Our Executive Team

Our small team of senior managers responsible for the trust's operation and partnership work with schools.

As Chief Executive I am responsible for providing leadership that ensures the continuing growth and success of the academies as places of transformational learning. My role is mainly strategic. I serve as the main connection point between the academies, the Board, the university, local authority, and the Department for Education together with members of the community. I also develop appropriate external links, for the benefit of the trust. I am the trust’s Accounting Officer, with accountability for value for money, regularity and propriety in the trust.

I am also Head of the University of Brighton's School of Education: one of the largest Schools of Education in the country, providing Initial Teacher Training (ITT), Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and research.

I lead a broad range of strategic developments both within and beyond the University of Brighton. Much of my work is outward facing and is concerned with creating and sustaining fruitful partnerships.

I am committed to raising young people’s attainment and achievements. With my two roles as Chief Executive and Head of School of Education, I am perfectly placed to build strong links between the work of the University of Brighton and the academies. I have expertise in developing partnerships with public, charitable, and commercial organisations such as local authorities, Teach First, Teaching School Alliances and community groups, all of which can benefit the academies and their pupils.

I started my career in an inner-city secondary school; within the first year I became Head of Department. I joined the University of Brighton in 1997. In 2005 I became the Partnership Co-ordinator and Assistant Head of the School of Education before becoming its Head in September 2015. I hold a Masters in Education Management and a Doctorate in School Improvement.

Dr John Smith
Chief Executive

I am responsible for ensuring that the trust's governance arrangements at each level operate effectively and that we fulfil all of our statutory requirements and external accountabilities. I am the Company Secretary of the trust. I also have strategic responsibility for internal and external policy developments which affect the trust and our academies. I lead on admissions matters and marketing and communications, as well as contributing to school improvement strategy.

I oversee the development and expansion of the university's two trusts, including the process of converting schools into academies. Finally, I lead the trusts' policy and governance team.

I have been involved in the work of the university's academies in various ways since 2008, supporting the development of the Hastings Academies Trust and the University of Brighton Academies Trust, and the conversion of schools to academy status.

Since joining the University of Brighton in 1996, I have held various academic administration roles, including responsibility for the quality assurance of academic standards in the field of teacher education and partnership work. I hold two postgraduate qualifications (in Law and Education) from the University of Brighton, and a BA(Hons) in Economic and Social History from the University of Leicester.

Sam Coates
Director of Planning, Policy and Governance

My role is to act as principal adviser on school improvement matters. I work closely with the trust’s senior leaders to coordinate school improvement across all of the trust’s academies. I also act as adviser to principals of primary academies, assessing performance and supporting their self-evaluations. My work focuses on raising standards and contributing to the work of academies as places of transformational learning.

I have held senior leadership posts in a number of schools, including as associate headteacher for a local authority. I held a senior school improvement position in the local authority before becoming an inspector for Ofsted, leading inspections in primary and special schools. As an education consultant, I have advised headteachers in primary, secondary and special schools and provided training to schools and organisations nationally.

I have been a keynote speaker for several organisations and have published books and articles on educational topics including special education needs, management of behaviour and training for newly qualified teachers. I hold a B.Ed (Hons) degree and have a National Professional Qualification of Headship qualification.

Helen Howard
Director of School Improvement

I provide strategic leadership for the central support services. I am responsible for developing strategies to ensure value for money, and for advising on resource related and operational matters.

I work with the university’s professional support teams including Estates and Facilities Management, Finance, Human Resources and ICT and other colleagues in our academies, the trust and the university.

I have held various administrative and management roles since I joined the university in 1997. My roles have included strategic responsibility for administrative support services and advising on resource related matters for the university’s Faculty of Education and Sport. I hold a Business Studies BA(Hons) degree and a Masters in Change Management, both from the University of Brighton.

Vanessa Norris
Director of Operational Services