Our Team

Josephine valentineDr Josephine Valentine OBE


As CEO of the Danes Educational Trust Josephine Valentine is responsible for the outcomes of schools across the Trust.

Josephine was Headteacher of St Clement Danes, an outstanding secondary school located in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire for 20 years. She was the lead proposer in the application to open Croxley Danes secondary school through the free school programme.

As a system leader she led the Herts & Bucks Teaching School Alliance and was the regional lead for Teaching Schools across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. Josephine is a member of the DfE’s Headteacher Reference Group and the Regional Schools Commissioner’s MAT Reference Group. She leads a national programme for outstanding school leaders, ‘Growing the Top’.

Josephine is a National Leader of Education and has provided school improvement support for many schools in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. She provides expert advice and coaching for Headteachers about all aspects of leadership. She is Chair of Trustees for the Brilliant Club, a charitable organisation that mobilises the national PhD community to work with and raise the aspirations of deprived students.

Josephine gained a PhD in Oral Histopathology before entering the education profession. In 2019, she was awarded the OBE for Service to Education.

Rb croppedRachel Brindley

Director of Education: Secondary

Previously a Specialist Leader of Education, a Consultant and a Vice Principal, Rachel has worked with a range of schools, local authorities, and the Teaching School Council, to drive up educational standards irrespective of socio-demographic circumstance.

Currently Director of the Herts and Bucks Teaching School Alliance and Trust Improvement Director, Rachel's role centres around best practice in collaboratively improving learner outcomes and progress. She is engaged in supporting, challenging and reviewing school performance within the Trust.

Nicky hammondNicky Hammond

Director of Finance

Nicky has over 18 Years’ experience of Finance and Business Management working in the Local Authority and the Academy sector at both Primary and Secondary level.

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

Chief Operating Officer

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.

Susan PooleSusan Poole

Head of Governance and Policy

Susan has worked in the free school movement since 2011 as a Project Manager, having managed 6 free schools to opening.

As part of that role, she has established 2 single academy trusts (SAT) and 2 multi academy trusts (MAT), creating governance structures to fit each organisation. She is a Member of a MAT, and has been a MAT trustee, and Chair of a SAT. Susan also works for the National Governance Association as a consultant and the New Schools Network as an adviser. Susan provides support and advice to all levels of governance across the Trust.

Marianne barlowMarianne Barlow

Head of Human Resources

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

Head of IT

Tom has 12 years’ experience working in IT, 10 within a school environment. He has actively managed both large and small scale ICT projects including new school builds and multi-million pound expansion projects.

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.

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.


  • 09:52 - 20/09/2021 Our first DET Dispatch of the academic year welcomes our three new primary schools; Lanchester, Jupiter and Ascot Road. We hope you enjoy getting to know them. https://t.co/318QjeMT46
  • 05:59 - 17/09/2021 Congratulations to our prize winners at last night's Speech Day with thanks to our speakers Ms Rachel Brindley, Director Of Secondary Education , MP for SW Hertfordshire & Mr Martin Day Chair of Governors https://t.co/e0pLaNAvZh
  • DanesEdTrust Image10:14 - 17/09/2021 Following a joint Primary INSET on Talk for Writing, it was fantastic to see Year 1’s at Lanchester Primary School following a story map before writing a tale… Can you guess which tale? https://t.co/rK4bH4vx9S
  • DanesEdTrust Image03:48 - 15/09/2021 We have a new opening for a Science Technician at This is a great opportunity to work in new science labs in an extremely well resourced school. For more information see the link below. https://t.co/jgFC8OCL2f https://t.co/Rt0KI0GciD
  • DanesEdTrust Image09:45 - 10/09/2021 Welcome to Chris Marks who joins us as Director of Education (Primary), leading on school improvement across our primary schools & responsible for Safeguarding, Equality & Diversity & Inclusion across all phases. Chris, we are delighted you are making the difference with us. https://t.co/ouKMgXAFWn
  • 08:39 - 08/09/2021 Thank you so much for your time and expertise for DCHS, Chris and Louisa as we develop our collaborative and rich training offer in partnership with , and . What an early evening! https://t.co/cZ7bfLxMfY
  • DanesEdTrust Image05:06 - 08/09/2021 Overjoyed to host our first live cross-trust induction, welcoming over 70 colleagues from our nine schools. CEO Josie Valentine’s opening address reminds us of our responsibility to inspire and create joy https://t.co/CvKhgVSjxg