MeET OUR BOARD
Margaret Simmons-Bird MBEChair of Trust Board
Margaret Simmons-Bird MBE
Margaret was previously a Director of Education in a Local Authority and she has extensive experience working in local government, schools, colleges and universities to improve the education outcomes for children and young people. She has led a wide range of education services including school improvement, schools finance, schools' admissions and capital planning, looked after children and music service. Margaret has also been an Ofsted inspector and worked with private and public sector organisations to develop and promote effective equalities policies and practice in achieving a more diverse workforce. Margaret is committed to working with schools to challenge inequalities and in narrowing the gap for disadvantaged learners. She is currently vice Chair of the Bristol Commission on Race Equality, Co-chair of the Bristol Education and Skills Race Equality Steering Group with the Director of Education & Skills in Bristol, and Independent Advisor to the SEND School Improvement Board.
Stella LithgowVice Chair
Stella is originally from Somerset and has recently relocated to Bristol following 10 years living in Yorkshire. She has previously worked in secondary education as a teacher and SEN support. She later gained additional experience in taxation and educational finance, and currently works closely with academy trusts across the South West focussing on resource management, funding and safeguarding. Previous voluntary work with The Samaritans has provided her with a strong passion for awareness of mental health and wellbeing for students and staff.
Sarah Baker is the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Gatehouse Green Learning Trust (GGLT), which was formed in 2018, bringingÃ ¿ ½ together two large Bristol secondary schools and three primaries.
Sarah began her career in Manchester before taking on teaching and leadership roles in inner-city comprehensive schools in London boroughs, where she relished the challenge of contributing to improvements in education in areas of diversity and deprivation.
She moved to Bristol to become the first headteacher of the new Redland Green School, an 11-19 comprehensive. Sarah opened the school with Year 7 in September 2006 and discovered that starting a new school from scratch brought skills and knowledge not delivered in teacher training.
As RGS became established, it became increasingly outward facing, and Sarah took on roles in the local authority including chairing the Bristol Association of Secondary Heads and Principals and developing the Bristol Inclusion Panel.
Sarah continues to work closely with schools and partners to further improve the quality of education in the city.
Lawayne has worked in governance in various non-executive roles as Chair of Governors and a range of committees and in link roles. She is a strategic communications professional and has worked in that field in many counties in public and private sector and media (radio, television-as presenter & producer) and in, print. Her current role is part-time, as Senior Communications manager in a Bristol based software development company.
Strengths include inter-personal relations, motivation, writing, public speaking, speech writing and leadership. She is passionate about education, having also worked as tutor and teacher and involved in student outcomes in diverse cultures and settings. She has completed the NCTL Chairs of Governance leadership and development certificate programme in addition to numerous governor training.
Lawayne was Chair of Redland Green school, leading the school to Ofsted outstanding and an NGA commendation for financial probity in effective governance. She is also a National Leader of Governance and works with GBs and School Partnerships in Bristol to support strong governance. Over the past year she has increased her trustee skill set through collaboration with MATs and MAT leaders in Bristol and the Southwest.
Volunteering /non-executive roles has featured throughout her life having chaired and worked children's charities in the UK and abroad, raising funds to help disadvantaged children and speaking at events to raise aspirations and awareness.
Martin is originally from London and has lived and worked in Bristol for over 30 years.
His executive career included various roles at Bristol & West Building Society and latterly working with senior management teams in consultancy and interim roles at AXA, Lloyds Banking Group and Post Office Financial Services.
He has taught at a Further Education College in London and has been a Visiting Lecturer at University of West of England and has been a Level 2 junior rugby coach.
He values education highly and the development of young people to the best of their ability.
Helen has had a long career in education and retired recently. She served as Headteacher of two schools in Devon leading them from Special Measures to Ofsted Good.
Her second school had a large sixth form and through her leadership roles in education and years working in Bristol schools, Helen has acquired extensive experience of schools of all phases across the South West of England within the regional context of education institutions their learners and communities.
Catherine joined the Gatehouse Green Learning Trust as a trustee in 2019. She has worked for most of her career in primary and secondary education, initially working with turnaround schools and academies within London and later developing and managing international education programmes, predominantly in India and South Africa. She helped establish a charity which runs schools for children in low-income communities in New Delhi, India and a leadership training programme for school principals in the Western Cape in South Africa. She now works for the higher education regulator, the Office for Students, with a focus on fair access and participation.
Dr Robert Sharples has experience of working with young people and has seen the impact that good governance has in supporting and challenging schools and setting high expectations. Dr Sharples recently moved to Bristol with his young family; they are putting down roots in the community and Dr Sharples works with teachers across the city.
Dr Sharples is a specialist in EAL, bilingualism and migration. He is also Vice Chair of the subject association for EAL teachers and has experience of reviewing policies, ensuring financial accountability and overseeing organisational change.
Mark has extensive experience of working in the education sector. He is trained in safeguarding and has extensive experience in non- executive roles in education, including as a secondary school Governor, Chair of Governors and IEB roles. Mark has also been a Governor at a local sixth form college.
In his professional life he is Head of Human Resources at Bristol City Council. He is an HR specialist particularly for the public sector, having worked in the role for many years.
Paul is a Bristol-based entrepreneur and TEDx speaker. He was a founding member of Noddle (the UK's first free for life credit report) and is now the co-founder and managing director of Death.io which is an AI tech start-up headquartered in central Bristol.
He grew up in a small village in Somerset and has experience in both teaching and working in the public sector. Before his time's up he intends on becoming an English teacher. Paul is proud to be a Trustee of the GGLT and is committed to supporting a bright future for education in Bristol.
Jess has a creative background. She has experience working with children, young people, and adults through her career in the Media industry and costume making on many high-profile films and productions. She is currently training as a Play Therapist, supporting children's wellbeing and mental health. Her training includes child psychology, child development and neuroscience. She feels passionately that every child should be given the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
With a scientific research and executive level background, with hands-on experience in overseeing academic, scientific and economic operations; Natalie is a proud Bristolian, Research and Commercialisation Professional, Co-Founder of GEDITT (Global Equality Diversity and Inclusion in Technology Transfer), and Dignity and Justice Advocate.
She has been the first on many occasions, including being the only person of Black Caribbean heritage to get a Chemistry PhD from the University of Nottingham; the first to step onto the field, captain and play rugby at the first women's match at Welford Road stadium (home of Leicester Tigers RFC); and she was the youngest executive (of colour) at the University of Leicester.
Recognised for being forward thinking, commercially astute, and providing assurance in business processes, statutory compliance, and the introduction of best practice techniques. Her goal is to continue learning and paying it forward by working to support organisations such as the Gatehouse Green Learning Trust.