Our Non-Executive Leadership Team

Great Schools Trust (GST) is a Multi Academy Trust comprising of four secondary academies and one alternative provision academy. The trust is also a company limited by guarantee.

Our Great Schools Trust members and board of trustees are the proprietors of the trust and set the overarching vision and strategy for all of the King's Leadership Academies.

Our board are directors for the purpose of company law, trustees for the purpose of charity law and governors for the purpose of education law/legislation and their main responsibilities are the three core governance functions:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos, and strategic direction.
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils and the performance management of staff.
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent

In order to discharge these duties successfully our board of trustees has delegated some of these responsibilities to committees, executive leaders and local academy councils (LACs)

Contact Us

Should you wish to contact the trustees please contact the Trust’s Chief Operations and Strategic Officer, Andy Reay, at a.reay@greatschoolstrust.com or by post by addressing any correspondence for the attention of A. Reay at the Trust’s address:

King's Leadership Academy Warrington, Hillock Lane, Warrington, WA1 4PF

Please note that any complaints regarding the school must be raised in line with our complaints policy and cannot be raised directly with the trust board.

Our Governance


Welcome from our Co-Chairs of Trustees - John Rigby & Joanne Hornby

We are delighted to write this introduction as the Co-Chairs of the Board of Trustees for the Great Schools Trust.

Trustees give up their valuable time from their professional roles in the private and public sectors to set the strategic direction for the trust and to provide challenge to the executive leaders for the quality and effectiveness of education. The Great Schools’ Trust also develops the character of our students through our leadership specialism. We firmly believe that if young people come to a school where they feel valued and safe and where teachers have their best interests at heart, then they will commit themselves; they will work harder; suffer fewer distractions; become more motivated and ultimately achieve more. Research shows that pursuing a character-driven approach to education, based on a firm set of values, is the lever that produces such an ethos.

The Trust aims to enable our schools to become successful academies, producing great educational experiences for all of our students. The educational landscape in England is changing at an unprecedented pace, resulting in schools gaining greater autonomy. However, greater autonomy should not, in our view, mean greater isolation. The Great Schools’ Trust aims to provide a supportive and collaborative context in which our schools can continue to collaborate and thrive into the future and to form civic partnerships with other organisations for the benefit of our students and society.

Our academies are first and foremost for the education of the whole child, so it is right that at the heart of what we do, is a focus on the quality of the curriculum experience that we offer, as well as the nurturing and coaching of our staff to deliver high-quality lessons which will enable our students to excel. We have the highest expectations for our academies and we expect them to have the highest expectations of their students.

The Trust has three main functions in that we support our academies in meeting the challenges of our high expectations ethos through mutually supportive intervention and training. Secondly, we take responsibility for financial and resource management, so that academies can concentrate on what matters - the education of young people, and thirdly because our specialism is the development of character through leadership, we support each academy in the nurturing of this distinctive ethos, which contributes so powerfully to the development of our students as rounded and balanced young people poised to contribute to society.

John Rigby & Joanne Hornby


The Members of the Company define the Object, Purpose and Ethos of the Company and are defined by the National Governance Association (NGA) as 'the guardians of the governance of the trust'.

The Members meet at least twice per academic year to review the performance of the Trust and ensure that the Trustees are fulling their role and working within the articles of association. 

Great Schools Trust has five Members including the chair of the trust board: 

  • Mark Wyss 
  • Joe Spencer 
  • Tom Quinn 
  • Jason Roberts 
  • Simon Maher

Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is made up of experienced professionals who make strategic decisions for the Trust.

The Trustees, who form the Trust Board, have overall responsibility and ultimate decision-making authority for the work of the Company (the Trust), including the establishing and running of schools, known as the trusts academies.

Trustees are responsible for making major decisions about the strategic direction of the Trust, ensuring that its aims are met and its ethos is maintained. This includes setting general policy, adopting a 3-year strategic plan and budget, monitoring the Trust’s financial performance and educational outcomes, making senior staff appointments and approving major investment programmes.

The full trust board meets at least 6 times per year/once per half term. The board has also established committees which meet at least once per term to ensure the independent checking of controls, systems, transactions, and risks. Our Trustees give their time freely and receive no remuneration or any other financial benefits for the roles they play.

Meet our Board of Trustees

Local Academy Councils

Each Academy within the Great Schools Trust has a Local Academy Council (LAC), to whom the Trustees delegate certain responsibilities.  The LAC is currently delegated oversight for curriculum and standards, community presence and safeguarding. This includes attendance, student welfare and health and safety. 

In short, LACs are the eyes and ears on the ground at school level who support the Trust Board in adhering to their core governance functions:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils
  • The effective and efficient performance management of staff.

DfE Governance Handbook


In each academy, the LAC provides feedback and additional support and challenges to ensure that the organisation acts according to our ethos and represents the needs of our students, parents and the communities we serve. The LAC is also involved in developing wider community programmes in areas where our academies are located. This includes a specific focus on supporting our students and their families in their lives outside of the academy.

LAC Chair Biographies

Joanne Hornby, Chair of King’s Leadership Academy Bolton 

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 as an Ofsted Inspector.  

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. 

John Rigby, Chair of King’s Leadership Academy Hawthornes

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. 

David Sorensen, Chair of King’s Leadership Academy Liverpool 

I have spent the last 30 years leading businesses in the Logistics and Technology sectors.  My experience spans companies of different sizes, from <£5M turnover to £200M +.

Concentrating on building excellent relationships with customers and colleagues, making sure the product delivered, matches both the needs and expectations of the customer, whilst maintaining close contact with budgetary requirements, has allowed me to help numerous businesses flourish. Understanding where you want to go and mapping how you are going to get there are key components of building success.  Born in London and state school educated, I now live in Liverpool.  I believe that all children should have access to an excellent education and see this as the critical factor to improving social standards.

I am excited to be working with KLAL and hopefully my experience can help continue the journey to success. 

Mike Ireland, Chair of King’s Leadership Academy Warrington 

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 Pupil Premium. 

I have a keen interest in helping those within the school and Trust with special education needs 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. 

Shona Stronach, Chair of the Aspire Centre

I wanted to be a Governor at The Aspire Centre because I believe that every child deserves to receive a quality education and to have the best possible chances in life. Many children come from disadvantaged backgrounds and for most, school is the only way to fulfil their dreams and aspirations.

I have over 15 years of governance experience and as well as being Chair of Governors for another school, I currently sit on committees for various external agencies. I am qualified to hear complaints, admissions and appeals and to sit on exclusions panels.

Statutory Information for Governance