Meet Our Board of Trustees

John Rigby - Co-chair of Trustees

I was born and grew up in North Liverpool, attending St. Swithin’s Primary School and St. Edward’s College. I then went to Manchester University for a BSc in Biochemistry, followed by an MSc at Cardiff University and my PGCE at what is now Hope University. I taught in several different schools and 6th form colleges across the North West and spent the last 8 years of my career as a Headteacher and Executive Headteacher.

Now retired, I am delighted to still be able to continue to contribute to education through my role as LAC chair at King’s Leadership Academy Hawthornes and as Trustee with Great Schools Trust.

Joanne Hornby - Co-chair of Trustees, Chair of the Education and Welfare Committee

I have been the LAC Chair for King's Leadership Academy Bolton for three years, alongside my main job as Academic Operations Lead for Initial Teacher Training at the University of Bolton and my work in regional quality assurance.

I am a qualified teacher and have experience in teaching and leadership in secondary, further, and higher education.  I am in the final year of my PhD and hold a Senior Fellowship from the Higher Education Academy.  Volunteering with Great Schools Trust enables me to provide guidance and support to best promote the Trust’s ‘Aspire’ ethos, resulting in excellent outcomes for its pupils.

Joseph Spencer - Trustee, Member of Finance, Risk and Audit Committee and Performance and Remuneration Committee

I have been very fortunate in life to be the first in my family to go to university. I graduated as an Electrical Engineer and then developed a successful career.  When I look back on my journey, I can pick out a few critical things without which my journey would have been very different. The first is receiving a good education; the second is the opportunity to take part in new activities through schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh award; and thirdly the support of dedicated teachers. These three things gave me self-confidence, a belief in myself that I could do anything and succeed, and resilience to face difficult challenges.

I joined the Trust to support the academies so that all pupils are given opportunities to receive an excellent education, that they are confident and resilient in what they do in life and they believe in themselves irrespective of their background. 

Nick Meikle - Chair of Finance, Risk and Audit Committee

I am a specialist in Technology and Business Change, with 30 years of experience primarily in Financial Services. I have also served on the Executive Management team of several organisations.

In my formative years, my prospects were transformed through access to a fantastic education.  I am passionate that all children and young adults should have the same opportunity to reach their full potential, and I’m proud to be able to support Great Schools Trust in its mission, serving on the Board and the Finance Committee.

Mike Ireland 

I am a well-respected anti-fraud and anti-money laundering professional consultant with over 25 years of experience in fraud investigation, data analysis, referral optimisation, research, policy creation and management within various sectors including telecommunications, banking, insurance, financial services and the public sector.

Since 2016 I have been a governor at the highly successful King’s Leadership Academy Warrington, and the Chair of the Local Academy Council since 2019 providing challenge and support to the school influencing strategy and direction through engagements and investigations in several areas such as special educational needs and/or disabilities and pupil premium.

I have a keen interest in helping those within the school and Trust with special education needs and/or disabilities to achieve as well as their peers. I have three children, one of which is autistic and another who is autistic and with ADHD, both attending King's Leadership Academy Warrington.

Garry Lee - Member of Finance, Risk and Audit Committee

I have spent over 25 years working in the data, marketing and technology spaces, many of them running and selling those businesses. In 2020, I changed direction and founded a niche business strategy agency that helps SMEs. We work directly with owners and start-up founders. I currently own two agencies and sit on the board of two start-up businesses.

This gave me time to join Great Schools Trust. I chose Great Schools Trust because I’m aligned with their values and believe in the aim of bringing great education to some of the less privileged areas of the North West.

Joan Mooney - Lead trustee for safeguarding and member of the Education and Welfare Committee

During my career I taught across Higher Education (HE), Further Education, 6th Form and secondary sectors. My specific interest was developing excellence in the delivery of vocational science courses. As a member of a national working group I developed materials to assist teachers in delivering practical based assignments with relevance to industrial settings. The overall aim was to improve access to HE for students who may not have progressed through traditional routes.

After retiring from my role as Vice Principal and Head of 6th Form I have continued to work with schools by volunteering to assist students to improve literacy levels, working on school governing bodies and assisting with the development of 6th forms. By being part of the Great Schools Trust Board of Trustees, I have the opportunity to further contribute to the education of children. 

Amanda Wright - Lead trustee for special educational needs and disabilities and Member of the Education and Welfare Committee

My interest in teaching began following a work experience placement at a primary school in Huyton, Knowsley as a teenager.  After completing my degree at the University of Warwick in 2000, I moved away from the Northwest and settled in Warwickshire.  I have worked as a primary school teacher, senior leader and Special Educational Needs Coordinator as well as working for a Local Authority to support schools to develop their provision for pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEND).  In 2018, I was appointed as Deputy Regional SEND Leader for the West Midlands where I had the privilege to work with a wide variety of schools, local authorities, multi-academy trusts and specialist organisations on projects to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND.  I now work for the National Association for Special Educational Needs (nasen) supporting schools and colleges across the country to enhance their practice and provision for SEND. 

I am passionate about ensuring ALL children have access to an education where they feel welcomed, valued and are able to develop their talents to achieve their goals and am honoured to have the opportunity to support the work of the Great Schools Trust as a Trustee

Tom Davies

I work for an organisation called Social Finance, a non-profit that partners with government, the social sector, and funders to create lasting and widespread change for people and communities. I lead our work around inclusive education, children’s services, and community-led approaches to tackling health and income inequalities. With 10 years in the government and social enterprise sector, I specialise in partnership building, developing new funding and commissioning models, and building the case for early intervention and prevention.

I believe every child should have equal opportunity to enjoy their time at school, progress, and participate fully in society when they leave. I’m interested in how trusts can build strong, inclusive cultures and work collectively with local authorities and wider systems to provide more effective, earlier support for children and young people with additional needs.

Mick Gorham - Member of the Finance, Risk and Audit Committee

I currently deliver solutions in the Insurance industry as a Transformation Director and have multi-industry experience. I am an exceptionally highly motivated, persuasive, and outstanding professional who knows how to add value to organisations and create a learning culture, whilst understanding how to adapt, be empathetic and deliver in a way that differentiates an organisation.

I would like to take my learnings, from a very long successful career, and give back my knowledge and experience to an organisation whose values and beliefs are aligned with my own. The Great Schools Trust feels like a natural fit for me, and I will do everything within my power to ensure the children within the schools of the Trust grow and flourish, giving them the freedom to be expressive and in control of their future.

Daniel Kasmir - Member of the Performance and Remuneration Committee

I was was Chief People and Procurement Officer at TalkTalk from March 2019 until February 2024 and will shortly move to a new role as a partner in a Private Equity firm. Previous experience has been gained from a number of organisations including Shell, Manpower, FNZ, Xchanging and BDO.

I have worked in Private Equity as both an adviser and within portfolio companies for General Atlantic, JC Flowers and Bain Capital. 

I am also the Chairman of the Employment Board at HMP Thorn Cross and a Trustee at The Lowry Theatre. I am delighted to join the Great Schools Trust and look forward to helping the Trust grow from strength to strength.