Board of Trustees

The CEO is an ex officio Trustee of the Board together with a number of non-executive Trustees who bring a wide variety of skills and experience.

PositionNameDate of appointmentDate of resignationBusiness and pecuniary interests*Attendance at Board meetings 2018/19 Academic Year
Chair of TrusteesHugh Whittaker26.11.11n/aShareholder in Devon Green & Blue Ltd, Jewells Ltd, Hotter Logs Ltd 3/6
Executive TrusteeGary Chown24.10.11n/aGovernor at Pilton Community College and Clyst Hydon Primary School3/6
Non-executiveRebecca Roberts14.10.1312.12.18Employee of OTB Eveling, solicitors2/6
LGB RepresentativeAdrian Gicquel26.03.1512.11.18Governor at Bickleigh-on-Exe Primary School, Director Devon Railway Centre Ltd 0/6
FoundationCaroline Thomas12.02.15n/aOwner of business, Caroline S Thomas Accountancy and Music 3/6
FoundationJasmin Norton27.09.17n/a3/6
Member AppointedDavid Edwards03.10.18n/a3/6
Member AppointedMac Muzvimwe12.12.18n/a2/6
LGB RepresentativeClare Luke12.12.18n/a2/6
Member AppointedNathalie Ingles12.12.18n/a2/6
Co-opted TrusteeTina Jafrate30.01.18n/a1/6

* including governance roles in other educational establishments

Trustee Profiles

Hugh Whittaker

Chair of Board of Trustees

Hugh works as a Business Performance Specialist, supporting SME sector businesses and their people with bespoke development solutions. He has previously been a Director in Internet Marketing and Consultancy businesses. For over 20 years Hugh has been a member of the IGD and held various leadership positions within the country's leading retailers and was accountable for the Leadership, Management and P&L delivery of up to £110,000,000 per annum businesses. During this time he managed up to 24 direct reports and wider teams of up to 1,000 colleagues and achieved the top performing executive across an entire £3 Billion per annum turnover retail business.

Hugh has a passion for improving outcomes for children, collaborative working and team development and brings his work based experience to support and drive the development and performance of the Trust.

Gary Chown

Executive Trustee

Gary is one of the founding members of Ventrus (formerly The Primary Academies Trust). Gary is committed to Partnership working and prior to his current role he led the Devon Association of Primary Headteachers whilst also developing his own partnership of improving and successful schools. He has extensive school leadership experience and a strong, proven track record of school improvement. As an Executive Headteacher Gary has led five different schools through seven full inspections. At every one of those inspections the schools grading improved from its previous inspection grade. Ofsted have described Gary as an “exceptional Headteacher”. Gary has been commissioned on many occasions by the Local Authority to support and lead schools that are under-performing. Gary also has a great deal of multi-agency experience and his work as the strategic Lead for a cluster of children centres has been described as “inspirational” by the Chief Executive of Barnados. Gary has a passion for teacher training and development and he still finds time to act as a visiting lecturer on PGCE and BEd programmes for the University of Plymouth.

Caroline Thomas

Non-executive Foundation Trustee

Caroline brings a wealth of financial experience to the Trust. Caroline was a partner in a local firm of Chartered Accountants, having been head of forensic accountancy in the local office for several years. As a Chartered Accountant and member of the Academy of Experts, she has provided forensic accountancy and expert witness services across the UK and Channel Islands for over 10 years.

Prior to developing her specialism in forensic work, Caroline was heavily involved in the audit of charities and charitable companies, overseeing the implementation of the Charities SORP 2000 for her clients. Since that time, she has retained an enthusiasm for the voluntary sector, undertaking gratuitous accountancy work for a handful of local charitable organisations.

Caroline is also a qualified commercial mediator and finds these skills invaluable in many aspects of life, including the workplace and within the setting of various committee meetings.

In order to accommodate her young family, Caroline now involves herself in a variety of accountancy based roles; including a consultancy in forensic accountancy, fund accounting, voluntary accountancy work and her self-employed Chartered Accountancy business comprising a small portfolio of hand-picked clients.

Caroline has a keen interest in children and education, partly as a result of having school aged children herself, but also in her role as a part-time peripatetic music teacher in local primary and secondary schools.

Jasmin Norton

Non-executive Foundation Trustee

Jasmin is a Relationship Director for NatWest Commercial Bank where she specialises in Property Investment & Development Finance managing a book of over £80m. Prior to this role she was involved in managing the funding and transactional requirements of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises across Devon, and was involved in complex strategic financial advice and planning for her clients. An important part of her role is coaching, and as a developer of talent she is passionate in her desire to empower others to achieve personal and group goals. She is a proactive supporter of diversity as she considers that different view points only serve to enhance the understanding of people’s beliefs, values and culture, and what matters most to them. She firmly believes that opportunity and acceptance should be extended to everyone no matter their background or circumstance.

David Edwards

Non-executive Trustee

David’s background is in teaching. He began his career teaching visually impaired children for nine years and then moved into main stream primary schools. Promotion led to deputy headship and eventually 13 years as headteacher in two contrasting primary schools. David also offers 10 years’ experience as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors – retired September 2017. David brings up to date expertise in special education inspection, the Ofsted framework and years of expertise as an inspector, working in primary and secondary schools. He will support Ventrus in offering the highest levels of rigour in monitoring pupil outcomes, leadership and management (including governance), teaching learning and assessment, safeguarding, behaviour and pupils’ well-being.

Nathalie Ingles

Non-executive Trustee

Nathalie is a solicitor with Foot Anstey where she specialises in employment law. Nathalie acts for employers on a diverse range of contentious and non-contentious employment law matters, including day to day employee relations issues, employment tribunal litigation, complex reorganisation and change exercises, share incentive schemes and corporate support.

With a family background in teaching and having a young family herself, Nathalie has a strong interest in supporting and developing the education of children in Devon and helping to ensure equality of opportunity for all.

Clare Luke

Non-executive Trustee

Clare has over 20 years’ experience within a People and Business discipline. As an HR and Change practitioner she fully understands the challenges and opportunities faced by business leaders within a complex and continually changing operating environment.

Clare launched her own consultancy Class HR in September 2017 and works in partnership with clients to develop creative people practices. As a qualified Executive Coach, she has a passion for supporting people through the process of career and change transition; creating an environment where people can recognise their inner strength and potential for the future.

Clare previously ran a successful dance academy across the South West with over 120 children. This sparked a desire to support the education and development of children across the region, to ensure every child can be their brilliant best !

Mac Muzvimwe

Non-executive Trustee

Mac Muzvimwe is a chartered quantity surveyor and Building Information Modelling (BIM) practitioner with over 20 years’ experience in all aspects of construction cost and commercial management and strategic BIM consultancy. Key experience includes commercial management of construction and engineering capital projects for both public and private sector clients, including business case and funding applications. He also has over 7 years’ office/ business management, including line and team management, business planning, business development, recruitment, etc. and currently works for a global multi-disciplinary consultancy business as a key member of the South West business leadership team. Since 2005, he has volunteered as a STEM Ambassador working with various organisations to promote construction and engineering to schools, and offering work experience placements to secondary school children.