As the project progresses, we will obviously draw upon the advice and expertise of a larger group of people. However, right now we have formed a small project team made up of individuals with significant experience of great schools.
Mark is the Founder and Principal of Bedford Free School. Having attended his local state schools as a child, he graduated from Cambridge University in 2000 and worked in the City for a couple of years.
In 2002 he returned to Cambridge University for his teacher training, and one of his teaching placements was in a St Neots secondary school. His experiences that year then made a huge impression on him, and he’s always wanted to contribute to the St Neots community as a result.
In 2010 Mark left his leadership position at Wootton Upper School to lead the campaign to open Bedford Free School. BFS was one of the very first free schools in the country to be approved, and is now one of the highest performing & most popular schools in its locality. He is married with four daughters – and judges everything in his school against whether or not it would be good enough for his own children.
Mark’s role in opening St Neots Academy:
- Working with the community to tailor the school to their needs.
- Liaising with the Department for Education & Local Authority on the project.
- Designing the student experience & ensuring the school will be of the highest possible quality.
- Recruiting staff and students for the school.
Bridget is the Director of Business and Finance at Bedford Free School. She has had a highly successful and varied career to date, including management positions in both the medical and education sectors.
She has worked in a range of high-performing schools – primary and secondary, small and large, state and independent. At BFS she has ensured that even though it is a new, smaller school, it has always been in a very strong position both financially and in the facilities its staff and students enjoy. At a time of tight funding for schools, Bridget’s careful approach has enabled BFS to develop and expand where others have had to make cuts.
Bridget is married to an orthopaedic surgeon and has three children at university. She ensured that her own children had the very best education possible, and is passionate about ensuring that this is true for as many other children possible too.
Bridget’s role in opening St Neots Academy:
- Ensuring that the application and ultimate opening of SNA is done effectively, on budget and of the highest quality.
- Overseeing the identification and development of the school’s site.
- Co-ordinating the operational and back-office support, so staff and students have a smooth running school from day one.
Liz is a governor at BFS, where her eldest child attends, and also Chair of Governors at a lower school in Bedford. She is a solicitor specialising in commercial property including dealing with the property law aspects of schools and academies. She spent 12 years teaching in Higher Education, teaching the Legal Practice Course, and so has had experience of all the different sides to education.
Liz has considerable experience of school governance and was heavily involved in her lower school’s successful conversion to an Academy. She therefore knows and understands the demands of running a school, and how to lead and drive effective governance. Her reputation is such that recently she was asked to support another local school in this regard.
As a mother of two boys, Liz is committed to making the schools she works with the best they can be, and to helping all parents have as much school choice as possible.
Liz’s role in opening St Neots Academy:
- Liaising with potential members of the St Neots Academy Steering Group.
- Overseeing the recruitment of school governors when the school opens.
- Ensuring that rigorous governance is in place right from the start, so that parents and others can be sure that St Neots Academy will be a huge success.
Bruno was a founder teacher and Head of Maths at King Solomon Academy. King Solomon Academy is now amongst the top performing state schools in the country – with a fully mixed-intake of students but exam outcomes that beat many selective independent and grammar schools.
He is also the frontman of Times Table Rock Stars, and guest teaches maths lessons across the country, sharing the expertise that enabled KSA to achieve such incredible exam results.
Bruno has experience of setting up a new school from scratch and making it incredibly successful, and is keen to work with St Neots Academy in order to share the lessons learned from KSA and give St Neots a school that is as transformational.
Bruno’s role in opening St Neots Academy:
- Advising the team on school design, to create a powerful culture and curriculum.
- Sharing the learning from KSA, to give the new school and students a head start.
- Liaising with other people who opened high-performing schools, to allow SNA to tap into others expertise.
We have thought long and hard about what the right thing to do as a group is, and we have decided to propose this new school because we believe that it will massively benefit the town, without detracting from the work we are already doing with students elsewhere.