Board of Trustees' Profiles


Chief Executive Officer


  • 25+ years English teacher (11-18).
  • 14+ years Strategic Leadership Teams in three different schools (East Midlands and Oxfordshire).
  • Leadership experience in a range of school contexts (multicultural, areas of high deprivation, city).
  • MA Educational Leadership (Univ. of Nottm), NPQH.

John west burnham







Prof. John West-Burnham

Chair of the Board


John West-Burnham works as an independent teacher, writer and consultant in leadership development. John worked in schools, further and adult education for fifteen years before moving into higher education. He has held professorships in five universities and is currently Honorary Professor of Education at the University of Worcester and Visiting Professor in Educational Leadership, University of Suffolk.

He has worked with Schools, local authorities and MATs on leadership development, school improvement, and the leadership of teaching and learning. He has been actively involved in the setting up of four academy trusts. He has also been actively involved in the creation of two educational charities – GR8ASUR and the Laurel Trust

He is author of Managing Quality in Schools; Rethinking Educational Leadership; co-author of Understanding Leadership, Leadership Dialogues1 and 2; Leading and Managing Schools; Education for Social Justice; Systems Leadership; Spiritual and moral development in schools; Schools and Communities; Personalizing Learning: Making Every Child Matter, Effective Learning in Schools, Leadership and Professional Development in Schools and co-editor of Performance Management in Schools, Educational Leadership and the Community, The Handbook of Educational Leadership and Management and 12 other books and over 30 articles and chapters.

His work has been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, Malay, Slovenian, and Spanish

John has worked in Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, The Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Qatar, the Republic of Ireland, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE and the USA. He was a coordinator of the European School Leadership Project.

His current research and writing interests include securing equity in education, leadership for high performance; ‘Closing the gap’ - leading teaching and learning; transformational leadership, leadership learning and development; collaborative leadership and educational leadership in the community.

John is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Member REAch2 Academy Trust 2014 - 2016

Trustee ( Vice Chair) Astrea Academy Trust 2016 - 2018

Chair of the trustees of the Southern Educational Leadership Trust 2012 - 2018

Trustee (Chair) Olive Academy Trust ( Alternative Provision) 2015 - continuing

Trustee (Chair) Asset MAT Ipswich 2016 - continuing

Leadership Development Adviser, National School for Educational Leadership, Slovenia

Leadership consultant to NPDL in Amsterdam

Senior Adviser, Centre for Relational Learning, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Consultant to the Leadership Development Schools project, Ministry of Education, Republic of Ireland

Consultant, Innovative Schools Project, Microsoft

Adviser, BI Norwegian Business School

Penny gardner image





Penny Gardner


  • Finance professional with strong commercial background.
  • Experienced Finance Director with a successful track record of leadership at strategic management level in values led organisations and local government.
  • Combines strong analytical and technical skills with the ability to build effective relationships and deliver results.
  • Currently a Finance Director with strategic leadership of the company’s finances including raising new equity and debt finance.

Claire King







Claire King


  • 17+ years Science teacher (11-18) with 14+ middle and senior leadership experienced, most recently joined a school in special measures as Deputy Headteacher and achieved removal of special measures status.
  • Experienced in safeguarding and welfare.
  • Leadership Pathways qualified.
  • Previous experience of working with Universities on teacher training programs.
  • Currently working for an International software company in the learning and development department.
Chris laing
Dr. Chris Laing


  • Over 20 years' experience involving senior roles in the U.K., Hong Kong, Australia and the U.A.E.
  •  A Managing Director heading various equity capital market teams in a wide variety of sectors.
  • Experienced leadership of transaction teams advising governments, listed and private companies in raising equity capital.
  • Has a strong interest in education and has a BA and D.Phil. in chemistry and organic chemistry respectively from Oxford University.
  • Particular interest in children with Special Educational Needs.

Colin Mitchell







Colin Mitchell


  • Over 30 years’ experience in corporate mergers and acquisitions work across UK and EU including successfully completing management buy-outs and buy-ins.
  • Former business governor of large sixth-form college in Berkshire and chairman of educational charitable trust.
  • Experienced CEO, group finance director (FCCA) and non-executive director of various commercial companies and in the arts.
  • Experienced in strategic business planning, business transformation and projects involving executive mentoring.
  • 16 years as a magistrate in Berkshire.
  • Experienced business development director including responsibility for global sales.
  • Joined The Mill Academy as a trustee in December 2017.