Our Team | newschoolsnetwork.org

Our Team

Leadership

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.

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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.

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Advisory

Each group we work with is assigned a dedicated adviser who will provide personal support including giving advice, information and resources; setting up meetings with NSN specialists; giving detailed and comprehensive feedback on draft application forms before submission to the Department for Education (DfE).

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.

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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.

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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.

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

Prior to NSN, Catherine worked as programmes Officer for a student charity at the University of Southampton and the University of Winchester.

In addition to supporting applicant groups, Catherine manages our use of external specialists. Catherine sits on a local governing body for a MAT in Greater Manchester.

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Chris graduated from the University of Manchester with a BA in Social Anthropology before moving on to study an MA in International Education and Development, where he focused on the impact of education in post-conflict countries.

Chris first became interested in education through teaching in The Gambia during his gap year. He has continued to travel and teach, working in Guatemala and Colombia where he learned to speak Spanish, and in the UK. He joined the advisory team at NSN in July 2019.

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Sarah studied psychology at Newcastle University, graduating in 2010. After, she worked on child development projects, investigating child language acquisition at the University of Manchester how executive function skills are involved in learning maths at Loughborough University. Following this, she completed a PGCE and worked as a primary school teacher before going on to manage a community project which delivered computing CPD to schools in a deprived part of Manchester and ran creative computing clubs and events which raised the aspirations of local children.    

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Tom graduated from the University of York with a BA in Education Studies in 2016 before moving on to complete his MA in Global Development and Education at the University of Leeds. Alongside his studies, Tom was part of a group research project into young offenders with City of York Council. He also co-founded a philosophy-for-children programme that was carried out across several primary schools in York.

Tom joined Academy Ambassadors in August 2018 after a period of working for the NHS, before joining the Advisory team in April 2019. 

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Alexandra graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Biology from the University of Sheffield in 2013. Following this, Alexandra worked as a Teaching Assistant in a Manchester primary school, working with small groups of students on their Maths and English skills. In 2014, 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 MA in Educational Leadership which focused on building resilience and motivation in underachieving pupils.

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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. 

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Lara graduated in July 2018 from University of Cambridge with a BA and MSci in Natural Sciences (chemistry specialist). She then joined the Civil Service Fast Stream on the digital, data and technology stream. During her first year on the scheme, she had placements at the Department for International Trade and the Home Office, before joining NSN on a six month secondment through the Charity Next programme. 

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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.

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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.

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Stefan grew up living in different countries in South America, including Peru, Brazil, and Paraguay. He holds a B.A. Degree in Political Science and History (2017) and a Master of Public Administration Degree (2018) from Clark University based in the United States. Prior to coming to the United Kingdom and NSN, he worked at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the City of Worcester in the U.S., and Latin America Press in Peru. He has a deep passion for mixed-methods research and data management related to social causes.

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Delivery

After their application has been approved, many free schools continue to work with NSN's Delivery team. The NSN Delivery Programme, our exclusive programme of advice, support and project management offers support in the pre-opening phase. NSN’s Delivery team also supports all open free schools by providing advice, training and networking opportunities.

Prior to joining NSN in May 2018, Sam worked as a registered speech and language therapist throughout schools in London. In her previous role, she supported students with special educational needs in mainstream and alternative provision primary and secondary free schools. Before relocating to London, Sam practiced as a speech and language therapist in state schools throughout Hawaii and Chicago. She graduated with an MS in Speech and Language Therapy from Rush University in Chicago in May 2015.

Sam was Deputy Head of Advisory Services until February 2020, when she was promoted to Head of Delivery Services.

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Joceline graduated from the University of Geneva in 2016 with a BA in International Relations. Following this, she completed an MA in Education: Culture, Language and Identity at Goldsmiths College where she conducted research about interprofessional collaborations in education.

During her studies, she taught French to asylum seekers in Geneva, volunteered with educational charities promoting global citizenship and self-directed learning. At NSN, she assists the Delivery Team in supporting open and approved to open free schools.

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Vanessa graduated from UCL in 2018 with a degree in English Literature. While studying, she volunteered as a Research Assistant at the north London-based charity Crutch Haringey, offering practical support to local residents. She has also worked with UCL’s Widening Participation department, where she worked with disadvantaged young people in secondary education to help them overcome barriers to accessing higher education. She recently volunteered with a children’s project in South Africa, where she taught in primary schools and supported with administrative functions.

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Development

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.

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.

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Prior to joining NSN as part of the Academy Ambassadors team in June 2018, Amy completed a BSc in Sociology and Anthropology from Oxford Brookes University. Amy completed an MSc in International and Social Public Policy at London School of Economics and Political Science in September 2019, after which she rejoined NSN as an Adviser. Amy has seamless international experience living and working in both the US and UK from a young age.

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Operations

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.

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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. 

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Academy Ambassadors

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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). 

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