Trust Staff (Central team)
Mrs Annie Wiles - Chief Executive Officer
Annie trained as a primary teacher in the 1980s and has since taught in a range of community and church schools in the UK, Germany and Cyprus before settling in Kent. She has taught the full age range from 3-18 and TEFL. She was a Headteacher for 10 years. During this time she became a Director of Shepway Teaching School, one of the first cohort of Teaching Schools, with responsibility for leading Initial Teacher Training. She was also an LLE before being seconded to the Diocese of Canterbury part-time during the final 18 months of Headship. Initially, this was to oversee school improvement for the 103 church schools across the Diocese but the role changed to become one of developing the Multi-Academy Trust. Annie was appointed as full-time CEO of the Trust in September 2015.
Ms Marian Scally - Chief Finance Officer
Marian was our first appointment and joined the trust in November 2014. Marian has over twenty years’ experience of finance and business within education at both primary and secondary level. She was involved in the strategic implementation of academy status in her previous role and was seconded to the Kent Catholic Schools’ Partnership as Interim Business Director to help set up the infrastructure of their multi-academy trust. Marian was a School Business Manager Advocate for the National College for four years and supported schools and individuals across the South East of England. She has spoken at national conferences and delivered training sessions in financial matters to aspirant school leaders and business managers. She became a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE) in 2012 and continues to support individual leaders and schools in their business and financial needs, particularly exploring different models of financial sustainability and staffing structures.
Mrs Jenny Ashley-Jones - Head of Academy Improvement
Jenny is a highly motivated and effective Head Teacher who is able to work as an effective partner with all our academies, building on the excellent progress that the trust has made to date across our successful schools and supporting those schools who have further challenges to overcome. She has many years of experience leading school improvement beyond her own school, including as an LA specialist maths teacher, leading cohorts of ‘Every Lesson Counts’ (designed to move teachers from RI to good, or better). More recently, She was accepted as a Kent Leader of Education and has supported leadership teams in non-Aquila schools through this role.
Mrs Lorna Priddle - Advisor to the Board
As an Executive Headteacher in Kent, Lorna’s ability to transform failing schools into higher performers is proven by results: from special measures to requires improvement with leadership graded as good in 16 months (Archbishop Courtenay C.E. Primary School) from Notice to improve too good in two years (St Michaels C.E .Junior School) from cause for concern to outstanding in 4 years (St Michaels C.E. Infant School). In January 2014 her Infant school gained its third outstanding OFSTED in seven years.
Lorna achieved these results by having high expectations, mentoring and coaching staff to become good and outstanding classroom practitioners, having a passion and vision for excellence in education and growing leaders to enable sustainability throughout three schools that she has led. For example, four senior leaders from her former schools have gone onto headships and head of school in Kent schools.
As a National Leader of Education from 2008-2015, she collaborated with schools across Kent Sussex and Surrey to improve standards of achievement and attainment. Classroom practitioners, Headteachers, and LA officers came to observe outstanding practice across the three schools but especially Key Stage one. She was also commissioned through the National College to go and support schools to improve standards. She supported leadership and management and teaching and learning in several schools over a period of 7 years. This required a high level of competence in interpreting data, the ability to hold challenging conversations with leaders in vulnerable schools, to conduct work scrutiny and lesson observations and be able to change a culture in a school to one of positivity and success.
Lorna has met with the DFE to discuss how to raise standards across the country and met with a previous Secretary of State, Michael Gove, regarding educational policy. In 2012, she completed the Pacific Institute Investment in Excellence facilitator training programme. This was an initiative by Kent to deliver a world-class programme for coaching and mentoring leaders in education. She successfully completed the programme and was able to put this into practice in training sessions across four schools in Kent.
St Michael’s C.E. Schools Federation has been recognised nationally and internationally in a historic publication on the history of Parliament (2015). This book has been distributed to all members of the United Nations, UK and overseas embassies and Members of Parliament. This recognised the performance of the St Michaels C.E. Schools Federation and the role it played in leading by using the teachings of hope, faith and charity. St Michael’s was one of only 25 schools chosen to appear in this prestigious publication. It recognised excellence in education and the impact the school’s ethos and culture had on the community.
As a School Improvement Partner for the Aquila she provide professional challenge and support for schools. She acts as a critical and professional friend to our schools, helping leadership teams to evaluate school performance, identify priorities for improvement and plan for effective change.
Mrs Tracey Howard - Head of Compliance, Data Protection & Administration
Tracey joined the Trust in February 2017. Tracey has had a career in administration and secretarial support spanning more than 30 years and has worked in a variety of highly pressurised environments where outstanding skills in organisation and time management have been essential in ensuring that deadlines and objectives are met. Prior to joining the trust she created and worked as the office manager for Shepway Teaching School Alliance for 5 years. In 2018 Tracey was appointed as the DPO for the Trust overseeing 16 schools.
Mrs Abbie Snelling - Head of Estates and Facilities
Abbie has worked within the Estates and Facilities sector for over 26 years. Starting her career as a Maintenance Administrator, she progressed through gaining experience in associated roles and studying part time. Abbie has worked for Local Government, Housing Association and NHS and has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and experience whilst managing different property portfolios, Health and Safety and IT. Abbie joined the Trust in October 2023.
Dr Chris Clarke - Educational Psychologist
Since completing his degree is psychology at the University of East London Chris has worked in education in various roles for the last 15 years. Chris started off as a special educational needs teaching assistant in a specialist provision attached to a mainstream school working his way towards the graduate teacher training programme. However, research and the application of psychology were at the heart of what Chris wanted to do. When he left teaching, Chris worked on two large scale research projects: researching the outcomes of all children accessing Tier 2 and 3 child mental health services and investigating the impact of the Leuven Scales on children’s development in Kent. After completing these research projects Chris was then successful in applying for the doctorate in Child, Adolescent and Educational Psychology at the Institute of Eduction, which is now part of University College London. Chris’ thesis investigated the outcomes of mental health strategies in children with autism, a topic Chris still retains a passion in. To date, Chris’ interest in research have resulted in publication in internationally respected journals such as the International Journal of Psychopharmacology and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Chris has also published in professional journals such as the Journal of Educational Psychology in Practice.
Chris’ career then took him to work for Kent County Council where he worked as an educational psychologist for nearly nine years. During that time Chris became a member of the county crisis coordinator team working with and supporting schools who had experienced sudden or traumatic events. When Chris worked for Kent he was based in Ashford and built up a strong reputation as someone who was passionate about the inclusion of all children in schools, working closely with the local health teams and specialist teaching and learning services, with whom he still retains an excellent working partnership, to build on inclusive practices in the area. In September 2018, Chris joined the Aquila team and with works with the SENDCos, class teachers and head teachers to support inclusive practice throughout the Trust and beyond. Chris has developed a SENCo Forum within the Trust which aims to support collaborative working, supervision and training with the Trust.
Miss Isabelle Bowey - Assistant Educational Psychologist
Izzy completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology with Education at the University of Sussex, gaining deep understanding of the psychological theory underpinning best practice for supporting the development, learning and well-being of young people.
Izzy joined Aquila in 2022 as a Teaching Assistant at Reculver CE Primary School, taking on an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant role as well as coordinating their new OPAL (outdoor play and learning) project.
Now as an Assistant Educational Psychologist in the Trust, Izzy will be working collaboratively with schools and families to support positive learning experiences for young people. Adopting an empathetic, person-centred approach with inclusive practice at the heart of her work, Izzy is committed to removing educational barriers and creating opportunities for all children to flourish in school and beyond.
Mrs Naomi Jackman - Payroll Manager
Naomi joined the trust in March 2016. Before working in education, she gained wide financial experience in various roles supporting finance operations in the private sector. She developed significant experience over 8 years in a variety of school settings. Just prior to joining the Trust team she was employed by Kennington CE Junior Academy as a Bursar supporting their financial and business management. Her experience and skills in understanding Academy finances at the front line, particularly during the transitional period of becoming a member of Aquila, has added significant strength to the team. She now supports all of our Academies with a multitude of business and finance matters.
Mrs Lorraine Bondzie-Mensah - Finance & Governance Manager
Lorraine was appointed to the Trust in May 2017, she is AAT qualified and provides business and financial services support for schools within the Trust using the centralised finance function. She has 20 years experience in educational finance and audit, and holds Business Management degrees from the Universities of Greenwich and Kent. She also has extensive experience in professional governance within the sector and she leads our team of in-house finance professionals.
Mrs Kerry Spendiff - Trust Finance Integration Manager
Kerry started her career in Barclays Bank progressing through all roles ending in securities and investments. She moved onto a sales role within a large manufacturing company supporting aerospace and defence clients across the country. After starting a family she decided to find a career compatible with family life and found herself in Reculver Primary school, eventually playing a key role in the transfer to academy status on 1 July 2015. Kerry advanced to the role of School Business Manager and in 2018 gained her Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management which has further enhanced her skills and knowledge. Kerry joined the Central Team in September 2021 to assist the Trust in the implementation, development and training on the new finance system, along with offering support to the CFO on a daily basis.
Miss Daisy Cousins - Finance Assistant
Daisy joined Aquila in April 2019 to complete a business administration apprenticeship. She used the experience to learn about working environments and adapting to the needs of the central teams varied workload. Since then Daisy has completed her business administration apprenticeship, a level 3 AAT apprenticeship and is going on to AAT level 4. Using these skills Daisy provides financial service support to a school and helps to support all the members of the finance department.
Mr Ian Young - Assistant Payroll Manager and Finance Assistant
Ian has had extensive experience working in the education sector both as a qualified secondary teacher of Mathematics and working within the finance operations for both an independent school and a state school. Prior to this, Ian ran a successful children’s holiday camp for seven years
Ian joined Aquila in November 2020 as a Payroll and Finance Assistant and currently provides financial support for one of our schools and supports payroll for the wider trust. Ian is currently completing an AAT Level 4 apprenticeship which he will complete in July 2022.
Mrs Emma Garlick - Pensions Administrator
Emma began her career in the Civil Service over 20 years ago and has extensive experience in a variety of mostly IT and Finance-related roles within the public sector, most recently for KCC. Following a career break to focus on her young family, Emma joined the Trust in January 2022 as Payroll Administrator and provides daily support to the Payroll Manager and central team.
Mrs Alison Morris - Finance and Personnel Assistant
Alison initially trained as an accountant, but then moved into customer facing roles. Having given up work to raise her family, she became a school governor, and then Chair of Governors, for an Outstanding Church of England primary school. When it was time to return to work she realised that she wanted to use the experience she had gained and stay in education, and has worked in the offices of schools of different sizes and in different locations. Alison joined Aquila in 2018 in the office of one of their schools, and transferred to work for the Trust’s central team in October 2022.
Miss Kellie Hocking - Finance & Business Administrator
Kellie joined the trust in November 2022 as a Finance Administrator, supporting the finance team. She was quickly promoted to Finance and Business Administrator due to skills and knowledge from previous roles, including finance & payroll and office management. Kellie has achieved level 3 in AAT and looking to start level 4.
Mrs Sarah Halliday - Finance, Payroll & Personnel Assistant
Sarah is a seasoned professional with an extensive background in retail and hospitality. With over 20 years of experience, she has honed her expertise in training and developing teams, and Sarah's exceptional contributions to a prominent restaurant chain's HR department consistently drove growth and success. In 2019, Sarah embarked on a new journey at an Aquila school, where she utilised her skills to elevate the school's presence through captivating social media content and forging strong local partnerships. Sarah played a pivotal role in the growth and development of the school's office, witnessing a doubling of pupils during her four-year tenure. In 2023, Sarah joined the central team as a Finance and Personnel Assistant, expanding her proficiency in financial management. Driven by an unwavering passion for growth and learning, Sarah is dedicated to expanding her skill set in the realm of finance.
Mrs Janine Thompson - Finance Administrator
Janine began her career as a Maths Teacher and then moved into Early Years teaching. During this time she achieved a BSc (Hons) in Mathematics and an MA in Early Years. After 30 years of teaching in local schools, she decided to have a change of career and so she studied for a Level 2 Accountancy qualification in her spare time with the view to working in School Finance. In September 2023, she joined the Trust as a Finance administrator, supporting the team by completing invoices and purchase orders.
Mrs Jessica Jeffries - Office Administrator
Jessica joined the trust in October 2023, bringing a wealth of experience in administration with her. A highly organised individual, Jessica has worked in many industries from corporate business, to the hospitality and event industry. Often working in high-pressure environments, she is used to working to tight deadlines and using her keen attention to detail.
Mrs Sandra Morgan - HR Manager
After a career as a bilingual secretary in the legal and paper trade sectors, Sandra changed direction in 2001 and moved into education working at All Saints’ Primary School which later amalgamated and became Archbishop Courtenay Primary School in 2005. She worked initially as a Teaching Assistant for 4 years before moving into the school office. Sandra played a key role in the transfer of Archbishop Courtenay Primary School to academy status when it became the first school to join Aquila on 1 September 2014. At this point Sandra moved into the role of School Business Manager and worked closely with Marian Scally to develop administrative and finance procedures to support other schools as they joined Aquila. In 2016 Sandra gained her Level 4 Diploma in School Business Management which has further enhanced her skills and knowledge. Sandra joined the Central Team in October 2018 where she works as HR Manager one day per week overseeing HR practices across Aquila.
Mrs Hilary Andrews - Trust Project Manager
I have worked in primary schools in Kent for the last 23 years.
I began my career as a Teaching Assistant in 1999 before taking responsibility for SEN in 2002 where I managed the Statements of Special Educational Need for up to 13 students and a team of Teaching Assistants. I also worked on projects with the Kent Psychology Service trailing new interventions and initiatives.
When workforce reform was launched in 2007 I applied for a new position which took me out of the classroom and upon completion of the CSBM, I became a Business Manager and a member of the school leadership team. I went on to complete both the DSBM and ADSBM and was also awarded the Advanced Diploma in Business Administration by the Institute of Administrative Management.
I have a keen interest in all aspects of Business Management in schools, particularly HR, Finance, Premises and Health and Safety, and am happiest when I have a project underway. I love problem solving and knowing that whatever I am working on will ultimately benefit pupils and their learning.
Mrs Kerry French - Local Governance Professional
Kerry joined the Trust in February 2021. Kerry had an extensive career in Sales and Purchasing within the Publishing and Print industry, and holds many industry related qualifications including CIPs accreditation. After leaving full time employment following the arrival of her youngest daughter, Kerry joined St Georges Primary School as Clerk in December 2018. She is currently studying for the NGA Development for Clerks qualification, and also works for a local Charitable Trust.
Mrs Louise Barr - Local Governance Professional
Information to follow
Mrs Lynne Bright - Local Governance Professional
Lynne joined the Trust in 2023, after four years being employed by Kent Police organising and monitoring the MARAC meetings for victims of Domestic Abuse across Ashford, Canterbury and Folkestone. Lynne’s background prior to Kent Police is predominately within Education and she worked within this sector for over 30 years. During this time her employment ranged from Education Welfare Officer through to Student Welfare Officer/Designated Safeguarding Lead in a Further Education College. Lynne has gained many qualifications during her employment and is also a qualified lecturer
Jessica Shepherd - PR & Communications
Jessica helps public, private and third sector clients from across the education and culture sectors to raise their public profile, manage their reputation, formulate their communications strategy, optimise their content for SEO and successfully influence their stakeholders. She also trains leaders for media interviews and difficult stakeholder meetings and will carry out reputation audits and write speeches, opinion pieces, articles and reports.
She has worked with some of the leading universities in the UK, high-profile independent and state schools, global education technology firms, household brands with education programmes and some of our most loved national cultural organisations.
She is the Guardian's former Education Correspondent and has worked in communications at the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. She has also been Head of Communications (Education and Student Affairs) at University College London and Head of Communications and Campaigns at national youth charity The Challenge.
Emma Hunt - Finance Assistant
Emma worked in the hospitality industry from for 17 years for Whitbread. After deciding to change career, she completed an early years educator level 3 apprenticeship within a nursery, and an online course AAT Accounting level 2 also whilst she was there. Emma then moved to a local secondary school working in the student office and then finance department whilst completing level 3 business administration apprenticeship. She loves problem solving and a challenge, and joine the trust in October 2023.
Claire Beyzade - Primary Education Advisor
Claire joined the trust in 2015 as a Deputy Headteacher. Since this time she has had a focus on driving up standards by ensuring consistent high quality teaching through an engaging, relevant and progressive curriculum. Claire has worked to develop ECTs throughout the Aquila Trust and is currently a lead practitioner for the DfE Behaviour Hubs program, supporting schools across London and the South East. Claire has a passion for a values-led approach to raising school standards and is committed to supporting schools across the Aquila Trust to be the best that they can be specifically for the children in their care.