Skip to content ↓

Education Team

Ian McNeilly - Chief Executive

Ian McNeilly is the Chief Executive Officer of The de Ferrers Trust. His previous role was as Senior Her Majesty’s Inspector working for Ofsted. His main responsibilities at the inspectorate included the oversight of academies, multi-academy trusts (MATs) and teaching school alliances in the East Midlands. He led on the reviews of the effectiveness of MATs. He acted as Ofsted’s main regional link with the Department for Education including the office of the Regional Schools Commissioner. He was also responsible for schools within the local authorities of Derby, Derbyshire and Leicester and for the oversight of Initial Teacher Education providers across the East Midlands.

Ian has successfully supported many headteachers and senior leadership teams to improve their schools and had the best rate of any HMI in moving schools from requiring improvement to being judged good or better. A qualified teacher with a Master’s degree in Literature, he worked in a variety of educational settings for 15 years, including in leadership roles. Ian led a national subject association for eight years, liaising with a wide range of stakeholders across the curriculum, and from early years to teacher training. He was an advisory board member of a Russell Group university’s Education department. As an Ofqual subject expert, Ian took part in projects including standards reviews and an international comparability study. Ian has particular interest and expertise in English and literacy, and in improving the achievement of all children, particularly those who are disadvantaged.


Steve Allen

Steve was the Principal of The de Ferrers Academy from January 2012 until May 2016 when he took the role of Chief Executive of the Trust. He has over 32 years’ experience as a teacher in several large 11-19 schools and academies across the West Midlands. He has over 12 years’ experience as a Headteacher and Principal in 4 schools/academies with numerous inspections at 'good+' and a record of always improving progress and overall levels of attainment. Extensive experience and commitment to school to school support.  Steve will retire from the Trust at the end of July 2018.  The new Chief Executive, Ian McNeilly will assume the position from 1 May 2018.


Craig Brown – Director of Education


Craig has been involved with supporting Trust schools since the Trust’s inception and now works full fime for the Trust, with overall responsibility for educational outcomes.  He works closely with the Academy Principals to improve performance and instill best practice in all aspects of education.  Craig leads an expanding team of cross-phase educational Lead Practitioners, who work at both a strategic and an operational level, helping the Trust Board to hold each Academy, and their leaders, to account.

He has a degree in Sports Science and Mathematics from Loughborough University and has taught Mathematics in secondary schools for over 16 years.  Craig has taught all elements of Mathematics, from Year 6 transition to A-Level Further Mathematics and Higher Level International Baccalaureate Mathematics.  He has an outstanding track record within examination group performance, as well as supporting colleagues into A-Level teaching. 

Prior to joining the Trust, Craig was Vice Principal at The de Ferrers Academy with responsibility for Data and Timetable.  He led the development of regular data tracking and reporting at the Academy and created an accountability model that underpinned dramatic improvements in outcomes over a sustained period.  Craig also successfully supported a number of other schools in both development of data protocols and timetable creation, with each establishment reporting significant performance gains over the period. 

He is passionate about educational performance, particularly in the local area; he is a Director of a local primary academy that was previously in Special Measures.  Craig is also passionate about technology in education; he is an Apple Teacher and was one of the original exponents of the 1-to-1 iPad programme at The de Ferrers Academy. 


David Lovell – Vice Principal at The de Ferrers Academy

David was involved in establishing The de Ferrers Trust; supporting the trust through the transition from single academy to multi-academy status.

David has been teaching in secondary education for over 15 years with a background in Physical Education. He is currently Vice Principal at The de Ferrers Academy with responsibility for teaching and learning and CPD.  David is seconded to the Trust for one day a week (from September 2017) to support development in these areas.  

David co-ordinates Initial Teacher Training (ITT) across all academies within the Trust, leading on programmes to support trainees, newly qualified (NQTs) and recently qualified teachers (RQTs). The de Ferrers Trust is a provider of the School Direct teacher training programme at both secondary and primary level, with our courses accredited by The University of Nottingham.


Katie Pattinson - Lead Practitioner in English



Michael Dowson - Lead Practitioner for Maths


Michael has been teaching for nearly 20 years in a variety of schools in the Midlands and has been a Head of Maths for nearly ten of those years in two outstanding secondary schools. He has taught throughout the age range up to and including Year 13 Further Maths with excellent results. Michael is a strong proponent of technology in the classroom and has led various professional development sessions on the use of ICT in education.