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Our Trustees

 Beth Taylor, Chair of the Board                                                                    

Trustee, Chair of the Board and Member
Appointed by the Members
Term of Office: 18/10/22 - 17/10/26

Beth Taylor recently retired as chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, following a varied career with the UK Department of Energy, the British National Oil Corporation, the USA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, the UK Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell, and the Institute of Physics where she was Director of Communications and International Relations.

Beth has lived in Westcot near Wantage for thirty years.  She has four grown-up children, who all attended Wantage CE Primary (where she was a parent governor) and King Alfred’s.

Chris Williams, Vice-Chair of the Board   

Trustee and Vice-Chair of the Board
Appointed by the Members
Term of Office: 19/07/20 - 18/07/24

Chris has lived and worked in Oxfordshire for over 30 years. His four children have attended both state and private schools in the county.  Chris’s career has focused primarily on HR; he was HR Director of AC Neilsen and Unipart.  During his time with Henley-based Qube Consultants he set up and developed a government-funded apprentice training company, Qube Qualifications, and has retained a keen interest in employee development and engagement.  Chris is a governor of Southwold Primary School in Bicester.

 Alan Bartlett 

Appointed by the Members
Term of Office: 28/01/23 - 27/01/27

Alan is a former digital marketing and IT consultant based in Oxfordshire. His principal areas of focus are optimising human-computer interaction, system and interface design and digital communications.based in Oxfordshire. His principal areas of focus are optimising human-computer interaction, system and interface design and digital communications.

His career, which started as a professional photographer, has included senior international marketing and communications roles with world-class brands such as Kodak, 3M and Nikon as well as a series of UK technology start-ups. He also held senior client services roles with The Training Foundation (QA), a learning and development community partner; Business & Decision, a global consulting and systems integration group; and Interakting, a leading digital communications and e-commerce agency.

Prior to retiring, Alan ran a marketing agency providing digital communications and web marketing services to a mix of corporations and not-for-profit clients.

He holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) Degree in Computing & IT Design.

Alan believes in educational excellence that inspires young people to explore and reach their full potential as individuals and members of society.

When he isn’t rescuing hedgehogs, running a car club, or attending motor sport events, Alan can be found walking (and sometimes wading) through the countryside and on Cornish beaches with his wife and their Irish Red and White setter. He has two adult daughters and three step-sons.


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  Philip Harrison                                                                                                      

Appointed by the Members
Term of Office: 11/10/21 - 10/10/25

Philip is a Chartered Surveyor who has practised in both the private and public sectors and currently manages suppliers of professional services in the roll-out and operation of national infrastructure for EE and 3.  His two children attended Trust schools from Year 1 through to Year 13.  Philip has previously volunteered for a national charity for many years providing direct support to vulnerable people.   As a Trust director, Philip is Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee which provides assurance that the Trust is properly managed. Having joined King Alfred’s Academy as a Parent Governor in 2010 he was soon seconded to St Nicholas CE Primary School after it went into Special Measures and joined the Interim Executive Board.  Subsequently, Philip became Chair of Governors before the school later joined the Trust as a ‘Good’ school – a fantastic example of partnership between secondary and primary schools and the transforming impact it can bring to the young people, the community and our staff.

 Beverley Hobbs                                                                                                      

Appointed by the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education
Term of Office: 23/10/21 - 22/10/25

Spurred on by her incredibly positive experience as a pupil at secondary school, and following graduation from Southampton University, Beverley has spent her entire career working in education.  Beverley began by teaching English to pupils aged between 11 and 18, then undertook various middle leadership roles, including assistant head of sixth form and head of year, before entering senior leadership, in 2005, as deputy headteacher.   

Beverley has served as headteacher in three schools; all mainstream, but each very different and, as a result of this experience, now works on a part-time basis as CEO in a small, but ambitious multi-academy trust.  In this role she acts as lead education professional for day-to-day operations within the trust and has responsibility for working alongside the chair of trustees to create, evolve and deliver the trust’s strategic development plan.  In addition, she line manages the head of finance and operations and the headteachers of the member schools, which enables her to maintain a detailed understanding of the challenges and opportunities experienced within both the primary and secondary phase. 

An essential aspect of her role as a headteacher and CEO has been to develop an understanding of effective governance.  Experience has taught her that the most effective governance is based upon respectful uncertainty – the best school leaders want their governors to ask good questions, rooted in a genuine interest in the important work they are doing, day-in, day-out, to secure excellence in their schools. 

Having retired from the role of full time headteacher in 2019, the additional “bandwidth” this has created has enabled Beverley to sit more regularly as a magistrate, a role to which she was appointed in that same year.  Her purpose in undertaking this voluntary activity has been to embrace new learning and to put to use some key skills developed in school leadership, such as careful listening and the processing of complex information in order to make discerning judgements.   

Not surprisingly, having served her final period of headship in a Church of England school, membership of her local church community has also had a key role to play in her personal and professional life.  As a result, she has for a number of years served as secretary on the PCC, a role which, like the magistracy, calls for an understanding of human nature - very familiar territory for anyone with experience of working in schools and leadership. 

From a personal perspective, the opportunity for Beverley to join the Board of Directors of the Vale Academy Trust arose at precisely the right moment.  With detailed experience of securing sustainable school improvement and an understanding of the value of working collaboratively as part of that process, she understands and embraces the business of building brilliant futures together.

 Alison Jestico                                                                                                     

Appointed by the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education
Term of Office: 05/07/21 - 04/07/25

Although a Chartered Accountant by qualification, Alison has spent the majority of her professional career in various organisations within the Not-for profit sector. Her first role was Finance Manager at the Downs School, a grant-maintained school in West Berkshire, and this was followed by 12 years working for Oxfam GB where she held various roles finishing as Head of Finance in the UK.  Her last role before retirement was Director of Finance for the Diocese of Oxford where she was part of the Senior Management team supporting the Diocese and its 1000 parishes, schools and chaplaincies. As part of this role, she was responsible for the financial planning and reporting for the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education. She is a member of the Audit Committee of the Oxford Diocesan School Trust, one of the Diocesan Multi Academy Trusts, and is now Chair of the Trustees of the Community of St Mary the Virgin in Wantage.

 Iain Littlejohn                                                                                           

Appointed by the Members
Term of Office : 22/02/21 - 21/02/25

Iain lives in Abingdon with his wife and three children, and runs his own management consultancy business, specialising in organisation design and change management. He has been a governor at Larkmead for seven years, and has held the position of chair of its local governing body.  Two of Ian’s children are students at the school.

Iain is also currently a director of the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA) and Oxfordshire Science Festival, and has previously served as a town councillor and as a trustee of Christ’s Hospital of Abingdon                                                                                     


Chris salt

Appointed by the Members
Term of Office: 26/01/23 - 25/01/27

Chris has recently retired, having been a teacher, former Ofsted inspector and school improvement adviser with over 42 years experience in education. He returned to the classroom in 2018 and taught A Level and GCSE Design and Technology for 3 years which brought his career full circle and gave him a fresh insight into the current pressures facing teachers, school staff and students. 

He has recently moved to East Hanney and now lives within the catchment area of the the Vale Academy Trust. As and former Local Authority Eduction Adviser, he has extensive experience and knowledge of many schools across all phases of education and specialisms, and led several multi school projects and council wide change management programmes which helped to improve the quality of education for children and young people in West London and Berkshire. He is currently a primary school governor and has previous experience of governance at secondary and special schools. 

He believes that education should be a rich, stimulating, enjoyable and an empowering experience for all, and he looks forward to supporting the Vale Academy Board of Directors as the Multi Academy Trust grows to serve more students and communities across South Oxfordshire.  

When he isn’t undertaking much loved grandparent duties, redecorating rooms in his new home, getting to grips with the garden, walking his dog across fields and along the banks of Letcombe Brook, Chris can be found sitting at his piano composing new music and playing keyboards in a number of bands!  


john tranter

Appointed by the Members
Term of Office: 0702/2023 - 06/02/2027

John studied and started working life in electrical engineering, spent 20 years working for Vodafone travelling the world setting up businesses, made a career change to be the Operations Director of St Aldates Church in Oxford for 5 years and then spent 8 years as the Bursar of St Cross College, one of the constituent Colleges of the University of Oxford.

John and his wife are members of St Aldates Church in Oxford where John is a PCC member (Trustee).
 He retired in 2022 and, having lived in Grove for over 30 years, is interested in getting more involved in community life in Wantage and Grove. He is Chair of the local leisure cycling club, Cycling UK Wantage, and Chair of a local advocacy group, Wantage and Grove Active Travel.

Former Trustees who left office in the Past twelve months


Appointed by Members

Stepped down on 31/08/2023

Kirsteen roberts

Appointed by Oxford Diocesan Board of Education

Stepped down on 31/08/2023


joe pillman

Appointed by Members

Stepped down on 31/08/23

Chris Ferguson

Appointed by the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education
Last Term of Office: 11/10/17 - 31/12/ 21



Stephen Marshall

Appointed by the Members
Stepped down on 17/06/2022



Appointed by the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education
Stepped down on 31/08/2022