Central Team

Our Central Team supports School Improvement, Financial, Operational, Health and Safety and Human Resources services to our schools. If your would like to know more about these services please contact us at [email protected]

Paul James - Chief Executive

Paul James is a qualified teacher with over 20 years of experience in schools, including in senior leadership roles in a range of secondary education settings, and as a primary school governor and IEB member. Until recently he was a Headteacher of a comprehensive school of over 1800 students, which is a National Teaching School. He is currently a National Leader of Education alongside being Chief Executive of the River Learning Trust.

Lisa Hughes - Chief Operating Officer

Lisa has worked at Executive and Non- Executive levels in the not for profit sector for 18 years, 16 of which have been in housing. Lisa has spent the last decade specialising in change and transformation, governance and strategy, working particularly with organisations undergoing a significant programme of change and growth. She is a qualified accountant with over 20 years post qualification experience, and holds a post grad cert in Organisational Development from Roffey Park Institute. She is also a Board member of Chipping Norton Theatre, Oxfordshire Credit Union and the Hastoe Group.

Sarah Appleby - Finance Director

Sarah is a Chartered accountant with over 10 years’ experience across various sectors, including Finance Director and Group Finance Director roles. She has been involved with her local village school as a governor for several years and is also a Trustee of a Multi-Academy Trust. She sees education as an incredibly powerful tool to give children from all backgrounds access to better chances and opportunities in life.

Claire Handyside - HR Director- Currently on Maternity Leave

Claire has had an extensive career in HR through a range of educational HR settings including the University of Oxford and academic publishing. Previous roles have required her to lead on acquisitions and mergers, strategic HR planning, supporting and leading organisational change, operational HR as well as HR process management and administration. She has been a Chartered member of the CIPD since 2007.

Malvindar Bhomra - Operations Director

Malv has significant experience in a range of operational, financial and administrative roles gained through a career in banking and education. These roles have given him exposure to a variety of aspects including financial management and budgeting, premises management, project management and leadership roles. A former registered Prince2 Practitioner, Certificate of School Business Management qualified and a Fellow of the Institute of Administrative Management. Malv also has experience of process and policy design and a reasonable understanding of IT systems and infrastructures.

Louise Askew - Head of Governance and Compliance and Trust Data Protection Officer

Louise has extensive experience of school governance: she is Chair of Governors at an outstanding school in West Sussex having seen it move from Special Measures in under three years. She is also a Non-Executive Director of the REAch2 Academy Trust, the largest primary academy trust in England. She has significant experience of governance restructuring, as well as developing and delivering training for governors. She has also been on an IEB and is an NLG. Professionally, Louise has had a career as a translator and interpreter working to and from English and Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and her last post was as the Chief of NATO HQ’s language service in Bosnia which she set up and ran for several years. She has a PhD from the University of Nottingham.

Jo Holohan - HR Business Partner

Jo has worked in HR in both the Commercial and Education Sectors since 1999. Specialising in Employment Law and Change Management, Jo holds the CIPD Advanced Employment Law Practitioner Certification along with CIPD qualifications in Leadership and Management. Previous positions have required her to lead and develop HR, OH & Recruitment Functions working alongside Senior Management Teams to support the effective delivery of organisational objectives. In Jo’s most recent role as HR Manager of Kingsdown School she successfully set up and lead the School’s HR Department.

Rachel Woolhead - Payroll Manager

Rachael has a significant amount of knowledge and experience working within the Education sector, delivering payroll services and providing support to a variety of maintained schools, Academies and Multi Academy Trusts across many different Local Authorities. In previous roles her management and leadership skills have also supported development of team structures, strategic planning processes and overall growth.

Kate Curtis - Secondary Support and Challenge Partner

Kate is a teacher and leader with over 30 years experience, most recently serving for 12 years as Headteacher of Wheatley Park School, a large 11-18 school on the outskirts of Oxford. Kate oversaw rising standards, leading the school from 'special measures' to Good and was praised by Ofsted in 2016 for her 'focused and purposeful' leadership. Kate was designated an LLE in 2015. She is a board member of Oxford's Pegasus Youth Theatre.

Sue Grundy - Primary Support and Challenge Partner

During her time in education Sue Grundy has worked in all sectors from primary through to higher education. She joins the Trust following a period of ten years as the Headteacher of St Michael’s CE Primary School. During this period, successes included year-on-year improvements in standards, government awards for work with disadvantaged pupils, an outstanding judgement in a SIAMS inspection and opportunities to celebrate the wider curriculum through Arts Mark, Eco Schools status and sports awards.

Steph Lovett - Primary Support and Challenge Partner

Steph Lovett is an accomplished and successful Headteacher with 25 years of experience in primary education including as a Literacy and School Improvement Consultant. As Headteacher of Sandhills Primary, Oxford, she established the school in the UK’s ‘Top 100 Most Improved Schools’. The school received recognition from the Government with regards to the performance of disadvantaged pupils and has, for the past several years, been in the top 15% of Oxfordshire schools for the overall attainment of its pupils and the top 6% for the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

Sarah Taylor - RLT Administrator

Sarah joined RLT in July 2017 as Administrator. She had 12 years of experience in the NHS including being a Payroll Team Leader before moving into the education sector. Prior to joining RLT her previous role was a Pre-School Supervisor / Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator at a local Pre-School giving her an in depth insight to the structure of an Early Years establishment over a thirteen year period.

Geoff Kerins - Finance Business Partner

Geoff Kerins is an experienced Finance Business Partner with lots of experience in education finance. A graduate of the National University of Ireland, Galway and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology he holds both a BA degree in Public and Social Policy and a Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting. Having started out his career with Deloitte in Dublin, he moved to Oxford in 2015 and has been working in the not for profit sector ever since.