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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



Amy Taylor - Chief Financial Officer

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 - Chief People Officer

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.





                                                                                               Nicola Bell - Director of Primary


                             Bio to follow






                                                                                           Kate Priestnall - Director of Safeguarding

Kate joined The de Ferrers Trust in September 2019 and her role is twofold.  As the Director of Safeguarding for the Trust she works strategically to develop an appropriate, effective and overarching Trust safeguarding strategy scrutinising practice across the trust and making recommendations for change.  As part of this role, Kate leads on training staff across the Trust on safeguarding matters ensuring a consistent approach.  Kate leads a team of cross-trust Designated Safeguarding Leads.  Kate also acts as the DSL for The de Ferrers Academy.  Previous roles include Head of Student Support and Safeguarding and Special Educational Needs Coordinator in a large secondary school in Leicestershire.  Kate also spent a number of of years volunteering with the Police Authority supporting vulnerable people whilst in custody and with a national children's charity as an advocate for children in care settings and those detained in secure units.  Kate has qualifications in advocacy and counselling, an honours degree in Law and has trained as a barrister.



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.


                                                                Jamie Hawkins - Trust Lettings Manager

                                                                          Bio to follow







Pardeep Dhami - Trust Finance Manager (Academies)

Bio to follow









Vanessa Dodes - Trust Finance Manager (Academies)

                                                                                                                      Bio to follow


                                                                                            Hannah Mason - Trust Finance Officer


                                                      Bio to follow.






Nazia Odud - Finance Assistant 

Nazia has completed her AAT level 1, 2 and 3 accounting courses and will study towards her level 4 in September.  She has worked for many educational establishments including Burton and South Derbyshire college and Tower View Pre-School gaining experience of finance operations in the education sector. 








                                                                                         Rebecca Upton - Trust Business Officer - Finance

                                          Rebecca is the Trust Business Officer and also provides                                                  Executive Assistant support for the Chief Executive.





Fiona Hinds - Trust People (HR) Manager


                                                                                                                           Bio to follow





                                                         Rhiannon Mayne - Trust People Officer

                                                                      Bio to follow






                                                                          Katie Gilbert - Trust HR Apprentice

Katie joined The Trust in September 2020 as an HR apprentice.  Katie has worked in a variety of roles within the hospitality industry for 13 years, including bars, restaurants, hotels and cruise ships.  She has spent four years working for Disney Cruise Line, on their four cruise ships, travelling the world and creating magical memories.  Katie is now looking forward to forging a new career in HR.                                                                                    









                               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.



                                                                     Sandra Taylor - Governance and Compliance Manager

Sandra is the Governance and Compliance Manager for the Trust.  Sandra has worked in educational establishments for a number of years including FE and primary settings and has developed numerous skills delivering high standards of organisational and administrative support.  Sandra has an NVQ L3 in Business Administration and has completed the Level 3 Certificate in Clerking of Schools and Governing Boards accredited by the ICSA and currently provides clerking services to the Trust Board.


                                                                          Louisa Cain - Safeguarding and Compliance Officer

                                            Bio to follow