Annual Conference Speakers

đź”´ Download the full programme for the day here

Plenary

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Mark Taylor, Chair, AGBIS

Mark Taylor is a Governor at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts and Folkestone Academy. Having worked in the City, Mark's career as a Bursar started in 1993 at Cranbrook School, appointed to Dulwich Prep School, Cranbrook in 1996, Bedales Schools in 2003 and the King’s School, Canterbury in 2010. Mark was elected ISBA Chairman from 2013 – 2016.  

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Sir Anthony Seldon, Head of Epsom College, Former Vice-Chancellor at The University of Buckingham, Former Master of Wellington College, Author, political commentator & contemporary historian

Sir Anthony Seldon, is one of Britain's leading contemporary historians, educationalists, commentators and political authors. Head of Epsom College since February 2023, he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham from 2015 to 2020 after being a transformative head for 20 years of Brighton College and then Wellington College. He is author or editor of over 45 books on contemporary history, including the inside books on the last six Prime Ministers, was the co-founder and first director of the Institute for Contemporary British History, is cofounder of Action for Happiness, was honorary historical adviser to 10 Downing Street for ten years, was the UK's Special Representative for Education to Saudi Arabia, was Deputy Chair of The Times Education Commission, was a member of the Government's First World War Culture Committee, was chair of the Comment Awards, is a director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, is the President of IPEN, (International Positive Education Network), is Chair of the National Archives Trust and is initiator and deputy chair of the “commission on the centre” run by the Institute for government. He is patron or on the board of several charities, founder of the Via Sacra Western Front Walk, and was executive producer of the film Journey's End. He appeared on the Desert Island Discs in 2016. For the last fifteen years he has given his money from writing and lecturing to charity.

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Richard Harman, Chief Executive, AGBIS

Richard Harman was educated at The King’s School, Worcester, followed by Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read English.  Having spent two years working for an academic publisher, he decided his real vocation was in teaching.  After five years at Marlborough College teaching English and Drama, during which time he also completed his PGCE at Exeter University, he spent 12 years at Eastbourne College.  Progressing from Head of English to Housemaster of a Sixth Form girls’ house to member of the Senior Management Team, he then became Headmaster of Aldenham in September 2000 and thence to Uppingham in 2006. After a decade leading Uppingham and 32 years overall in teaching, he embarked on a third career as Chief Executive of AGBIS. Richard is much enjoying the challenges at AGBIS, having been Chairman of the Boarding Schools’ Association for 2011-12 and Chairman of HMC for 2014-15.

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Priya Lakhani OBE, Founder CEO, CENTURY TECH

Priya Lakhani OBE is the Founder CEO of CENTURY Tech, an artificial intelligence education technology company that develops AI-powered learning tools for schools, colleges, universities and employers across the world.

In 2008, Priya left her career as a barrister to launch a fresh cooking-sauce business, which through its charitable foundation provided millions of meals and thousands of vaccinations to the underprivileged in India and Africa, and funded several schools.

Priya was awarded Business Entrepreneur of the Year by the Chancellor in 2009 and Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2014. She was a business advisor to the UK’s coalition government, was appointed to the UK government’s AI Council in 2019.

In 2018, Priya co-founded the Institute for Ethical AI in Education, which helps to enable learners to benefit from AI in education in an ethical way.

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Sue Woodroofe, Chair, HMC

Sue has been Principal of The Grammar School at Leeds since April 2016, having been Principal of the British School of Brussels for five years prior to that. Sue always wanted to teach and, after graduating from Liverpool in English, she studied for her PGCE at Durham, with the NPQH from the IoE and MEd from Buckingham following later. She began her career in the North East, the place of her birth, at Westfield School in Newcastle. She was then approached to join the founding staff at Emmanuel College in Gateshead, one of eight City Technology Colleges established by the government in the late 1980s, where she set up the library and was second in the English department before becoming Head of Year. From there, Sue moved to Sutton Grammar School for Boys where she became Head of Key Stage Three, moving to The Holy Trinity CE School as Deputy Head Pastoral in 1998. The family move to Brussels saw Sue appointed to The British School of Brussels, first as a Deputy Head Academic, before moving to Vice Principal and Head of Senior School and then, in 2011, to Principal. Sue is an experienced school governor, involved in several Leeds partnership projects and has served in various roles in the churches she has attended. She was also involved in national politics in her youth and still maintains an (unhealthy?) interest.

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Julie Robinson, CEO, ISC

Julie Robinson began her career as a teacher then head of prep schools. She led on education and training for IAPS, then joined the Independent Schools Council in 2015. ISC’s small team of staff are “sleepless champions of the sector”, representing independent education at national level in the media and across government departments. ISC’s research and data analysis informs advocacy of the sector and Julie promotes sector-wide messaging, appearing in the national media (including Newsnight, Sky, BBC and Channel 4 News, The Today Programme) and contributing to books and articles.

ISC is a coordinating body bringing together the associations representing heads, governors, bursars and schools (AGBIS, GSA, HMC, ISA, IAPS, ISBA and the Society of Heads) along with affiliates BSA, COBIS, SCIS and WISC, to inform and promote independent education, rebutting untruths and explaining the value of independent schools.

Julie is a governor at state and independent schools.  She is a Trustee for the School Partnerships Alliance and an advocate of partnership and governance across all kinds of schools.

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Russell Speirs, Founder & Chairman, RSAcademics

Russell attended Sevenoaks School before studying Modern Languages at Exeter College, Oxford, graduating with First Class Honours.  A three-year post-graduate course at The European School of Management in Paris and Berlin followed before he began his marketing career at Unilever.  His responsibilities included managing product development programmes and interpreting research findings.  After a period as Senior Consultant with Marketing Dynamics in London, where clients included Unilever, Halfords and Capital Radio, Russell joined Uppingham School as their first Marketing Director in 1997.  It was during this time at Uppingham that he fell in love with the world of schools.  He founded RSAcademics in 2001 with the aim of helping schools to thrive and leads our team of world-class specialists to support the development of schools in the UK and across the globe.

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Jim Knight, The Rt Hon Lord Knight of Weymouth

Jim Knight works in education, digital technology and as a legislator.

He is a director of Suklaa Ltd, providing advice to clients in education. 

Jim is the Chair of trust board of E-Act Multi Academy Trust, and chair designate of the Council of British International Schools. He is a board member of Century-Tech, MACAT International and Educate Ventures Research Ltd, he sits on advisory bodies for Nord Anglia Education, Pearson and BETT.

As a government minister and MP, Jim’s portfolios included rural affairs, schools, digital and employment.  He was a member of Gordon Brown’s Cabinet, before joining the Lords in 2010.  He regularly speaks in the Lords on education and technology policy.

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Vanessa Ward, Chief Executive-Chief Inspector, ISI

Vanessa joined ISI in February 2021 in this newly merged role.

After graduating from the University of Edinburgh with MA (Hons) in English Literature, Vanessa attended the College of Law in London and Guildford before qualifying as a solicitor with first class honours. She practised for a number of years in London, specialising in commercial and media law. Having retrained as a teacher, her career in education leadership includes the headship of one of the highest performing state schools in the UK. While a headteacher, Vanessa was a member and elected vice-chair of the local authority schools forum.

Vanessa joined Ofsted as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors Education (HMI), where she led inspections in both the state and independent sectors. Vanessa was seconded to the newly-formed Unregistered Schools Taskforce, which conducted criminal investigations into illegal educational provision. Vanessa also has commercial experience building a successful education consultancy practice supporting school improvement. She has combined this with her work as a School Improvement Partner (SIP) for Achieving for Children in Richmond and Kingston local authorities, while continuing her work with Ofsted as an Ofsted Inspector.

Vanessa has also served on a school governing body as both foundation and parent governor, including chairing the governors’ personnel committee.


Breakout Sessions

đź”´ Find out more about each breakout session here

Saxton Bampfylde – Preparing your Board for the future
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Emma Hattersley - Co-Head of the Schools Practice and a Governor at four schools

Emma is co-Head of our Schools practice and joined the firm as a Consultant in 2022. Emma has worked in a variety of educational settings for over three decades. She has experience of day and boarding schools, co-educational and single sex, prep and senior. Prior to joining Saxton Bampfylde, Emma was Head of Godolphin School, a day and boarding school for girls aged 3—18. Prior to joining Godolphin, Emma was Housemistress at Canford School and then moved to Sherborne Girls to take up a Deputy Head position. She brings extensive understanding of educational leadership, as well as significant GCSE, A Level, and IB teaching experience. Emma has examined for OCR and the ABRSM and is a Governor at Fairley House School, Repton School, Cheltenham College and Port Regis. She has chaired the HMC Inspection sub-committee, served as an inspector for ISI and is a former member of the ISI Educational Advisory Forum.

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Augusta Bunting - Consultant, Board Practice

Augusta has worked in executive search in the UK and Australasia and as part of the consulting team at Saxton Bampfylde she works predominantly on board level appointments. Augusta has led on numerous executive and non-executive assignments across the commercial, public and not for profit sectors and is part of the team partnering with organisations to carry out board and governance reviews. Augusta is interested in the transfer of skills across sectors and how good governance can drive success in organisations that make a difference to society. She is a Mentor with the OnBoard programme which exists to support talented and capable individuals from underrepresented and non-traditional backgrounds to enhance their board-level competencies. She has a first class Masters from the University of Auckland.

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Pamela Leonce - Advisor on diversity and governance at Saxton Bampfylde and CEO of Stowhill Consultancy

Pamela has extensive governance and leadership experience having been executive director across housing, health, social care, and in the criminal justice sector. She is CEO of Stowhill Consultancy, Chair of the Inquilab Housing Association, a Board Member at Sovereign Housing Association, and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Advisor to Saxton Bampfylde. Pamela is passionate about good governance and the impact it has on creating sustainable and diverse organisations.


Anthony Millard Consulting – Finders, keepers! Helping schools to find the best leaders, and then keep them
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Anthony Millard, Chair, Anthony Millard Consulting

Anthony Millard is a former headmaster with lengthy experience of education both in the UK and internationally. After his time in schools, he was managing director of the schools’ division of a leading educational business before setting up his own educational consultancy. He is an experienced governor, including ten years as chair of a prominent international school and now as chair of trustees at Roedean.

Anthony is married with four children. Educated at Solihull School, The London School of Economics and Balliol College Oxford he was also a stagiaire with the Commission of the European Union. His interests include history, literature and walking in the hills at increasingly lower levels.


The Schools' Enterprise Association (SEA) – What the governing body should look for in a school’s commercial or enterprise strategy
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Dorothy McLaren - Chief Executive Officer, SEA and Founding Director, School Trunk

Dorothy founded the SEA, founded in 2019, as a member-owned organisation, which represents members of schools’ teams responsible for delivering the commercial revenue in a school.

Having led organisations in a variety of senior leadership roles in marketing, communication and general management across a wide section of industry in the UK, Asia and Africa, Dorothy has focused on the schools’ sector for the past 10 years, initially as the founder of School Trunk Ltd, which provides a modern professional storage solution for boarding schools.

Dorothy is a Trustee of the Leo Academy Trust and a Governor of the Hurlingham Academy.


Harrison Clark Rickerbys – Futureproofing your staffing strategy in the light of economic challenges and the possibility of political change (session repeated for breakout 2)
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Oliver Daniels, Partner, Education & Charities, HCR

Oliver is a Partner in the Education & Charities team at Harrison Clark Rickerbys advising, in particular, independent schools and academies on employment related matters including complex restructures, performance management issues, ill health absence, disciplinary and grievance processes, severance arrangements, school specific holiday pay issues, TPS consultations and Employment Tribunal proceedings. He also regularly assists schools in ensuring that internal policies and procedures and contracts of employment are legally compliant and work in practice.

Oliver is a recognised speaker within the sector delivering in-house training for Schools and speaking at national and regional events providing employment law updates and interactive sessions on sector specific issues. Oliver is praised by clients for the “responsive and professional” way he deals with often complex and sensitive employment matters.

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Rachel Parkin, Partner, Education & Charities, HCR

Rachel is a Partner in the Education & Charities team. She advises a broad range of clients in the education sector on all aspects of the employment relationship. Rachel regularly helps schools deal with performance management issues, ill health, restructuring, TPS consultations, disciplinaries and grievances, TUPE, trade union matters, Employment Tribunal cases and advises on sensitive and complex issues, including senior severances. She regularly delivers training to clients and is a frequent speaker at national and regional sector events. Rachel is highly regarded for her clear and dependable counsel, working closely with clients to provide considered, commercial and practical advice.


MEB Design Ltd – Matching strategic planning to sustainability in a heritage-rich built environment 
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Charles Darby - Director, MEB Design Ltd

Charles studied Architecture at Cambridge and Oxford Brookes Universities where he won competition and year awards, having previously been educated at Uppingham School. He joined MEB Design in the early 1990s and helped to establish and now runs the Oxford office. He has previously been short-listed for the RIBA South-West Awards and the RIBA Downland Prize and has won the ‘Green Award’ Certificate presented by the Oxford Preservation Trust. He has a special interest in sustainability and is the Education lead for MEB Design. Charles leads the Professional Studies subject area of the RIBA Studio (previously the Office-Based Exam) and is an Examiner and Associate Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University. He is also a Churchwarden for his local village church and a member of the Parochial Church Council.

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Mark Eddison - Consultant, MEB Design Ltd

Mark founded MEB Partnership in 1983, which then became MEB Design Ltd in 2008. He was educated at Wellington College and studied Architecture at Cambridge University. His particular work interests are in schools,` churches, charities, and the historic environment. Mark is accredited in Building Conservation (AABC), and a member of the Advisory Committee for church building in the Diocese of St Albans.  He has also been involved in, worked on and even helped build architectural projects abroad – mainly in Africa but also in Pakistan – helping charities and NGOs with strategic plans for their sites. He has experience as a Trustee of three charities: Habitat for Humanity (till 2002) and currently Global Angels, where he has been Chairman, and TCLT (The Church Land Trust).  Mark has been advising the Diocese of St Albans and more broadly the Eco Church movement on how churches can achieve the journey to “net zero carbon”.

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Chris Swinburn, Founder & Director of Beyond Carbon Associates

Chris is one of the founders and Directors of Beyond Carbon Associates – a business focused on built-environment engineering solutions to the climate crisis. With a MEng (Hons) from Warwick University, and as a member of the institute of Mechanical Engineers, Chris has over 15 years’ experience as a sustainability consultant across a range of sectors. As a certified Passivhaus Consultant,  Chris utilises the Passivhaus Standard to deliver buildings that are zero carbon or beyond, and are healthy, happy spaces for their occupants. He was Passivhaus consultant for Oxford University’s first certified Passivhaus Classic building. Chris has recently led the development of Heat Decarbonisation Plans for a number of Oxford college sites, providing them with an ambitious yet practical route toward achieving their net zero carbon targets over the next decade.


Stone King – Governance of risk
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Helen Tucker, Parter, Head of Independent Schools, Stone King

Helen heads our Independent Schools Team and is widely recognised as a leading practitioner for her independent school expertise.  Helen regularly speaks at the invitation of key intermediary organisations such as the ISBA, IAPS, AGBIS, CISC, and the Society of Heads in addition to developing thought leadership for the independent school sector.  Helen speaks on a wide range of topics, including particularly tricky areas such as transgender issues for schools.

Helen was previously Head of Legal Services for The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), a group of 25 schools and so fully understands the challenges they face. She is a school governor, and former Chair of Governors, and has a very pragmatic approach.

Helen advises independent school clients in relation to complex safeguarding matters; strategic advice to trustees and senior leaders, including in relation to preparing for the possibility of political regime change, responding to and challenging inspection reports, managing allegations and claims under the Equality Act such as disability discrimination and issues of gender reassignment, and advising in relation to charitable duties and Serious Incident Reporting.

"Helen is exceptional on all fronts. She is very knowledgeable, experienced and calm under pressure." Client Testimonial, Chambers 2023

‘Helen Tucker – a quietly unassuming leader who swiftly analyses complex situations and proposes and executes solutions effectively and cost effectively.’ Client Testimonial, Legal 500 2023

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Stephen Ravenscroft, Partner, Head of Charity Sector, Stone King

Stephen advises a wide variety of charities on their affairs, from charity formation and governance to operational matters, including management of major transactions and restructures. He specialises in charities involved in education, including in particular independent schools.  He has been heavily engaged in advising schools in response to the challenges faced by potential tax and structural changes arising from a possible change of government, including undertaking strategic reviews for a wide range of clients drawing on his deep sector knowledge, including from acting as a governor of two independent schools.    His work extends not only to schools and other education providers but also includes charities providing essential education infrastructure and sector bodies at the forefront of education policy.


David Woodgate/ Mark Taylor/ Barney Northover – Practical tips for strategic financial sustainability 
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David Woodgate, Chief Executive, ISBA

David Woodgate was appointed Chief Executive of the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association in May 2016. Prior to this he was Chief Executive of the Institute of Financial Accountants from 2007 to 2015 after which he spent a year as the Strategy Consultant to the Institute of Public Accountants in Australia. David qualified as a Barrister in 1982 following a first degree in Languages (French and Russian), Law and Linguistics. He moved from the law into the City, holding several senior management and executive positions in the National Westminster Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland – in Strategic Planning, Corporate Finance and latterly as Director of e-Commerce for the corporate bank. He ran an outsourcing business and a specialist internal consultancy providing market intelligence and competitor analysis. He completed an MBA at Warwick University Business School in 1992. A former Chief Executive of the Institute of Administrative Management, he also holds a postgraduate diploma in Charity Management from the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Chartered Banker, a Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights.

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Barney Northover, Partner, Veale Wasbrough Vizards

With more than 20 years' experience at VWV advising independent schools and charities on their governance, constitutional review, strategic projects and charity law, Barney is ideally placed to assist you and your school. He has developed a special interest and expertise in advising schools on strategy and structural change including charity mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and collaborations.

Barney understands the governors' perspective in challenging situations, having been a governor of three schools. He can guide you through the traps and pitfalls and give you the confidence needed to deal with challenging situations and to take difficult decisions in the best interests of your school.