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Members & Directors

Jonathan Dale, Trust Member

Jonathan is the Director for Leadership Development at the University College of London Institute of Education (IOE), where his department offers a wide range of research, consultancy and leadership development services that contribute to education systems reform. His responsibility includes the design and delivery of programmes and qualifications that are delivered online or internationally. He has previously been a director at both the National College for Teaching and Leadership and the National College for School Leadership.

Paul McConnell, Trust Member

Paul McConnell is a qualified solicitor (non-practising) with experience in employment, real estate and corporate law. Having practised as a lawyer for several years, Paul moved into legal education 18 years ago and has held a variety of roles in universities including University of Leicester, University of Wolverhampton and University of Law. He has been Head of Global Engagement at University of Birmingham Law School since 2018 and leads the international strategy of the law school. He is also the law school’s Head of Careers & Employability, and has a particular interest in supporting students from a wide range of backgrounds to access higher education and progress into professional careers. He has considerable experience in university admissions, and works with a number of schools and colleges in relation to widening participation initiatives.

Mark Plampin, Trust Member

Mark is an experienced senior finance professional with a 20-year career in accountancy practice followed by 10 years in industry. Having worked as a lead advisor on many fund raisers, mergers, acquisitions and disposals, he understands what drives value and sometimes what doesn’t. More recently, as chief financial officer of a high-growth business that became a public company in 2013, Mark has gained substantial experience in developing a finance function to meet rapidly changing needs. Over 10 years, the company grew from sales of £12m with 50 employees to £150m with 200 employees across 27 countries. Having taken the decision to take an easier life, Mark is now enjoying working part-time to develop a small residential property rental business with his wife.

Kelly ANN Vere, Trust Member

Kelly is the Director of Technical Skills & Strategy at the University of Nottingham, where she began her career as a junior medical technician in 1999. She now leads an award-winning programme to enable the strategic and professional development of the University’s 700+ technical staff across the UK and Asia. Kelly has written for the Guardian, Times Higher Education and Nature on the role of university technicians. She has given a number of invited talks in this area, both nationally and internationally, and featured in the Department of Work and Pensions’ #NotJustForBoys campaign, encouraging girls to explore technical careers in STEM. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Registered Scientist (RSci).

Kelly works closely with Midlands Innovation and, in 2015, founded the UK Higher Education Technician Summit (HETS), a biennial, national conference focused on the professional development of the technical community. Alongside her role at Nottingham, Kelly is on secondment with the Science Council where she leads on engagement with the higher education sector to increase visibility and recognition of technicians. She founded and leads the Technician Commitment, a sector-wide initiative to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for the technical community. Kelly was awarded an MBE in the 2021 New Year Honours for Services to Higher Education.


Juliette was born in Nottingham and now lives in Beeston. She is married and has two adult children. Juliette has a lifelong interest in education. Formerly a teacher, and followed by stints in two London Education Authorities, Juliette represented the British Council in London, China and the Midlands before working as director in a local retail business. She has been a school governor at George Spencer Academy, involved in New Deal for Communities Radford and Hyson Green, a foundation member of the Independent Business Association and a Bank of England local business panel member. More recently, she became a lay member of Nottingham City Council School Appeals panel and a member of a local GP’s surgery patient participation group. She was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire in 2020.

Michelle Thompson, Trust member & board director

Having previously been a member of the local governing body at George Spencer Academy, Michelle was asked to join the Spencer Board of Directors in 2010. She is Head of Talent at Dairy Crest, where she manages a team of six professionals. She is responsible for influencing the design and delivery of the people strategy with specific responsibility for learning and development, resourcing and talent acquisition and engagement strategy. Having joined Dairy Crest as a senior HR business partner, Michelle was appointed first to a role as divisional head of HR and group learning and development lead, and then in 2015 to her current role.


Paul is the Chief Executive Officer of Spencer Academies Trust. His career includes significant experience as a principal, executive principal and director in a range of schools in the UK and internationally. Paul was registered as an Ofsted inspector and in 2011 was recognised as an outstanding system leader through his designation as a National Leader of Education. In 2012, Paul was invited to participate in the National College for Teaching and Leadership’s flagship Fellowship Programme, working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to look at curriculum-driven solutions to enable all children young people to access learning and progression to drive social mobility. He has spoken at national conferences on the impact of system leadership and improving education outcomes and standards through multi-school collaboration and is a member of the DfE Advisory Board.

Donna Kinderman, Chair

A chair of governors since 2012, Donna is a former extended schools co-ordinator for the Trust. Donna has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2013. Previously vice chair, she became chair of the Board of Directors in 2018. Professionally active in education practice and with a twenty-year record as a safeguarding and child development practitioner, Donna now works at a school in Long Eaton.

Mother to four grown up children, Donna also has two granddaughters as well as being a foster carer to four children. She has been a teaching assistant for the past 20 years in various schools and is passionate about encouraging children to love learning. In her spare time, she up-cycles furniture and makes furniture from pallets.

Malcolm Batchelor, Vice Chair

Having played a pivotal role as chair of governors at Chetwynd Spencer Academy, Malcolm joined the Board of Directors of Spencer Academies Trust in 2014 and accepted the role of vice chair in 2019. With an honours degree in Education and a diploma from the Royal Academy of Music, Malcolm has a lifelong interest in pedagogy. A digital infrastructure and market research specialist, he has been employed by three universities and several sector bodies across the UK. He takes a particular interest in the collection of data and its strategic application to the Trust, and also chairs the Trust Quality & Standards Committee.

James Smith, board director

James joined the Board in 2015. He has worked in property development and construction for 20 years and is managing director of a regional housebuilding company based in the East Midlands. He brings to the board his experience in property planning, development, investment and law.

Geoff Weightman, board director

Geoff joined the Board in 2010 and serves as chair of the Trust Estates Committee. His association with George Spencer Academy and Spencer Academies Trust spans 40 years; he was the former vice principal at George Spencer Academy and was part of the governance team that secured an outstanding judgement for the school in April 2010 and again in May 2015. He has supported many of the Trust schools with various building and renovation projects and written bids to secure significant funding for several of the trust academies.

Gabriel Mukuka. board director

Gabriel joined the board in April 2021. As a management accountant with a master’s degree in Economics & Investment Banking from Nottingham Business school, he brings his experience in finance business partnering exposure and financial reporting to the Trust. He also has extensive practical exposure to entrepreneurship, project management and marketing through previous employment, voluntary opportunities and internships.

Sharon Mullins, board director

Sharon joined the Board in September 2022. Originally from Derby, Sharon qualified as a primary teacher in 1998 at Bishop Grossteste College in Lincoln and started her career at schools in the City of Derby and Derbyshire before moving to Wandsworth in south London and then Oxfordshire. She has taught in a range of school settings, from improving schools in city contexts to small rural schools to a large London school of over 500 pupils. Sharon has experience in leading schools and has been both substantive and interim head teachers in a number of schools since 2013.

In 2017, she became a senior leader of a large diocesan multi-academy trust across Oxfordshire and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, where she led in school improvement across 38 schools. Sharon is currently Chief Executive Officer of a multi-academy trust based in South Leicestershire with 8 schools. Passionate about inclusivity, she firmly believes that every child and young person should be given the very best education and start in life allowing them to develop and achieve their full potential. Outside of work and education. Sharon enjoys family time with her husband and teenage daughters, walking and travel.

Melanie Currie, board director

Melanie joined the Board in November 2022 and is currently deputy dean at the Nottingham Business School in Nottingham Trent University. She has an excellent understanding of the higher education landscape and a proven track record of delivering systematic enhancement of learning and teaching for over twenty years. She has held a variety of senior positions and led a number of successful transformation projects utilising her knowledge and experience in all key academic processes. She has a thorough understanding of the UK Higher Education Quality Assurance framework, international accreditation systems (EPAS, EQUIS, AACSB) and all major professional qualifications related to business and management (CIM, ACCA, CMI, CIPD).

Mandeep Budwal, board director

Mandeep Budwal is the Head of Good Clinical Practice (GCP) at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), where she is responsible for the delivery of the GCP inspection programme. She also serves as a Lead Senior GCP Inspector. Prior to this position, Mandeep held clinical research, quality management and quality assurance roles within the pharmaceutical industry.


TERM of office 2023-24

Directors Term of Office Start Date Term of Office End Date
Donna Kinderman (Chair) 01-Sep-13 02-Sep-24
Malcolm Batchelor (Vice Chair) 27-Jun-14 18-Sep-24
Mandeep Budwal 19-Jun-23 19-Jun-27
Melanie Currie 01-Nov-22 01-Nov-26
Gabriel Mukuka 30-Mar-21 31-Mar-24
Sharon Mullins 01-Sep-22 01-Sep-26
James Smith 10-Dec-15 18-Dec-24
Michelle Thompson 17-Aug-10 18-Sep-24
Geoff Weightman 17-Aug-10 18-Sep-24
Paul West (CEO) 01-Sep-17 01-Sep-24


Members Term of Office Start Date
Juliette Abrams 01-Nov-22
Jonathan Dale 01-Jan-24
Paul McConnell 01-Nov-22
Mark Plampim 26-Aug-21
Michelle Thompson 20-Aug-10
Kelly Ann Vere 20-Aug-10



Trust Board Committees

Board Committee Members & Attendees
Audit & Risk Malcolm Batchelor (Chair)
Mandeep Budwal
Donna Kinderman
Gabriel Mukuka
James Smith
Estates Geoff Weightman (Chair)
Malcolm Batchelor
Donna Kinderman
Sharon Mullins
Paul West
James Smith (Associate) 
Quality & Standards Malcolm Batchelor (Chair)
Melanie Currie
Donna Kinderman
Sharon Mullins
Geoff Weightman
Paul West
Remuneration Michelle Thompson (Chair)
Malcolm Batchelor
Donna Kinderman 
Finance & Resources Gabriel Mukuka (Chair)
Melanie Currie
Donna Kinderman
James Smith
Michelle Thompson
Geoff Weightman
Paul West
Malcolm Batchelor (Associate)