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Mr Paul Watson – Chief Executive Officer

As a headteacher, Paul led Preston Hedges Primary School to outstanding in all areas in 2014 and has previously supported school improvement as part of National Leaders of Education.

As CEO he has led the establishment of the Preston Hedges Trust and its growth between 2017 and 2021 from one to five schools, successfully bidding for two new primary schools in Northamptonshire.

Mrs Becky Hickford – Chief Operating Officer

Strategic lead for all non-educational aspects of the Trust’s work, Becky’s considerable experience ranges from working as HR Director for a global workforce to consultant for the NHS locally.

Such broad-ranging experience and expertise enables the central team, now brilliantly led by Becky, to continue to support schools in offering exceptional experiences and opportunities as we ourselves continue to develop and grow, as a Trust, committed to making a positive difference in the communities we support. One of Becky’s key areas of focus will be capacity for growth as we move forward with our plan to welcome new schools into the Preston Hedges Trust family.

Tracey Coles – Executive Principal Preston Hedges and Parklands

Tracey has spent 15 years in education, holding a variety of roles from Year 6 teacher, Maths Lead, Assistant Principal with a responsibility for standards and Principal, prior to becoming an Executive Principal. She is currently studying for her NPQEL, and is a member of Challenge Partners Network where she is involved in Trust Peer Reviews and Quality Assurance of other academies and Trusts across the UK.

She is passionate about ensuring all pupils have access to exceptional learning and can attain to the best of their ability and uses her wide experience to ensure that the academies that she supports provide the opportunities and practice to enable the best offering for our Trust pupils.

Caroline Stewart  – Executive Principal Pineham Barns, Buckton Fields, Holne Chase

Caroline has been a senior leader since 2006 and has been a Headteacher since 2014, in two different schools. Through these opportunities, she has demonstrated that she is able to quickly tackle underperformance leading to significant improvements; she has also had the privilege and experience of successfully opening the Trust’s first free school, Pineham Barns Primary School. Caroline has been an Ofsted Inspector since 2017 and uses this training to support leaders and schools across the Trust.

Through her varying skills, Caroline has also supported schools across Northamptonshire by working closely with Senior Leadership Teams and the Local Education Authority to raise standards in their schools through a strategic partnership.

Carmilla Cassidy – Principal Parklands

Carmilla was appointed Principal of Parklands Primary School in June 2020. She has more than 10 years experience of working in primary schools across Northamptonshire and Staffordshire where she has worked within different leadership teams with a focus on school improvement.

Carmilla is passionate about giving children the very best start in their education career and ensuring their school is a very special place, that provides them with incredible experiences.

Hannah Rogers – Principal Buckton Fields

Hannah has ten years experience of working in education and joined the Trust in 2017 as Assistant Principal at Pineham Barns Primary School. She is a member of the Executive Team and is now the Principal of Buckton Fields Primary School, which opened in September 2021.

She has a passion for celebrating every child as an individual, children’s well-being and ensuring that her team provide an exceptional learning experience through the ethos of Fun, Creativity and Achievement.

David Killick – Principal Holne Chase

David has worked at schools across Milton Keynes teaching and leading in all year groups across the primary phase. Before being appointed the role of Principal at Holne Chase in 2022, he was a member of the School Leadership Team for 8 years of a local school in which he led on writing, early reading and assessment across all primary key stages.

David trained as a reviewer for Challenge Partners and conducted ‘Quality Assurance Reviews’ with schools within the Challenge Partners Network.

Laura Kerrison – Finance Director

Laura was appointed as Finance Director for Preston Hedges Trust in 2018 and sits on the Trust Board, Finance Committee and Executive Team, in addition to providing support to the Audit and Risk Committee. With an extensive financial background, starting out in the private sector for large national companies, Laura has managed extensive and complex multi-million pound forecasts, before moving to the education sector.  Joining the education sector in 2007, Laura has been at the heart of the academisation process for a number of small and medium sized Trusts.  As an active member of the Confederation of Schools Trust COO/CFO professional group, the ESFA Finance Professionals Group, Local COO/CFO networks and an ISBL member,  Laura is well-equipped to keep our Trust well-informed of the key financial issues that impact education.  Applying her wide-ranging financial experience to Preston Hedges Trust, Laura has played a pivotal part in the initial growth phase of our Trust, leading us successfully through external and internal audits.  Developing the Central Finance, HR and Payroll functions to effectively support both the strategic and day to day Trust educational activities.  Laura is passionate about delivering high standards throughout, with a key focus on our Trust educational outcomes.

Catherine Gautrey – Marketing and Comms Officer

Catherine has worked as Trust Secretary since 2019 and recently embraced the challenge of new marketing and communications responsibilities. Working closely with the CEO and Chair supporting the Trust’s strategic forward planning and growth, Catherine works with trustees and members on Trust wide meetings and events, and also supports the Executive team, managing school social media accounts and updating the Trust website. Previously Catherine has worked in similar roles at Hearst Corporation, ITV and other media companies.


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