Central Services Team

Josephine valentineDr Josephine Valentine OBE


A Head for 20 years, Josephine has been a National Leader in Education since 2008.

Dr Valentine was Headteacher of St Clement Danes School in Chorleywood for 20 years before taking on the role of CEO full time in January 2018. After a PhD in Oral Histopathology and time as a teacher of science, Dr Valentine held the roles of Head of Science, Head of Sixth Form and Deputy Head at a range of schools before becoming Headteacher of St Clement Danes in 1998. Under her leadership, the school expanded whilst becoming ever more oversubscribed and outcomes improved; the school’s results are regularly amongst the very best in Hertfordshire and the country. In October 2011 the school received an ‘outstanding’ grading from Ofsted for all 31 aspects of school provision and performance. 

She is an official DfE Academy Sponsor and DfE Education Adviser and was the lead proposer in the application to open Croxley Danes School. She leads the Herts & Bucks Teaching School Alliance and local Challenge Partners Hub and is also a member of the DfE’s Headteacher Reference Group, the Regional Schools Commissioner’s MAT Reference Group and more recently has been appointed Sub-Regional Lead for the NWLSC (North West London South Central) West Region (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) Teaching Schools.

She provides expert advice and coaching for Headteachers about all aspects of leadership and is responsible for the outcomes of schools across the Trust. In 2019, she was awarded the OBE for Service to Education.

Pippa bremnerPippa Bremner

Trust Development Director

Pippa has over 25 years of experience in primary education, and has taught all three key stages (EYFS, KS1 and KS2).

An experienced leader, she has a proven track record of effective school improvement as the Headteacher of two schools in Hertfordshire. In her most recent headship, she led a school previously placed into special measures, prior to her appointment, to an Ofsted grading of good, within a very short time frame.  With leadership judged to be outstanding, Pippa was appointed to the role of District Schools Effectiveness Adviser for the Three Rivers District (2013-15). As a School Improvement Partner, she supported school leaders in all aspects of accurate self-evaluation and she is skilled in conducting school reviews. She worked with HMIs to support schools requiring rapid improvement and disseminated excellent practice through training and consultancy. Pippa is experienced in recruiting Headteachers and in assisting Governors in conducting Headteacher performance appraisal. Having been a Headteacher herself, Pippa recognises the importance of working in partnership with school leaders to ensure that they are well supported and well informed through effective school improvement consultancy services.

Rachel BrindleyRachel Brindley

Trust Improvement Director

Rachel has a wealth of experience in secondary school leadership with a particular focus on developing teaching and learning.

She first joined St Clement Danes School in 1995 and has held a range of roles. As Lead Advanced Skills Teacher from 2004, she led the Advanced Skills Teachers and Excellent Teachers within St Clement Danes School and provided subject specific support for the English PGCE training programme at the University of Hertfordshire. From 2008 she re-located, working in consultancy, followed by senior leadership within two schools. Upon return to St Clement Danes in 2012, she was appointed a Specialist Leader of Education, assuming responsibility for all ITT provision. From September 2017 she succeeded Geoff Butler as Director of the Herts & Bucks Teaching School Alliance and, in September 2018 took on the additional role as School Improvement Director for the Trust.

Nicky hammondNicky Hammond

Director of Finance

Nicky has had experience of working in a Local Authority maintained school, having spent 13 years as a Business Manager in the primary sector.

In this role, she had accountability for finance, budget, human resources, procurement, catering, project management, premises and health & safety. Since joining St Clement Danes, an established academy, in January 2015, she has developed an in depth appreciation of the areas that need addressing during the academy conversion process. She has researched and implemented a new finance system with web processing for all Faculties and is, at present, installing a new payroll system to allow the Danes Educational Trust to become a payroll provider in its own right. Nicky currently manages all financial aspects of the Trust and its two trading subsidiaries, St Clement Danes Trading and Herts & Bucks Teaching School Ltd, together with keeping a tight rein on the finances for its current £5.7 million building and refurbishment projects. Nicky can offer support and advice on all budget and finance matters and has a broad knowledge of day to day life in both maintained and academy schools.

Dominic Richards roundDominic Richards

Director of Resources

Dominic has over 10 years’ experience as a School Business Manager working across both primary and secondary education sectors.

Having worked in Local Authority and Academy Trust schools he brings extensive knowledge and experience in the leadership and management of finance, resources, operations and estates.  Having implemented a £17.5 million refurbishment of a secondary school under the Building Schools for the Future programme and delivering £3 million of Conditions Improvement Fund projects, Dominic is well placed to lead and develop the estates function of the Trust. Prior to working in schools Dominic had a successful career in commercial banking during which time he developed an excellent financial and business acumen.

Marianne barlowMarianne Barlow

HR Manager

Marianne joined the Danes Educational Trust in 2017 to establish a progressive HR Department offering a comprehensive HR service to all schools across the Trust.

An HR professional with extensive experience at senior levels within the hospitality and property sectors, she has a track record of success in commercial organisations, both setting up HR departments and working in established teams. A full member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Marianne is well placed to offer advice and guidance to key stakeholders across the full range of HR areas including recruitment and selection, pay and performance, employee benefits, employee relations and engagement.

Tom phillipsTom Phillips

IT Manager

Tom has 11 years’ experience working in IT, 9 within a school environment. He has actively managed both large and small scale ICT projects (the most recent being the planning and procurement of IT for Croxley Danes School).

Having an overarching knowledge of ICT systems and technologies, he is well placed to advise on ICT matters and support schools throughout their ICT development. While always keen to look at ways of innovating within the ICT curriculum, Tom also has a keen appreciation of financial issues facing schools and has an excellent track record of providing ICT solutions which have longevity, represent value for money and benefit the greatest number of staff and students. Married to a primary school teacher and with a child of primary age, he has an understanding of the ICT needs of schools in both primary and secondary phases and an appreciation of ICT from a teacher’s perspective. Expert at explaining IT issues and solutions to non-experts, schools will quickly come to value his solution-focussed yet friendly approach.

Liz Smith

Marketing and Communications Manager

Liz is a marketing specialist with over 15 years’ experience leading international teams, delivering events, communications strategies and multi-channel marketing campaigns for international companies.

In this time, she organised book launches, film premiers, launched websites, global competitions and advised on branding for numerous high-profile companies and individuals. Liz joined the team in September 2019 to lead Marketing and Communications and is excited about sharing the work of the Trust with a wider audience and engaging with the local and online communities to tell the story of the Trust and its schools.