Trustees |


David Ross qualified as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen & Co. He co-founded The Carphone Warehouse Group plc in 1991 and has also been involved in leading many other public and private companies. David is passionate about developing educational opportunities for young people and established the David Ross Foundation, which currently sponsors 33 academies in Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire and the Humber Region.  David is a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery and on the Board of the British Olympic Association.


Andrew Law is the Chairman and CEO of Caxton Associates, a thirty-seven year-old global macro hedge fund.  He joined Caxton in 2003 as the head of macro trading in London, was appointed global Chief Investment Officer early in 2008, and to his current position effective 1st January 2012. Prior to Caxton he was Managing Director, Goldman Sachs, as head of proprietary trading in London as a Managing Director in the Fixed Income, Currencies, and Commodities Division. 

Andrew attended a state school in Manchester and gained a First-Class Honours degree in Economics from Sheffield University in 1987. 

His philanthropic interests include his role as a founding Trustee of both the Law Family Charitable Foundation and the Law Family Educational Trust, which sponsors a multi-academy trust in Greater Manchester. He is the Chairman of Speakers for Schools, and a member of the Sutton Trust strategic advisory development board.


Julie Kirkbride was Conservative MP for Bromsgrove from 1997-2010, a political correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and a news and current affairs journalist for BBC and ITN. She sits on the Board of Ofsted, is a Trustee of Volunteering Matters and volunteers with Beanstalk, the children's reading charity, and IntoUniversity.  She is married with one son.


Katharine Birbalsingh is Headmistress at Michaela Community School in Wembley, London. Michaela is known for its tough-love behaviour systems, knowledge teaching and for how it teaches kindness and gratitude. In 2017, OFSTED graded the school as Outstanding in every category.

Katharine read Philosophy & Modern Languages at The University of Oxford and has always taught in inner London. She has made numerous appearances on television and radio and has written for several UK publications. Katharine has written two books and edited a third which is entitled Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers, The Michaela Way


Sir Nick Weller is CEO of nine Dixons Academies in Bradford and Leeds: four primaries, four secondaries and one all-through 4-19 school. It includes both sponsored turnaround academies addressing educational failure and new free schools meeting growing demand.  The Trust is built around the high performing Dixons City Academy, which opened 27 years ago as one of the first state-funded independent schools in the country. It also includes Dixons Trinity, the first secondary free school to be graded outstanding by Ofsted. A shared Post 16 provision is planned to open in 2019 along with Dixons’ first all-through school in Leeds, Trinity Chapeltown.

Sir Nick was designated a National Leader of Education in 2009.  He was awarded a knighthood for services to education in 2015.  His report to the Treasury and DfE on schools in the Northern Powerhouse region was published in November 2016.


Simon Amess currently sits on the leadership team of the Commercial Bank Management Group and is responsible for the non-financial risk areas across Commercial Banking.

Simon has previously undertaken a variety of leadership roles including being the Risk Change Director responsible for managing the transformation portfolio across Risk Division and Chief Risk Officer of the Australian business. In this role he was responsible for leading the risk team leading the local regulatory engagement, provision of strategic business input and oversight and assurance of the LBG businesses across Asia. Simon was part of the management team which divested the business in late 2013.

Simon joined LBG in 1999, having completed his Chartered Accountancy training with PwC, initially working in Acquisition Finance deal origination and a variety of roles across Risk Division.

Externally, Simon is a non-executive member of the University of Nottingham Council, the governing body with responsibility for advising and influencing key decisions and strategy.  


Mo Isap is the Founder & CEO of IN4.0 Group, headquartered at Media City Salford, operating though joint venture partnerships with regional universities providing industrial digital technology enabling training and developing and recruiting graduate technology talent into local high skilled employment.

Previously Mo was Group Director at Hobs Plc where he led Hobs Studio which in the space of 4 years established itself as one the UK’s leading provider of 3D printing, 3D Laser Scanning and Mixed Reality

Mo scaled his first business MPG to one of the largest independent digital print companies in the UK. acquired by Hobs Plc. Headquartered in Manchester city centre, the business was listed in the Financial Times 100 fastest growing UK companies.

Mo is board member of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, leading on Education, Skills and Employability.

He is Founding Director, Trustee and Vice Chair of STAR Academies a leading multi-academy and free schools trust, operating 28 Schools across the country. Ranked in 2018 as the best performing multi-academy trusts in the country.  All the Trust’s free schools are rated Outstanding by Ofsted.

Mo is also board director of the Career & Enterprise Company. Established in 2015 to help link schools and colleges to employers, in order to increase employer engagement for young people.

CEC have worked with Local Enterprise Partnerships to build a national network which now links 2,000 (over 50%) schools and colleges to employers and funded 150 programmes to provide high quality employer engagement activities to young people where they are most needed.

Previously Chaired the Blackburn with Darwen Local Strategic Partnership for 5 years. Mo is also Co-Chair of Greater Manchester LEP.


Phil Jones is the President and Chief Executive of Northern Powergrid - a Berkshire Hathaway Energy company - and has been in the electricity distribution sector since 1993. He joined the board of the combined companies in 2002 and became President in 2006. 

Phil remains actively involved in policy development at a national level in the UK, having serving on advisory groups that advise the UK Government and the energy regulator, Ofgem, on the development of networks for low carbon economy, sustainable development and consumer protection.

He is currently Chair of the Energy Networks Association, and has in the past served as President of the Institute of Asset Management, and Chairman of the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Council of the Confederation of British Industry.

Phil joined the Board of Pontefract Academies Trust in 2015, a multi-academy trust of eight schools in Yorkshire, taking the Chairman role in 2017. He has since overseen a series of changes to the Trust leadership team, including changes to the Chief Executive, other executive leadership positions and non-executive trustees.

During 2019, six schools were inspected by Ofsted of which five were graded Good; with one of the schools having previously been in Special Measures, less than two years ago. Attainment in the trust primary schools in 2018 was 12% below national average, whereas the improvements driven by the changes resulted in outcomes in 2019 being 12% above national average, a 24% improvement, ranking the Trust in the top 10% of MATs nationally.


Geoffrey Davies is a corporate lawyer with Keystone Law, having previously worked at Stone King LLP. He has been personally involved in establishing more than 100 Academies and free schools.  He acts for a number of the larger multi-Academy Trusts, including ARK Schools, Oasis Community Learning, United Learning Trust, Harris Federation and Future Academies.  For eight years Geoffrey was a Director of United Learning Trust, then the largest academy school operator.  He is a Director of Bonhams.