Trustees are responsible for the strategic direction, broad policy framework and oversight of the Trust and all its academies. They take decisions that are in the best interests the MAT as a whole and are not representative of any one of the constituent schools. The Trustees are also Directors of the Academies Trust which is a company limited by guarantee and registered as such at Companies House.
The Venerable Hilary Dawson Chair
The Venerable Hilary Dawson joined the diocese as Archdeacon of Gloucester and Residentiary Canon of Gloucester Cathedral in January 2019. She has responsibility for five deaneries on the western side of the diocese.
Prior to coming to Gloucester, Hilary was in parish ministry in Exeter Diocese and has extensive experience of serving on governing bodies. These have included a federation of church primary schools, a number of community schools, a grammar school, and an independent school.
Before ordination Hilary taught for 19 years, mostly in primary education. She was also a School Chaplain for four years. She helped to write the RE curriculum for Devon SACRE and adapted it for use in small schools.
Tim Brock is Oxfordshire County Councils Lead Officer for Governance, he is a member of their School Improvement Team and has responsibility for improving leadership in maintained schools. Tim also sits on the National Governors Association Board as a Trustee having been elected in 2020 and is a member of the South West Coordinators of Governor Services.
Previous roles with Beam Suntory, Bass PLC, The Forestry Commission and as a Policy Advisor to The Under Secretary of State for Employment have helped to shape his career.
Tim was a governor at St James’ Church of England Primary School Cheltenham from 2009 to 2018. He chaired their Ethos Committee before becoming vice chair and was Chair of Governors for four years. The school became an academy and joined DGAT in 2017.
Tim is proactive and capable of turning strategy into action. Strong leadership skills and experience gained in both the public and private sectors allow him to demonstrate organisational agility and an ability to drive change by influencing and engaging others.
Tim grew up in Worcester and now lives in Cheltenham with his wife and two children. He is happiest when inspiring others and cherishes honesty, passion and integrity.
Rob Stokes is a Chartered Accountant and Director for Optimum Professional Services Ltd and Regulatory Accounting Limited. Rob works with a growing number of both standalone academies and multi academy trusts and is responsible for expanding the firm’s offering in respect of education and academies. In addition to organising Academy seminars, he attends EFA working group meetings and training session as well as working alongside the Gloucestershire and Worcestershire Association of School Business Managers. Rob also maintains an audit presence with commercial clients and charities.
As a member of the senior leadership team, Rob supports the strategic development of the company as well as being directly responsible for both the audit team and outsourcing team.
Prior to joining his current company, Rob worked for Randall and Payne, Morgan Waugh Haines LLP & Waugh Haines Rigby Limited as a Director, Senior Accounts Manager and Senior Statutory Auditor where he was responsible for the training, standards and compliance of 30 staff across the accounting practice and audit practice.
Commander Mervyn Cowdrey
Commander Mervyn Cowdrey’s considerable professional skill set comes primarily from a 40-year career in the Royal Navy, highlights of which includes being Head of Personnel for all UK and affiliated military forces in Afghanistan with an oversight of the administrative support and duty of care of all UK forces during this time. He has a comprehensive knowledge of project management, personnel administration and end-to-end logistics. During his naval career, he was responsible for the development of maritime logistics strategy and policy. He was responsible for the strategic management and planning of training for 4000 new entrants into the Royal Navy. During this time was personally responsible for £95m annual budget. He also represented the MOD as a member of the Home Office Project Team which developed the legislation that led to the 2006 Charities Act. In his spare time, Mervyn has been a Treasurer of St Jude's Church, a large Anglican Church as well as the Project Director for a major redevelopment of the building. He is currently Secretary to the PCC of St Peter’s Church, Minsterworth. He retains his season ticket for Fratton Park, the home of Portsmouth Football Club.
Philip Perks has been a member of the Gloucester Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) for well over a decade, including Vice-Chair of the Board for the past six years and Chair of the Strategy, Trusts, Buildings, Admissions and Governance Committee. He retired as Head Teacher of Hillview Primary School, Gloucester and is currently a Bishop’s Visitor, Substitute Ex-Officio Governor at Highnam CE Primary Academy and Churchwarden of Holy Trinity, Tibberton.
Charlotte Rawlings is an experienced Chair of Governors initially at Minsterworth C of E Primary School. Charlotte previously ran a pre-school that achieved the ‘Outstanding in all Areas’ judgement following an Ofsted inspection. As a result she was then was appointed EYLP (Early Years Lead Practitioner) for Gloucestershire.
In 2018, Charlotte was appointed Trust Governor and Chair of Governors of a small but experienced IGB team and successfully led the Interim Governing Body at Coaley C of E Primary School and oversaw its transition to a Full Governing Body.
Charlotte spent many years of her career as an interior designer, providing design consultation and completing design projects for high profile clients across the UK, with several projects featuring in major design publications such as House and Garden magazine. Charlotte is knowledgeable in working closely with Rapid Action Plans for School Improvement.
Charlotte has four children ranging from 29 to 17. A committed Christian, she and her husband regularly attend Holy Apostles C of E Church in Cheltenham.
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 also been Chair of the Gloucester Association of Primary Headteachers and the Gloucestershire Schools Partnership.
Nicola is a chartered accountant by profession and has worked in the charity sector for over 20 years. Her first 2 roles were in independent schools, starting out as the financial controller at Dean Close School and then moving to The King’s School, Gloucester where she was Bursar for 7 years. In both these roles Nicola gained experience of charity and school governance and worked closely with the Governors (who were the charity Trustees).
For the last 7 years Nicola has worked at Barnwood Trust, a Gloucestershire based charity, that works alongside people with disabilities and mental health problems to make the most of their lives. The activities of the Trust include providing grants and working with people in their local communities to make connections which enable people to take part in something they enjoy.
Nicola’s role at the Trust has always been finance based, and over time has expanded to take on the leadership of governance (including information governance), employment and HR matters, facilities and ICT and compliance with relevant regulations and legislation (including health & safety). She is a member of the Senior Management Team and work closely with the Chairman of the Trust, the Treasurer and Board of Trustees.
Nicola has 2 children, both of whom attended St James’ Primary in Cheltenham, where she served as a Governor for approximately 4-5years. Having worked in the independent school sector Nicola is a keen advocate of academy trusts and the independence that they might achieve to ensure that the school could seek better outcomes for their pupils and secure a more robust financial position; albeit the latter being dependent upon grouping together to achieve economies of scale.
Rob has been Head of Rendcomb College since September 2015, having moved to the Cotswolds after four years at Shiplake College, where he was Senior Deputy Head. Rob was educated at Canford School before reading Economics at Swansea University and, after a brief period mixing banking with elite rowing, he moved into teaching in 1994. Rob has taught at five schools and held roles including Head of Rugby, Head of Rowing, Head of Department and Housemaster. More recently he has become a Committee Member for both the Education and Main Committees of the Society of Heads Association. As a Head, Rob is committed to developing the individual within a caring community and he expects his pupils to contribute to, as well as benefit from, school life.