Members and Board of Trustees

Tony Nelson - Interim Chief Executive Officer


Penelope Dent - Trustee and Chair

I am delighted to have been appointed as the Chair of the Board of Trustees, as I feel I have the experience, commitment and time to fulfil this role. I have almost 20 years’ experience of governance across a range of schools, both primary and secondary. My early career was in HR and general management, before working for the education sector, focusing on special educational needs. I set up and ran a successful business for 20 years, eventually selling this company to my management team. Having worked as a Business Advisor for a few years, I retired early. This has given me more time to focus on a variety of voluntary work, writing and playing with all my dogs; I have six Border Collies, who keep me very busy!

Wayne Preston - Trustee and Chair of PFF Committee

Wayne graduated with BA (Hons) Public Administration and entered the NHS Finance Graduate Training Scheme in the early 1990’s. He has worked in the NHS for over 30 years, and has held numerous senior roles including Transformation Director, Finance Director, Deputy Finance Director, Corporate Charitable Trustee and currently is a Commercial Director. He is a Qualified Accountant and well experienced as a member of Boards, Audit, Finance and Charitable Funds Committees as well as wider corporate governance structures. He has experience as both an Executive and a Non-executive Director.

Out of work he enjoys running, and in his 50th year on the planet ran the equivalent of the length of the Red Sea for a local charity (1398 miles).

Emma Gough - Trustee

Emma has worked in Education for over 11 years and her current role as ICT Contract and Project Manager is within a Trust Central team supporting 16 schools. Her main areas of expertise are Facilities, ICT, Health & Safety, Customer Service, Procurement and Governance. Emma grew up in Milton Keynes and is passionate about the city.

Sasha Gudgeon - Trustee

Sasha has over 8 years’ experience working in Human Resources and currently works at Milton Keynes City Council as an HR Business Partner for Adult Social Care. She works closely with managers and senior leaders to assist with building their people capability, enabling colleagues to provide the best possible service for the residents of Milton Keynes to make a positive difference. Prior to working at the city council, she worked within the education sector at 5 Dimensions Trust as their HR Manager.

Before embarking on a career in HR, Sasha worked in the recruitment industry for over 10 years, providing recruitment solutions for SMEs as well as large private and public sector organisations.

Julia Kedwards - Trustee

Julia Kedwards is the Chief Executive Officer of Northampton Primary Academy Trust (NPAT).   Julia has worked in education for over 30 years after beginning her career in Southall, West London before moving to Northampton where she eventually became Headteacher of Ecton Brook Primary School, a larger than average split site primary school in Northampton.  Julia is a founding member of NPAT and has led the evolution of the trust from its original five schools to its current position, establishing a central team and developing clear strategies for the development of the education, finance, operations and growth functions.

Julia was awarded an OBE for her work in the Queens New Year’s Honours List 2018.

Kevin Roberts - Trustee

Kevin is an experienced leader with a background in the public and private sectors. He is a qualified Management Accountant.  He is currently a non executive director with a government body where he chairs the Audit Committee and advises on good corporate governance.

His last full time role was Director General of the National Farmers Union. He has also merged government bodies and created new ones. More recently he has held a number of non executive roles. He has previously served as a Government Accounting Officer.

Phil Webster - Trustee

Phil has been the Headteacher at New Bradwell School for 14 years, leading the school from satisfactory to outstanding during his first 4 years at the school. Under his leadership New Bradwell has both grown (expanding from two to three form entry) and continued to evolve and enrich the broad curriculum it offers and the way that it meets the diverse needs of children (with significant growth in the department that it runs for children with autism). He was instrumental in the formation of the Grand Union Partnership and working with the initial members and trustees to establish the Trust.

As a National Leader of Education (NLE) he has supported six schools in the local area (MK and South Northants), working with them to secure school improvement. Phil’s work has encouraged the school teams he has worked with to reflect on their practice and improve the outcomes that children in these schools achieve and the richness of the curriculum experiences that they access.

Joanne Wright - Trustee

Jo has worked in the education sector for over 25 years, the majority of this time spent working in the secondary sector firstly as a School Business Manager and for the last 5 years as CFO of a small, high performing multi-academy trust.  Jo has extensive experience in operational and change management and has a great understanding of the challenges faced by schools. She also has 15 years governance experience and was Chair of Finance for many years at her local secondary school.

Outside of work Jo has a love of travelling and experiencing other cultures and has notched up over 60 countries to date!

Jim Hudson OBE  – Member

Jim's career has included being Head of Two Mile Ash school (where he received his OBE for services to Education) and Director of Education at both the Cognita and Minerva Independent School Groups.

He has also been an Advisor to OFSTED, the National College for School Leadership, and the Teacher Training Agency.  He founded NASBTT (The National Association of School Based Teacher Trainers) and was Chairman of OSCITT (the Outstanding Schools School-Centred Initial Teacher Training Consortium)

Chris Wigglesworth - Member


Richard Smith – Member

Richard Smith is a Chartered Accountant with over 30 years’ experience of guiding businesses through challenging environments. His responsibilities have included finance and accounting, human resources, IT, facilities management and pensions. He is currently Chief Financial Officer, European Operations at Thrive, an international IT Services company specialising in managing and securing critical IT infrastructure for the Defence, Public and Financial Services Sectors.

Richard graduated from the University of Birmingham with a BSc (Hons) in Mathematical Sciences.

Justine Ives – Member

Justine is Leader of Projects and Place at Bedford Borough Council. She was previously Chair of Kents Hill school and an MKET Trustee.

David Gibson – Member

David has over a decade of Education experience and is currently CFO at Northampton Primary Academy Trust. He was previously COO and CFO at MKET and Finance Director and Operations Director for Cognita Schools Ltd who operated 40 independent schools across the UK.

He has considerable other commercial experience having held senior finance and operations roles in a variety of industries including; COO of Igloo Books Ltd, Finance Director of Tenpin Ltd, Divisional Finance Director at Scottish and Newcastle plc, Finance Director BSI Management Systems.

A qualified Chartered Management Accountant with an Accounting degree from Birmingham University he has also been a Vice Chair and governor at a Northampton primary school that his children attended.