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  Danes Educational Trust: The Partnership and Director of Education: Secondary, Rachel's role centres around best practice in collaboratively improving learner outcomes and progress, including a rich Trust CPDL offer. She is engaged in supporting, challenging and reviewing school performance within the Trust and oversees Early Career Teacher recruitment and retention.

PicChris Marks

Director of Education: Primary

Previously Deputy Headteacher of an outstanding secondary school, Chris has worked closely with Danes Educational Trust since it first formed. He has experience of working in a variety of phases and settings in assessment, pastoral care and more recently safeguarding and inclusion. 

As Director of Education (Primary) Chris leads on school improvement across primary schools within the Trust. He also has responsibility for Safeguarding, Equality and Diversity and Inclusion across all phases and works in partnership with the Director of Education (Secondary) on transition.

Nicky Hammond 2022 modifiedNicky 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.

Mary Cope modified cropMary Cope

Head of Human Resources

Mary has extensive senior leadership experience across customer focused sectors including education management, regulated financial services and technology. She leads the continued development of People initiatives across all schools within our trust.

With a track record of success in commercial organisations of varied size and stages of growth, and as a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Mary is well placed to contribute advice and guidance to key stakeholders across the full range of People-related activities, including employee engagement, talent attraction, reward and recognition, diversity and inclusion, internal controls, risk and compliance, analytics and insight.   

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.

Rob wall modifiedRob Wall

Data and MIS lead

Rob is an experienced data leader who has worked in a variety of education settings across the further education, higher education and secondary sectors before joining the Trust. 

During this time he has successfully led teams with responsibility for areas including management information systems, exams and assessment, admissions and statutory reporting. He is well placed to offer advice to schools regarding a wide range of data related matters, as well as additional guidance on schools performance measures, and support to develop interactive dashboards and reports focusing on both educational and business KPIs.

Liz Smith

Marketing and Communications Manager

Liz is a marketing specialist with over 20 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.


  • 04:27 - 27/06/2022 A massive thank you to our friend, Dr Josephine Valentine, CEO at for joining us for our strategic reflection session and facilitating us on this journey. It’s a real honour to have you here! https://t.co/SVgF3DiAww
  • 12:40 - 22/06/2022 We are seeking an Initial Teacher Trainee Coordinator to lead the marketing & administration of our initial teacher training offer. You will be part of a tight-knit, energetic team providing exceptional teacher training opportunities across our schools. https://t.co/fz9mTmqyNi
  • DanesEdTrust Image03:53 - 17/06/2022 Our students and our colleagues who have thrived in the face of everything. Happy days, Class of 2022 from Danes Educational Trust: The Partnership. https://t.co/o5ZrM822zJ
  • DanesEdTrust Image02:44 - 17/06/2022 Our class of 2022 Learner Voice Council students talk to our ECTs and ITTs about their Teaching and Learning research work across the academic year. Challenging questions responded to thoughtfully and articulately throughout... https://t.co/Rr0vn46Ise
  • DanesEdTrust Image02:11 - 17/06/2022 Julie Jones and , Jonathan Huddleston previously of and Rosie Alcock deliver excellence: Assessment; Stretch and Challenge and Creating the ‘right’ Climate. Thank you. https://t.co/0r8lkSszBT
  • DanesEdTrust Image11:31 - 17/06/2022 A wonderful first session from Nikki Railton focused upon Active Learning. Our ITTs and ECTs are brilliant: resilient, committed, fully engaged. https://t.co/VEEvq4eRee
  • DanesEdTrust Image09:33 - 17/06/2022 And so we made it! Today we celebrate with our amazing Class of 2022 all our ECTs and ITTs have achieved over the course of an extraordinary two years. Watch the day unfurl... https://t.co/J7EO0rxjnE