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 Learning Support (Inclusion), the SENDCo 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 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 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 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.
Natalie is an Academy Council Member with experience in the Financial Services sector, currently working for Legal & General. As a qualified actuary Natalie has led large teams responsible for pricing insurance products and financial reporting. She has been part of a number of senior leadership teams and also has experience establishing new operating models and working in collaborative teams on transformation projects. Natalie is originally from Sheffield but has been living in Sutton for almost ten years. Outside of work Natalie is attempting to learn Latin and Ballroom dancing - which is made much harder during a pandemic. Natalie feels fortunate to have had a wonderful school experience herself and would love to play just a small role in helping children have a similarly positive experience.
Anna has over 10 years experience in the Education Sector as a School Business Manager/Bursar and holds a Certificate in School Business Management and a Diploma in School Business Management. Prior to this Anna worked as a Facilities Manager for a Charity (Livability – previously known as The Shaftesbury Society/ John Grooms) that delivers a wide range of services for disabled people including Education, community projects, care homes and residential care. Anna is looking forward to working with the Wandle Valley team and playing a part in ensuring pupils meet their full potential.
Stephen Simpson has worked for over twenty years with 3‑18 year olds in creative indoor and outdoor learning environments. He runs a SEMH-focused Forest School with Alternative Provision at a primary school in South West London. He is a passionate believer in using alternative learning methods with children who need help coping with the pressures of the modern curriculum and that the environment plays a crucial part in being able to access successful learning. Stephen has a son at Wandle Valley Academy.
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.
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.
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
• 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
Natalie Bentley Academy Council Member
Anna Howell Academy Council Member
Stephen Simpson Academy Council Member
Anne Sturman Academy Council Member (KPA Headteacher)
Martyn O'Donnell Executive Headteacher Parallel Learning Trust
Wandle Valley Academy
Declaration of interests and Attendance