RET Board

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The RET Board is Chaired by Philip Ward

The composition of the Board is: Up to 7 Directors appointed by the Sponsor, 3 Academy Directors (appointed by the Board to reflect the composition of the Trust) and the CEO.

The Board's current directors have experience as: headteachers of outstanding secondary and primary schools (two community, one grant-maintained); senior local government; directors of a successful private-sector company and governors of outstanding schools. The Board is advised by its CEO, RET's Head of Finance and Operations and by its external accountants UHY Hacker Young LLP and legal advisers Browne Jacobson.

Philip Ward (Chair)

Philip is the retired Head of Corporate Services and Deputy Director of Administration for the London Borough of Wandsworth. He worked there for 43 years, managing a range of highly commended front line and support services. He was also the Council's statutory Monitoring Officer. Philip was a member of the Council's Chief Officers' Management Board and contributed towards developing and delivering externally validated high quality, cost effective services -  while the Council levied  year-on-year the lowest council tax in the country.  Philip helped the Council develop its underlying ethos - known as the 'Wandsworth Way' involving identifying innovative methods of service provision, underscored by the principle of striving always to  'deliver more for less'.  For example, Philip developed a distinctive comprehensive sickness absence management scheme that attracted national attention. One element of the scheme, commonly known as  'work/pay back’, drastically reduced sickness absence levels, massively increased productivity and produced significant on-going budgetary savings. Philip is now an active member of his church parish council and is its Charities and Community Outreach Coordinator.

Karen Lynch (CEO)

Karen Lynch is the Chief Executive of the Russell Education Trust. She was previously the Managing Director of Education London (EL). She is by training a teacher, LA officer, OfSTED inspector and IIP Assessor. She was the EL Project Director for the Department for Education (DfE) London Challenge contract 2003-2011. Under Karen’s leadership EL went from one of five London Challenge school improvement contractors (2003-August 2007) to be selected by the DfE as the Sole Education Services provider for the London Challenge (September 2007 – 2011). The success of this project has been of significant national and international interest.

Karen has been privileged to work with education professionals all over England and Wales.  In 2010 EL sponsored the Russell Education Trust to establish new schools (under the Free Schools Legislation) in areas of high parental demand. RET was established to model the management structures, processes and community partnerships which underpin outstanding schools. RET’s first free school was Bristol Free School, which opened in September 2011. Becket Keys Church of England School opened in September 2012 and was rated ‘Outstanding’ in May 2014.  In September 2013, St Andrew the Apostle Greek Orthodox School opened in North London and in June 2015 it was rated ‘Outstanding’ at first Ofsted inspection.  King’s School in Hove opened at the same time as St Andrew – it too was inspected in June 2015 and rated ‘Good with Outstanding features’.  In September 2015, Turing House School in Richmond opened and has been heavily oversubscribed since then.

John McDermott

John was the headteacher of two highly successful secondary schools in the Midlands and was the headteacher of one of the first grant maintained schools in the country. He is a highly accomplished teacher-trainer and an expert in Performance Management.

Until his retirement he was a Senior Adviser to Education London and part of the senior team, leading the company’s London Challenge contract with the DfE.  He served on the LGB of Bristol Free School from 2011-2017. He is also a director of a local charity, the Birmingham Broad Street Business Improvement District.

Christine Smyth

Christine has had a distinguished career as a primary school headteacher and as a Church Schools inspector. She spent seventeen years as the headteacher of a Church of England primary school in Surrey, which was graded good or outstanding throughout her tenure. She began her second career as a part-time Adviser for the Diocese of Southwark, in the Autumn 2013, using her experience as an inspector and headteacher. Christine has also been a long-standing governor of an outstanding Catholic Secondary school in her own parish.

Danny Lynch

Danny was the Operations Director for Education London and, in this role, oversaw all school improvement activity undertaken by the Company including its delivery of both the London Challenge and Welsh Challenge contracts.  Danny spent 25 years in secondary schools, including 9 years as a deputy and headteacher. He recently completed 8 years as a governor at a local, now judged Outstanding, secondary school.  He is an active member of his church and supporter of a local charity for the homeless.

Mary Karaolis OBE

Mary is a retired Headteacher of The Ravenscroft School Barnet and was awarded an OBE in HM the Queen's 2009 birthday honours list for her services to education. Mary was also a School Improvement Partner and Education Consultant Leader. She continues to be active within Education and her local community. She was Chairman of the London Borough of Barnet Mayor’s Charities Committee and continues to serve on a number of committees in her local authority. She also plays an active part in the Greek community including as President of the Association of Rizokarpasso in Britain, Chairman of the Help Rizokarpasso Registered Charity and is an active member of the Secretariat of the National Federation of Cypriots in the UK.  She is a member of the Local Governing Body of St Andrew the Apostle Greek Orthodox School and also a member of the Classical Education Trust.

Clive Brazil

Clive gave up Electronic Engineering in Edinburgh to become a coach of the Scottish Ju Jitsu Team and part time share dealer. Then moving to Bristol as a single parent to raise his son and pursue charity work. This led to helping start Parents Voice who joined with RET to open Bristol’s first Free School; where he remains Chair of the Students, Curriculum and Standards Committee and Vice Chair of the LGB.

John Chambers

John has spent more than forty years working in various educational roles, mainly in the London area. In that time he has been a teacher and a senior leader in schools and has been an assistant director in a local authority with responsibility for more than twenty secondary schools.

John also qualified as an Ofsted inspector, a threshold assessor and an external adviser for headteacher performance management.

Throughout his career John has been passionate about raising educational standards and improving the life chances for young people. He firmly believes that “children are the messages we send to the future” and adheres firmly to this principle in his work as a director of the Russell Education Trust.