Cambridge Primary Education Trust is governed by a board of trustees made up of business people and educational specialists.
The board of trustees is responsible for monitoring and ensuring standards and achievement across the Trust’s schools; efficiency and effectiveness of executive leadership and services across the schools; and the strategic direction of the Trust as it responds to local and national demands and policy.
Board of Trustees
Chief Executive Officer and Executive Principal
Following extensive teaching experience working in schools in London, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, Lesley Birch was appointed Headteacher at Histon & Impington Junior School in 2001. Lesley became a National Leader of Education in 2009, and subsequently the Junior School was designated as a National Support School, working with other schools to enhance and improve educational standards. Lesley helped pave the way towards the formation of CPET on 1st December 2012 and was appointed as Executive Principal in September 2014. CPET schools have subsequently benefited from the freedoms and flexibilities of academy status, sharing best practice and working together in order to secure excellence for all pupils, all under Lesley’s directorship.
Chair of Trustees
John brings a wealth of experience to his role as Chair of Cambridge Primary Education Trust. His career began in Her Majesty's Forces, where he gained a commission and specialised in managing difficult and challenging situations, across a range of diverse and complex areas. Before retiring, he spent twenty three years in Local Government as a Head of Service, where he gained considerable experience in the workings of Local and National Government.
Vice Chair and Chair of Finance and Premises Committee
Robert has been a Trustee of Cambridge Primary Education Trust since its formation in December 2012. He is currently the Vice Chair of the Trust and also Chair of the Finance and Premises Committee. Robert has lived in the neighbouring village of Histon since 1997 and has worked in Cambridge, as a VAT consultant, since 1996. He is married to Carol and has four children, all of whom attended Histon & Impington Infant School and Histon & Impington Junior School. Robert joined the local governing body of the Junior School in September 2016 and served as Chair from October 2008 to November 2016.
Roberto is an Associate Professor in Cognitive Psychology at UCL – Institute of Education, in the Department of Psychology and Human Development, and the Director of UCL Multilanguage and Cognition research laboratory (MULTAC). His main research area is second language acquisition and its effects on the brain and cognitive development across the whole lifespan, from infancy to older age. Roberto has published more than 30 scientific articles and two books in the field of Psycholinguistics. After being a member of the School Advisory Board at the Histon and Impington Brook Primary School, he joined the Trust in September 2021. He brings his research experience with the primary aim to link educational sciences to practice in education.
Chair of Personnel Committee
Penny Todman has 45 years’ experience in education, throughout which she has shown a commitment to improving the quality of learning for young people. She has taught in primary schools in Cambridgeshire throughout her career, including at Histon and Impington Junior School between 1985-1989. Following this she became a headteacher at two primary schools in the county with three Ofsted reports praising her leadership and management. During her time at St Luke’s she trained as an Ofsted inspector and chaired the local network of primary and secondary schools. Most recently, Penny has been working as an independent consultant delivering delivering and assessing all aspects of the national programmes for aspiring headteachers and higher level teaching assistants throughout the region. She also co-ordinated a national research project for the DfES on collaborations between schools.
A Chartered Management Accountant with over 35 years’ experience Kevin has worked at director level for a number of large multinational companies. He has wide ranging expertise in Finance, IT, HR and Logistics. Working internationally Kevin knows how to manage cross functional teams and how important change management is in all business environments. He has a strong focus on systems and processes.
During his career he has successfully managed a vast number of IT projects including the selection and implementation of ERP and CRM systems. Kevin is currently Finance Director for a global pharmaceutical company responsible for all back office functions for the UK subsidiary.
Simon is a governance expert having more than 20 years’ experience working with Boards Executives designing or driving improvements in organisational corporate governance and risk management. Simon has a strong track record of ensuring a golden thread runs throughout organisations by creating effective governance structures, systems, and processes to support the delivery of corporate strategies.
Simon is currently a Director in the NHS and has developed governance handbooks, easy reference guides and compliance strategies to help embed a culture of effective governance and robust performance management. He has mentored executives, managers, clinicians, and non-executive directors to support them in their roles.
Simon believes that inspiring primary aged children to want to learn, understand and explore our world is perhaps the greatest gift we can give.
Daniel has lived in Cambridge since 1990 and has 6 children. He is a great believer of learning languages and experiencing different cultures. He began his career in the cities of both London and New York and from there went to live in Spain, farming melons and vegetables to supply the UK multiples.. Daniel then joined the family produce company and went into partnership with a large US supermarket forming a joint strategy to create a 2 billion supply platform. He became a NED and investor with a forensic computer business which he took to the market and then created a London property development. Following this, he took time to build his home in Cambridge and diversified into other businesses. He has been a school governor for a year and is very impressed with the commitment and abilities of all education colleagues.
Mark has many years experience working with international FTSE 100 companies and other organisations including 5 memorable years living in China. He has held positions as Managing Director, Director and Non-Executive Director and has worked with charitable organisations. He has overseen divisional businesses and multi million £ investments including IT systems, construction projects and change management programs. Effective risk management and governance processes have been central to his success as has the recruitment and retention of talented staff. He is passionate about continuous education and self development. Living in Cambridgeshire for the last 30 years, with his wife and two children, Mark has witnessed the rapid growth of the region and the challenges and opportunities this presents. He has 3 grandchildren under the age of 10 and a daughter who is a primary school teacher.
Mark began his teaching career as an English teacher at the Deacon’s School in Peterborough, then become the Second in English at the Jack Hunt School, Peterborough before being promoted to Head of English at Sawtry Community College in Cambridgeshire. In January 2003, he was appointed as the Vice Principal of Swavesey Village College. It was through the Gaining Ground project that Mark was asked by Peterborough City Council and Cambridge Meridian Education Trust to take on the Interim Headship of the troubled Orton Longueville School (OLS) in Peterborough. A team from Swavesey joined Mark at OLS and after four terms of continual, rapid improvement, the re-branded Nene Park Academy became CMAT’s first sponsored academy with Mark as the Principal. After the tragic loss of his close friend, professional mentor and CEO of CMAT, Martin Bacon, Mark was appointed as the CEO of the CMAT to deliver the vision they had established together. Under Mark’s leadership, the Trust has grown from two academies to its current size. Mark has been a member of both the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Schools Forums for several years. Mark is a governor of Woodston Primary School, Peterborough and he is a member of the Whole Education Steering Committee and a qualified peer reviewer. Recently, at the request of the DfE, Mark has supported a number of events for newly founded multi-academy trusts – enthusiastically sharing all of the mistakes he hopes never to make again.
John-Mark is an experienced educator in both Primary and higher education settings. He began his career in education as a TEFL teacher and enjoyed teaching English to students from a range of diverse countries and cultures. After gaining a PGCE at The University of Cambridge, he spent several years teaching across EYFS, KS1 and KS2 in a number of middle and senior leadership roles. During his time working in schools, John-Mark worked as an Assistant Headteacher in two contrasting settings and was also seconded to support various school improvement projects across the local area. He was a Leading Teacher of Literacy and EAL for Cambridgeshire and a Specialist Leader of Education for Primary English, EAL and Initial Teacher Education. He also worked as a lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University where he taught on the BA (Hons) Primary Education Studies degree. John-Mark is currently Deputy Course Manager of the Primary PGCE at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. His main research interests include Primary English; pedagogy surrounding the teaching of children who speak English as an additional language; Primary languages and the professional learning of teachers.
Darren began his teaching career 1994 in Hertfordshire working in Cuffley and Bishop’s Stortford before moving to Harlow in Essex in 1999. He moved back to Thorn Grove Primary in Bishop’s Stortford as Deputy Headteacher in 2001 before moving to Kedington in Suffolk as Headteacher in 2006. Through 2 successful Ofsted inspections including an Outstanding judgement in 2011, he began outreach work for Suffolk LA with other schools as a Local Leader in Education. Darren was appointed as Director of Primary Education for the Samuel Ward Academy Trust in January 2015, at that point a Trust of 7 schools including 3 primary schools. Since then the Trust has grown in size and reputation, changing its name to Unity Schools Partnership. USP currently has 22 schools, 15 of which are Primary schools, with further schools joining or being opened from new over the next 12 months. Darren is a governor at Newmarket Academy and is Chair of Governors at Wickhambrook Primary Academy.
CPET Board Pecuniary Interests and Attendance Register
A record of pecuniary and other interests of our current and recently serving Trustees, and our committee members along with their attendance at meetings is provided here: