The governance of Leigh Academies Trust is detailed within a master funding agreement, along with supplemental funding agreements between the Trust and the Department for Education for each academy. 

View the Trust’s overall governance structure

The Trust’s Members are, in essence, the shareholders of the company. They are appointed by the Sponsors and their number always includes the Chair of the Trust Board. The Members have several functions:

  • To sign the memorandum, to sign/amend the articles of association and to determine the name of the Trust;
  • To receive the Trust’s accounts and report, and to appoint/remove the auditors;
  • To appoint Members and Trustees (also known as Directors);
  • To ensure that the Trust’s charitable objective is being met; and
  • To dissolve the Trust.

This group holds an annual general meeting, usually each December.

The Directors of Leigh Academies Trust (also known as Trustees), who sit on the Trust Board, are legally required to discharge a range of powers and responsibilities, working in close partnership with the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Academies Directors, other Executive Directors and the Principals of the academies, to ensure that the academies provide the best possible education for all students.

The Trust Board sets the vision and aims of the Trust and its academies, as well as the strategy and policy to deliver its key objectives. It has ultimate responsibility for all budgets, salaries and safeguarding.

Apart from ensuring good governance, the Trust Board’s primary objectives are to assist the Executive in delivering the best possible outcomes for all students, and to hold the Executive to account for the ways in which this is carried out. It does this through the Academy Boards, which report any local concerns with implications for the organisation as a whole directly to the Trust Board and ensure that the latter’s decisions are implemented at local level.

The Academy Boards are responsible for the day-to-day management and governance of all the academies under their jurisdiction. All but one oversee a secondary or special academy and many oversee one or more primary academies as well. Most leadership and managerial tasks are delegated to the Principal of each academy. The majority of the other Academy Board members are external governors, appointed for their knowledge, skills and links with the local community, together with a parent governor and a staff governor, each elected by other parents or staff. The Principal of the relevant secondary or special academy also sits on the Academy Board, as do the Academies Director responsible for the relevant cluster of academies and a Principal of another Trust academy.

Governors are expected to make several visits to their academies during each academic year, enabling them to understand and monitor the academies’ work and progress. Following their visits, they submit reports for consideration by the relevant Academy Board so that important lessons can be learned and outstanding issues addressed.

In addition to the Academy Boards, there are three committees that consider cross-cutting Trust issues: the Standards Committee, the Resources Committee and the Audit Committee, each reporting directly to the Trust Board. The Committees are made up of Directors and Governors from across the Academy Boards.

The current Directors and Governors of the Trust are shown in the diagrams below, each of which relates to a particular geographical cluster of academies:

Trust Board Directors

Frank Green

Frank Green CBE

Frank Green CBE has over 50 years experience in education.

He worked within the Department for Education as National Schools Commissioner, from 2013 to 2016, with oversight of all academies and free schools, helping to establish the Regional School Commissioners structure. Earlier, he had been Chief Executive of Leigh Academies Trust, from 2008 to 2013, one of the first MATs, having created it from the original Leigh City Technology College, of which he was Principal from 1997. From 1992 to 1997, he was the founding head of the Lincoln School of Science and Technology, which was the very first specialist school, and the model for that national programme.

In 2013, Frank was appointed Commander of the British Empire for his services to education. He is also a Freeman of the Stationers’ Company, and a published author.

In 2016, Frank rejoined LAT as a non-executive Director and was appointed Chair of the Trust Board in 2020.

A headshot of Theresa Davies

Theresa Davies
Vice Chair

Theresa Davies became a governor of Milestone School, in New Ash Green, in the late 1990s when she was a partner in a successful financial services business and an inaugural participant of the School Business Manager degree programme. As schools nationally were moving towards becoming autonomous organisations her finance and human resources expertise supported Milestone through this period of significant change. 

Theresa subsequently became Chair of the Milestone School governing body and oversaw the school becoming a member of LAT in 2012, when she also became a non-executive Director of the Trust and Chair of the LAT Resources Committee – the latter monitoring Trust finances and the work of the various Trust service teams. Theresa became Vice Chair of LAT in 2020.

Photo of Simon Beamish, Chief Executive Officer at Leigh Academies Trust.

Simon Beamish

Simon Beamish graduated from York University with a BA in Politics and went on to study for a PGCE in History at Durham University. He gained an MSc in Social and Political Theory from Birkbeck College, University of London, as well as an NPQH from the National College for School Leadership. He has taught at several schools in Kent, Medway and South-East London. In 2009, Simon was appointed Principal of Longfield Academy within Leigh Academies Trust.

Simon was appointed Chief Executive of Leigh Academies Trust in November 2013, succeeding Frank Green, CBE. He is the Chairman of Kent and Medway Training, one of the region’s largest teacher-training providers. Simon is also the Chairman of Thames Gateway Teaching School Hub. He is a trained Ofsted inspector, National Leader of Education and Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching. He lives in Kent with his wife Emma and their three children.

Sir Paul Carter CBE

Sir Paul Carter CBE

Over the last 40 years Sir Paul’s career has followed two paths: as an entrepreneur and in public service.

During the 1980s and 1990s he built up a series of successful businesses predominantly aligned to the property, development and construction industries all based in central London.

In 1991 Sir Paul was elected as a Conservative Borough Councillor in Maidstone, serving on the housing and planning committees. At this time was also a school governor at Oldborough Manor Secondary School in Maidstone.

In 1997 he was elected as a Conservative Kent County Councillor, subsequently spending the first 10 years as Cabinet Member for Education where he drove a substantial change agenda including improved educational attainment at all key stages, shaping mainstream inclusion and special school provision and improving the condition of the school estate. 

From 2006 to 2020 Sir Paul was elected as the Leader of Kent County Council. 

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2014 and knighted in 2020 for services to local government.

Sir Paul was a KCC nominated LAT Member from 2008 to 2021. He became a non-executive Director in 2021 and has board oversight of Estates Services.

A headshot of Michael Costello

Michael Costello

Michael Costello spent his working life within Kent Police, joining as a cadet in 1972. He was a career detective, working in Maidstone, Ashford, Medway, Swale and Major Crime, retiring as a Detective Inspector in 2004. He continued as an Investigative Advisor, coach and trainer until fully retiring in 2019.

Michael joined The Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School Governing Body in 2000, and subsequently became a Director of the Williamson Trust in 2011. He was Chair of the Trust when it merged with LAT in September 2019.

As one of the country’s first National Leaders of Governance in 2012 he supported many schools in the Kent and Medway area until he retired from the role in 2021. 

Michael joined the LAT Trust Board in 2019. He chairs the trust Standards Committee, monitoring academic standards and practice in all Trust academies, and has specific board oversight of those in Medway, Ebbsfleet and North Maidstone Cluster Director.

Keith Ellis

Keith Ellis is the co-owner and Managing Director of the Kenard Group, a thriving and diverse organisation specialising in precision engineering and manufacturing software technology, based in Dartford, Kent and Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire.

The group is a privately owned business with both manufacturing and software divisions supplying some of the world’s largest companies in aerospace, defence and telecommunication, a highly competitive market.

Since the early 1980s Kenard has been actively running apprenticeship programmes and is involved with providing young engineers with the opportunity to gain the skills, qualifications and experience that they need to start their career, something Keith is passionate about.

Keith contributed to creation and development of The Leigh UTC, becoming the school’s first Chair when it opened, joining the LAT Trust Board as a non-executive Director in December 2013. He stood down from the former role in 2021, now chairs both LAT Apprenticeships CIC and the Trust Audit Committee. He also provides board oversight of academies as the Central Kent Cluster Director.

Helen Esmonde

Helen Esmonde

After graduating from Sussex University Helen taught in both London and Toronto before moving into educational publishing as a commissioning editor for McGraw Hill International, Toronto.

Upon return to London she went into commercial publishing and became a Director of Holsworthy Publishing, Holsworthy Fine Art Prints and the Holsworthy Art Gallery, which were subsequently acquired by Robert Maxwell. She later resigned to set up her own business called Esmonde Publishing Limited, publishing stationery and books for major UK retailers, museums, charities and think-tanks.

From 1986-89 Helen accompanied her husband, Robert Couldrey, on a tour of Hong Kong and Brunei when he commanded the 7th Gurkha Rifles and the Brunei Garrison. Helen taught at the army school, the independent school and the Gurkha school.

When Esmonde Publishing Limited was acquired in 2012 by the GMC Publishing Group, Helen stayed on as Publishing Director retiring in 2020.

Helen has been Director of Hoopers Gallery, a photographic gallery in Clerkenwell,  for eight years, a governor of Beechwood School, Tunbridge Wells and served on the Advisory Board of the WWF/ UK Forest Trade Network. She is currently a Trustee of Hoopers Africa Trust (an educational charity for girls in Kenya).

Helen is Past Master of the Stationers’ Company and was the first woman, in its more than 600 year history, to be Master. She currently sits on the Council of City and Guilds, the Court of the Stationers’ Company and the Development Board of Book Aid International. Helen is a Trustee of the publishing company Hymns Ancient and Modern and a Director of Bridgeman Designs Ltd.

Helen joined the LAT Trust Board in 2020 as a non-executive Director and the Stationers’ Company representative. She now provides board oversight of academies in SE London and North-West Kent as Cluster Director.

James Nicholson

James Nicholson is English, but was born and educated in France where he passed his baccalauréat in 1982. Two years later, after attending a business school in Paris, he came to live in the UK, starting a career as an insurance broker.

James is now a Client Relationship Leader at the world’s leading insurance broker, where he is responsible for global relationships between his firm and large multinational corporations.

Through most of his career, James has had leadership and management roles, which have provided him with a wide range of skills and experience. He feels fortunate about this and is keen to share that experience and knowledge for the benefit of others. He believes very strongly that education is the key lever to a better world.

James joined LAT in 2016, initially as a governor and later as Chair of Mascalls Academy in Paddock Wood. He joined the Trust Board as a non-executive Director in 2017.

Dr Joan Wales

In a career spanning some thirty-eight years within British Petroleum, Joan worked across many businesses, disciplines and countries. Although entering the company as a research scientist, she gravitated toward more expansive roles and spent the second half of her career in corporate positions with centralised authority. Learning how to lead through coaching and influence, she helped diverse strands of the BP Group to improve the quality of their operational, environmental and safety performance.

But a business cannot simply be judged by output – it also matters how things are done.  People within the organisation must feel valued, know how their contribution fits and how they can individually develop and grow. That is what prompted her to be one of the four founding members of BP’s Women’s Network, where a persuasive business case was built for diversity to augment the equality and societal arguments.

Joan has also held two Board positions outside of BP, as a member of the National Brownfield Association and as Chair and member of the Catalyst European Advisory Board.  Since leaving BP, Joan has become more involved with the Tallow Chandlers Livery Company. She is currently Chair of the BP Liaison Committee, a member of the Finance and General Purposes Committee and has acted as a Court Assistant in the past. She has also been a Governor at LAT’s Halley Academy, also one of the Livery’s flagship schools.

Dr Jodie Wetherall

Dr Jodie Wetherall is Associate Director – Office of the CIO at the University of Greenwich, where he is leading the development of the institution’s new Digital Strategy, articulating its digital ambitions through to 2030.

Jodie has worked in Higher Education since 2001. Having spent 18 years as an academic in computer engineering, consulting and researching in robotics and security, he transitioned into IT management following his passion for technology in education. Jodie holds a PhD in Computer Engineering and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

He has served as a non-executive Director of Leigh Academies Trust since August 2021, having specific board responsibility for oversight of IT Services.

Governance Professional

Neil Willis

Neil Willis

Neil Willis taught geography at schools in Surrey and Kent before becoming a senior leader. He was Headteacher at Axton Chase School prior to it joining with The Leigh City Technology College to form Leigh Academies Trust in 2008. Subsequently Neil was Principal of Longfield Academy, until becoming Deputy Chief Executive of Leigh Academies Trust in 2012. From 2019, until he retired in 2021, he was Chief Operating Officer, responsible for all central services, development of new academies, SEND and Safeguarding. Neil retired in 2021

Today as the Governance Professional Neil providers advice and guidance to the Trust Board on governance, constitutional and procedural matters. He is also the Company Secretary for the Trust and its Community Interest Companies (CIC), acting as the main point of contact for the DfE and Companies House.

View the Director and Governor attendance records at Trust Board, Standards Committee, Resources Committee, Audit Committee and Academy Board meetings over the last year.

Declarations of Interest 2023/24

Click the following links to see the relevant business and pecuniary interests of the Trust’s Members, Directors and local Governors:

The following links will take you to further information concerning the Trust’s governance arrangements:

Contact Address

If you have any queries concerning governance at the Trust or its academies, please contact us by email at the following address: