Executive Team

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

Meet the team


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
Chief Executive


In support of  the Trust’s vision, values, mission and strategic business plan, I am responsible for leading strategic planning and the planned future development of the Trust. This includes responsibility 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 have strategic responsibility for internal and external policy developments which affect the Trust and our academies, including risk management. My role also includes leading and developing the Trust’s people strategies and its internal and external communications strategies. 

I am responsible for the Trust’s Human Resources and Organisational Development,  Governance and Admissions, and Marketing and Communications teams. 

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

Prior to joining the Trust, I held various academic administration roles at the University of Brighton, 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 photo

Sam Coates
Executive Director of Strategy


As the Executive Director of School Improvement, I have the responsibility to support and manage our trust’s academy principals. I work with our academy leaders to ensure we provide an ambitious and suitable curriculum for all pupils across our academies. I also oversee our School Improvement central team, led by the Head of School Improvement. Our team consists of a Safeguarding and Welfare Lead, Primary Lead Practioner, Project Co-ordinator and a Compliance support officer. Our team work, alongside a number of educational leadership and academy based subject leader experts that work together, to ensure our academies are well supported and provide the best possible educational experiences for our pupils.

I also work closely with the academy leaders to develop training opportunities for all our teaching staff. I have the strategic responsibility for ensuring that our teaching and teaching educational support staff have the training they need to help them do their jobs well.

I work with our sponsor, the University of Brighton, to develop strategic partnerships with the university as well as instigating and developing other educational provision to complement and support the curriculum development and delivery in our academies.

Dylan Davies
Executive Director of School Improvement


In addition to the shared responsibilities of the Executive Team, I provide  strategic leadership for Trust’s Finance, ICT, and Estates and Facilities Management teams to ensure they meet the needs of our academies and the Trust. I am responsible for the development and implementation of efficient, effective resource strategies to secure value for money. I’m also the Trust’s Chief Financial Officer, which means I have to ensure we meet various statutory obligations in relation to the way we manage public money.

Prior to joining the Trust I worked with a significant number of education providers to support and improve their finance functions. I have led significant, multi disciplinary teams to support the DfE, and continue to advise the DfE as member of an academies working group. I am a chartered accountant, qualified project manager, and hold a BA (Hons) in Economics.

Exec Director of Finance and Operations, Tom Scully

Tom Scully
Executive Director of Finance and Operations