Board of Directors

Carol Jones

Carol Jones
Vice Chair

Start of service September 2011

Carol is Chair of the College Academies Trust (CAT) and a member of the CAT Finance and Operations Committee, she is also the Vice Chair of the local governing body of Stoke Studio Colleges.  She is also Chair of Stoke on Trent College Corporation and a member of the Finance and Resources Committee.

Carol is the owner and director of a business consultancy company, working with education providers and charities to develop and improve strategic and operational management, raise quality and improve outcomes for their clients and beneficiaries.

As a National Leader of Governance, Carol has worked with many different types of colleges across the country; developing governing bodies and supporting individual Chairs and governors to improve Board effectiveness and college performance.

Carol is the former Chief Executive of the Connexions Service for Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent. She has served on numerous committees and groups in both the County and the City, including the Local Safeguarding Children Board, always seeking to improve educational outcomes and employment opportunities for young people and helping unemployed adults get back into work.

Carol’s professional background is in careers guidance and she holds a BA (Hons) and a Masters degree in Research. Carol is a Fellow of the RSA and a Forum member of the Women’s Leadership Network.


David Heywood

David Heywood

Start of Service 17 December 2010

David is a Director of the College Academies Trust and Chair of the Stoke Studio College local governing body.  He is also the Vice Chair of Stoke on Trent College Corporation and a member of the Finance and Resources Committee. 

David is a retired Chartered Surveyor and until recently senior partner in a North Staffordshire based firm of Independent Chartered Surveyors.

Until retirement David was a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. He specialised in Commercial Agency, particularly warehouses, offices and land deals and lists a number of major Developers as his principal clients.   


Pat Jackson

Pat Jackson

Start of Service: 30 September 2015

Pat is a Director of the College Academies Trust and Chair of the Discovery Academy local governing body.  She is also a member of the Stoke on Trent College Corporation and Audit Committee.

As a self-employed consultant, Pat works with the public, private and voluntary sectors on joint economic and business development projects and investment programmes.  This includes work as a SERCO Associate and with the University of Warwick and the WMG Academy for Young Engineers Trust to develop with Jaguar Land Rover and other employers, the WMG Academies for Young Engineers in Coventry and North Solihull.

Pat has over 30 years experience in the successful design and delivery of economic and business development policies and investment programmes across the UK. This has involved working with a wide range of senior business leaders, Ministers, local authorities, colleges, universities and the voluntary sector. 

Since July 2011, Pat has worked with local and national employers to develop the Warwick University (WMG) Technical Colleges (UTCs) in Coventry and North Solihull. 

Pat also undertakes a range of voluntary work including mentoring young people “at risk”.


Sarah Robinson

Sarah Robinson

Start of Service: 26 January 2011

Sarah is a Director of the College Academies Trust and member of the CAT Finance and Operations Committee.  She is also a member of the local governing bodies of the Discovery Academy, Excel Academy, Maple Court Academy and the Stoke Studio College. She is also the Group Chief Executive at Stoke on Trent College, therefore is a Board member of the Corporation and a member of the Finance and Resources Committee. 

She has worked as a senior manager in colleges across the North of England.

For 8 years she was Principal and Chief Executive of Darlington College.   Under her leadership, the College relocated to a purpose built campus, achieved a Grade 1 Outstanding OFSTED inspection and was awarded Beacon status. 

She was appointed as Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham in 2006 until her departure and was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours 2009 for her services to further education.

She has been Chair of Governors of primary, secondary and special schools, and governor on college Corporations. 

Sarah is Chair of the 157 Group.

Sarah holds a MA in Education Management and LSDA Principals’ Programme.



Kate Townshend

Kate Townshend

Start of Service 13 July 2011, re-appointed 26 January 2015

Kate is a Director of the College Academies Trust and a member of the CAT Audit Committee.  She is Chair of the local governing bodies at the Excel Academy and Maple Court Academy and Vice Chair of The Discovery Academy local governing body. 

Kate is employed on a part-time basis as the Project Director to the College Academies Trust and is also a member of the Stoke on Trent College Corporation.

Kate has extensive experience in school improvement (having previously been an Ofsted inspector) and leadership and management and was formerly the Strategic Manager for school improvement 0-19 with a Local Authority. 



Paul Richards

Paul Richards

Start of Service: 7 October

Paul is a member CAT Board, as well as a member of the Stoke on Trent College Corporation and the Finance and Resources Committee.

Before his retirement Paul held the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University  and was heavily involved in the partnership known as the University Quarter.

Paul has spent much of his career in regeneration and economic development.  



John Patino

John Patino

Start of Service: 14 December 2016

John is a member of the College Academies Trust and is Deputy Headteacher at Laude Newton College in Spain.

Prior to his move to Spain, he was Executive Principal at the Discovery Academy, as well as Headteacher at Holden Lane High School and Deputy Headteacher at Alsop High School in Liverpool. He has also been Head of ICT at two separate schools – Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton and Mansfield High School Technology College in Nelson, Lancashire.

John has a Masters in Education from Leeds University and a PCGE in IT and Business Studies from Huddersfield University.



Mark White Obe

Mark White Obe

Start of Service: March 2017

Mark is a member of the College Academies Trust and is a Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham.

He is Chair of Governors of Stockton Riverside College and visiting Fellow of Teesside University. Mark has been Chair of the Association of Colleges (AoC) Governors’ Council, is an AoC Board member and Chair of Governance Portfolio Group. He is chair of AoC Sport. He is a Director and Trustee of the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), Chair of ETF Finance and Resources Committee and a Trustee of the National Governors’ Association.

Mark was appointed OBE in 2016 for services to education, particularly in Teesside. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), an accredited member of the Association of University Administrators (AMAUA), a companion of the Society for Education and Training and an honorary life member of Teesside University Students’ Union.



Rachel Billington

Rachel Billington

Start of Service: March 2017

Rachel is a Director of the College Academies Trust and Chair of the Birches Head Academy governing body and Acting Chair at Woodcroft First School in Leek.

She is a value driven practitioner working in the field of creative education and strategic leadership. 

Rachel is an experienced writer, leadership coach, action learning facilitator and project manager and has previously been a Director of Creative Learning for a charity delivering creative learning programmes across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.  She has been extensively involved with schools via her roles with Arts Council England as Creative Programmer for Creative Partnerships Stoke on Trent and also as an Education and Outreach Officer at the New Vic Theatre.

She has also been the Chair of Youth and Children’s Board, Congregational Federation and is currently supporting St Luke’s CofE church, supporting the life of the church in worship, learning and working in the community.

Rachel was awarded a BA degree in Drama and has undertaken various management and coaching accreditations. 


Roisin Maguire

Roisin Maguire

Start of Service: March 2017

Roisin is a director of the College Academies Trust.

Previously the Headteacher at St Joseph’s College, Trent Vale for 17 years, her experience in education is extensive and her areas of achievement include increased academic performance at both GCSE and A Level, achievement of OFSTED ‘Outstanding’ – the first in a secondary school in Stoke on Trent, buildings and facilities improvement, nationally recognised Value Added Performance.

She has been involved in a number of Stoke on Trent secondary schools to provide expertise and support, particularly in relation to establishing and driving successful school improvements.

Roisin has also set up a School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) and was appointed a National Leader in Education in 2010.

She has a Bachelor of Education in Theology, a national Professional Qualification for Headship NPQH, a Certificate in Education and Catholic Teachers Certificate


Geoff Lawrence

Geoff Lawrence

Start of Service: March 2017

Geoff is a director of the College Academies Trust.

Geoff holds teaching qualifications in both primary and secondary education and has held several leadership positions including headship of a primary school.  He achieved the NPQH in 1998 and is an Ofsted inspector, becoming a lead inspector in 2015.

He has been an assessor for the European Foundation for Quality Management and an inspector for the Knowledge and Human Resources Authority in Dubai since 2008 carrying out inspections of international schools.

In addition to being a science specialist other areas of expertise are in teaching and learning, leadership, data analysis and EYFS for which he holds CfCTs Advanced Inspection Certificate for Early Years.  He undertakes teaching and learning reviews for schools and has been a governor of a Staffordshire school for over 10 years.


Jat Sharma

Jat Sharma

Start of Service: March 2017

Jat is a director of the College Academies Trust.  Jat was born in the Midlands and studied financial management at Lancaster Univeristy and a masters degree in finance and accounting from the University of Dundee.  He worked as an accountant prior to being appointed as Principal at Walsall College in 2011.

Jat has led Walsall College since 2011, gaining an Outstanding Ofsted inspection in 2013 and an AoC Beacon Award for Outstanding Leadership of Improvement in 2014.  Jat was awarded an OBE for services to education in 2015. 



Maxine Bagshaw

Maxine Bagshaw
Clerk to the Corporation

Start of Service: 1 January 2011

Maxine is the Clerk and Company Secretary to the College Academies Trust, which includes the Studio Colleges, Maple Court Academy, the Discovery Academy and the Excel Academy. She is also the Clerk to the Corporation at Stoke on Trent College. 

She has worked in the FE sector for 14 years now and prior to that was a solicitor in private practice. Her role is to support the Board and provide independent advice and guidance.

Maxine is also the Clerk at West Nottinghamshire College and Stratford upon Avon College and Interim Clerk at Tresham College..