Advisory Council | newschoolsnetwork.org

Advisory Council

New Schools Network Advisory Council brings together experts from education and the media as well as national and local government to support the charity in its work.

Sean Anstee has been a Conservative councillor for Bowdon since 2008, and in 2014 was elected leader of Trafford Council. Anstee is also a Non-Executive Director for Trafford Housing Trust and the Manchester Growth Company.

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Julian Astle is Director of Education at the RSA. He worked in Number 10 as special adviser for policy to the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and prior to that, served as Director of the education focused think-tank CentreForum, now the Education Policy Institute. He has also been a post-Conflict Advisor in Bosnia and Kosovo, and a political advisor to (Lord) Paddy Ashdown in Westminster.

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Jeremy Browne was the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Taunton Deane from 2005 to 2015. He was also Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 2010 to 2012 and Minister of State at the Home Office from 2012 to 2013. Jeremy is now the City of London’s Special Representative to the EU and an international advisor to the University of Nottingham.

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Philip Collins is a columnist for The Times. Previously, he was Chief Speech Writer for former Prime Minister Tony Blair. He is currently chair of the board of trustees for the cross-party think-tank Demos.

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Matthew d’Ancona is a columnist for the Guardian, and also writes for the Evening Standard, International New York Times and GQ. He is currently chairman of the liberal conservative think-tank Bright Blue. Recently, Matthew published In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government.

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Simon Dudley is the former Leader of The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. Simon is founder of two free schools, Holyport College an Ofsted Outstanding state boarding school where Eton College is the sole educational sponsor which opened in September 2014, and Forest Bridge School an Ofsted Good special free school for autistic pupils which opened in September 2015. Simon is the Senior Independent Director and Acting Chair of the national housing agency Homes England. 

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Suella Braverman is a politician and was elected Member of Parliament for Fareham, Hampshire, in 2015. She is a member of the Education Select Committee. Prior to being elected, Suella helped set up a free school, Michaela Community School in Wembley, and is currently working closely with schools in Fareham to set up a free school providing A levels in the town. 

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David Kershaw CBE is a Labour councillor in Coventry, and until recently served as the Cabinet Member for Education on the Coventry City Council. He recently helped establish and is now a Director of the West Midlands Academy Trust. He was Headteacher of a Coventry Secondary School for 21 years and in semi-retirement, as an Executive Head, led three schools out of Special Measures in Bradford and Leicester. He was the Midlands Regional Director for Future Leaders and serves on two Multi Academy Trusts as a Director and is a Governor of an Academy and Community School in Coventry.

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Stuart Leeming is a former teacher and Deputy High Master of Manchester Grammar School. He is now the Executive Director of Schools at Qatar Foundation, based at Education City in Doha. Stuart is Vice Chair of Members and Trustee of the Children of Success School Trust and CEO of the New Islington Free School Trust which he established on behalf of the proposer partnership.  New Islington Free School opened in 2013.  Both trusts operate schools in areas of Manchester with significant social and economic deprivation.

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With over 20 years' property experience, Lara is Chief Executive of LocatED, the DfE’s property company responsible for buying and developing sites for free schools. Lara has operated at the heart of the free schools policy since its inception prior to the 2010 election and acted as the Interim Managing Director for the shadow version of LocatED and led on its organisational design as well as the strategic and operational setup.

Previously a Board Director at Cleanslate Ltd, a development and property consulting company, Lara worked with many of the UK’s biggest landowners, agents and developers; prior to that, as Managing Director at Navigant Consulting, Lara specialised in property deals and complex capital investment projects for government education capital programmes.

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Libby Nicholas is CEO of Astrea Academy Trust. Starting her teaching career on the National Fast Track Teaching Programme, she was ranked as one of the ‘Top Ten Nationwide Fast Track Teachers’. Libby is committed to learning centred leadership; securing high quality education through excellent staff development at all levels. Libby has completed the NPQH and is nearing the end of gaining her Masters in Business.

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Paul Richards is an author and writer, and helped found the Labour magazine Progress in 1995 for which he continues to write. He was a Special Adviser in the Department of Health, Cabinet Office, and Department for Communities and Local Government from 2005 to 2009. He was previously chair of the Fabian Society.

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Russell Rook is founder of the Chapel Street group, which includes the Chapel St Community Schools Trust. He previously worked with The Salvation Army, overseeing the organisation's work with young people in the UK and Ireland. Recently Russell started the Good Faith Partnership initiative which facilitates strategic partnerships between leaders in politics, business and faith based organisations and For Refugees, a capacity building organisation to help communities welcome refugees in the UK.

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Simon Woolley is one of the founders and Director of Operation Black Vote, which campaigns to address the black political democratic deficit. He is also a commissioner for race on the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

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Leora Cruddas is the CEO of Freedom and Autonomy for Schools (FASNA), which aims to promote and secure autonomy for schools and evidence its success. Prior to this, she served as the Director of Policy and Public Relations at the Association of School and College Leaders, and was also a director of education in two London local authorities; Harrow and Waltham Forest.

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Barbara has a wide-ranging breadth of experience in education, which spans both private and public sectors. She has specialized in leading and successfully delivering system wide change at national, regional and organisational level, enhancing outcomes, opportunities and services for young people within complex and challenging contexts.

Her role in change management has been underpinned by almost 20 years of leading innovation in school leadership roles within the state system, her subsequent experience in such diverse fields as Assistant Director of one of London’s most challenging local authorities and as CEO of one of the largest, most successful independent UK groups of schools, and her time as an OFSTED Inspector.

She has also led on KS4 within 14-19 curriculum and assessment reform at a national level, served as an external adviser to one of the Public Examination Boards, and mentored at CEO/Executive Principal level, as well as working independently with individual schools and embryonic federations/Trusts to develop their vision, establish the systems and governance necessary to support effective growth and create enriched opportunities and outcomes for students across both the primary and secondary phases.

Barbara has served on a variety of Boards, ranging from co-Chair of a London Theatre, governor in both the Academies and independent sectors, including as Chair to an Academy judged “outstanding’ during this time, and across various Trusts. She has also been a consultant to the National Governors’ Association, conducting external reviews of schools and Board practice, always with a view to increasing opportunities and aspirations for young people. As part of her work, she was a panel member on the Mayor’s independent Education Enquiry in 2011, and worked with the GLA on the subsequent implementation of its recommendations, including the roll out and evaluation of the London Schools Excellence strategy

She serves currently on a number of Boards engaged in developing educational practice in a global context.

Having worked extensively on initiatives across London Boroughs and nationally to combat disadvantage and raise standards, she was an early supporter and advocate of the Free School Initiative, serving on the New Schools Network Board from its inception until early 2018.

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