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: 16 December 2019 to 15 December 2022 | 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.


Trustee Chris Pole

Professor Chris Pole

Trustee | term of office: 1 September 2019 to 31 August 2023 | appointed by the Board of Trustees as a co-opted member

My most recent post was as a secondary school Headteacher in a large comprehensive and I have worked in state education for 40 years, the last 27 of which were in senior leadership. After starting as a Music teacher at Steyning Grammar School, I went on to promoted posts in West Sussex, before becoming a Headteacher in East Sussex. During this period, I was selected for a DfE initiative to recruit more Headteachers into schools in challenging circumstances and I was placed in a school in Special Measures in Portsmouth for a year. Subsequently, I worked as an Associate Headteacher, supporting schools in West Sussex, before taking on the Headship of my own school.

I have a passion for education and my career emphasis has always been about raising standards, aspirations and outcomes for our young people. My professional experience covers all aspects of school leadership and improvement, Governance, budgets, and staff and pupil recruitment. I continue to support schools as an improvement partner, and school leaders as a qualified Executive Coach.

I maintain my interest in, and love of classical music and I continue to conduct the Chanctonbury Chorus and lead the Worthing String Workshops.


Trustee Siobhan Denning

Siobhan Denning

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.


Trustee Liz Gray

Liz Gray

Trustee | term of office: 1 September 2021 to 30 August 2025| 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.


Trustee Lorraine Harrison

Lorraine Harrison

Trustee | term of office: 20 May 2020 to 19 May 2024 | appointed by the Board of Trustees as a co-opted member

I am currently a Director of Operations for a financial technology company in London helping to deliver critically important financial benchmarks to the industry and beyond. I have spent 15 years in the finance sector with the majority of this time working in investment banking, managing operations’ functions and developing teams to support the needs of its business partners and clients. Prior to starting my professional career, I studied Technology and Business Studies at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.

I have always been passionate about education and have been involved in several university and school recruitment programmes for my previous companies and I hope to bring this passion and experience to the Trustee role.

Chris McFadden

Trustee | term of office: 20 May 2020 to 19 May 2024 | appointed by the Board of Trustees as a co-opted member

I have over 35 years’ experience in the UK and European financial services industry, including 20 years at executive/Board level. As an actuary by qualification, I have worked at several of the world’s leading insurers, banks and asset managers, and most recently have spent over 10 years at a leading consultancy advising major firms on their financial and risk management activities, including advising on many corporate M&A transactions.

For over 15 years I have also undertaken the role as a Trustee and Director for a charity/company that provides Nursing Home and related services in Mid Sussex.  I am also the Treasurer, occasional player and erstwhile junior coach, for a village cricket club.

As father to two sons now in their 20s, I am very aware how education has the ability to transform lives, and hope that I can bring my experience and skills from a background that is not fully in the educational arena to help the Trust continue to deliver its mission and values to its pupils and the wider community.


Jeremy Nurse

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 committed to raising young people’s attainment and achievements. 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 and held the position of Head between September 2015 and May 2021. I hold a Masters in Education Management and a Doctorate in School Improvement.


Dr John Smith photo

Dr John Smith
Trustee and Chief Executive

Trustee | term of office: 20 May 2020 to 19 May 2024 | appointed by the Board of Trustees as a co-opted member

I am a Solicitor and have spent my career as a legal adviser and manager in the public sector. I have worked in management roles for a number of public authorities including West Sussex, Cheshire and Wiltshire County Councils. Following these, I was Solicitor to the Council and Director of Corporate Services with the London Borough of Croydon, where I worked for eight years, managing a range of central services.  I subsequently joined KPMG Advisory and led a number of central and local government consultancy projects throughout the UK.

More recently I have worked as an independent consultant in interim management and advisory roles supporting public bodies through organisational and governance change. My most recent role was as General Counsel to the London Fire Brigade, overseeing changes in their governance relationship with the Mayor and the London Assembly, and managing the Brigade's response to the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry.

I am a former member, and Vice-Chairman, of the Independent Monitoring Board at HM Prison Lewes and was formerly a governor of two primary schools. I am currently an adviser with Citizen's Advice.


Miles Smith

Trustee | term of office: 1 September 2021 to 30 August 2025 | appointed by the sponsor, University of Brighton

I am Deputy Chair of the Board of Governors at the University of Brighton.

I was a member of the Ofcom Content Board, advising on UK broadcasting regulations and standards, from 2011-2021. Before that I was part of Channel 4’s senior management team, as Managing Editor of Commissioning and Head of Education.

I have also worked in training and education, as 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, and as Director of IGGY, the University of Warwick’s online network for gifted teenagers.  

I studied History and Politics at the University of York and was a Benton Fellow at the University of Chicago.

Trustee Janey Walker

Janey Walker

Trustee | term of office: 20 May 2020 to 19 May 2024 | appointed by the Board of Trustees as a co-opted member

I have over 20 years’ senior management experience in a variety of not-for-profit organisations dedicated to improving the customer and service-user experience. Currently I am a Lead ombudsman and casework director for the UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service.

I have a passion for, and interest in, education and have previous experience of being a chair of a governing body for a primary school in Hove (and which was attended by my two daughters).

I hope my background and experience combined will be of value in helping the Trust deliver its vision and plans in the years ahead.


Paul Whiteing

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.

Trustee Andrew Wilson

Andrew Wilson