Robert Brooks

Robert has been the Chair of the Academy Council since January 2019. Robert has lived in Sutton since 2011 after qualifying as a Science Teacher and has taught in two secondary schools in the London Borough of Sutton. Robert brings a wealth of strategic leadership experience to Wandle and is currently an Assistant Headteacher and SENDCo in a Surrey secondary 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.

David White

David is the Vice Chair of the Academy Council 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.

Natalie Bentley

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 Howell

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

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 Sturman

Anne worked in education from 1988 until her retirement in 2023. She spent 23 years working in AP -19 years as Headteacher during which Anne 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 also part of a behaviour support advisory team –which also included delivering CPD to schools, SENDCos and newly qualified teachers.

For the last 2 years of her service, Anne was part of the PLT Central Team -leading on Primary Education, Safeguarding and Literacy.

Alexis Bull

Alexis Bull has worked in Education for over 20 Years with 8 years in SEMH as a senior leader and Headteacher. Alexis is currently Headteacher of Sutton House Academy in Southend-on-Sea. Alexis is absolutely committed to ‘getting it right’ for every child and has spent significant time developing and improving an educational offer for those pupils who need it most! Originally a drama teacher with a passion for performance, Alexis continues to provide a creative and innovative approach to her work and dedication to others.





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

David White           Vice Chair of Academy Council

Natalie Bentley      Academy Council Member

Anna Howell          Academy Council Member

Stephen Simpson  Academy Council Member

Anne Sturman       Academy Council Member (Executive Primary Lead)

Alexis Bull              Academy Council Member


Wandle Valley Academy

Welbeck Road




Declaration of interests and Attendance


Music Mark School for the 2020/21 Academic Year