Meet the Team
Ian McNeilly - Chief Executive
Ian McNeilly is the Chief Executive Officer and Accounting 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.
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.
Amy Taylor - Director of Finance
Having graduated from Keele University with a degree in Mathematics & Finance, Amy joined BDO Stoy Hayward (later taken over by RSM Tenon/Baker Tilly) to train as a Chartered Accountant becoming a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (ICAEW) in 2005. Amy remained in practice until 2016, becoming Senior Audit Manager servicing a large and varied portfolio of clients but specialising in Charities & Academy Trusts. Amy joined The de Ferrers Trust in 2016 bringing with her a wealth of experience from her client work in both the private sector and with other Academy Trusts.
Jo Harrison - Director of Human Resources
Jo began her career in a Derby law firm. After taking her first HR role in the private sector, she gradually gained knowledge and experience in a variety of situations whilst positioned within a medium sized software development company. During this time she gained her Postgraduate Diploma in HR Management and became a Chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Following a number of redundancy processes and ultimately the closure of the software company, Jo assisted in the set-up of a new venture with the same board of directors. Jo’s next move was working at The de Ferrers Academy late in 2013, and a vast portfolio of experience has followed this move. Jo is a generalist HR practitioner covering all areas of HR.
Tammy Pyszky - Director of Governance and Compliance
Having graduated from university with a degree in Law, Tammy spent 9 years working for a Lexcel accredited law firm of solicitors that ranked highly in the prestigious Legal 500 directory. She spent some time as a Practice Manager, before specialising in legal compliance and moving to The de Ferrers Academy in 2013.
Tammy has undertaken the NCTL’s Clerk’s Development Programme and has a good understanding of governance in education. She is responsible for ensuring 'Outstanding' governance across the Trust. Tammy facilitates Governor Development Programmes on behalf of Alliance of Leading Learning in an effort to improve governance nationally.
Tammy was the project lead for the conversion to Multi-Academy Trust status and will support schools joining the Trust with the legal process throughout their transition.
Katie Pattinson - Lead Practitioner in English
Katie graduated in 2006 from Keele University where she studied English Literature and Music and subsequently completed her English PGCE; she has been teaching English for twelve years in schools in Staffordshire. Katie has had a number of roles during her teaching career including Assistant Head of Year, Director of Learning: English and Associate Assistant Headteacher. During her time as Director of Learning Katie successfully led her team to consistently improve GCSE results in both English Language and English Literature. Katie has extensive experience of coaching and mentoring both new and experienced teachers to improve Teaching and Learning and outcomes for students of all abilities.
Katie is an experienced GCSE English Examiner and has been appointed as a National Lead English Literature Expert for AQA. Katie has completed her National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership and is also a Women Leading in Education coach.
Katie is passionate about improving the quality of Teaching and Learning in English across The de Ferrers Trust and is committed to improving outcomes for all our students.
Michael Dowson - Lead Practitioner for Maths
Geoff Stockle - Estates Manager
Geoff has been employed in many varying educational establishments for the majority of his professional career. He moved to The de Ferrers Trust in May 2017 having been the Estates, Health and Safety manager for Burton and South Derbyshire College for 4 years prior. Previous similar appointments have been with the Acorn Care & Education group in Staffordshire and Norfolk that supports children with additional needs, a local independent School, Birmingham Connexions information, advice and guidance organisation as well as with Kodak and the NHS. NEBOSH qualified and a technician member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (Tech IOSH) as well as member of the British Institute of Facilities Management (MBIFM) Geoff brings a wealth of experience and skills with regard to all facets of estates management.
Kathryn Smith - Business Support Officer
Kathryn has worked in local schools since moving to Staffordshire nearly 30 years ago. She now brings this extensive experience to the Trust following 15 years as an administrator then Bursar of a large, local primary school, and nearly 12 years as Bursar at The de Ferrers Academy.
In consequence of de Ferrers becoming a single academy trust in 2011 she recommenced her studies (having previously obtained a Chemistry degree and a postgraduate Certificate in Business Administration) and gained a Professional Certificate in Accountancy from the Open University followed by the CIPFA - Certificate in Financial Reporting for Academies. These studies have increased her understanding of academy accounts and enabled her to fully support both the Business Manager of the Academy (as Bursar) and the Finance Director of the Trust.
Helen Denison - Senior Finance Officer and PA to the Chief Executive
Helen has a wealth of experience in both education and employment settings. She has worked in public, private, and voluntary sectors in a variety of roles for employers including the Employment Service, Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), Amber Valley Borough Council, Staffordshire University and most recently for the JCB Academy.
For the last 10 years Helen has specialised in financial resource and operations management roles. She has a breadth of financial support and budgetary experience including management of externally funded projects (including EU sponsored programmes).
She has studied to Postgraduate level achieving both Pg Certificate and Pg Diploma in Business Administration, and has recently achieved her Prince 2 qualification in project management.
Baljinda Beesla-Wood - Academy Manager
Baljinder has worked in local schools and academies for over 19 years. She brings a breadth of finance experience to the Trust. She has achieved both her Certificate and Diploma in School Business Management (CSBM & DSBM) and utilises her qualifications in order to fully support the Office Managers at the primary academies across the Trust.
Nazia Odud - Finance Assistant
Emma Robinson - HR and Governance Officer
Emma previously worked within Health & Safety and training prior to completing her CIPD level 3 in HR Practise in 2014 and a CIPD level 5 in HR Management in 2016. Emma has experience of working with small and medium enterprises with employee totals ranging form 20 to 250+. Emma joined the Trust in April 2018 and provides HR and Governance support to all academies.
Nicola Townsend - Data Manager
Having graduated from the University of Chester with a BA.Ed degree in English, Education and Social Psychology Nicola embarked on a tour of the southern hemisphere before joining a corporate sales team within a global games technology company. She spent more than ten years setting up a team dedicated to defining 'best practice' processes and supporting the 100+ strong sales team before moving in to a corporate account management role.
Nicola joined The de Ferrers Academy in 2011 where she has since completed her NDMA (National Data Manager Award). She has established effective target, assessment and reporting structures within the Academy and is now rolling out these structures and supporting data management across the Trust.