Speakers

Steve Barker

Steve Barker

Head of Governance Services, Better Governor

Steve is Head of Governance Services at Better Governor and an experienced and regular speaker at national and regional governor conferences. He has had articles published in national titles and been interviewed as a governance expert on the Radio 4 Today Programme on several occasions. Steve has contributed to many national governance initiatives, including being part of the team commissioned by the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) to develop External Reviews of Governance.

Emma Knights OBE

Emma Knights OBE

Co-Chief Executive of the National Governance Association (NGA)

As NGA’s Co-Chief Executive, since 2010, Emma leads the charity to fulfil its aim of improving the educational standards and wellbeing of young people. Emma leads the organisation under the direction of NGA’s board of trustees. From September 2023, Emma is sharing the chief executive role with Emma Balchin, each working three days a week.

Emma promotes the interests of the school governance community and represents the voice of NGA’s members at a national level with legislators, policy makers and education sector organisations and in the media.

Jo Marchant

Jo Marchant

Estates Manager, The Boxing Academy & Author

Jo has over 20 years of estates management experience in the public and charitable sectors. She has worked in the education sector for the last 14 years, where she has had responsibility for managing estates and new build projects. 

Jo works for The Boxing Academy, a unique alternative provision in London, advising on estates management and working with the professional team designing and building their new school.

Jo is the author of “The School Premises Handbook” published in June 2023 which she wrote to inform school premises staff, business managers, headteachers and governors in England of their legal responsibilities around building compliance.  Jo is a member of the Department for Education’s School Building Design User Reference Group.

Christina Jones

Christina Jones

CEO, River Tees Multi-Academy Trust and Schools North East Trustee

Christina is the CEO of River Tees Multi-Academy Trust. She has a background in school improvement, focussing on disadvantaged and vulnerable learners. A qualified SENCO, specialist teacher and SEND Reviewer, she has many years’ experience working with learners with mental health needs in mainstream and specialist settings. As CEO of an Alternative Provision Multi-Academy Trust she sees the impact challenging behaviour and mental health needs have on educational opportunities. River Tees Multi-Academy Trust’s  team work with learners who struggle to attend school, or to engage appropriately while there. The Trust’s whole child approach to Personal Development draws on best research and practice. The curriculum is constructed to support learners in challenging situations, quickly identifying disruptions  and filling them so every learner has the chance to succeed.

River Tees Multi-Academy Trust has four Alternative Provision academies and a Hospital Teaching Service in the North East (based in Middlesbrough and Gateshead) offering aspirational education to the most disadvantaged learners. The Trust is due to open a Free Special School for the Tees Valley in 2022.

Jill Donabie

Jill Donabie

Partner, Muckle LLP

Recognised as a ‘Recommended Lawyer’ by Legal 500 UK, Jill works exclusively with education clients, providing practical, solutions-based advice on all people related matters. Jill advises on contentious and non-contentious employment matters. This includes supporting with TUPE transfers, varying terms and conditions, collective and individual redundancies and restructuring, employment tribunal claims and day-to-day staffing issues and documentation.

Jill also advises on student issues and parental complaints, particularly involving discrimination, exclusions and SEN. Her expertise in safeguarding issues has led to her advising on policies in education and not-for-profit sectors.

Faye McGuinness

Faye McGuinness

Director of Programmes, Education Support

Faye is responsible for the development of Education Support’s mental health and wellbeing services and programmes, as well as having oversight of their Department for Education and Welsh Government funded programmes. Prior to joining Education Support Faye's role was Head of Workplace Wellbeing Programmes at the mental health charity Mind, where she led on the development of Workplace Wellbeing programmes including the Mentally Healthy Universities Programme. Faye was voted one of the 25 most influential figures in Health & Safety 2020, for her work advocating for better workplace mental health for all employees in the UK. Faye feels incredibly passionate about supporting better workplace mental health and making an impact across the education sector. In her spare time, Faye is a trustee for the charity Music for All and spends a lot of time at gigs dancing like nobody's watching!

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Co Founder & Director, Data2Action

Sarah is a professional strategic leader and Data Protection Officer with extensive operational, organisational and digital transformation experience across industry sectors. After spending most of her career in the Customer Service industry leading

large teams across many continents Sarah set up Data2Action alongside her business partner Jason Turner.Data2action provide Data Compliance (GDPR / DPO), Data and Insight and Digital Transformation services to the education sector where their ambitions are to equip Trust/school leaders with the capability and culture to safeguard pupil and staff data whilst unleashing its true value.

Fiona Fearon

Fiona Fearon

Policy & Projects Manager, Nationa Governance Association (NGA)

Fiona oversees NGA’s parliamentary engagement, representing the views of governors and trustees at national level and supporting them in their strategic leadership of education settings.

Prior to joining NGA, Fiona worked in the education sector for 16 years, primarily in alternative provision schools and pupil referral units, and most recently as the Director of Safeguarding for pupil referral units in Sandwell.

Jo Jackowiak

Jo Jackowiak

HR Consultsnt, Clennell Education Services

Jo Jackowiak has worked with the CES team for over 6 years and specialises in safer recruitment. An accredited trainer with the Safer Recruitment Consortium, she delivers training, advice and guidance to schools on all aspects of safer recruitment practice and management of any related human resources issues.
With over 19 years’ experience as an HR practitioner advising schools and public sector services on the full range of HR issues, including working as a Director of HR for a multi-academy trust, Jo also has significant experience of the operational management of safer recruitment in schools.