Margaret trained to be a SIAMS inspector in 2010 and, soon afterwards, took up the part-time position of SIAMS Manager for the Diocese of Gloucester, whilst also working part-time as Assistant Head at St Mary’s VA Primary School in Thornbury. She was a member of the group which revised the Section 48 Inspection Schedule in 2012-13 and, since then, has worked as a National Society Consultant as a trainer of practising inspectors.

In 2012, she began work for the Diocese of Worcester as SIAMS Manager and a year later was asked to extend that work to incorporate the role of Training Manager. More recently, in 2015, she was asked to take up the positions of National Trainer and Quality Assurance Assessor of New Inspectors and still works in those roles on a consultancy basis.
In June 2016, Margaret was appointed as Worcester Diocesan Director of Education. Margaret has a BSc(Hons) in French, a PGCE and successfully completed NPQH. She is currently halfway through studying for a Doctorate in Education, Christianity and Faith, a five year commitment which is expected to be completed in 2018. Margaret is married and has four grown up children between the ages of 18 and 24. She lives with her husband in the village of Aust, close to the River Severn, in South Gloucestershire.

Ruth Walker was the Project Director for the Worcester Diocesan Calling Young Disciples Project. This Project is one of a growing number of Strategically Funded Projects in the Church of England. The aim of the Calling Young Disciples Project is to work with churches across the Worcester Diocese to enable them to grow their engagement with Children, Young People and Families so that more Children and Young People discover the love that Jesus has for them.

Ruth began her working life in 1980 as a Secondary School Teacher, following a degree in Theology, teaching both Religious Education and Social Studies to 11-18yr olds. In 1986, she returned to College responding to God’s call to the Ordained Ministry and was ordained Deacon in 1988 in the Diocese of Oxford. This journey has taken her and her husband Peter (who is also ordained) across the country working for a total so far of 5 different dioceses. A common theme for Ruth in each appointment has always been building relationships with the local schools through: governance as a Governor as well as a Chair of Governors; the leading of Collective Worship; curriculum support and encouraging schools to engage with all a church building has to offer as well as pastoral involvement with staff, children and families. In all this, she has held a special concern for the support of Headteachers.

Nigel Petrie was formerly Chairman of AD Group, an entrepreneurial technology business, specialising in the development and sale of high quality video management products. He has also held a number of non-executive positions in a range of different businesses, including timber and building materials and healthcare. His main career over thirty years was in the electricity industry where latterly he held the position of HR Director for the National Grid Company (1988 to 1993) and then Managing Director of First Hydro Company (1993 to 2000); a major UK peak electricity generator.

He has held a number of “not for profit” positions including work with the Princes Trust - Business in the Community, National Trust in Wales and Theatr Clwyd. He continues to work as a Business Consultant, mentoring senior executives. He has recently joined the Diocese of Worcester Multi Academy Trust as a Director and Trustee.

Phil Mitchell took early retirement from headship in August 2006 in order to become an accredited School Improvement Partner (SIP) and Church School (S48) Inspector.

As a SIP for 5 years, Philip worked to support the improvement of designated Middle schools, predominantly on the Isle of Wight. During the same period, he also worked in a part-time management and advisory capacity with Redditch YMCA in order to develop and deliver ‘Extended Services’ to local school communities.

Philip was Headteacher of Ipsley C.E. Middle School from September 2001, when it opened as part of the LEA reorganisation of schools in Redditch, until 2006.

Prior to his appointment as Headteacher of Ipsley, Philip was Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher of St. Peter’s C.E. Middle, Redditch (4 years and 20 years, respectively) and in a former middle school, he held the roles of Year Leader and Head of English.

Having contributed to the Worcester Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) during two periods as, respectively, co-opted Headteacher representative and Bromsgrove Deanery representative, Philip was appointed as part-time Educational Consultant to the Worcester Diocesan Department for Children, Youth and Education in September, 2011. In this role, he represented the Department in the appointments of Headteachers and Deputy Headteachers to Church of England schools, in training and in an advisory capacity to support school self-evaluation. Philip served on both Worcester and Dudley Advisory Councils for Religious Education. He retired from his role as Consultant in April 2016 and as Church School Inspector (S48) in the same year.

Philip is an active member of St. Leonard’s Church, Beoley and, until August 2017, Chair of Governors at St. Luke’s CE First School, Redditch, a role held since 2008.

In all, Philip has 48 years experience in education.

Philip maintains a strong commitment to improving the quality of learning for all pupils: to encourage, within a Christian context, enjoyment in learning; to value the importance of relationships and of the pastoral role of teachers, and to encourage learning beyond the classroom.