Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees are the people responsible for determining the trust’s strategic direction, including the three core functions common to school governing bodies:

  • the trust's vision
  • educational standards
  • financial performance.

Trustees are also responsible for ensuring the trust complies with charity and company law, as well as its funding agreement with the Secretary of State. The Trustees are the statutory governors of the academies in the trust.

Trustee | term of office: 17 December 2015 to 16 December 2019 | appointed by the sponsor, University of Brighton
Chair of the University of Brighton Academies Trust

I am a career sociologist who joined the University of Brighton as Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2014. I am a member of the University’s Board of Governors and of the Academic Board, Partnership, Approval and Review Committee, Portfolio Planning Group and Research Strategy Committee.

I came to Brighton from Nottingham Trent University where I worked for seven years, firstly as Dean of the School of Social Sciences and latterly as its Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Previously, I held the post of Sub-Dean responsible for postgraduate studies in the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Leicester. I spent nine years at Leicester which included spells as Head of Department of Sociology and Director of Research in the School of Education. Prior to this, I spent 10 years at the University of Warwick where I held a joint appointment in the Department of Sociology and the Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research (CEDAR). Earlier posts were at the Institute for Employment Studies at the University of Sussex and the National Foundation for Educational Research.

My interests in the sociology of education and of childhood have led to project-directorships under the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Children 5-16: Growing into the 21st Century programme and the ESRC/Arts & Humanities Research Council Cultures of Consumption programme. I have lectured and published widely in these areas and in qualitative methodology, especially ethnography.

I have been a member of the Governing Council of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE) since 2014 and in January 2018 was elected to the position of Chair. The SRHE is an independent, UK-based international society which is the leading learned society in the field of advancing understanding of higher education and supporting and disseminating research.

Professor Chris Pole
Trustee and Chief Executive | appointed 1 January 2017 | Ex-officio by virtue of office

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, School Direct, 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
Trustee | term of office: 7 November 2016 to 6 November 2020 | appointed by the sponsor, University of Brighton

Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees

I have over 30 years’ experience of working at Board level in the financial services industry and, in May 2018, was appointed as Chair of the Board of Directors of Temple Bar plc, a large investment trust. I have worked for both investment management companies and investment banks. My work has taken me all over the world and I have been lucky enough to collaborate with people of many different cultures and backgrounds. I have always been interested in education and the development of young people, which is why I was a Youth Offender Panel Member for more than 10 years. I hope my varied experience will be of value in helping the trust continue its successful development.

Arthur Copple
Trustee | term of office 28 February 2018 to 27 February 2022 | appointed by the sponsor, University of Brighton

I started work teaching English in rural and inner city comprehensive schools and then tutored in teacher training in London and Sussex. Most of my career was with The Open University where I worked for nearly 30 years, retiring in 2011 from my post as Director of The Open University in the South East.

I have worked in partnerships with Universities and Colleges of Further Education in Sussex, Surrey and Kent in raising aspirations in schools, widening participation and promoting work-based learning. I have been involved in a number of adult and community education, voluntary and cultural sector initiatives.

Liz Gray
Trustee | term of office: 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2021| appointed by the sponsor, University of Brighton

I held the role of Head of the School of Education at the University of Brighton for 12 years. I took early retirement from this position at the beginning of September 2015 so that I could concentrate solely on managing and leading the Troops to Teachers Programme, funded by the Department for Education.

I have been actively involved in Higher Education for just over 23 years, having moved into the sector following a successful teaching career in schools.

Throughout my career, I have worked with students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in a range of contexts. I have also helped develop provision and policy at national level. I worked with the (then) Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Training and Development Agency (TDA) on several projects including the DCSF Mathematics Specialist programme for Primary Teachers; the TDA-funded Masters in Teaching and Learning programme; and a TDA-funded change management project which resulted in the publication of case-study materials that were distributed across the sector.

I have spent much of my career working closely in partnership with schools and colleges in the region. This work enabled the School of Education to establish a strong, school-led model of Initial Teacher Training. I was also involved in the establishment of the Hastings Academies Trust and gained experience of developing the education vision for these institutions.

Lorraine Harrison
Trustee | term of office: 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2021 | appointed by the sponsor, University of Brighton

I am a senior partner at the global leadership development and recruitment firm, Korn Ferry International. My work involves advising companies on the structures of their Boards and senior executive teams, assessing their capabilities and enhancing their effectiveness, and recruiting new talent to enable them to meet their strategic objectives.

I am also a non-executive director of a technology spin-out from Cambridge University, backed by the university and venture capital investors. The business designs and manufactures advanced building control systems, which are deployed widely in new-build schools and the higher education sector.

I graduated as a civil engineer from Imperial College, London. I then qualified as a Chartered Accountant and spent over 20 years advising UK and international companies on their financial needs and structures. I am a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Chris Kirkness
Trustee | term of office: 1 September 2017 to 31 August 2021 | appointed by the sponsor, University of Brighton

I am Managing Director of the Indie Training Fund, a not-for-profit organisation providing television and digital training to many of the UK's leading television companies. I am also a member of the Ofcom Content Board, advising on broadcasting regulation and standards.

I was Director of IGGY at the University of Warwick from 2011-13 and launched its award-winning online network for gifted teenagers. As part of Channel 4's senior management team from 1996-2010, I was initially employed as Commissioning Editor for Arts and Performance, then as Managing Editor for Commissioning in 2000 and Head of Education in 2006. Prior to that I worked in both the independent television sector and at the BBC. I studied History and Politics at the University of York and was a Benton Fellow at the University of Chicago.

Janey Walker
Trustee | term of office 20 March 2017 to 19 March 2021| appointed by the sponsor, University of Brighton

I am a former Head Teacher of Alternative Provision, Special Education and Mainstream Schools, with particular expertise in Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties, leadership coaching, staffing and finance. I was for 12 years Principal at The Alternative Centre for Education (ACE), a 5-16 Special School in Brighton and Hove, where I also worked as an interim head of three mainstream secondary schools. In 2012 I set up my own business – Acuity Education Ltd – and have been working as a freelance consultant ever since, starting out as Executive Head of the West Sussex Alternative Provision College (WSAPC). I have formal qualifications in coaching and mentoring and my current contacts include being a Specialist Adviser for New Schools Network, Regional Consultant for Ambition School Leadership, formally Future Leaders, and an Associate for Orchard Hill College MAT.

Mark Whitby
Trustee | term of office 1 February 2018 to 31 January 2022 | appointed by the sponsor, University of Brighton

Andrew is currently Director of Legal Services and Deputy University Secretary at the University of Brighton, where he has worked for over 8 years. He previously specialised in employment law and industrial relations at the Engineering Employers’ Federation and prior to that he worked in private practice as a civil litigation specialist. He also has a degree in music and is passionately keen on opera, choral and organ music.

Andrew Wilson
Company Secretary
Director of Planning, Policy and Governance

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 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