Our Members

The Trust Members bring a broad range of skills and expertise to the strategic leadership of the group of schools.

Mary Whitehead (Chair of the Board of Members)

Retired head teacher, national leader of education and school governor

Mary has taught in early years and primary settings, and became a head teacher in Greenwich in 2000. Mary established the Royal Greenwich Teaching School Alliance, and became a national leader of education, before retiring in 2014. She is passionate about education in school and wider educational issues.


Alex Brooks-Johnson

Former Chief Executive Officer, Wide Horizons Trust

Alex Brooks-Johnson is the former CEO of Wide Horizons, the adventure learning charity that provides opportunities for adventure to disadvantaged children, working with around 40,000 children a year. Alex has spent 15 years as a fundraising and marketing professional, holding senior roles in national and international organisations, and developing some significant partnerships with global companies, before joining the board at Wide Horizons in 2009. As a qualified mountain leader and climbing instructor, Alex has worked with children and young people outdoors, running UK adventure training for inner-city children, and leading overseas expeditions.


David Mbatha

Director, KPMG East Africa

David is currently Director of KPMG, West Africa and a former governor of Willow Dene School. Over the last 15 years, David has worked in finance roles and professional services spanning various specialisms including audit, financial management, reporting and regulation. He has experience in all aspects of the financial reporting cycle, including complex accounting advice and analysis, regulatory advice, process improvement, financial analysis, risk management and investigations. David holds an MBA from Manchester Business School.

Fiona Aubrey-Smith

Former Head of Primary at SSAT (The Schools Network)

Fiona is the former Head of Primary at SSAT, the largest national network of schools, and was the Head of Research & Development for an international education technology company. Fiona was part of the team that created the Chartered College of Teaching. Fiona brings a range of experience, having previously been a classroom teacher, school leader and then consultant. She has also undertaken advisory roles regionally, nationally and internationally. Fiona is currently completing her PhD in education, as well as continuing to work with policy makers and influencers.


Nathalie Fitzgerald
Regional Manager, Create Development

Nathalie is a Regional Manager at Create Development, an organisation that works to inspire children and their families to build positive relationships with physical activity and sport. Nathalie is a qualified teacher and former P.E. lead of a large primary school. She is passionate about promoting social cohesion, and is a community governor and vice chair of the Hawkswood Mangement Group, who support the growth and development of five pupil referral units and alternative provision settings, based in the borough of Waltham Forest.

Our Trustees

This is the Compass Multi-Academy Trust’s inaugural Board of Trustees, based on the founding group of schools in the Compass Partnership. The trustees have been appointed for the variety of skills and expertise that they bring to a multi-academy trust. The Board’s formation is designed to ensure representation across all of the schools in the founding group, and is therefore likely to change in the future as the Trust grows.

Mary Whitehead (Chair of the Board of Trustees)
Retired head teacher, national leader of education and school governor

See above for more detail on Mary’s background and expertise.


Michelle Bernard
Executive Head Teacher, The Compass Partnership of Schools

Michelle is the Head Teacher of Horn Park Primary School, with 17 years’ experience as a teacher and leader in education. Michelle started her career in Lewisham in 1999 and taught in a number of Lewisham primary schools, including a specialist school for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Michelle led inclusion in a Lewisham school prior to moving across to Greenwich. As part of the leadership team at Deansfield Primary School, Michelle helped secure a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted, before being seconded to Willow Dene as Head of School. Within 18 months the school had been transformed, achieving a ‘good’ rating with ‘outstanding’ features. Shortly after this, Michelle was seconded to Horn Park Primary School, which was under Ofsted monitoring and causing serious concerns. Here she led a team that transformed the school in 14 months and secured its first ever ‘good’ Ofsted judgement. Michelle works with leaders across the partnership to develop outstanding, inclusive provision.


Janice Macleod
Retired head teacher

Janice is a retired head teacher and has worked within the Royal Borough of Greenwich for over 40 years. Janice worked as a head teacher mainly with schools in ‘special measures’ or ‘requiring improvement’. She also worked for two years leading the Improving Leadership Programme within the Borough of Greenwich, to target future leaders into headship, and developing programmes to support existing leaders. Janice has received a Mayor’s Award for her outstanding contribution to schools and the community. She is currently Chair of Governors at Wingfield Primary School and a governor at three other schools.


Robert Morgan
Education Researcher, University of Greenwich

Robert has been involved in primary education for 22 years as a teacher, assistant head teacher, governor and lecturer. He currently works at the University of Greenwich within Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and as an education researcher. Robert’s other educational roles involve being a representative at the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education, an external examiner for ITE at the University of Wolverhampton, and a committee member of the National Primary Teacher Education Council. Robert is a governor at Alderwood Primary School.


Orla Ralston
Director– Tax, Borealis Infrastructure

Orla qualified as a solicitor in 1998, having graduated with a joint honours degree in Law and Accountancy. Orla practised as a corporate tax lawyer in a City of London law firm from 1998 until 2005. She then worked at Goldman Sachs, advising on corporate tax matters in relation to various corporate mergers and acquisitions and lending transactions across Europe, where she remained for 11 years. Orla recently joined the London office of a Canadian pension fund to advise on the tax aspects of their various European investments. Orla was elected as a parent governor of Halstow Primary School in January 2011, and was first elected as Chair of Governors in the autumn of 2013. The Halstow governing body was selected as one of six finalists for the National Governors Association Outstanding Governing Body Awards in 2013.


Susan Skidmore
Retired head teacher

Susan’s background is in education, working with both children and adults. She has taught the whole primary age range, led maths and English, and been a special educational needs co-ordinator. After becoming a head teacher 15 years ago, Susan led the development of federating two very different schools, managing change for two sets of staff. This included managing a high level of external scrutiny, developing teamwork across the federation, and a robust framework of support and challenge for all staff, pupils and governors. She also secured significant funding for developing the leadership and infrastructure of the federation. Susan was appointed as one of the first consultant leaders, taking part in the national initiative and training programme, and was an assessor for the Quality Mark, working with the local authority inspection team. Her practice as a consultant working on strategic leadership has been influenced by the model of coaching and mentoring, using reflection and peer coaching to enable schools to successfully develop individually, as well as the precision of working to key criteria and standards. Susan has been a governor at South Rise since 2011, and was elected Chair in 2012.

John Camp
Executive Head Teacher
CEO, The Compass Partnership of Schools

John started his career in the London borough of Southwark in 1991, and moved to Greenwich in 2001 as deputy head teacher of an outstanding primary school. He became head teacher of Deansfield Primary School in 2008, and has been Executive Headteacher of the Compass Partnership since 2011. The federation has grown over the past six years as a result of its reputation for outstanding change leadership, and innovative approaches to developing creative and engaging curricula and teaching. John is a National Leader of Education and a member of the ASCL Council. He is particularly interested in the dynamics of school culture, and the importance of placing social justice and equity at the heart of schools and education.


Hugh Lewis
Partner, Kirk and Partners

Hugh is a qualified solicitor of 37 years’ standing, and a partner in a high street practice specialising in land law and trusts, with knowledge of company and charity law. Hugh has a wide private client base that includes local charities. As a business owner, Hugh possesses key financial and analytical skills to ensure that his practice meets and satisfies ever-changing economic and regulatory demands. Having been a school governor for 16 years, Hugh possesses a good knowledge of the requirements of school governance, including the need to challenge and support school leaders, while at all times focusing on the well-being, safety and development of each pupil.


James Mackenzie-Blackman
Executive Director, New Adventures

James has worked in arts sector policy and management for over 15 years. In 2005 James took up the management of the Greenwich Musical Theatre Academy, a European Social Fund project in South East London, re-engaging young people outside the formal education sector with the arts. In 2009, James was appointed Commercial Director of the Lyric Hammersmith, leading on all income streams, strategic planning, marketing, public relations and visitor services. In September 2010, James was appointed Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain (NYT). During his time at NYT, James restructured the company and secured ongoing financial support from Arts Council England until 2015. In February 2012, James joined Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, where he has delivered many award-winning and boundary-breaking projects. James has given many keynote speeches at government and third sector events, and has guest lectured at a number of universities. James advocates for adoption, creative talent development, and safe, prosperous communities.


Linda Perks
Retired civil servant

Linda is now retired but was previously Regional Secretary for Unison, the public service trade union. Linda comes from a family of school support staff and has a background in advising and representing staff employed in public services, including schools. Linda has been a local authority governor at Willow Dene School for two years.


Louise Rea
Senior Associate, Bates Wells Braithwaite

A senior associate at the law firm Bates Wells Braithwaite, Louise specialises in employment law. She has a breadth of experience in advising on employment issues arising from academy conversion. She is an experienced tribunal advocate and has successfully defended employers against trade union detriment, unfair dismissal and discrimination claims. Louise has provided human resources and legal support to a public regulator during a complex restructure.


Mandy Watson
Senior Schools Improvement Advisor, Chichester Diocese

Mandy is the Senior Schools Improvement Advisor at Chichester Diocese, having previously worked as a senior primary improvement adviser and school improvement partner for the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Mandy has a master’s degree from Sussex University. She has many years of teaching and leadership experience from Nursery to Year 8, including time as a head teacher in West Sussex and an inspector in Croydon. Mandy was also the head teacher of an international school in Botswana, where she spent time as a leader and member of school accreditation teams for the Council of International Schools in Africa. In East Sussex, Mandy is Chair of Governors of the Pioneer Federation of two primary schools, Governor at another primary school, and a National Leader of Governance.

Local Governing Bodies

Each Compass school has a local governing body composed of a group of volunteers drawn from the community, each bringing a range of skills, expertise and professional experience. Our Governors provide essential links between the school, parents/carers and the local community. Governors work with staff and parents in an atmosphere of co-operation to provide the best possible framework for educating our children. They are involved in all aspects of school life and meet regularly with leadership teams.

Governors fulfil their responsibilities by:

  • Supporting the school and its ambition by working strategically to develop and implement vision and ethos;
  • Ensuring that the children are receiving the best education and achieve the best outcomes by monitoring the quality of teaching and standards across the school;
  • Setting a budget and making sure that financial resources made available to the school are used effectively;
  • Accounting to all stakeholders for the school’s performance and for the decisions they make.

You can read more about the governing bodies on our school websites