Who's who

L.E.A.D. Academy Trust (to cease trading):

Members:  None

Trustees:  None


L.E.A.D. Multi-Academy Trust (to be renamed L.E.A.D. Academy Trust):


  • Deryn Harvey
  • Howard Dowell
  • Peter Berry
  • Liz Talmadge


  • Diana Owen CBE
  • Mark Blois
  • Ian Hancocks
  • Melvin Kenyon
  • Nick Ydlibi
  • Paul Graham
  • David Williams


L.E.A.D. Services:


  • L.E.A.D. Multi-Academy Trust


  • Diana Owen CBE
  • Peter Berry
  • Michael Brunner
  • Bobby Thandi
  • Paul Worley

Executive Team for the Multi-Academy Trust:

  • Diana Owen CBE
  • Bobby Thandi
  • Neil Spencelayh

Diana Owen

Diana Owen CBE

Diana is a Trustee and the Chief Executive of the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust. The Trust, which Diana set up in 2011, now consists of 25 schools. The schools are based in the Midlands and the North of England, educating children between the ages of 2 to 19 years. Previously Diana was a headteacher for fourteen years, and during this time, successfully led a school from special measures through to two consecutive outstanding Ofsted judgements.

Diana has a wealth of experience having worked in a number of different schools. She has been an executive headteacher and has supported other schools as an National Leader of Education, a Primary Strategy Consultant Leader, coach and mentor. Through this work she has supported schools leadership teams nationally and has also met with ministers on a number of occasions to help steer government agendas.

Diana has been involved in a number of national leadership steering groups and research projects as well as delivering presentations to audiences nationally and internationally. Diana has also lived and worked in San Francisco and Hong Kong.

In June 2015, Diana was awarded a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for her services to education.


Mark BloisMark Blois

Mark is a Partner and Head of the education team at Browne Jacobson, a leading national education law firm. He has almost twenty years' experience as an education lawyer and over ten years as a governor across the maintained school, academy and further education sectors. He is a National Leader of Governance (NLG) and has been recommended as a Leader in the field of education in the Chambers UK & Legal 500 legal professional directories for over ten years, the former of which has described him as "an industry leader". Mark has chaired L.E.A.D. throughout its journey from a primary school to a stand-alone academy and onto the large multi-academy trust that L.E.A.D is today. He has previously served as a member of the Regional Council of the Learning and Skills Council and as a Director of the National Governors' Association. Mark regularly speaks at conferences including those of the Association of School & College Leaders, National Association of Head Teachers, National Association of School Business Management and National Governors' Association and he has been interviewed by BBC Panorama, BBC Radio Four and Sky News. He has contributed over 100 papers, articles and book chapters to education literature on a variety of aspects of education law and has given oral evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee. He is also a long-standing Teach First mentor. Mark is married with twin daughters.




Deryn HarveyDeryn Harvey

Deryn joined The Learning Partnership as a non-exec Director in August 2009. From 2002 to 2009 as Director of The Innovation Unit, Deryn supported hundreds of schools, colleges and LAs in their quest for solutions to the biggest challenges facing the system. In her former privileged position of senior civil servant in the DFES, she and the IU team had direct access to ministers and policy makers, thereby helping bridge the gap between practitioners and policy formation.

Formerly, Deryn was the Headteacher of Willow Tree Primary School in the London Borough of Ealing. One of the largest primary schools in England, Willow Tree was the result of an amalgamation of three schools undertaken by Deryn in 1993. She had seventeen years of headship experience.

During her time as a management consultant with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Deryn worked with a variety of government departments including the then Department for Children Schools and Families.

Currently Deryn is leading on the National College New Models of Leadership Programme, where she and her team are "out there" with practitioners, finding out what is going on on the ground and in turn advising practitioners, LAs and policy makers on the possible ways forward and implications for leadership.


Peter Berry

Peter Berry

Peter is a marketing consultant working with a wide range of clients in the education, government and private sectors.

He has worked with the Department of Education on policy marketing issues and recently on its competitions for New Schools across the North of England. Other education projects include commissions for Teachers TV. He has also provided advice for numerous schools, education think tanks, a number of Children's Services departments and a leading education recruitment consultancy.

Peter was Director of Marketing and Communications for the National College of School Leadership (NCSL) for five years from its inception and played a leading role in establishing its reputation and impact nationally and internationally. His involvement across the range of policy and implementation issues associated with school leadership initiatives ensured and continues to ensure a depth of understanding of the schools' landscape.

Prior to NCSL, he was Assistant Chief Executive (Marketing & Corporate Affairs) for City of York Council. He has worked as a consultant with public and private sector organisations in Slovakia, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark and Australia, as well as the UK.

He has been a member of the CIPR Awards Judging Panel and holds an Advanced Diploma in Public Relations. He studied at the University of Kent, the University of Wales Aberystwyth, Leeds Met University, and Manchester Grammar School.


Howard DowellHoward Dowell

Howard's professional background is as a Chartered Surveyor; he is a partner at Freeman Mitchell Chartered Surveyors, where he has worked for over thirty years.

He has many years of experience as a charity trustee; for twenty five years Howard was a Trustee for The Nottinghamshire Hospice.

Originally from the Nottinghamshire area, Howard attended West Bridgford Grammar School and obtained his degree in estate management from Reading University.


Ian Hancocks

Ian Hancocks

Ian Hancocks is part of the senior leadership team at Kaplan in the UK, a leading provider of finance, business and leadership training. He joined Kaplan's professional development business in 2010 as its managing director and during 2013 was appointed as leader of client solutions and account management across Kaplan UK.

Ian is based in London; however, he spends much of his time around the UK meeting clients, prospective clients and his team.

Ian previously worked in PricewaterhouseCoopers in corporate finance, before seven years at United Business Media in strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and digital and business unit leadership roles. He completed his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) qualification in 2004.

After 10 years living in London he escaped to the countryside in 2011 and now lives in Lincolnshire with his wife, son and daughter, two cats and dog! In his spare time he attempts to compete a few Triathlons a year and spend time with his family.


Melvin Kenyon

Melvin Kenyon

Melvin worked for 20 years in retail for the John Lewis Partnership, Richard Shops, Boots, and T&S Stores where he was a member of the plc board for five years. He later spent almost 10 years working for the National College for School Leadership, an agency of the Department for Education, in a variety of leadership roles, including Chief Operating Officer. His core skills are in IT and he still carries out occasional pieces of IT consultancy.

He has also been responsible for a variety of other corporate services including HR, procurement, membership, and facilities management; he is qualified in programme and project management and in the management of risk. Melvin is a non-executive director of Ongo (formerly North Lincolnshire) Homes where he also serves on the Audit and Risk Committee. Originally from Oldham he attended Manchester Grammar School and then studied at Oxford University where he gained a degree in Classics and Modern Languages. He now lives in the East Midlands.


Nick Ydlibi

Nick Ydlibi

Nick has been Chair of the Local Governing Body at the Glapton Academy since it gained Academy status in October 2013. He is a chartered accountant by profession, having trained with Ernst and Young, and has worked in various financial roles across the Boots Company for the past 23 years, culminating in his current role as Senior Financial Manager for the Boots Opticians business.




David WilliamsDavid Williams

David began his professional career as a secondary school teacher before commissioning into the Royal Air Force in 1984. After 22 years military service in a variety of operational, command and diplomatic roles he joined Ofsted where he enjoyed both regional and national responsibilities. In 2014 he moved into Higher Education where he spent three years as a Senior Lecturer with the University of Lincoln. He now works with local agencies and organisations focusing primarily on promoting opportunities for young people.

David is a qualified teacher, has a Masters Degree in the Management of Human Resources, is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

David lives in Lincolnshire with his wife, has two grown children and is a keen cyclist. 


Paul Graham

 Paul Graham

Paul became a Non Executive Director with the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust in 2018. He is a Chartered Management Accountant who has spent 28 years working for Rolls-Royce in a number of Finance and Commercial roles culminating in his current role as Director of Commercial and Strategy. 

Paul has previously served as a Primary and Secondary School Governor for many years and holds an Institute of Directors Diploma in Company Direction.



Michael Brunner

Michael Brunner

Michael has a pharmacology degree and spent a year in research working at the Wellcome Foundation before moving into the commercial world. He also studied for and gained a Diploma in Marketing from the Institute of Marketing.

He has over 30 years' experience in sales, marketing and training, and team development in the healthcare and pharmaceutical arena. He has worked in the UK, as well as the Middle East, Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

In 2008 he founded Harlaxton Associates, a consultancy based in Nottingham offering help to growing businesses, and training and development for staff and managers.


Bobby Thandi

Bobby Thandi

Bobby became the Deputy Chief Executive of the L.E.A.D. Academy Trust in February 2016. He originally joined L.E.A.D. as the Business Director in January 2013 and is responsible for the strategic financial management, systems and operations of L.E.A.D. Academy Trust.

Bobby is a qualified chartered accountant and has previously worked within a large secondary school, free schools and the Children and Young People's Department of a local authority.

Bobby has provided consultancy services for schools covering finance, ICT, catering, project management, premises design and development. He has also previously held senior finance roles with employers ranging from the Audit Commission to Derbyshire Police Authority.


Neil Spencelayh

Neil Spencelayh

Neil became the Director of the L.E.A.D. Multi-Academy Trust in February 2016. He is responsible for leading on school improvement and quality assurance strategies across the academies. He plays an integral role within the Trust leading, both strategically and operationally, the support, advice and guidance that enable the academies to succeed and ensures the consistent delivery of L.E.A.D.'s principles and values.

Prior to this, Neil worked in Lincolnshire schools, gaining significant experience through a range of leadership roles, including over 11 years of headship experience in two contrasting schools. During his first headship at Spitalgate Primary School, the school was recognised for its rapid improvement and was judged to be one of the 100 most improved schools in the country. Neil's second headship involved establishing a new school, Witham St. Hugh's Academy, within a new community. This academy was judged outstanding by Ofsted across all aspects of its work. The academy also received accreditation as a National Support School and National Teaching School under Neil's leadership.

Using a range of coaching and mentoring strategies, Neil has led school-to-school support since 2007, working with colleagues in many varied settings and contexts. He became a National Leader of Education in 2013, primarily working with leadership teams of schools judged as inadequate or requiring improvement. Neil has also undertaken the Additional Inspector role during Ofsted inspections.


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