Making it all happen

Bringing our work to life


The RSA Academies Board is currently made up of five 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 education at the RSA sits on the Board as an observer.

The Executive group is made up of the RSA Academies’ principals and the executive director of RSA Academies and their function is to implement and progress the RSA Academies’ strategic plan.  The chairs of governors of all the schools meet with the chair and the executive director 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 RSA Academy, Ipsley CE RSA Academy, Church Hill Middle School, Abbeywood First School, Sutton Park Primary RSA Academy, the RSA Academy in Tipton and Oldbury Park Primary RSA Academy and St Stephens CE RSA Academy are also governed by the Central RSA Academies Trust which is sponsored by RSA Academies.

Work for an RSA Academy

Are you interested in working for an RSA school and being part of an exciting movement in education?  Please view our vacancies.


John Towers


John is an RSA Fellow with 30 years’ experience in the education sector. He is currently the Head of Homefield School in London. Prior to this he was Director of Education for Reach to Teach, an innovative charity running schools and providing teacher training for vulnerable communities in rural areas of India. John’s career has also included being head of one of the ‘most improved’ primary schools in the country and work as a school improvement adviser.  John has a wide experience of senior non-executive posts across school, exam board and charity settings.

Rachel Sandby-Thomas, CB


Rachel was appointed to the RSA Academies Board in September 2017. Rachel joined Warwick University as Registrar in September 2016 and is responsible for the professional and administrative services of the University under the direction of the Vice-Chancellor and President.  Immediately prior to becoming Registrar, Rachel was shadow CEO of the UK Government’s Institute for Apprenticeships. Rachel was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 2012, named as one of the 2016 FTSE 100 “Women to Watch” and The Times 100 “Most Influential Lawyers”, 2012.

Sue Hind-Woodward


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 Board, and has been an active RSA Fellow, facilitating links between the RSA and young musicians.

Penny Egan, CBE


Penny Egan is the Chair-designate for the Compton Verney Art Gallery in Warwickshire. She is former Executive Director of the US-UK Fulbright Commission.  She joined the Commission in 2007 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


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.


Ian Mellor

Principal, Arrow Vale RSA Academy

Originally from the Isle of Man, Ian studied at Liverpool University and subsequently Durham University before taking up a teaching post in Warwickshire. After joining the school as Head of PE, Ian moved onto the leadership team of Arrow Vale 8 years ago and was appointed to Principal in May 2017.  Arrow Vale is an outstanding school located in Redditch.

Nicola Beech

Executive Principal, Abbeywood First School, Church Hill Middle School and Ipsley CE RSA Academy

Nic was previously Principal, Ipsley CE RSA Academy. She entered teaching after studying law and working at Barnado’s.  Nic started working at Arrow Vale as Head of English in 2006, 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, and from September 2019 Nic took on a role across three RSA schools.

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.

Angela Crawley

Head, Sutton Park Primary RSA Academy

Angela studied Art at the University of Exeter before becoming a teacher.  She has 21 years of experience in the education sector teaching across first, primary and middle schools.  She became a deputy headteacher 15 years ago in Worcester and secured her first headship at Sutton Park in 2014.  Angela has a passion for Art and Drama and still relishes the challenge of teaching in an ever changing educational landscape.

Sarah Callanan

Head, St Stephen's CE RSA Academy

Sarah began her teaching career in Japan 20 years ago, teaching 100% EAL pupils English ranging from 3 – 16 years of age whilst there, finding ingenious ways to communicate through actions and song. Later Sarah moved to Coventry and taught in some of the most challenging areas within the city, then began teaching in Redditch 11 years ago and has been the serving Principal of St Stephen’s for nearly 7 years.

Guy Shears

Chief Executive Officer, Central RSA Academies Trust

Guy became the Chief Executive Officer for the Central RSA Academies Trust in August 2017. He was previously Principal of Arrow Vale from January 2011 to July 2017, 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.