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Meet our People


Roy Blatchford CBE

Roy Blatchford is founder of, working with schools, colleges and universities in the UK and internationally.

He has spent the past two years implementing education system reform in the Middle East.

Roy was Founding Director (2006 - 2016) of the National Education Trust, an independent foundation which leads excellent practice and innovation in education. 

Previously he served as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools (HMI) in England, with national responsibilities for school improvement and for the inspection of outstanding schools. He has extensive experience of writing inspection frameworks, nationally and internationally, and has reviewed over 1000 schools and colleges in Europe, USA, Middle East and India.

For 30 years Roy has been an international trainer and conference speaker on English and literacy, school improvement, leadership and curriculum development. He has been an adviser to various UK governments, including Deputy Chair of the DfE Teachers’ Standards Review (2011) and of the Headteachers’ Standards Review (2014). He is a member of the Education Policy Institute's advisory board.

Roy began his teaching career in London, moving to be Principal of schools in Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes. He is a Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, has been a Visiting University Professor in the USA, and is co-founder of the Mumbai-based education foundation Adhyayan. He is the author/editor of over 150 books.

Roy was appointed CBE for services to education in the 2016 New Year Honours.

Nick Caulfield

Nick Caulfield qualified as a teacher in 1994 and has enjoyed every moment of his career to date. He trained at Carnegie College, Leeds where he graduated with a BEd Honours degree specialising in Physical Education.

Sport will always play an important role in his life as he believes it encourages the development of teamwork, leadership, hard work, healthy lifestyles and decision making qualities along with an insistence on the highest expectations and standards.

Before moving to Longford Community School in 1998 he taught in Camberley, Surrey. He was appointed as sole Deputy Principal of Rivers Academy in 2012, having previously been appointed as a Deputy Head teacher in 2005.

Mr Caulfield feels privileged to be the Principal of Ditton Park Academy (a SASH Education School) starting this new school in 2014 being part of shaping the future of education in Slough in a time of significant and rapid change. He believes that as individuals we are all unique and that is why this very unique situation of working in very close collaboration with all the secondary school Head teachers in Slough is very exciting and can only lead to a very bright and successful future for its young people.

He represents SASH at SEBDOS, is a Trustee with Learning to Work and sits on the Heathrow Taskforce Group speaking for and on behalf of education.

Alex Sharratt

Alex Sharratt is managing director and co-owner of John Catt Educational, an independent publishers based in Suffolk.

John Catt Educational have published several books in partnership with NET over the past five years, in addition to several other best-selling professional development titles for educators and school leaders. Alex brings to NET Academies good working relationships with a number of significant associations, organisations and individuals within UK and international education. 



Richard Carr (Chair)

Richard is a Management Consultant and has previously managed various educational publishing businesses and served as a primary school Founding Governor.

Richard has 10 years’ experience in coaching Board Members, Senior Executives and Middle Managers, specialising in performance improvement, talent and career development, outplacements and high performing teams.

Richard is qualified and registered with the British Psychological Society, a fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and certified at Level 7 in Coaching and Mentoring. He has also designed and delivered Leadership Programmes for private and public sector organisations, including a particular focus on judgement and decision making, collaborative leadership, leading change and authentic leadership.

Harry Meikle

Harry Meikle is a Member of Advisory Board at Encore Capital LLP. He currently serves as the Chairman of Encore Capital investee company Stagecoach Performing Arts.

He played a pivotal role in the growth of QAS Ltd from 1992 till Experian bought the business in 2004, and successfully expanded QAS into new territories outside the UK (Australia, Holland, USA and France). He was appointed Managing Director of QAS in 2002 and group Managing Director from 2005 to 2007. Since 2007 he has been consulting as a non-exec director and chairman. He was Chairman of Pure360 an Encore backed business from 2008 until the sale of the business in 2013.

Nigel Wyrley-Birch

Nigel is a Chartered Accountant and a partner in Ryecroft Glenton Chartered Accountants in Newcastle upon Tyne.

He has extensive strategic experience in the independent and academy sectors of education, and much of his work involves assisting schools with growth and strategy. He is also a member of the Bishop's Council Durham Diocese, and of the North East Reserve Forces and Cadets Association working on strategic issues including the work those organisations do with young people.

Derek Bell 

Derek is a teacher, researcher, adviser and advocate for improving and enriching education for all.

He worked in schools and universities before becoming Vice Principle of Bishop Grosseteste College (now University), Chief Executive of the Association for Science Education (ASE) and Head of Education at the Wellcome Trust. He remains very active in education, nationally and internationally, through his consultancy (Campanula Consulting), committee and advisory work and has a wide range of publications. He has served as trustee for a number of organisations including STEMNET, Engineering UK, Understanding Animal Research and Centre of the Cell, and as an advisory member of the Inter Academies Panel Global Science Education Panel.

Derek is currently a trustee of the IBM Trust UK, a trustee of the Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) and a judge for the European Union Competition for Young Scientists (EUCYS). He was appointed Professor of Education by The College of Teachers in 2007 and awarded an honorary Doctorate of Education by Manchester Metropolitan University in 2011. Derek is Director of LEARNUS and a visiting research associate at UCL Institute of Education, London.

Andrew Calderwood

Andrew was a Partner in a leading international law firm, working mainly on the funding of large projects both in the UK under the PFI programme and internationally. He has long-standing experience in finance and corporate law and in dealing with public sector and large private sector organisations. Andrew is currently Chairman of a fishing and conservation association.

Charlotte Warmington

Charlotte is a Senior Recruitment Advisor at the Competition and Markets Authority. The CMA is the UK’s lead competition and consumer protection authority and is a non-ministerial government department.

Charlotte’s critical objective is to deliver an efficient, high quality, and customer focused recruitment service to CMA stakeholders, contributing to the achievement of the CMA’s strategic goals and to advise hiring managers and colleagues of best practice sourcing solutions.

Charlotte has BA (Hons) Modern Languages and European Studies from the University of Southampton. 

Executive Team


Jo Coton

Jo Coton is the Chief Executive Officer for NET Academies Trust.

With a proven track record of effective and rapid school improvement, Jo has a breadth of leadership and strategic experience across the primary phase. Prior to her role of CEO, Jo took up the post of Executive Headteacher of the Harlow cluster of NET Academy schools in January 2015 when her three schools converted to academy status having previously been categorised by Ofsted as Special Measures. Jo has successfully led the schools for the past two and a half years, during which time there has been significant improvement. The achievements in Essex have recently been recognised by Ofsted following inspections, and saw three of the Harlow-based academies are now rated Good or Outstanding across all criteria. Inspectors highlighted leadership and management as outstanding and personal development, behaviour and welfare as particular strengths. Longwood Primary Academy and Nursery in Harlow was recently awarded ‘Employer of the Year’ by the TES.

Jo is also a trained Ofsted inspector which has benefitted her professional practice evaluating the quality and standard of education in a range of settings. As a qualified primary teacher Johas over 20 years’ experience in Education and has held many positions of responsibility and leadership within schools, Jo has particular expertise in English, teaching and learning, safeguarding and leadership and management; she has led school improvement work both locally and nationally. Jo holds the professional qualification for school inspectors and the national professional qualification for headship. Jo’s teaching has taken her across the globe and she spent some time teaching in Australia.

Jen Taaffe

Jen Taaffe is the Chief Operating Officer for NET Academies Trust.

As part of the Trust’s Executive Board, she leads the business support functions of the Trust and business management at an academy level, including HR, Administration, Operations, IT Services, Legal Services, Project Management, Public Relations and Marketing, Governance, Buildings and Site Management, including Health and Safety.

Prior to her role at NET Academies Trust, Jen worked in education recruitment for over 15 years, working with schools and headteachers as well as Local Authorities and MATs. A skilled operations manager Jen also has experience in; Senior Management teams, tender applications, financial budgeting and forecasting amongst many other attributes. Jen has pioneered and developed graduate recruitment and university drives as well as international recruitment strategies and brand developments. Jen has also been shortlisted for REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) Business Manager of the Year 2010 and holds a BSc (Hons) in Geography as well IOSH and Safer Recruitment in Education qualifications. Jen upholds high standards and achieved 100% in all quality mark inspections from REC.

As a driven and passionate individual Jen also represented her country in Netball and had 32 international caps for England, playing in World championships in Australia and South Africa. Jen also volunteered for England ‘Nets’ Netball and played a fundamental part in the successful merger of two National Governing Bodies.

Phil Norman

Phil Norman is the Finance Director of the NET Academies Trust

Phil is a chartered accountant and member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, with 12 years' experience in accountancy and finance and a background in statutory accounts and audit. Phil previously worked for 8 years as Group Financial Controller with the largest multi-academy trust in the UK, leading on development of the finance function as the group grew from 4 academies in a single county to a national organisation of over 60 academies.

James Hollinsley

James Hollinsley is the head teacher of a two form primary academy that has received both regional and national awards for mental health and wellbeing.

He is a qualified SENCO, holds the national qualification for School Inspectors (NPQSI) and an MA in Specific Learning Difficulties and Special Educational Needs. James has written pieces and collaborated with groups such as YoungMinds to develop ideas for campaign strategy and best practice in schools. He was previously Lead Professional for SEND in a London borough and is also a school governor. He has 20 years’ experience in teaching and leadership in both mainstream primary and special secondary sectors. Longwood Primary Academy, formally in Special Measures, was graded as good with outstanding leadership and management, along with Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare, in less than three years of opening.

Katherine Benson

Katherine Benson is the head of school at Abbotsweld Primary Academy – a good school with outstanding leadership and management. She is the Curriculum Leader for NET and is a cluster lead for two schools in Harlow.

Katherine is a member of the NET executive team, has completed NPSQL and has a successful background in teacher development, pedagogy and curriculum design. She has delivered courses throughout the UK and has experience in primary, all-through and international settings.

The trust’s new curriculum, led by Katherine, is set for completion by September 2019. Her innovative and pupil centred approaches to learning also include ‘Pupil Athlete Pathway’ and ‘Sense of SELF’- focussing on the holistic development of children.


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