OUR CENTRAL STAFF
Canon Rachel Howie
Rachel joined the Trust as its Chief Executive in July 2016. Prior to this, Rachel worked for Ofsted as an HMI. Rachel spent 18 years as a teacher and then Headteacher both in the North East and in Gloucestershire. She has worked in schools in challenging circumstances and led her last school to be judged as outstanding by Ofsted.
She has also held a number of additional roles, including, an Intervention Consultant for the local authority for schools causing concern, mentoring new headteachers and leading training for schools developing innovative curricula. Rachel has also worked with leadership teams to support the development of stronger and more robust leadership systems and worked with the National College to write guidance materials for leading change within the curriculum. More locally, Rachel has been Chair of both the Gloucester Association of Primary Headteachers and the Gloucester Schools Partnership.
Helen joined the central office team in September 2017 as Head of School Improvement and was appointed Deputy CEO in March 2019. Prior to joining the Trust, Helen was a Headteacher and Executive Headteacher for three church schools. Most recently she led Winchcombe Abbey C of E Primary School on its journey to being graded Outstanding for both Ofsted and SIAMS in 2016/17. Helen has taught across the full range of Primary from reception to year 6 in Essex, Thurrock, East London and Gloucestershire, the majority of this experience in schools in challenging circumstances.
Helen has also held a number of additional roles within education, including acting as mentor for new headteachers as well as an educational consultant. In 2017 her contribution to educational leadership was recognised when she was awarded the Teaching Times and Achievement for All's "inspiring leadership" award.
Helen is also a trustee for iSingPop, a Christian charity that aims to bring together school, church and community through a singing and recording project.
Head of Business and Operations
Rob joined DGAT central team in March 2017 as Operations Manager and is now the Head of Business and Operations for the Trust. Rob is responsible for the provision of the strategic oversight of the business and operational functions of the Trust. He started his career in the public sector in 1991 working as a Social Worker in a variety of roles in children’s services. He has worked in education since 2004 starting in the Local Management of Schools team at the London Borough of Hounslow, supporting schools in both the primary and secondary sector.
Subsequently Rob was the Business Manager for a Gloucester secondary school overseeing the financial and premises management of the school and its public access sports centre. Whilst there Rob set up a local support Hub for four local Primary Schools providing premises, finance and IT support. Prior to joining DGAT, Rob worked at a University Technical College in Bristol as Business Manager overseeing the finance, estates and contract management, ICT and HR functions.
Head of Finance
Keren joined the DGAT central team in November 2020 having previously spent over 20 years working in the provision of finance related software solutions to the education, charity, commercial and government market places.
Her work supporting the delivery of ERP solutions saw Keren working in a variety of roles on both the supplier and customer side of the projects. Her specific customer side roles included work at the University of Bristol and the University of Reading.
Keren is a Chartered Accountant, qualifying after initially starting her career in education, teaching Mathematics in secondary schools.
Nicki joined DGAT in January 2020, she has volunteered as a school governor since 2010 and has governed in maintained schools and academies. Prior to joining DGAT Nicki worked as Head of Governance for a large, national academy trust. Nicki contributes to governance on national basis through her work writing resources, speaking at conferences and delivering training and webinars. Nicki is also a local leader of governance through the Teaching School Council South West and is currently chair of governors in a local school.
Canon Helena Arnold
New Business Lead
Formerly Director of Education for the Diocese of Gloucester and part-time CEO of the Academies Trust (2012-16), Helena continues to support the Trust working part-time as Head of New Business, following her move to Cornwall.
Helena has fifteen years experience working in schools, (including nine years of senior leadership experience in three very different institutions, including a City Technology College, a city school and a rural comprehensive). In 2013 she was elected Chair of the Anglican Association of Directors of Education and has recently undertaken consultancy work for the National Society on school effectiveness.
Whilst working in Worcestershire, Helena was a member of the Diocesan Board of Education and qualified as a Section 48 SIAMS Inspector for church schools. Helena has served as a trustee of the Methodist Schools and Academies Trust and was a Director of All Saints’ Academy in Cheltenham and a trustee for the St Matthias Trust.
School Improvement Lead
Jackie Buckland has been working for the Trust since 2017. She has a proven track record of improving the quality of teaching and learning, both in her own and others’ schools. Her previous senior leadership experience includes Headship at a village primary school and a secondment to a large two form entry school as an Assistant Headteacher to support with rapid improvements to teaching, learning and curriculum. During her time as a Head she was Vice and Co-Chair of the Gloucestershire Association of Primary Headteachers (GAPH). Jackie has a passion for wellbeing -she worked for the Healthy School Team in Gloucestershire as a primary lead teacher for 9 years and is now the Wellbeing Lead for DGAT. Jackie is very much a ‘can do’ person, with an enthusiastic, energetic, hands on approach; she enjoys supporting leaders to ensure that improvements to provision result in measurable positive outcomes for all pupils in their schools.
Quality Assurance Lead
Catherine is a qualified teacher and has achieved the national professional qualification for headship. Catherine is the Quality Assurance Lead for the schools in the Diocese of Gloucester Academies Trust. Catherine is an Ofsted Inspector with previous experience as a Her Majesty's Inspector and two years as a Senior Her Majesty's Inspector. Prior to joining Ofsted, Catherine held senior management positions in schools, including eight years as a headteacher. She also has particular expertise of working with pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities. Catherine regularly inspects primary schools, special schools, pupil referral units and independent schools
School Improvement Lead
Aisling is a qualified teacher and has taught across the primary phase in both small and large Church schools. She has held a variety of senior leadership positions including Deputy Head and Headship and has supported colleagues in challenging circumstances, including leading a school in special measures. Aisling was part of the leadership team that took Winchcombe Abbey on its journey to outstanding in 2017. Under the new SIAMS Schedule, in 2019, she led Coaley to be judged as Good.
Aisling has a particular interest in supporting disadvantaged pupils and has been Pupil Premium Champion for the Trust since 2016. She is currently completing her NPQH. Aisling is passionate about the safeguarding and well being of all pupils.
Finance and Business Lead
Katy joined the DGAT Central Office in September 2018, having spent almost ten years working at one of our schools, Primrose Hill Primary Academy. Katy is a Chartered Accountant, having qualified in 1988 with Pannell Kerr Forster, a company based in London with varied clients including Pension Schemes, Schools, Hotels, Multi Nationals and Battersea Dogs Home.
Katy went on to work for Reuters, RAC, BSM and Aviva in various roles including Group Finance Manager, Project Accountant and Financial Analyst. Most recently, she worked as School Business Manager at Primrose Hill since January 2009, in charge of finance, personnel, IT, grounds and premises, health and safety.
Finance and Business Lead
Chris joined DGAT in November 2016. He supports all finance functions for academies, including implementing and training on finance policies.
Chris is part-AAT qualified and last year completed a level 3 NVQ in Business and Administration. He has close to 20 years experience of working in an accounts environment for a wide range of businesses ranging from care homes for the elderly to a manufacturer of vacuum cleaners.
Finance and Business Lead
Having relocated back to the area from Northamptonshire, Susanna joined DGAT in November 2020. Susanna has years of valuable experience as a School Business Manager for schools within PDET (Peterborough Diocese Education Trust), supporting the schools’ smooth transition from LA maintained to Academy status. Her broad experiences encompass all school finance operations, including budget setting, personnel, payroll and premises management. Alongside this, Susanna is proud to have achieved the Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management.
Most recently, Susanna gained experience of working in Secondary School with CMAT (Cambridge Meridian Academy Trust), supporting the general financial operations within the Academy.
Claire joined the Diocese Academies Trust in January 2015 as a Finance Officer. Before joining the team, Claire gained her AAT Accountancy qualification from the Royal Forest of Dean College in August 2013 whilst working as an accounts technician within two small independent private accountancy practices based within Monmouthshire and the Forest of Dean. Claire brings to the Trust a wealth of experience in dealing with sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.
Claire supports many aspects of academy conversion, including the procurement of services, setting up financial systems and the implementation and training on financial policies and procedures.
Steve joined DGAT central team in February 2017, supporting all finance functions for academies, including implementing and training on finance policies.
Steve is part-AAT qualified and has over 35 years’ experience of working in an accounts environment for a varied range of businesses including a local retail group, a local solicitors & more recently Gloucestershire County Council.
Executive Assistant to CEO and Deputy CEO
Emma joined the Trust in November 2019 as Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive Officer. Emma completed her Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in English Literature at Aberystwyth University in 2005 before working in Human Resources and later becoming a Quality Manager for the Ministry of Defence between 2007 - 2010. After taking a career break to raise her children, Emma joined the Diocese of Gloucester’s central team as Executive Assistant to the Diocesan Secretary and Director of Communications and Engagement for the Diocese of Gloucester.
Ellie joined the Diocese of Gloucester Education Department in 2009 as Buildings and Finance Administrator, managing the financial aspects of capital building projects for Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary Schools. Prior to this she completed her Bachelor of Science Degree and Post-Graduate Diploma in Biology before working in the pharmaceutical sector as a Quality Control Technician. Between 2009 and 2011 Ellie managed the pre-opening Trustee accounts for All Saints’ Academy, Cheltenham. She then started studying for a diploma with the Association of Accounting Technicians.
Ellie began working alongside the Diocese of Gloucester Education Trust and Academies Trust in October 2012, before joining the Diocese of Gloucester Academies Trust full-time as Executive Officer in September 2013. Ellie has been an integral part of the team from the initial setting up of the Umbrella Trust and Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) in 2012 and assisting with the administration of academy conversions, including the opening of a new Free School in 2017. Ellie is now Company Secretary to the Trust Board as well as providing support to Clerks and Governors.