Members and Trustees
Members of the Trust
After serving as the Chief Executive Officer [CEO] for Baylis Court Trust for five years, I moved to working part-time as a freelance educational leadership consultant. Prior to my role as CEO, I was head teacher of Baylis Court School for two years. This was my second headship as I served for seven years as headteacher at a large comprehensive school in Reading, where we moved the school from inadequate to good. I became a National Leader of Education in 2015, and have worked with many schools since then, offering support with their journey to raise standards for disadvantaged learners. In 2015, I worked as part of the DFE Data Management Review Group, which was part of the DFE review of teacher workload, that was set up in response to the evidence collected by The Workload Challenge. In 2019, I became a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching.
Lars Dyrelund holds a BSc in Data Science and MSc in Economics – both from Copenhagen Business School in Denmark. In his day job, Lars is the Head of Product for Firefly Learning whose software is used by more than half a million students worldwide. Firefly Learning is an educational technology company based in London, England with offices in Sydney, Australia that provides parent engagement and learning continuity platforms to hundreds of schools around the world. Lars spends his time working with his team to identify the core challenges facing schools around teaching, learning and parental engagement, and builds solutions to help every student reach their full potential.
In his spare time Lars volunteers as a Special Constable, which he has done since he started in the Met in 2013. He is currently the Special Inspector for Thames Valley Police in Reading supervising 35 Special Constables, and enjoys helping his team make a difference in the community it serves.
Lars lives in Berkshire and is married with one daughter and one son. His daughter is currently a Year 9 student at Reading Girls' School.
Bob gained a B Ed degree from Oxford University. He was a teacher at Cippenham Middle School and Deputy Headteacher at Wexham Court Middle School and Lynch Hill Combined School in Slough before becoming Headteacher of Tylers Green Middle School in Buckinghamshire for eighteen years.
Bob became a governor of Lynch Hill Combined School in 1992. He has served as Vice-Chair of Governors, Chaired the Curriculum, Personnel and Pay Review Committees and was a member of the Finance Committee. He continued as a trustee when the School became a Primary Academy in 2011 and chaired the Trust Board for two years after it became a Multi Academy Trust in 2014.
In retirement Bob continues as a parish councillor. He is Vice-Chair of Farnham Royal Parish Council, a volunteer librarian at the local community library and a fairly frequent traveller to California and Australia where he has family.
Gabrielle Westhead attended Baylis Court School and its Sixth Form and was Head Girl in her final year of 2011. She is a graduate of Oxford Brookes University and holds a first-class honours degree in Communication, Media and Culture, where she was awarded with the highest degree of her cohort. It was at university that Gabrielle discovered her love for writing, editing, filmmaking, community support and travelling. She was a course representative, a department representative, wrote for a local non-for-profit newspaper and even published an article in the Oxford Mail. While at university, Gabrielle worked in Latvia as a filmmaker, documenting a university’s international efforts, and studied abroad in France too. Having transitioned from a student to a worker, works in content marketing for global companies. Outside of work, Gabrielle is a practising Buddhist (and has been since she was 15) and is heavily involved in interfaith and peace relations on a local and European scale. She has delivered speeches on youth engagement in religion and peace in the Netherlands, Azerbaijan, Italy and Austria, to name a few, and is currently chair of a network for UK youth interested in interfaith. Gabrielle is very proud to be Member of the Governance of The Thames Learning Trust.
Tina Wisener is a solicitor and the Head of Doyle Clayton's Reading office. Doyle Clayton is the UK’s largest firm of workplace law specialists and advise on the full range of employment and workplace law issues. Tina splits her time between advising clients and managing a team of lawyers. She has particular expertise in outsourcing, restructuring and redundancy programmes, complex discrimination cases and board level reorganisations. She regularly delivers training for clients on a wide range of legal issues impacting the workplace. Recent training has included Respect at work and Understanding stress and mental health issues in the workplace.
Prior to qualifying as a solicitor in 2001, Tina served as an Army officer for eight years specialising in Human Resources Management and was posted to Germany, Canada and in several locations in the South of England.
Tina lives in Berkshire and is married with 3 sons. Outside of work she enjoys walking, skiing and watching her sons play rugby.
The Board of Trustees
Lindsey is an experienced governor and trustee. She was Vice Chair of a Wokingham Primary school for six years before moving on to govern at a secondary school in Earley for 10 years. She is currently a Trustee at another MAT and Chair of Governors at a Bracknell Primary school. Lindsey was delighted to join The Thames Learning Trust in September 2019.
Lindsey’s background is in accounts working for Combined Lease Finance PLC in the city then working locally while her children were young. She is currently a host family for Reading Football club offering a safe ‘home from home’ for their young players on both a long and short term basis.
After Steve graduated from York University with an economics degree in 1985, he worked at the National Audit Office for five years, where he also trained to be a chartered accountant. Steve has been a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) since 1990. After leaving the National Audit Office Steve worked for CIPFA for 25 years, having roles ranging from training delivery, training centre management, qualifications development and assessment culminating in being head of CIPFA’s qualifications and membership activities.
Since leaving CIPFA in 2015, Steve has been self-employed, being engaged in a mix of training, assessment, consultancy and authoring work for a range of clients, including CIPFA, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Kaplan Financial, the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions, the Women’s Equality Party, and the University of London. Steve is CIPFA’s end point assessor for the institute’s professional accountancy apprenticeship qualification. In addition to specialist finance expertise, Steve’s range of management roles in adult professional education means that he has wide-ranging experience across all aspects of management.
Steve has previously been a governor at a primary school in London and two primary schools in Reading, including Battle Primary Academy, where he was Chair of Governors in the last few months before it joined The Thames Learning Trust in summer 2019.
Having worked in financial services for over 19 years, Simone has gained insightful perspective from consumer, commercial and regulatory angles. Currently a Director in risk management at Sanne Group, she is responsible for risk reporting, policies, governance and for helping set the risk strategy for the organisation. With extensive knowledge in risk, governance, internal control environments, risk reporting and risk training, Simone has worked for a number of financial institutions such as Lloyds Banking Group, Banco Santander, Nationwide Building Society and Aegon, where she led on risk, compliance, awareness, strategy setting and risk reporting activities; Simone also worked for the regulator, The Lending Standards Board, in a risk management and risk strategy capacity. With extensive experience in business risk and deploying risk management in cost effective ways, another key area of focus for Simone has been on robust and transparent risk reporting which she sees as a critical requirement to aid decision making. Simone has designed and deployed comprehensive global risk education programmes to help raise risk awareness and strengthen risk culture. She has had a life long commitment to adding social value and has been supported by her work to give back. This includes being chair for a charity for counselling for young people, Young Persons Independent Counselling (YPI). She has also been Citizens Advice Tadley Board Trustee, Age Concern Tadley Board Trustee and Marie Curie Risk & Oversight Consultant. Used to working in a highly regulated sector, she is interested in education and keen to apply her knowledge to the sector. Simone is originally from Brazil and has two children.
For the past 33 years held a variety of roles in Xerox, from field engineering through to European launch engineer. Seventeen years ago moved into management running a number of different service teams across southern England and then made a career move within Xerox to support a pan European ERP SAP implementation where I have continued till this day.
I grew up in Painswick and Sheepscombe in Gloucestershire spending school holidays exploring the countryside and was only later discovered how fortunate that I was to have explored the same areas that Laurie Lee had depicted. Having attended the grammar school, I took a year out working as a lifeguard having always enjoyed swimming before I went to Leicester Polytechnic to study Electronics.
Before moving to Bracknell we lived Langley where for ten years I was actively involved in the neighbourhood Action Group NAG. Whilst in Langley my daughter was successful in applying through the aptitude to dance and attended Baylis Court School. This was when I become a parent governor of Baylis Court School and I continued to support BCS when as a family we moved to Bracknell. Having also became a co-opted governor at my daughters’ new school. Recently I have joined the Bracknell Forest Council Overview and Scrutiny Commission.
When my son who is now nineteen was eleven he joined the local Swimming Club, Slough and Eton Dolphin Swimming Club where I quickly was appointment to the committee to transform their web and IT and have continued to support.
Richard Kearsey, Chief Executive Officer
Richard Kearsey is the Chief Executive Officer of The Thames Learning Trust having held a number of senior management positions in secondary schools. He holds the National Professional Qualification Headship and the Professional Qualification for School Inspectors. Richard is an Ofsted Lead Inspector.
Bob spent 38 years in the Police Force and prior to retiring was Chief Inspector with British Transport Police. On retiring, he returned to British Transport police for 7 years as their well-being manager with responsibility for health and safety and occupational health. He has been a governor for 17 years and has held the following positions: -
- Previously Chair of Governors at a primary school in Earley
- Currently Chair of Governors at 2 schools in Reading. He was a Governor for Reading Girls School from 2016 - 2019, before the school joined The Thames Learning Trust.
- Currently Chair of Governors at a school in Earley
- Currently Governor at a primary school in Bracknell
- Trustee of 2 Multi Academy trusts one of which is The Thames Learning Trust.
Veronica is a graduate of London University and holds a B.Sc Hons degree in Mathematics. She has spent almost 40 years in education in secondary schools in both grammar, comprehensive and the private sector, with a brief spell in a High School in the USA. After many years as Head of Maths she retired and became involved in the governance of Baylis Court School in 2011. She was immediately involved in the working party to convert the school to an Academy, was Chair of the Curriculum Committee and a member of several committees including Finance and Resources and Pay and Performance Management. She is a member of the Trust, formed when the school expanded to a Multi Academy Trust, and is currently on the Board. Her dedication to service to the community extends to being a volunteer librarian when a local library became a community library in order to avoid closure.
Jon Reekie retired from a long career in banking in the late 1970’s. He has been a Governor of Baylis Court School and Herschel Grammar School since 1989 where he chaired the Finance Committee and was Vice-Chair. He worked for the Medical Research Council in London in 1993. In 1995 he was appointed Business Manager at Herschel Grammar School until retiring from the post in 2009. During all of this time, he remained a Governor and Chair at Baylis Court School and in recent years took the school to Academy status and, in 2015, to Multi Academy status and chairs the Trust Board. After his retirement, he has been asked to be a member of governing bodies in Slough where there has been a need to strengthen governance. Among those have been Willow Primary School and James Elliman Academy, both of which he is no longer a governor of. Jon is also a member of the Board of Slough and East Berkshire Multi Academy Trust where he chairs the Trust Finance Committee. He also chairs the governing body at Wexham Court Primary School. Jon is a member of the Slough School’s Forum which is a body that deals with school finance for all schools in Slough. Outside of education, Jon is a Trustee of Maidenhead Waterways Regeneration Group. He now has three grandsons and a step granddaughter and enjoys relaxing holidays in his caravan and cruises to various oversea countries.
Born in Margate, Kent, I was educated at a girls' grammar school. I began my career in an accountancy firm, studying for the AAT qualification, swiftly moving into the events, hospitality and promotions industry, working for many international companies at various shows and exhibitions such as motor shows, boat shows and the ideal home exhibition. I also hosted guests at Royal Ascot, international football matches and rugby games. I worked with the Honda British Touring Car team for three years, as a grid girl, hosting the corporate guests and looking after the drivers and their families. I lived in south west London for several years, before moving to Slough. Since becoming a mother I started work within a local primary school as a teaching assistant and am currently enjoying that role immensely. It gives me a good understanding of the education system from the inside.
I am a volunteer within Girl guiding, jointly running a local Rainbow unit, after being leader of my own Rainbow unit for a couple of years. I also assist at Brownie and Guide events and camps within the district.
My daughter currently attends a secondary school within the Thames Learning Trust.
My name is Samina Sadiq, I was born in Pakistan and came to England with my family at the age of one.
I went to Geoffrey Field primary school and then completed my secondary education at Southlands School to A-level standard.
I started working at the age of 18 and did various administrative jobs until I settled at Bank of Ireland Mortgages where I worked within the IT department as a systems support analyst until I was made redundant in 2009.
At this point, as a mother of four young children and having elderly family members living with us, I chose to stay at home to take care of my family which I have been doing since then.
Now that those responsibilities are reducing, I am keen to start working again and feel that this may help build my confidence towards that.
I have 2 daughters currently at Reading Girls' School and have seen the improvements made by the Trust with which I have been very impressed. It would be a great pleasure to be able to be a part of that and to offer a parental input as a trustee.
Ben read Psychology at Warwick University before completing a Masters in Sport Psychology at Loughborough. From there, he set up his own consultancy business specialising in reflective practice, team cohesion and anxiety management. He found that there were many overlaps between optimal sporting and academic performances and started working with students whose behaviour was impacting their learning before transitioning into teaching psychology.
Alongside being Director of Sixth Form at Queen Anne's School, Ben is also a sessional lecturer at the University of Reading and delivers workshops for Brain Can Do who focus on applying neuroscience research into the world of education.
Andy Suddons had a 35- year career in Human Resources working for ICI, CHEP & ABF. During this time, as well as the UK, Andy worked and lived in The Netherlands, USA & Belgium.
Since 2016 Andy has worked on a variety of projects as an Interim HR Consultant.
Andy served as a Governor for a primary school in Ascot & has volunteered to support local secondary schools.
Andy has 2 grown up daughters- one of whom lives in Hampshire working for Portsmouth City Council and one is living in South Africa making wine.
Andy studied Organisational Behaviour at Salford University.
Noreen Sumra joined the trust in April 2021. She is a lawyer specialising in HR and employment law and worked in-house, for an HR Consultancy based in Buckinghamshire, as their Legal Director, however she no longer practices.
Noreen has been involved in the voluntary sector for over 15 years and has held the following positions:
- Currently Chair of Trustees of a charity called Westminster befriend a family, which provides mentoring services to young people and single parent families in the Borough of Westminster, since 2017.
- Currently a Trustee with Citizens Advice Hillingdon, since 2018.
- Previously Chair of Trustees with Assisting Berkshire Children to read (ABC to read) until 2016.
- Previously Board Trustee and then Chair of Trustees of Apna Ghar housing association until 2017.