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Our Trust

Executive Team and Support

Simon Jones

CEO

Simon Jones joined Ƶ-Academy Trust as CEO in February 2020. Simon has a wide range of experience, having worked in and with several Multi-Academy Trusts in the Midlands.

As CEO, Simon is the overall lead for all Academies within our Trust and will work closely with the DfE, The Regional Schools Commissioner, the Heads of Academy and the Directors to ensure the Trust vision is realised.

Martyn Jobling

Director of Education

Martyn joined the Trust in April 2021 and is an experienced and successful headteacher who has spent most of his career in the East Midlands; he is now using that expertise to ensure that all Ƶ academies and their students achieve their full potential.

As Director of Education, Martyn works across all sites within the Trust. He is responsible for evaluating the quality of provision and standards in each Academy.

John Fitzgerald

Chief Operating Officer

With a financial background, John was initially employed as a member of the Fairfax Finance Department. Upon conversion to a MAT in 2014, John became Director of Finance and in more recent years he was promoted to Chief Operating Officer (COO).

As COO, John works closely with other members of the Ƶ Executive Team to map out the strategic direction of the Trust; he then works across all sites within the Trust to ensure that the strategic vision is implemented. He is responsible for line managing several business functions including HR, Payroll, Estates, IT, Finance and Design.

Joanne Nicklin

Human Resources Director

Jo has worked in education for over eight years and was previously involved in working with another Multi- Academy Trust through its conversation from a Single Academy Trust through to a medium-sized Trust with over 700 staff.

Prior to this, Jo worked in the private sector in a software development company; it was during this time she gained her Level 7 Post Graduate Diploma in Human Resources Management.

At Ƶ, Jo will be working with the central Human Resources function to streamline current and create new processes and support mechanisms to ensure that the employee life cycle works to support the needs of our Trust, and therefore, the students in its care.

Simone Gannon

Executive Assistant

Simone joined Ƶ in its founding year – 2014. Prior to this, she had a career spanning over two decades managing events, sales and marketing in luxury brand hotels.

As Executive Assistant she supports the CEO’s Office and has embraced the necessary changes and developments as the Trust has evolved.

Simone is been responsible for building and developing systems for all centralised information and documents including Trust governance, policies, website maintenance and the Ƶ Intranet. The role also involves being the key communication link between the Central Office Team and all internal and external stakeholders.

Rachel Sullivan

Governance & Compliance Officer

Rachel joined Ƶ-Academy Trust in March 2021 in a General Administrative role, supporting the Executive Team and subsequently adding Clerking for the Trust Board to her responsibilities in September 2022.

Rachel moved to the position of Governance and Compliance Officer from September 2023 and continues to support the Trust Board in committee meetings and panels. In addition, Rachel is responsible for ensuring suitable governance arrangements are in place to support the on-going development and ultimate operation of the Trust Board and Academies

Our Trust

Education and School Improvement Team

Ian McNeilly

Trust Improvement Advisor

Ian McNeilly joined Ƶ-Academy Trust in September 2022 as a part-time consultant to add further capacity to the team.

Ian is a very experienced and highly-effective educationalist and executive leader with a long track record of successfully supporting leaders to improve their schools and trusts.

He has held several prominent roles in education, including five years as a former Senior His Majesty’s Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills at Ofsted and four years as the CEO of a multi-academy trust.

Ian supports and advises the Ƶ executive and school leaders to help them achieve their vision. Improving the life chances of children, particularly those who are disadvantaged, is always at the centre of his advice and decision making

Karen Cornell

Trust Pastoral Lead

As Trust Pastoral Lead, Karen is committed to the Trust vision to enrich lives and transform futures so that all children are able to be the best they can be. Karen has dedicated the majority of her career to developing expertise in the key areas of safeguarding, behaviour and attitudes and all areas of pastoral care and she will utilise these skills to support and guide the schools within the trust so that they are able to safeguard and provide the best possible pastoral provision for our students.

Debbie Bunn

Trust Professional Learning Lead

Deborah Bunn joined Fairfax Academy in 2012 and became Principal of Fairfax Academy in 2014, the founding year of Ƶ-Academy Trust. Following eight years in post as Principal, she joined the Central Team as Trust Professional Learning and Wellbeing Lead.

As a former AST and SLE, CPD has always been a passion of Deborah’s and she is committed to working with school colleagues to ensure they have access to the best professional learning available. Along with a wellbeing offer that equips them to thrive in a busy school environment, the Trust professional learning offer enables Ƶ staff to deliver the highest quality provision to students across the schools.

Rebecca Richardson-Power

Trust SEND Lead


Rebecca joined Fairfax Trust in September 2023.  She has previously been a Head of Department in History before moving into SEND. Rebecca has been a qualified SENCO since 2013 and in her last role was a successful Assistant Head Teacher in charge of Inclusion – working within SEN and the More-Able cohort.  

She has extensive SEND knowledge and is also a qualified Level 3 Assessor for Access Arrangements, with a special interest in neurodiversity.  Rebecca also has vast leadership experience and has managed many departments, ranging from curriculum to EAL and SEND.  Rebecca has experience in advisory work, both abroad and domestically, to share strategies and support for SEND and high ability learners.

As an Academy Improvement advisor for SEND, she works across all academies in the Trust, supporting SENCos to achieve the best possible outcomes for all students. 

Michelle Rabicano

Academy Improvement Advisor - English and Literacy

Michelle has over 20 years’ experience of teaching English and has a track record of supporting English departments in inner-city schools to achieve excellent outcomes. She has extensive leadership experience, having been a Head of English for ten years and then a senior leader for five years. Michelle is passionate about equipping learners with strong literacy skills as she believes that these are key to success not just in English, but across all subjects.

As Academy Improvement Advisor for English and Literacy, Michelle works across all academies in the Trust, supporting the English and Literacy leaders to achieve the best possible outcomes for the learners.

Natalie Thompson

Academy Improvement Advisor - Maths and Numeracy

Natalie has taught maths for over 20 years, with the last 17 years in a school in Staffordshire, with the ambition that all children leave formal education with the mathematical tools needed for their next stage in life. She has a strong belief that all students can achieve in maths given the right support. Natalie has ten years of leadership experience as a head of department, six of which were also serving as a member of the senior leadership team.

In this role, Natalie works across all academies in the Trust, supporting the Math’s and Numeracy Leaders to achieve the best possible outcomes for all students.

Our Trust

Central Operations Team

Gemma Wyle

Finance Business Partner

In September 2016 , Gemma was employed as Finance Manager for Erdington Academy just as Erdington joined Ƶ Academy Trust. With a long history of retail finance experience, Gemma was able to support the transition of Erdington into Academy status and then went on to support Fairfax Academy also. As part of the Trusts centralisation programme in 2020, Gemma secured her current role as Finance Business Partner.

Gemma’s role is predominantly to provide a proactive, forward-thinking, trust-minded, competent and consistent Finance service across the Trust and contribute to the overall success of the Finance department. To support the strategic development of each academy by working closely with the Academy and Trust Leadership to enable effective decision making and achievement of Academy aims.

Safina Mahmood

Trust Accountant

Safina Mahmood is a fully qualified member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and joined Ƶ in April 2020 as a Trust Accountant when centralisation began. Safina has a wide range of experience as previously worked both as an internal and external Auditor.

As a Trust Accountant, Safina oversees and undertakes the key elements of financial administration of the Trust, produces monthly management accounts for all academies and the central function playing a key role in monitoring budgets within the Trust. Co-ordinates both internal and external financial audits and the preparation of statutory financial returns.

Robert Fitzgerald

Information and Systems Manager

Rob is the Information and Systems Manager & Data Protection Officer (DPO) of the Trust. His role involves providing business intelligence and educational information to a wide range of audiences, including the Board of Directors. He is also responsible for overseeing the data protection responsibilities of the Trust.

Keeley Clarke

Graphic Designer


As Graphic Designer, Keeley is responsible for the production of high quality, creative graphic art work/web content material for use throughout all of the Academies. Her artwork ensures that the Trust’s ethos and vision is conveyed whilst continuallymaintaining and raisingthe profile of the Trust.

Brian Fox

Trust Health & Safety Manager

Prior to joining the Central Office Team, Brian was Premises Manager at Fairfax.

In his role as Trust Health and Safety Manager, Brian will manage all aspects of the day to day management of health and safety matters across the Trust.

Oliver Marsh

Trust Estates Lead

Previously Site Lead at Fairfax Academy, Oli joined the Ƶ Central Team as Trust Estates Lead in January in 2022.

Working with Site Teams and Principals at each Academy, Oli is responsible for ensuring the delivery of the Core Offer, Asset Management Plan, and improvement of each Academy site, so as to maintain high standards across all sites for students, staff, and visitors; ultimately giving Ƶ students the best possible learning environment.

Claire Clarke

HR Business Partner

Claire joined the Trust in January 2023. She was previously employed in the Charity Sector for 14 years, were she worked as a HR Business Partner for the last 7 years, developing their HR department, driving process improvement, through digital and standardisation of practices centrally.Claire brings many transferrable skills to the Education Sector, having worked with safeguarding legislation throughout her previous role.

At Ƶ, Claire is working with the Central Human Resources function to provide a proactive, forward-thinking, trust-minded, competent and consistent HR service across the Trust and contribute to the overall success of the HR department by leading the HR team.

Claire will truly partner with the Trust’s Academies, which is an exciting development for the Trust and our HR function.