Trustees and Members’ Area

Members and Trustees


Keystone Academy Trust – Members

  Elizabeth Nicholson

Elizabeth Nicholson has been associated with Tower Road Academy for over 30 years as governor and more recently as a member of the controlling company. She has enjoyed taking an active role in the life of the school throughout that time, working on several committees as well as chairing the Finance Committee, but her foremost role has been as both a parent and grandparent of Tower Road pupils.

After gaining a degree in law and qualifying as a solicitor, Elizabeth taught law at Boston College to degree level and obtained her cert ED whilst her children were young.  She went back into private practice in the 1980s with a local firm with branches throughout Lincolnshire, eventually becoming Partner in Charge of the Private Client Department.

Elizabeth has a strong history of voluntary work within her local community including Guiding, chairing a Community Theatre, working with a local housing association and setting up and leading for over 10 years an exchange project for secondary school children with schools in Japan. Since retiring she continues to connect with local young people as a member of the Road Hog bus team and through Open the book performances.

As an active member of her community, she believes that it is essential to equip children with the ability and desire to give of their best, engage with their local community and develop their knowledge and experience to be able to make appropriate decisions for themselves and embrace new challenges as they grow up.


 Will Phelan

Will Phelan, was appointed as the Principal of Stamford Endowed Schools in September 2016.  The role involves overseeing the three schools in the Stamford Endowed Schools family, Stamford Junior School, Stamford High School and Stamford School.  Mr Phelan joined the Endowed Schools in September 2011 as the Head of Stamford School. 

Previously he worked as the Deputy Head at Warwick School, Upper Master at Abingdon School and Head of Year 11 at the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe and King’s Parramatta in Sydney. 

Mr Phelan was educated at the Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School in Bristol and has a degree in Medieval and Modern History from Royal Holloway College in London and a PCGE from Reading University.  He also holds an MBA in Education, Leadership and Management from Leicester University.  Mr Phelan is a keen runner and will be running the London marathon next year.  Mr Phelan is also a keen golfer, cricketer and rugby watcher in his spare time.


  Chris Wesley

Chris Wesley is an Anti-Social Behaviour Officer for East Lindsay District and Boston Borough Councils. He has many years’ experience of public service working for Lincolnshire Police for more than 38 years as a Police Officer and then as a Stolen Vehicle Examiner.

He has officiated many times as a football referee and referee’s assistant. He now serves as a match referee assessor. Chris is a huge motor racing fan having raced and managed racing teams. He is currently the Eligibility Scrutineer for Funcup Racing attending tracks around Britain and in Europe.

Chris has been a School Governor for 31 years, 9 of which have been as Chair of Governors at Long Sutton County Primary School working with 2 Headteachers. He has supported governors at four local schools requiring help or experience. He is passionate about ensuring that all children have the best chance in life and are given opportunities to excel. He has driven an agenda of developing all staff at the school part of which has enabled the school to undertake a swift improvement in recent years.


 Andrew Thorpe

Andrew Thorpe is an ACCA qualified Certified Chartered Accountant and the Group Accountant for Warners Group Publications plc, Bourne. He currently manages the large finance team producing the monthly management accounts and liaising with the external auditors as part of the annual external audit for the company.  Andrew is keen on ensuring that all children get the best opportunities in education and develop a thirst for learning.  Andrew started his career with Warners as the office junior in 2002 and gained his current qualification while working, progressing to being one of the senior management team, directly responsible for 9 members of staff.


 Elizabeth Unwin

Elizabeth Unwin has spent much of her career as one of two Managing Agents at Grimsthorpe Castle and being immersed in the inner workings of the local community which included being a governor at Edenham. Elizabeth aimed to maintain an empathetic, confidential approach to the sometimes-complicated lives of 200 households and their extended families, across the social spectrum.  At the same time trying to balance family life, overseeing the Estate workforce and the predominantly property-orientated business of the Estate and historic castle. Elizabeth’s duties at Belvoir Castle were similar, but the working environment extremely challenging. 

A year ago, Elizabeth joined Leicestershire County Council, as a contractor. Her role was to assist with the procurement of residential property to offer independent or supported living to individuals with learning difficulties, mental health and or physically disabilities as part of the LCC Social Care Improvement Plan.

More recently Elizabeth has been evaluating former LA school sites and playing fields for disposal. Also facilitating the reinvestment of capital receipts in two new build Academy sites and the preparation of 125-year Academy Leases and all that entails.

Elizabeth enjoyed her time as a Governor and Chair of the Management Committee at Edenham Church of England Primary School, Lincolnshire and felt being a Governor was an opportunity to contribute to school life.


Keystone Academy Trust - Trustees

  Julie Harrison

Julie was headteacher at Billingborough Primary School for 13 years, from February 2001 to July 2014. She led the school and governors through two outstanding Ofsted inspections (November 2008 and June 2012). During this time, she also worked as a school improvement partner in Lincolnshire and Norfolk. On retiring from headship she continued to work on a self-employed basis for CfBT School Improvement Services, while they held the contract for school improvement in Lincolnshire. Additionally, she trained to inspect schools in 2011 under CfBT Inspection Services. Currently, she works as an education consultant for local Lincolnshire schools and leads primary school Ofsted inspections in the East of England region.

Her work has always involved ensuring all pupils receive the highest quality teaching and learning possible, so that they can all succeed whatever their academic, social and cultural backgrounds. Julie believes that her educational background combined with her experience of being a governor at Bourne Westfield Primary Academy (since February 2017) will enable her to become an effective trustee of the new multi-academy trust.      


  Jan MacPhee

Jan is an experienced education professional who has taught both overseas and in the UK. She holds an MBA(Ed) and since retirement has been active in a voluntary capacity supporting children in reading. Her experiences cover both primary and secondary schools and she was an Ofsted Inspector of Primary schools. Her last role before retirement was with Peterborough City Council as Senior School Adviser and Head of Schools. Her specialism within her role was Literacy and she spearheaded the ‘Read,Write,Inspire’ initiative for Peterborough schools including  the use of film as an innovative way to raise standards within the City and established the city wide  Reading Buddies scheme which saw hundreds of children supported by volunteers from the community and business sectors.

Her other key focus was supporting the development of links between schools both in Europe and around the world to learn from best practice and forge sustainable relationships. Jan has two daughters and was the Vice Chair of Governors at their secondary school for many years with a key focus on Standards and Achievement.


  Richard Monkhouse

Richard Monkhouse has been a governor at Walton Girls Academy, part of the DALP MAT, for the last two years. He has enjoyed taking an active role in the life of the school throughout that time, working on several committees as well as chairing the Finance Committee.

After gaining a degree in accountancy and qualifying as a Chartered Certified Accountant Richard has worked his way up through well established firms to his current role as senior audit manager at Rawlinsons in Peterborough. Rawlinsons act for over 20 Academy trusts (circa 50 academies) in the local area and Richard takes a lead role in organising and carrying out the various work they do for their clients including statutory audit, AAR preparation, budget review and responsible officer visits.

Richard has a strong history of voluntary work within the local community including being a member of the NSPCC Peterborough Business Support Group which has raised over £850,000 over the last 20 years for the NSPPC in Peterborough. Richard has also raised over £5,000 in recent years through several personal challenges including cycling from Land End to John O Groats, climbing and cycling between the three peaks and walking 75km in a day to name a few. 

As an active member of the local community and someone who fully understands the financial difficulties currently faced by Academies, Richard is well equipped to support the Academy Trust in financial matters as well as offering his full support to ensure the children get the best possible start in life.


  Sarah Sharpe

Sarah is incredibly passionate in her belief that every child should be able to receive the best education possible, enabling them to reach their full potential. This is reflected in her profession as a piano teacher and also as a governor at Tower Road Academy, the primary school that both her children have attended.

Since becoming a governor over three years ago, she has been a proactive member of the governing body, attending every meeting, asking relevant questions, meeting with the lead Ofsted inspector at the recent inspection and completing many training courses at different locations and online.

After an external review of governance last year, she was elected Vice Chair of Governors and has since been involved in the headteachers mid-year performance management review, been a member of the pay committee and helped to rewrite the school’s vision.

In her role as safeguarding governor she has completed numerous safeguarding training modules including ‘Safer Recruitment’, conducted school monitoring visits covering a wide range of issues within the safeguarding remit and been a member of the schools e-safety committee. She receives weekly safeguarding updates via email and is a member of various online hubs to ensure she is up to date with the latest developments regarding safeguarding, education and governance.

Last year the governing body introduced a circular structure of governance allowing her to gain even more knowledge in all areas of governance.


  Geoff Palmer

Geoff Palmer is a retired primary school headteacher with 17 years' experience in a small Lincolnshire school. Prior to that he taught for 20 years in medium and large primary schools in Barnsley and Wisbech.  Whilst he was headteacher, the school more than doubled in size and always had successful Ofsted inspections. Test results usually put the school as one of the higher achievers in the local area but he also put great emphasis on children's all round development, providing a great deal of enrichment and extra-curricular activities.

He was, for a time, a consultant headteacher, supporting other schools and he still works as an external consultant for one school, providing support for the performance management of the headteacher.

He has been a school governor for 26 years, 17 as a headteacher and 9 at Long Sutton. He has been chair of the staffing and finance committee for 7 years, working with the business manager to ensure the school is well run financially. His particular interests as a governor, apart from ensuring that expenditure doesn't exceed income, are in staff welfare and in developing the whole child.

Outside education, he has been Long Sutton Church Treasurer for 10 years and is involved in many aspects of church life, particularly in raising money, putting together bids and developing and maintaining the building as well as ensuring stability in the budget.

He is a trustee of a small local educational and charitable trust (£20k per annum) which helps young people and the elderly.

Otherwise, he is the main carer for his elderly father, enabling him to still live in his own house, and provides care for his grandchildren.  He enjoys running where it is flat and hiking where it is hilly!


  Joe Pignatiello

Joe is a senior leader at the BBC and is currently running one of the organisation's local radio stations. With a background in Journalism and Presentation, communication is at the heart of Joe’s career. Since joining the BBC around 15 years ago, Joe has worked as a Journalist, Producer and Presenter on radio, TV and online in various parts of the UK and is now Managing Editor; leading a large team with responsibility for a sizable budget. Immediately prior to his current role, Joe was leading a team delivering a major change project and was responsible for workflow creation, training design and delivery, change management, internal communications and stakeholder relations.

Joe previously held the position of Chair of Governors at a large primary school in Northampton, before moving back home to Lincolnshire where he is a member of the current Governing body at Thurlby Community Primary School. Joe believes in the power of volunteering - and the difference it makes in a community - and is passionate about ensuring that young people from all backgrounds are given the opportunities, encouragement and support they need to fulfil their potential.


  Stewart Dorey

Stewart Dorey is Director of Operations for a large independent group of schools in Lincolnshire, where he has responsibility for the buildings, maintenance, grounds and all premises and facilities related requirements, as well as overarching leadership for all support teams.  Stewart believes that his experience of leadership, governance and the day-to-day operational demands of the schools will help contribute positively as a Trustee. 

A great part of Stewart’s job is making a real difference for the children at our schools, and he knows his support, knowledge and experience will aid the Trust in achieving its objectives.  Stewart is keen to give something back to the community and help make a difference to young people as they start their academic journey.

Stewart is experienced in leading and developing Estates Masterplans for multifunctional and diverse estates, incorporating the wider local community needs within the strategic plans, whilst maintaining an overall view of not just what is needed now, but how it will still support the business in the medium to longer term.

Stewart contributes a specific and detailed understanding of developing, nurturing and delivering teams and projects to bring safe and effective, business-centred results Stewart embraces notable use of a range of key methodologies.


  Adam Knowles

Adam Knowles currently works at Place2Be, providing mental health support to schools; both through individual counselling and staff training. Children’s mental well-being is something Adam is passionate about, and believes it needs to be a key focus for all schools to ensure that children are mentally in the right place to learn and live their lives.

In previous roles Adam has conducted feasibility studies which involved looking at situations holistically so that all aspects are fully considered and can effectively and efficiently gather the data required and provide solutions and support. Adam enjoys researching key issues and working in partnership with all stakeholders to enable analysis of the impact we have and think critically about the future direction of services.

Adam has an excellent understanding of safeguarding, having worked extensively with vulnerable children and adults. At Affinity Trust, he chaired the National Health and Safety Committee and at Keys Group Adam was the Safeguarding Governor on the Board of Education. In both roles, he was responsible for reviewing incident details, identifying trends, and developing strategies to address common themes and replicate good practice. Adam reviewed reporting processes and developed new guidance to ensure that they kept those we supported and educated safe.


 Sophie Cook


Sophie Cook currently works as Senior within Duncan & Toplis Chartered Accountants specialist Academies Team. For this position Sophie has undertaken detailed training in regulatory requirements for academies and has experience in evaluation of effective governance. The role includes leading teams to conduct internal and external audit/assurance engagements; client relationship management; performance and review of audit work; regulatory audits of public sector entities; tax compliance advice (emphasis on corporation tax).

Sophie is a member of the ICAEW Public Sector Community, which aims, amongst other things, to encourage and educate on the role of good governance in the public sector.

Sophie has recently been appointed as an Independent Member to the Joint Audit Committee for the Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Cambridgeshire Office for the Police & Crime Commissioner. This role requires many skills which are similar to those of an academy trustee, including risk management, community engagement, financial/regulatory monitoring, and setting organisational values.