Robert Brooks

Robert is the Chair of the Academy Council. Robert has lived in Sutton since 2011 after qualifying as a Science Teacher and has taught in two schools in the London Borough of Sutton. Until 2020, Robert led secondary teacher training across a large Multi Academy Trust, bringing a wealth of strategic leadership experience. Robert is now the Director of Science and a member of the Senior Management Team in a London school. Alternative education is extremely important and personal to him as Robert’s younger brother has Asperger’s Syndrome and was educated in a special provision which enabled him to flourish.

Seema Dhawan

Seema is an Academy Council Member at Wandle Valley Academy. She is an experienced senior leader, working at Chelsea Academy as Associate Assistant Principal. Seema has worked extensively with disadvantaged students and her work has been recognised with Chelsea Academy winning SSAT National Award for progress of disadvantaged students for the last three years. She has many years of experience in developing and managing high performing teams and building sustainable systems maximising the productivity.

David White

David is an Academy Council Member with experience in the corporate sector. As Principal, ESPN Solutions at The Walt Disney Company, David leads a strategy consultancy that works with global sports organisations to develop content, marketing and monetisation strategies. Prior to joining Disney, David worked at Bain & Company, a leading global strategy consultancy, where he supported executives across industries, including in the education and education technology sectors. David graduated with a BA Economics & Management from the University of Oxford.

Amanda Fleck

Amanda is an Academy Council Member at Wandle Valley Academy. She is an Assistant Headteacher in West London with over two decades of experience working in schools in and around London. She has also worked as an educational consultant and has a particular interest in Language and Literacy in education, Amanda regularly presents at educational conferences, has written several articles on this topic for educational magazines and was involved in the Education Endowment Funds Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools guidance report.

Anne Sturman

Anne has been in education since 1988 and has been a member of the Kennington Park Academy team (part of PLT) since 1998 – 19 years in a leadership capacity. Anne has led the team through 4 successful Ofsted inspections. She has extensive experience of supporting pupils, families, colleagues and primary schools in the area of SEMH and for 18 years was part of the KPA behaviour support advisory team –which also included delivering CPD to schools, SenCos and NQTs.

Lynda Harris

Lynda Harris didn’t become a teacher until 1999, previously she was a Youth Worker and ran the Outreach Support for Hertfordshire. Alongside this work she was a Teaching Assistant in a large secondary school and an Outdoor Educational leader. Lynda has always worked with vulnerable young people in a variety of settings, previous to being the Head Teacher at Wandle Valley, she ran the behaviour support unit in a secondary school and assisted in the behaviour support across the borough. During her working career she has delivered CPD in a number of schools and in a DFE setting. Lynda has a vast background of other experiences, she worked as a carpenter, teacher of PE/ICT/DT/Basic Motor Mechanics and Basic Building Skills. Outside of work Lynda plays Hockey and loves to Kayak.

Martyn O’Donnell

Nearly 30 years experience in Education. Previously Headteacher of Mainstream, SEN/AP settings and Head of Service in a large Local Authority. NPQH in 2004 and NLP Master qualification. I work directly with Headteacher quality assuring the strategic and financial development of the Academy and developing Trust initiatives into Park Campus and other Academies within the Trust.

Mark Jordan

Mark is the current Executive Headteacher and Chief Executive Officer for the Parallel Learning Trust and has had a range of successful leadership experiences in mainstream secondary schools, as an Executive Headteacher of SEMH and ASD 5-18 provisions as well as senior Officer posts in Local Authority. He is a skilled negotiator who actively encourages a truly personalised curriculum underpinned by a holistic support for students whilst being relentless in pursuing excellence in all aspects of performance. He has a wide range of experiences ranging from strategic lead of Primary and Secondary Alternative Provision, Special Educational settings, Teenage Mothers Provision, Hospital School, Home Tuition Service, Outreach service and as a School Improvement Partner. One of his most significant achievements was leading his last SEMH setting out of difficulty to be judged by Outstanding in all areas placing it in the top 1% of special schools in the country and successfully managed the education delivery of a £5 million pound a year, 5 year contract from a LA.


The main focus of the Academy Council meetings are Academy Improvement and Teaching & Learning. The function of the Academy Council is to support the Headteacher and staff, in maintaining and developing the Academy’s
vision. Academy Members need to play the role of a friend, but a critical one challenging where necessary, but always remembering that the Headteacher is responsible for the day to day running of the school.

Key responsibilities of Academy Council Members

  • Appointing senior staff
  • Budgeting and managing finance and resources
  • Setting aims and objectives of the academy
  • Setting policies for achieving the aims and objectives of the academy
  • Setting aims and objectives for pupil attainment
  • Monitoring and evaluating a academy’s progress
  • Being a source of challenge and support to the Headteacher

Benefits of being an Academy Member/transferrable skills that Academy Member develop

  • Ability to provide challenge
  • Ability to analyse data
  • Good communication skills
  • Team working
  • Diplomacy
  • Leadership
  • Chairing meetings
  • Budget setting and procurement
  • Knowledge of recruitment procedures
  • Knowledge of safeguarding and health and safety
  • Knowledge of educational policy
  • Performance management and review
  • Strategic planning
  • Problem solving

The Academy Council members for Wandle Valley Academy

Robert Brooks Chair of Academy Council
Seema Dhawan Vice Chair of Academy Council
David White Academy Council Member
Amanda Fleck Academy Council Member
Anne Sturman Academy Council Member (KPA Headteacher)
Martyn Odonnell Executive Headteacher Parallel Learning Trust
Mark Jordan CEO, Parallel Learning Trust


Wandle Valley Academy

Welbeck Road




Declaration of interests and Attendance