Richard Fletcher – Trustee

I have over twenty years’ experience of working on governing bodies in both primary and secondary settings. During that time I have chaired three governing bodies and have worked closely with a number of head teachers and senior leaders on strategic issues. My committee work has been focussed mainly on finance, not primarily from choice but rather because it was a ‘groove’ I found myself in. I have always found the work interesting and challenging and have learnt a great deal, particularly from the teaching professionals I have worked alongside.

I was chair of the Bury St Edmunds All-through Academy Trust during its formative years. During that time I worked on a successful free school bid and the sponsorship of a struggling primary school.

I strongly believe that every child is entitled to a well-funded first rate education appropriate to their needs and abilities.

In my professional life I work as an electrical engineer and fire investigator, providing technical consultancy services to the insurance and legal professions. This has provided a wide ranging insight into civil and criminal law and its impact on organisations and individuals. I was a director and then

Managing Director of the professional consultancy for which I work, before stepping back into consultancy in preparation for retirement.

Jenny Hanlon – Trustee

I have been a finance director at a number of insurance firms over the past 6 years, following a broad experience in various industries such Financial Services, Retail and Transport. I qualified with one of the Big Four accountancy firms back in 2000, where my desire to ask lots of questions was first harnessed. As a mother of 2 and having been in the private sector for so long, I now welcome the opportunity as trustee on the BEST Board to provide insight and support in an area that will benefit children in my local community.

Jan Hatchell – CEO

As well as being BEST’s CEO and a Trustee, I am the Headteacher of Riverwalk School. I have been a Headteacher since 2005, building upon my extensive experience of teaching in Specialist provisions in London, Surrey, Hampshire and Norfolk.  I qualified to teach in specialist education in 1984, then awarded my MA in 2002.  I am passionate about the education of children who need an innovative and inspirational approach to learning, engaging with research and the professional development of those providing the learning environment. I am an active member of the Federation of Leaders in Special Education, and attend the SEND Forum in London.

Karen Saunders – Trustee

With a professional background in HR, experience at a strategic level and as a qualified executive coach, I’m passionate about people and supporting them to achieve personal growth and business success. I set up my coaching and HR consulting business at the start of 2020 with a vision which included the chance to support my local community.

I share similar values with BEST, in particular the promotion of ‘a growth mindset where everyone can learn and aspire to be the BEST that they can be’. This motivated me to apply for the Trustee role, so I’m delighted to have joined a Trust which invests in improving the life chances of all young people, regardless of their needs.

Viv Hughes – Chair of the Trust Board

Viv has a passion for the innovative education of SEND and SEMH children and young people. Since becoming a Parent Governor 11 years ago, Viv has gained extensive expertise and widespread knowledge and experience of governance. As a Chair, she has grown and led school governance to Ofsted ‘Good’ and ‘Outstanding’ ratings. Her leadership philosophy ensures that all governors are very knowledgeable and highly competent to thrive without her at the helm. Viv was appointed a NLG in 2015. Viv was an All-through MAT Trustee before resigning to focus on BEST. Any spare time is devoted to gardening and house restoration.

Gulshan Kayembe – Trustee

Gulshan has a passion for lifelong learning. She works as an independent consultant and as an inspector, having begun her working life as a teacher. She is involved in leading inspections. Her consultancy includes working closely with academies and MATs. Gulshan has worked all across the education sector including PRUs and special schools, universities, multiple local education authorities to provide advice, guidance and training to improve provision and, hence, outcomes. She honed her strategic planning skills, as well as her ability to ask the right questions through her board experience with the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, and chairing the Suffolk Police Authority from 2005 – 2010.

Andrew Mason – Trustee

Andrew is an FCA qualified audit director with a broad experience of financial accounting and business advisory services currently working in practice for a top 30 accountancy firm.  He has over 20 years audit and accounting experience across a wide range of industries, from educational bodies, charities, legal practices and membership organisations, to manufacturing, construction, technology and retail companies varying in size from early stage businesses to large international groups.  Andrew has previously been Chair of Finance for his local primary school, and when he gets any free time he enjoys football, running, and spending time with his family.

Nic Stokes -Trustee

Nicola’s career has been based on her strong engineering background, focusing on the global digital print marketplace, encompassing development, marketing, sales and business management. Nicola has an in depth understanding of the security print industries as well as latterly developing a strong technical Ecommerce expertise.

In addition to her executive career experience, Nicola completed a Non-Executive Director Diploma in 2018 to be current with the governance, compliance and legal knowledge required to be a Trustee.

Nicola also Chairs her local Residential Estate Management Board and is a Mentor within the Department of Educations’ Multi-Academy Trust CEO Mentoring Programme.