Board of Directors

An introduction to the Aspire Plus board of directors...


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Founding Members


Chairs of LGAB

Founding Members


Carol Thomas

Carol has more than 25 years’ experience of working in schools. She is a former primary Headteacher and local authority School Improvement Officer now working across two boroughs offering school improvement consultancy services.

She supports a wide range of schools in very different contexts (multi-ethnic, high deprivation, urban secular, small village etc.)  as well as schools at different stages of their improvement journey from special measures to outstanding.  Her work involves support, development and training for leaders, teachers, support staff and governors; she also still has direct contact with children through her work in training School Councillors to become ‘Junior Inspectors’. Her professional life requires an up to date knowledge of all aspects of a school’s work, national initiatives and issues that affect schools.

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Janet Lambert

Janet Lambert worked for 15 years in the banking industry with a focus predominantly on the areas of securities and advances, including branch banking and business/ corporate lending centres.

 Subsequently, Janet has been working within the primary education sector in a school business, office management and finance capacity. Janet has extensive experience as both an elected and an appointed school governor, having previously held the positions of parent and authority governors.  Her involvement as a governor spans a period in excess of 19 years and has been across primary and secondary establishments in different local authorities.



Jonathan Reynolds MP

Jonathan Reynolds MP has been the Member of Parliament for Stalybridge and Hyde since 2010. Prior to that he trained to be a solicitor with Addleshaw Goddard LLP and was an elected member of Tameside MBC.

 He completed his legal qualifications at BPP Law School, Manchester and holds a first-class degree in Politics and Modern History from the University of Manchester.

In Parliament Jonathan holds a ministerial position in the Shadow Treasury of Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury and is the Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Autism.


Robert Berry began work as a teacher of MFL and then a Head of Faculty. He was a Senior Leader for 11 years before moving into local government. 

After leading in school improvement in Tameside MBC he took on the role of Director of Education. He now works as an Education Consultant specialising in school improvement and leadership coaching.

His particular passions are issues relating to equality and greater collaborative working between schools and other agencies who work with vulnerable young people.


Kevin Taylor

Kevin Taylor is the owner and lead consultant for a business consultancy working internationally across a variety of sectors, including commercial, elite sports, law enforcement, and third sector organisations.

A former Chief Inspector within the police Kevin was the head of the hostage negotiation for Greater Manchester Police and has been instrumental in developing kidnap negotiation nationally.  Kevin’s expertise lies in his knowledge and experience of dealing with challenging conversations, conflict resolution, and dealing with people in crisis. 

As a former parent governor at Longdendale Kevin brings his passion for unlocking a person’s potentially enabling them to be the best they can be to the board of directors of the trust.        



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Jane Barker

Jane has been a senior manager in Adults and Children’s Social Care for over 10 years; a role that has encompassed managing Social Care performance, business planning, service improvement, strategic, operational and budget management of over £2 million and managing a workforce of over 100 staff dispersed across the borough.

Jane’s role involves liaising closely with Ofsted during inspections within Social Care; an experience that has afforded her the knowledge to support schools in understanding the inspection process and helping achieve a successful outcome. As a member of the Adults Senior Management Team, the Children’s Senior Management Team and the Directorate at Tameside MBC; Jane has developed the skills to work with a wide range of stakeholders.

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Dr Janet Nevin

Dr Janet Nevin has worked in education for over thirty years, both in schools and sixth form colleges in London and the North West. Her last post was as Principal of Ashton Sixth Form College in Greater Manchester.

She has been a part-time Ofsted inspector of FE for five years and has worked with various consultancy projects involving training and mentoring. Whilst Principal of Ashton Sixth Form College, she was also founder and CEO of the A+ Trust, a group of seven secondary schools and the college which worked together to improve educational outcomes in Tameside. Her research interests are in women in educational leadership and management.



Barry Harwood

Barry is an employment law specialist Barrister, and has been named on the top Legal 500 for the past four years for his work in the area of discrimination, equality and diversity issues.  Barry has a number of roles, he is a member of     St Philips Chambers Birmingham and Leeds, and a member of the National Bar Council Committee.

He has also been published in the Chambers and Partners Directory 2017. He was previously a member of the BSB, Bar Standards Board, Professional Conduct Committee, and Bar Council Equality and Diversity Committee. 

Barry's experience as Senior Counsel extends to complex and sensitive employment tribunal issues, including appearances in the Employment Appeals Tribunal, multi-day cases for respondents and claimants.  He possesses an international and civil commercial mediation qualification. He also a pupil supervisor.

Barry is also an Advocacy trainer for Lincolns Inn, and he delivers a range of employment law training to professional clients. He regularly appears in the employment tribunal representing both claimants and respondents.  He is a role model for the LGBTQ+ community and a Stonewall Champion and Senior Regional North West Stonewall Champion.


Catherine has over 30 years’ experience as an academic at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her most recent role prior to to her retirement was as Head of Manchester Law School. Her academic discipline is Social Sciences and Criminology with a particular focus on gender, law and crime. 

She has worked at a senior level within the University sector and is an experienced strategic leader responsible for raising academic standards and improving student experience. She is dedicated to widening participation and inclusive approaches to education. She has a keen interest in the student and staff wellbeing agenda.

Previous voluntary work includes 10 years’ as a Governor in a Secondary School, four of which she was the Chair. She has also held the position of Trustee (and Founder Member) of a Rape Crisis Group.

Chairs of LGAB


Tracey is a local Tameside resident who has lived in Stalybridge for over 20 years. For most of her career, Tracey has worked at the University of Manchester where her main responsibilities are in the administration of Halls of Residence for students.


It is at Stalyhill Primary School that Tracey had her first experiences of school governance. Tracey has served on the governing body at Stayhill for 8 years and has been the safeguarding lead for 7 of those.


Tracey joined Longdendale’s governing body as a parent governor in 2012. In recent years she has played a key role in the governance of Longdendale and has served on a wide range of committees and panels. She was a vitally important member of the team that helped Longdendale’s governors secure the Governor Quality Mark and has continued to play an important role in school governance since the conversion to academy status. Tracey is keen to offer her experience, insight and continued support to Longdendale’s vision to be a truly world-class


Andy is a local Tameside resident who has lived and worked in the area for over 30 years. Andy’s career began in Birmingham in 1978 as a teacher of both Physical Education and Geography. He moved to Tameside in 1985 where he took up a post as teacher of Physical Education at Longdendale High School. Andy continued to teach PE for a number of years and a variety of humanities subjects until his retirement in 2016.


Andy’s move into school management mirrored his personal educational philosophies in that as a Year Group leader he would be able to support both the academic and pastoral needs of students in his charge. In 1998 Andy made the step onto the senior management team at Longdendale where he fulfilled the roles of both Assistant and Deputy Headteacher.


Andy is now very enthusiastic about having been offered the opportunity to support the local school where his own three daughters experienced such a successful and enjoyable education. He is looking forward to helping to ensure that local young people are given the appropriate opportunities to succeed at Rayner Stephens.