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OUR CENTRAL STAFF

 

Canon Rachel Howie
CEO

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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.

Rachel is a Trustee of the Viney Hill Christian Adventure Centre; a Christian community working to encourage and inspire personal social and spiritual development.

Helen Springett 
Deputy CEO

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Helen joined the central team in September 2017 as Head of School Improvement and was appointed Deputy CEO in March 2019.  She is a qualified teacher with nearly 30 years’ experience, including 12  years as Headteacher and Executive Headteacher in schools across Gloucestershire, Essex, Thurrock, and Waltham Forest. She has worked in schools in challenging circumstances and has a strong track record of securing improvement  including, leading her last school to be judged as Outstanding by both Ofsted and SIAMS.

 

Helen has held a number of additional roles in education, including being a school improvement partner working with leadership teams to improve outcomes for pupils, as well as acting as a mentor for new Headteachers. Helen is passionate about valuing all children through providing high quality teaching and learning in all our Trust schools.

 

In 2017 her contribution to educational leadership was recognised when she was awarded the Teaching Times and Achievement for All's "inspiring leadership" award. She is a Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching. Helen is a serving Ofsted Inspector.

Rob Jones
Head of Business and Operations

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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. 

Keren Bass
Head of Finance

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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 Wadley
Head of Governance and People

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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.

Catherine Leahy
Quality Assurance Lead

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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

Aisling Stranack
Regional Effectiveness Lead

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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.

 

Richard Lucas
Regional Effectiveness Lead

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Richard joined DGAT in 2019 as an executive headteacher, before moving into the role of Regional Effectiveness Lead within the central team at the start of 2024. He loves working for DGAT and supporting all schools, teachers and leaders to flourish. He is a qualified teacher and experienced headteacher and executive headteacher of over 15 years who has successfully led three schools; one from good to outstanding and two from special measures back to good. He has a wide range of experience of school leadership at primary level, including 9-years as SENCo, as well as a wealth of teaching experience from Reception to Year 6. Previously, he led teacher training through a teaching school, focusing on developing leadership capacity, primary and secondary teacher training, initial teacher training and supporting excellence in teaching and learning across both primary and secondary settings. He has been a lead inspector for Ofsted for eight years. He recently passed the NPQEL and is currently an NPQEL coach. In his spare time, he plays the drums in lots of bands and attempts to play football.

Susanna Hogan 
Finance Manager

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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.

Christian Thompson 
Finance Lead

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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.  

 

Claire Morgan 
Project Lead

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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. 

 

Lisa Fisher
Finance Systems Lead

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Lisa joined the DGAT central team in June 2023 as Finance Systems Lead. She graduated from the University of Reading in 1993 with a BSc (Hons) in Geography and spent many years working in the area of data analysis, data management and database systems, both in the private and public sector. Lisa worked as a Project Manager for Oxfordshire County Council Education Department for 10 years, specialising in data analysis and systems development projects. After a career break, Lisa returned to the Education sector where she worked in a Gloucestershire Secondary school for 5 years, supporting a range of financial operations within the school.

Steve Green
Finance Assistant

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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.  

 

Nicole Heaven
Executive Assistant to the CEO

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Nicole joined the DGAT Central Team in April 2023, as maternity leave cover for the role of Executive Assistant to the CEO. She had recently graduated from Lancaster University with a bachelor's degree in Law. During her secondary and further education, she worked in various customer service and hospitality roles, and also gained experience working in several legal offices. Nicole has lived in Gloucestershire all of her life, and attended Pate's Grammar School in Cheltenham.

Nicole supports the CEO and the rest of the team in lots of areas, from supporting with academy conversions and recruitment to planning and organising meetings and events. Recently, she has also been involved in some of the finance processes alongside the finance team. Nicole is a highly organised and motivated member of the team and she takes on all new challenges with positivity and efficiency.

Claire Digby
Executive Assistant to the DCEO

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After six years of working next door at the Bishop's office, Claire joined the DGAT central team in March 2023 as Executive Assistant to the DCEO.

Claire supports the DCEO through various administrative duties, including arrangement of continuous professional development and learning (CPD&L) for teaching staff throughout the Trust. She approaches her everyday tasks with a cheerful and pragmatic attitude.

Sharon Sharples
Governance and People Administrator

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Sharon joined the DGAT Central Team in November 2023, as Governance and People Administrator. Prior to joining the Trust, Sharon worked in administration for a number of years, before joining Greatfield Park Primary School, in Cheltenham, in 1993.

 

Sharon worked at Greatfield Park for over thirty years and in that time, she undertook a variety of roles including that of serving on the schools governing board. Through training, Sharon progressed to the role of Higher Level Teaching Assistant, gaining a BEd in Teaching and Learning, which enabled her to teach classes and deliver teacher PPA cover across the school. She was also instrumental in opening the Schools Breakfast and After school club in 2002, of which she remains a Director today.

Steph Morris
Finance Business Partner

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Steph joined the DGAT Central Team in 2024 and has been part of DGAT since 2014. She has been a School Business Manager in multiple schools in the Trust, most recently Winchcombe Abbey CE Primary School. Steph has been proactive in streamlining school business and administration processes and has shared these processes with other schools in the Trust. In addition, she has trained, mentored, and supported other DGAT School Business Managers for several years. Steph brings a wealth of school business, finance, and administration experience to the Central Team.

Dan Pearce
Finance Apprentice

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Dan joined the DGAT Central Team in April 2024.

Information to follow

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