Making it all happen

Bringing our work to life

RSA Academies is led by Chief Executive, Alison Critchley at the RSA in London.  A team of three works strategically with the schools and co-ordinates the programme of work that we deliver together.

RSA Academies has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the RSA which sets out the way in which both organisations work together to improve the life chances for students and to contribute to the vision of the RSA.

RSA Academies also has an MOU with the schools that outlines how the schools and RSA Academies work together towards common and individual aims.


The RSA Academies Board is made up of eight trustees. Their function is to set the strategy for RSA Academies and oversee the performance and impact as well as the financial stability of RSA Academies. The Director of Creative Learning and Development at the RSA, Julian Astle sits on the Board as an observer.

The Executive group is made up of the RSA Academies’ principals and the Chief Executive of RSA Academies and their function is to implement and progress the RSA Academies strategic plan.  The Chairs of Governors of all the schools also meet with the Chief Executive of RSA Academies.

Each school also has its own governing body.  This is made up of local people including parents of students at the school, teachers, and RSA Fellows who are nominated by the RSA.  Arrow Vale and Ipsley are also governed by the Redditch RSA Academies Trust.

Work for an RSA Academy

Interested in working for an RSA Academy?  View our vacancies.

The RSA Academies team is a close knit, energetic team. We are responsible for the effective running of the organisation as well as the delivery of an exciting programme of strategic activities. We are committed to being open and transparent in order to share the best of what works and the learning when it doesn't.

Alison Critchley, Chief Executive, RSA Academies


Alison Critchley

Chief Executive

Alison is responsible for all aspects of the RSA Academies, supporting purposeful partnership in order to get the best possible outcomes for pupils. She previously worked as a senior manager in many London local authorities and at the Department for Education.

Georgina Chatfield

Programme Manager

Georgina is responsible for creative programming, communications and business support. At the RSA she was previously Programme Manager, Citizen Power Peterborough and Senior Developer, Arts and Society. Prior to this Georgina worked for Arts Council England.

Roisin Ellison

Senior Coordinator

Roisin leads on connecting students from the Family of Academies to people, places and issues beyond the school gates. She previously worked as a primary school teacher and in Widening Participation at the University of Cambridge.


Dr Sue Horner, MBE


Sue was appointed as Chair of the RSA Academies Board in July 2012. Sue has more than 30 years’ experience in schools and education, most recently as Director of Curriculum at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. She led the revision of the secondary curriculum in 2007 and played a major role in the Rose review of the primary curriculum.  Sue was also until recently Chair of Booktrust, the country’s largest literature charity.

Guy Shears

Principal, Arrow Vale RSA Academy

Guy became Principal of Arrow Vale in January 2011, taking the school into sponsored academy status with the RSA in September 2012.  Formerly, Guy worked as Headteacher at a Coventry school, and a deputy Headteacher at two schools in Birmingham.  Arrow Vale RSA Academy recently became the first high school in Redditch to be graded Outstanding by Ofsted, and in fact achieved Outstanding on every measure.  Guy is a National Leader in Education.

Sue Hind Woodward

Board member

Sue Hind Woodward was appointed to the RSA Academies Board in 2015.  Having spent her career in fund raising, Sue is now Principal of Artemis, a fund-raising, talent development, and interim management consultancy.  Sue was also the chair of the North West London Education Business Partnership Advisory Partnership Board, and has been an active RSA Fellow, facilitating links between the RSA and young musicians.

Malcolm Forbes

Board member

Malcolm is an RSA Fellow and runs a consultancy advising on digital communications, web and social media. Malcolm has over 15 years experience of working with the web industry and has also worked at a senior level in a number of London Local Authorities, a large regeneration partnership in South London and was CEO of a successful social enterprise in Brixton, South London. Malcolm has been a school governor at both primary and secondary level for many years and was a founding trustee of the Lambeth e-Learning Foundation.

Penny Egan, CBE

Board member

Penny Egan is the Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission joining the organisation in February 2007.  She joined the Commission after stepping down as the Executive Director of the RSA where she was the first woman to have led the RSA in its 250-year history.  Prior to taking on the top job at the RSA in 1998, she was Programme Development Director and RSA Lecture Secretary.  Her early career included the posts of Press and Publicity Officer at the Crafts Council, Press Officer to the Prime Minister and Press Officer at the V&A Museum.

Peter Fell

Board member

Peter has been a Fellow of the RSA for ten years. He is a former chair of the North West region (2006-2009). Peter has been employed by the University of Manchester as Director of Regional and Economic Development since 2000. He has responsibility for managing the university’s complex civic and regional strategic relationships. Peter is passionate about the arts. He is a board member of the Greater Manchester Arts Centre (Cornerhouse and Library Theatre), a former member of the council for Tate Liverpool and a trustee of the Contact Theatre in Manchester and central Manchester Library Trust.

Peter Slough

Board member

After teaching in Liverpool and Birmingham, Peter left the UK to spend ten years working in international schools gaining his first Headship at The British International School of Jeddah. He returned to the UK in 1992 as a teacher of science. Peter became Deputy Headteacher of Small Heath School in 1995 and Headship followed in 2001, during this time the school was awarded five consecutive ‘outstanding’ judgements by Ofsted. He became a National Leader of Education in 2008. Peter left in 2014 and became Director of Access at The Schools of King Edward VI, Birmingham and started his own consultancy company. Peter is currently Vice Chair of governors at Holyhead School.

Julian Astle


Julian Astle is Director of Creative Learning and Development at the RSA. He leads the RSA’s programme of policy research and practical innovations which focus on closing the creativity gap in learning, and aim to connect with RSA Academies.Before joining the RSA, Julian worked in No. 10 Downing Street as a Senior Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg. Before that he was Director of the CentreForum think tank, a Post-Conflict Advisor in Bosnia and Kosovo, and a political advisor to (Lord) Paddy Ashdown in Westminster.


Guy Shears

Principal, Arrow Vale RSA Academy

Guy became Principal of Arrow Vale in January 2011, taking the school into sponsored academy status with the RSA in September 2012.  Formerly, Guy worked as Headteacher at a Coventry school, and a deputy Headteacher at two schools in Birmingham.  Arrow Vale RSA Academy recently became the first high school in Redditch to be graded Outstanding by Ofsted, and in fact achieved Outstanding on every measure.  Guy is a National Leader in Education.

Nicola Beech

Principal, Ipsley CE RSA Academy

Nic has ben Principal of Ipsley CE RSA Academy since May 2015. She entered teaching after studying law and working at Barnado’s.  Nic Beech started working at Arrow Vale as Head of English in 2006, before progressing to the senior leadership team in 2009.  When Ipsley converted to become an RSA Academy in 2013, she divided her time between Ipsley and Arrow Vale, before moving full-time to Ipsley in September 2014.

Daulton Redmond

Principal, RSA Academy, Tipton

Daulton started as Principal in September 2013, having held various posts as RSA Academy including Vice Principal, Director of Learning within the School of Maths, Science and Technology, and more recently, as Executive Vice Principal. Before joining the RSA Academy as Vice Principal on its opening in 2008, Daulton held a number of senior leadership posts in the UK and aboard.  Daulton has worked as an Advisor in Science and acted as a consultant for new Academies.  You can read his Principal’s blog here. 

Fred Rex

Principal, Whitley Academy

Fred became Principal at Whitley Academy in January 2016 having worked as the Vice Principal since January 2009. His leadership experiences involve the pastoral support for students through the SEN and Inclusion departments and he has led on KS2-3 transition and primary liaison in the school.  Fred has led on reviews of SEN and Inclusion in a number of schools and have been involved in peer reviews of RSA Academies. He has led CPD and the intervention programme particularly across English and Maths at KS4, through the Raising Attainment management group.

Ross Trafford

Principal, Holyhead School

After serving Holyhead School for 11 years, Ross was appointed Principal in January 2017.  Holyhead is an Outstanding school located in Handsworth, Birmingham.  After joining the school as a PE teacher and School Sport Co-ordinator, Ross has held numerous pastoral and leadership roles and been part of an incredible journey that led to Holyhead achieving GCSE and A Level results significantly higher than the national average in 2016.

Di Smith

Executive Headteacher, Abbeywood First School & Church Hill Middle School

Di has been Head Teacher at Abbeywood First School since 2008 and previously Di was a Teacher Advisor for Learning and Teaching with the Local Authority and has experience of teaching in First, Primary and Middle schools in Worcestershire as an Advanced Skills Teacher.  She recently trained as an Ofsted Inspector but it not currently working for Ofsted due to her commitment to our schools, however she continues to support local schools as a Local Leader in Education.