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The way our governance is structured makes sure we are an open and transparent organisation with clear accountability and roles and responsibilities.

MEMBERS: Members of the Trust are appointed by the Chair and CEO. Members make sure the Trust is true to its constitution and fulfils all its commitments in terms of its charitable status.

TRUSTEES: Trustees meet as a group known as the Trust Board. This has the strategic and legal oversight of all our activities. The board decides our strategic direction, reviews our performance and creates and reviews all of the policies and practices involved in the running of our schools.

EXECUTIVE TEAM: The Executive Team focuses on operations, resources and supporting the educational performance of our schools. Led by the Chief Executive, this team works directly with staff in each school to make sure the Trust’s strategic plan and each school development plan is being delivered and that the required outcomes form the Trust Board’s purpose and vision are being achieved.


Mrs Becky Hickford – Chair of the Trust.

Becky was appointed as Chair of the Preston Hedges Academy Trust in 2016, having previously held the role of Vice-Chair of the local governing body for three years.   In her role as Chair, Becky currently sits on all the Trust committees and participates in the school improvement visits alongside the CEO and the external School Improvement Advisor.  She is also part of the annual performance management committee reviewing Senior Leaders performance and pay awards.

Becky is the Founder of Future Focus 360, which provides career coaching and support to young people aged 12 to 24 years.  Prior to this she worked for a global company operating as a strategic business partner, leading departmental organisational design and transformation, designing and implementing global performance and talent management processes, as well as building capabilities and skills through development programmes and one to one coaching.

Mr Paul Watson – Chief Executive Officer

Paul led Preston Hedge’s Primary School to outstanding in all areas in 2014 and has previously supported school improvement as an NLE.
As CEO he has led the establishment of the Preston Hedge’s Academy Trust and its growth between 2017 and 2021 from one to five schools, successfully bidding for two new primary schools in Northamptonshire.

He understands how to grow schools, shape teams and deliver high outcomes for children.

He currently works within the Challenge Partners, CEO Network and represents Northamptonshire within the Jubilee network of schools, who collaborate across the Midlands.

Dr Jane Murray – Vice Chair

Dr Jane Murray is currently Vice-Chair for the Trust, and she sits on the Performance Committee and supports the work of the Culture, Values and Wellbeing group. Jane has longstanding experience in governor, trustee and advisory roles for education and arts organisations, and she holds qualifications as a teacher and school leader.

Jane works as an Associate Professor in Education at the University of Northampton, where she has led Qualified Teacher Status and Education Master’s programmes, and currently co-leads the Centre for Education and Research. In that role, Jane combines teaching, research and consultancy, supervising PhD students, conducting research for schools, national and global organisations, and advising NGOs and governments on education matters. Jane has published extensively in the field of education and she is Editor-in-Chief for the International Journal of Early Years Education. Before working in higher education, Jane worked as a primary and early years teacher.

Mr Michael Brinkley – Trustee

Michael joined the Trust Board in 2021 as a Trustee and sits on the finance and performance committees.  Previously Michael was Chair of the Local Governing Body at Pineham Barns Primary School within the Trust and is a member of the Institute of Directors.

Michael is a Programme Director for a national rail infrastructure company specialising in business strategy and transformation.  Michael has a passion for pupil achievement and school performance and brings a wide range of skills and experience from a career in both large private and public sector organisations.

Mr Paul Dawes – Trustee

Paul was previously a Governor and Vice-Chair of Governors at Parklands Primary School and has seen first-hand the transition that the school has gone through since becoming part of the Trust and the significant benefits that this has provided to the education of the children at the school. He was subsequently appointed to the Trust board and is keen to play an active part in the running and future growth of the trust.

He is a Senior Chartered Financial Planner with over 20 years’ experience providing advice to directors and senior managers, specialising in tax and investment planning. This background will enable him to provide guidance and opinion to ensure we make the best use of the resources available and he also sits on the finance committee.

Mr Carl Dillow – Trustee

Carl was initially appointed to be a governor at Preston Hedge’s Primary School in 2016 before becoming Chair of Governors in 2019 and then became a trustee in April 2021.  During this time, Carl also helped form the trust compliance committee in 2018, which he has chaired ever since.

Carl was educated locally and has lived in the area with his young family since 2006.  He has always had a passion for science and technology, which has led him to work for a global IT outsourcing company as the Global Head of Solutions Architecture.  As well as being technology-focused, he has a diploma in leadership and management and loves to develop his team and bring out the best in them.

Mr Lee Gentry – Trustee

Lee was previously appointed as a Governor at Preston Hedges Primary School back in October 2008 and has since been part of the process of the school converting to an academy through to the multi-academy trust that it forms part of today.  He is currently a Trustee sitting on the Compliance Committee.  He has previous experience working with the Special Educational Needs or SEN provision within Preston Hedges School prior to its conversion to an academy

Lee is a Chartered Civil Engineer, Chartered Structural Engineer and Party Wall Surveyor.  He is a director of a limited company offering building consultancy services, which is currently based in Northampton.

Mr David Hughes – Trustee

David volunteered as a Parent Governor at Preston Hedges Primary School around ten years ago, as both of his daughters enjoyed very positive starts to their education and he primarily wanted to give back some of his skills and energy to the school to help ensure that other children had a similar experience.  He has responsibility for chairing the Finance Committee and supporting Audit and Internal Scrutiny.

David is a Chartered Accountant and has had a variety of financial and commercial roles and experiences across Financial Services and the Automotive industry, including defining and implementing business strategy, and providing financial and operational consultancy.  In his current role he is responsible for overseeing the financial performance of a global network of independent business partners.

Mr David Nyamatore – Trustee

David has supported the Trust as a Governor since late 2017 when he joined the Finance, HR & Resources committee. Later in 2018 when the Trust created three Trustee committees David joined the Compliance committee which he continues to be a part of today. Following the creation of an Audit committee in 2019, David was later appointed as Chairman and Responsible Office for the Audit Committee to help drive the audit readiness agenda for PHAT.

Currently, David works as an Associate Solicitor at Dentons law firm. Prior to this David has gained valuable experience working in various commercial and governance roles within the financial services sector.

Mrs Sharon Smith – Trustee

Sharon is a Senior Lecturer in Early Years at The University of Northampton. She is a  registered nurse and health visitor with over twenty years of experience in family and community practice.  Sharon is currently an early year’s academic adviser for the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG)  ‘A Fit and Healthy Childhood’. She has had extensive experience in school governance at secondary and primary levels, including previous Chair of Governors at Preston Hedges for 7 years.

Mrs Liz White – Trustee

Having a career in education spanning more than 20 years, Liz wants to ensure that all children who attend one of the schools in the Trust receive an outstanding education through a broad and balanced, fun and creative curriculum where all children achieve their very best.  She is a qualified teacher and spent ten years teaching in the primary sector before working as part of the school improvement team at the local authority for 11 years.

Liz is now self-employed and continues to work alongside school teachers and leaders across the country to support school improvement.  These skills and experience are beneficial to the Trust.   Liz will be Chair of the Performance Committee.  She was previously a Governor and the Chair of Governors at Parklands Primary and has also been a governor at two other schools in the past.


Wootton Hope Drive, Wootton Fields, Northampton, NN4 6BU

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