Making it all happen

Bringing our work to life

RSA Academies is led by executive director, Colin Hopkins, with Georgina Chatfield, Hannah Breeze and Adam Richardson, working with schools to co-ordinate a programme of work designed to improve the outcomes of young people.


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 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 and the RSA Academy in Tipton 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.


Colin Hopkins, MBE

Executive Director

Colin leads the RSA Academies team and has strategic responsibility for its work. Formerly Director of Education for the Diocese of Lichfield between 2006-18, Colin has over 20 years’ experience in senior roles in education, and has an extensive knowledge of the academies programme.

Georgina Chatfield

Programme Manager

Georgina leads on the Arts, Culture and Creativity Commitment and the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commitment. She was previously Programme Manager, Citizen Power Peterborough and Senior Developer, Arts and Society at the RSA and prior to this Georgina worked for Arts Council England.

Hannah Breeze

Senior Programme Coordinator

Hannah leads on the World Beyond School Commitment and youth social action projects. Prior to joining RSA Academies, Hannah worked at Cumberland Lodge, a charitable organisation that seeks to initiate debate around social and ethical issues in our society. Before this Hannah worked at United Learning.

Adam Richardson

Programme Co-ordinator

Adam is the RSA Academies Coordinator with particular responsibility for finance alongside providing general support for the team. He previously worked for the Royal Mencap Society in their finance department.


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.

Malcolm Forbes


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


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


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


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.

Nicola Beech


Nic has been Principal of Ipsley CE RSA Academy since May 2015. She entered teaching after studying law and working at Barnado’s.  Nic 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.

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 in teaching and learning, and aims 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.


Di Smith

Head, Abbeywood First School & Church Hill Middle School

Di has been Head at Abbeywood First School since 2008 and previously was a Teacher Advisor for Learning and Teaching with the Local Authority. Di has experience of teaching in First, Primary and Middle schools in Worcestershire as an Advanced Skills Teacher.  She is trained as an Ofsted Inspector, and continues to support local schools as a Local Leader in Education.

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

Principal, Ipsley CE RSA Academy

Nic has been Principal of Ipsley CE RSA Academy since May 2015. She entered teaching after studying law and working at Barnado’s.  Nic 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.

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.

Patricia Hammond

Principal, RSA Academy

Trish Hammond became Principal at the RSA Academy in 2017. She was previously the Principal at Ipsley CE RSA Academy. Prior to this she was Senior Vice Principal at Whitley Academy from 2008-2012. Trish has particular experience and expertise in raising attainment KS2-KS5 and in whole school system re-design.  She is also experienced in providing support to other schools, for example Arrow Vale RSA Academy (secondary curriculum re-design) and the Nicholas Chamberlain school (raising attainment and data – secondary)

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.

Kathryn Wright

Principal, Whitley Academy

Kathryn has 24 years’ experience in the education sector as a teacher, the last 10 of which have been in senior leadership posts at Whitley Academy. She completed the National Professional Qualification for School Inspectors in July 2015. Working as a Specialist Leader of Education, Kathryn has spent significant time in both primary and secondary schools across the region, developing teaching and learning practices and delivering professional development for teachers to improve outcomes for students.

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.