Our Team | newschoolsnetwork.org

Our Team


As Director, Unity oversees the delivery of Advisory, Delivery and Academy Ambassadors programmes. Unity is responsible for NSN's strategic development, policy work and stakeholder relationships. 

During her time as NSN, Unity has led the Advisory team and has led the organisation's work on Special and AP free schools. Prior to joining NSN, Unity worked for a further education college coordinating the delivery of vocational training programmes across the South East to clients including such as BMW and Rolls-Royce. 

Unity holds a BSc (Hons) in Politics from the University of Bristol and an MA (Hons) in Contemporary British History from King’s College London. During this time, she conducted research into the history of the academies policy in England.


Sophie joined NSN in 2015 and is responsible for oversight and delivery of NSN’s free schools support services, as well as wider programmes and services for schools and trusts.

During her time at NSN, Sophie has led the Delivery team and led the development and launch of new services for pre-open free schools.

Sophie is a qualified secondary English teacher and a Teach First Ambassador. Prior to NSN, Sophie worked as a teacher in both London and Barnsley; she also has experience of working in other third sector organisations, including other education charities.


Alison joined NSN in 2020 and is responsible for the financial control, human resources and operations of NSN.

Alison is a qualified accountant and HR specialist who also has a Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry from Glasgow University.

Prior to joining NSN, Alison worked with a variety of charities and not for profits. She started her career in practice and after a period with British Rail she worked in the city. She enjoys working with charities where she feels she can make the most difference.


Free Schools Programme Directorate

The Free Schools Programme Directorate Team works with groups at every stage of the free schools process: application, pre-opening and open. NSN's team of Advisers will provide personal support to applicants part of the Development Programme and pre-opening schools through NSN's Delivery Programme. The Free Schools Programme Directorate also supports all open free schools by providing advice, training and networking opportunities.

Sam graduated with an MS in Speech and Language Therapy from a US University in May 2015 and practiced as a speech and language therapist in state schools throughout Hawaii and Chicago.

In her previous role, Sam worked as a registered speech and language therapist throughout schools in London. She supported students with special educational needs in mainstream and alternative provision primary and secondary free schools.

Sam joined NSN in May 2018. She previously held roles as an Adviser and Deputy Head of Advisory Services until February 2020, when she was promoted to Head of Delivery Services. In her role, Sam oversees NSN’s support to open and pre-open schools.


As Head of Advisory Services, Jennifer oversees the management and delivery of all NSN’s support for free school applicants. Jennifer is responsible for staff training and development for the Advisory Team and she leads on 16-19 maths schools.

Before joining NSN, Jennifer worked for a multi academy trust which has two primary free schools in London. Jennifer is a qualified teacher and holds and MA from the University of York and BA Hons from the University of Exeter.


Hannah graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in Modern Languages in 2016. While at university, she was heavily involved in school outreach and taught English in schools across Paris on her year abroad.

Prior to joining NSN, she worked as a translator while continuing to volunteer at local schools. She is part of NSN's Advisory team providing support and guidance to free school applicants.


Tim graduated in 2017 from the University of York. During his studies, Tim undertook an internship with a free school trust, supporting the construction of what was a successful Wave 12 application in his home town.

Tim supports applicant groups on the Development Programme and generates leads for new free schools across the country.


Catherine graduated from the University of Winchester in 2015 with a degree in History. Catherine has experience working in a special school and has worked with a charitable organisation that provides legal advice to parents and carers of children with special educational needs (SEN).

Prior to NSN, Catherine worked as Programmes Officer for a student charity at the University of Southampton and the University of Winchester. Catherine sits on a local academy council for a MAT in Greater Manchester.

In addition to supporting free school groups at all stages, Catherine specialises in special education and represents NSN at the National SEND Forum.


Alexandra graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Biology from the University of Sheffield in 2013. Following this, Alexandra completed a Secondary PGCE in Science and taught Key Stages 3-5 in Sheffield and High Peak schools.

After accepting a role in middle leadership as an Associate Head of Faculty, Alexandra completed a masters in Educational Leadership exploring motivational factors and the development of resilience in underachieving pupils.

Alexandra supports free school groups at all stages of their journey and maintains a keen interest in the delivery of STEM across the curriculum.  


Tom works with free school groups from application to opening and is motivated by a passion for social justice and diversity in the education system. Alongside supporting free school groups, he has overseen a pilot programme that pairs MAT CEOs with senior mentors from business.

Tom joined NSN as a member of the Academy Ambassadors programme, where he led on the recruitment of MAT trustees across three regions in Southern England.

Prior to joining NSN, Tom graduated from the University of York in 2016 with a degree in Education before going on to study for an MA in Global Development and Education at the University of Leeds.


Joceline studied a BA in International Relations at the University of Geneva before graduating with an MA in Education: Culture, Language and Identity at Goldsmiths College where she focused her research on forging interprofessional collaborations in education and on teacher identity.

Before joining NSN, Joceline worked with charities promoting self-directed learning, Global Citizenship education and raised awareness on the asylum-seeking process in secondary schools.

Joceline supports free school groups at all stages. She has a keen interest in strengthening networks between school leaders and in promoting environmental and social justice in education.


Sarah studied psychology at the University of Newcastle and worked on child language development and mathematics education research projects at The University of Manchester and Nottingham University. Following this, she completed a PGCE and worked as a primary school teacher before going on to manage a community project which raises aspirations for children in a deprived part of Manchester through providing CPD for teachers and delivering a variety of youth projects.

Sarah joined New Schools Network in 2018 and her specialism is primary and early years education. She also coordinates our support for free school presumption competitions.


Hajira graduated from The University of Sheffield with a degree in History and then completed an MSc in International History from the London School of Economics in 2019.

Prior to joining NSN, she facilitated access education workshops for disadvantaged pupils in Islington. She also contributed to widening participation research and data collection for higher education departments in Sheffield.


External Relations

Our External Relations team encourage groups to consider opening a free school; they also raise the profile and support for the free school programme. Potential groups are identified through data analysis; completing in-depth research; building relationships with different organisations, such as universities and youth organisations; running social media campaigns targeted at existing school leaders; organising events; fundraising. 

Prior to joining NSN, Samuel managed Marketing and Admissions at London Academy of Excellence (LAE), a 16-19 free school in East London. During this time, applications rose to 3,000 for 240 places and LAE was named Sunday Times Sixth Form of the Year 2015. He was also Head of House, responsible for the pastoral wellbeing and academic progress of 104 students. 

Samuel joined NSN as Campaigns Officer, becoming Communications Manager in 2017 and Head of Content and Communications in 2019. Samuel is a primary school Governor. 


Graeme graduated from the University of St Andrews with an MA (Hons) in English, and from the University of Edinburgh with a PGDE.

Before joining NSN, Graeme worked for other education charities focusing on alleviating disadvantage and promoting equity. Previously he worked as a teacher.

Graeme joined NSN in 2020, and as events manager is responsible for the smooth delivery of all events across NSN’s suite of programmes.


After completing a Master’s in Social Policy and Development at the London School of Economics, Ceara spent two years working at AELP, a further education membership body, as a Policy Officer. She also advised West London Business on their Education and Skills policy priorities before joining NSN.

Ceara was instrumental in supporting the establishment of the first policy officer apprenticeship cohort in England, designing curriculum content, supporting content delivery and assisting in the creation of assessment materials - a testament to her passion for policy. In her spare time, Ceara enjoys the outdoors and is an avid cricket fan.


Charlie graduated from Loughborough University with a BA in Politics in 2017. Since then, he has started studying part-time for an MSc in International Development at the University of Manchester and is due to graduate in December 2019. During his studies he has undertaken fieldwork in Uganda, working with a Slum Dwellers International Federation, with a focus on community empowerment.

Alongside his studies, Charlie has previously worked in both insurance and financial services recruitment. He has also undertaken several voluntary positions, such as the role of grants fundraiser for an international development charity.


Before joining NSN, Sean worked as the Field Manager for a London Mayoral Candidate and as a researcher for an MP in Westminster.

After graduating from University, Sean worked as a Project Manager for education programmes for disadvantaged pupils in London and abroad. He has also worked as an aide and researcher for the Irish Ambassador based in Helsinki, Finland.

Sean holds a B.A. degree in Contemporary History and Politics, and a Master’s in Public Policy.

In his free time, Sean enjoys learning languages, travelling, cooking and board games.

Elliot recently graduated with a master’s in Policy Studies from The University of Edinburgh. During his studies he volunteered in schools with a number of children’s charities in Uganda and Tanzania. With these charities he often took the lead on disability sports projects, which were used as a vehicle to promote confidence, mental and physical health, as well as life skills. Additionally, Elliot has worked on a number of charity fundraising events and a large scale social media campaign. 


Sam joined NSN in 2018 as an Adviser in the Delivery team and was interim Head of the Delivery Programme covering maternity leave. During this time, he was responsible for NSN’s support for all open and approved free schools. He now oversees NSN's development work, managing the scoping and launch of new products and services, fundraising and parterships.

Prior to joining NSN, Sam took on a wide array of roles within the education sector: as a teacher, tutor and course facilitator at the Harris Federation; as an external examiner for OCR; and, as a Leadership Fellow at The Schools, Students and Teachers network (SSAT). Sam has also undertaken multiple research roles within the political, social and economic spheres, including his role supporting the research and events of non-partisan think tank ResPublica, as well as working on audience research and analysis for NBCUniversal.



Sally joined NSN as Executive Assistant to the Director in May 2019 following a short career break. Prior to this Sally worked for the Metropolitan Police Service for 17 years, the majority of those years providing administrative support to Directors within Business Support Services.


Annabel joined NSN as a business administration apprentice in July 2020.

Prior to this she had worked in the catering and hospitality industry in some of London’s finest hotels, before using these vocational and organisational skills in an office-based role. Annabel enjoys travel and has volunteered in a Malaysian orphanage and promoted primary English in The Gambia. A keen advocate of social enterprises, she enjoys fundraising and has been involved in the regeneration of a care home garden.


Prior to joining NSN, Rebecca was a full time student at the Bridge Academy. During her time at the Bridge Academy, she studied a sports course containing elements of business which sparked her interest in pursuing doing an apprenticeship.

Rebecca has also undertaken voluntary work in primary schools, where she also completed her work experience. Having decided not to attend university, Rebecca is now completing an 18 month apprenticeship at NSN to gain a Business Administration qualification.


Prior to joining NSN, Fallon was a support worker, helping disabled and vulnerable adults in their place of work.

Fallon has many years experience within adminministrative and education roles, having worked in a primary school as a teaching assistant and member of support staff. 


Academy Ambassadors Programme

Academy Ambassadors is a not-for-profit programme matching business leaders and professionals with multi-academy trusts looking to strengthen their boards. Find out more about Academy Ambassadors here

Emma joined the Academy Ambassadors Programme as NED Recruitment Manager in 2019, a role which combines her knowledge of executive search and corporate recruitment with school and trust governance. After graduating from the University of York, Emma joined Marks and Spencer’s graduate training programme as a merchandiser, before moving into executive search and recruitment at consultancy Penna, followed by corporate recruitment roles at global engineering firm Siemens and, later, the HR SaaS company Lumesse.

Discovering a passion for education governance when volunteering as a Chair of Governors, Emma joined Buckinghamshire Learning Trust where she led the governance development programme for c.3000 governors across the region. She went on to work for eTeach, the global recruitment platform, engaging with the largest school trusts in England.


Since graduating from the University of Chester in 2009, David has worked across a range of sectors, including education, agency, local authority and latterly sports with British Cycling, as Partner Marketing Manager for the ‘Sky Ride’ recreational cycling campaign, in conjunction with Sky and Sport England. This was the biggest sports participation campaign the UK had ever seen, aimed at getting people on bikes for fun and recreation; it received a prestigious ‘Partnership Marketing’ award from The Chartered Institute of Marketing in 2015. With a strong communication thread running through his career, engagement and communication forms a central part of his approach to projects. Having previously worked with large stakeholders including Hewlett Packard, Vodafone, The British Heart Foundation, Ordnance Survey and Transport for London across various roles, David has enjoyed success in delivering high-value campaigns. David maintains a strong interest in and passion for volunteering, holding roles with parkrun UK, formerly as an Area Ambassador for the North West, as well as with local social enterprises with an environmental focus near his home in the North West.


Melanie graduated in 2014 with an honours degree in Law and Business Studies from Warwick Business School, The University of Warwick. Since then, she has worked as a marketing assistant in the legal sector – producing creative marketing copy, conducting in-depth research and analysis of target markets, and organising large-scale projects and events. Melanie has worked with children, as a volunteer, from a young age, and enjoys using her professional skills and experience to engage with qualified business people, and develop academy boards, in order to improve the quality of education throughout the UK’s Northern regions.


Jeannie joined Academy Ambassadors in September 2019 shortly after moving to London. Jeannie is a senior recruitment professional with over 14 years’ experience recruiting executive level roles across diverse industries including; resources, aviation, banking and finance. As Head of NED recruitment for Academy Ambassadors, Jeannie is responsible for finding senior leaders from the business community and introducing them to academy trusts as volunteer non-executive directors (NEDs). 


After finishing secondary school, Ben went into Field Hockey Coaching at club level for Bradford Hockey Club, and at regional level with a variety of Junior West Yorkshire Teams. Ben realised much of the reason he enjoyed coaching so much was the reward of helping children reach their potential in hockey.

Keen to continue helping children develop, Ben joined NSN to ensure a bigger impact on bettering the lives and opportunities of young people.



Erica graduated from Bournemouth University in 2020 with a degree in Public Relations.

Before joining NSN, she had a year’s experience at a London travel PR and sales agency working with luxury hotels and wellness clients, creating content, press releases and established relationships with journalists in the travel sector. Alongside this, she has experience in communications assistance for political pressure groups and education consultancies, utilising email marketing, administration and recruitment strategies. She also has experience volunteering for charities supporting those with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community. 

As Recruitment Coordinator for the Academy Ambassadors Programme, she is responsible for supporting academy trusts to source and appoint business leaders and professionals into pro bono board roles as non-executive directors.