Business Operations Team

Lynne Hyland

Head of Finance

Maria Phillips

Finance Manager

Maria has 13 years experience in School Administration. She is committed to developing her knowledge of School Business Administration and has achieved a Certificate in School Business Management. Maria leads Finance across the trust and her responsibilities include building and monitoring a fit for purpose budget, with input from senior leaders, ensuring that financial procedures are followed and maintained. She implements procedural changes as and when required and reports on finance to the senior leadership team and Directors . Maria is determined to helping provide the best possible education for children within the trust whilst always seeking ‘value for money’ options.

Since the Trust has been formed Maria has successfully worked with the accountants meeting all given deadlines. In addition, she is responsible for meeting with the responsible office to ensure compliance. Maria works closely with the accounting officer to ensure that the financial aspects of the Primary Academies Trust run smoothly and efficiently.

Simon Levi

Head of Human Resources

Simon is our first Head of HR. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development and has extensive HR and business experience across a number of sectors. Simon has extensive experience of improving performance through effective people management practices. Simon firmly believes that good HR policies and practices leads to improved outcomes for pupils and it is his ambition that the Trust continually evolves in its ongoing quest to be a great place to work.

Simon’s role involves the strategic oversight of HR which includes key areas such as recruitment, advice, HR policies, attendance, diversity and employee engagement. Simon has experience in both generalist and specialist areas of HR. In his earlier career Simon provided strategic HR oversight for a growing company in the automotive industry leading them to secure Investors in People recognition. More recently Simon was accountable for building capability and improving the skills base of large areas of the civil service. Before joining the Trust Simon was accountable for reward, payroll and the provision of HR services for the Rural Payments Agency. This wide ranging experience in all key areas of HR places Simon is a strong position to enable the Trust continually improve in its aspiration to be an employer of choice.

Emma Hunt

HR Manager

Emma has considerable experience in school administration, having led administration teams across five schools and having previously acted as Company Secretary to the Board of Directors. These roles have enabled Emma to develop a clear view of school strategic leadership and an in-depth knowledge of governance as well as an overall knowledge of the staff in the schools.

Emma’s background as a Graduate and Supply Officer with the Royal Navy has given her excellent leadership skills, a ‘can do’ approach and a natural capacity to adapt to change in a constantly evolving and dynamic environment. Emma has had much experience of recruitment and personnel work in the private and public sectors. She was also a pivotal member of staff when converting Woodwater Academy to sponsored academy status in Autumn 2012.

Emma is committed to ensuring that the best HR practice is delivered across all the schools; that recruitment, training and appraisal processes are maintained and that good relations are established with all staff in the business.

Sally Richards

Company Secretary

Sally's background is in law. She trained as a solicitor and worked in London and abroad for 12 years. She took an extended career break when she moved to Devon to raise her family and during that time undertook a variety of voluntary roles for local charities. Since then she has expanded on her portfolio of skills working with troubled families in a Family Assessment Centre, working as a Company Administrator at an arts and food venue and as Clerk to the local governing body of her local school. Sally brings to this role her ability for logical and analytical thinking, her efficiency and her organisational skills together with her passion for each child to have the opportunity to reach its potential.

Sharon Samuel

HR Manager

Sharon is an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a Psychology graduate. As an experienced business/HR professional across the private and public sector, she is used to working in a fast paced environment, working closely with senior leadership teams to support the delivery of business strategies and targets. Her experience includes employee engagement, performance management, delivery of soft skills training (transactional analysis), coaching line managers, reviewing HR policies and HR processes.
Her previous roles include HR Advisor at Landmark Information Group, a division of DMGT plc, together with extensive experience of working with schools as an Employee Reward Advisor across Devon. Sharon also worked as a Business Manager covering 17 schools in West Devon, and a governor for a large secondary school.
At Ventrus, Sharon is responsible for providing support in the various human resource functions. These may include organisational design and development, performance management, reward, diversity, employee engagement, managing staff attendance and management information. She fully supports collaborative working and is committed to the Trust's core values.