The Board of Trustees, the body that oversees the running of STEP Academy Trust, meets once or twice each term and is supported in its work by the Company Secretary and Senior Clerk.

The Articles of Association, which defines the Trust’s constitution, makes provision for a board with a minimum of three trustees.  With effect from September 2015, the Board is comprised of: Members, Non Executive Trustees and  Executive Trustees.

STEP Members:

Janet Hilary

Janet Hilary has been a headteacher in London for over twenty years and is a National Leader of Education. Both her schools were rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and received many local and national awards for excellence.  Her most recent school was designated a National Support School and provided school improvement training to more than a hundred schools across the UK. She has taken a key role in equipping the next generation of leaders to create excellent schools. Most recently, she has been raising school effectiveness in Iowa in the USA and is currently engaged in supporting primary school leaders in MATs across the south region. Janet was an expert member of the Keeble Review into Primary School Effectiveness in 2016.  Janet’s work is rooted in public service and she believes that school leadership is the best job in the world.


Nikki King OBE, Honorary Chairman and former Managing Director of Isuzu Truck UK
Inspirational, charismatic, supportive, empowering, Nikki King is a legend in the male-dominated motor industry, where she has received numerous awards, including an OBE for services to the motor industry.
A part time secretary after raising her family, Nikki returned to work full time at the age of 40. In 1996 she set up Isuzu Truck UK and grew it into the multi million pound business it is today.
She pioneered flexible working at ITUK where over 50% of the senior management team is female. She has also won awards for customer care. After facilitating a buy out in 2013 of ITUK by Isuzu Motors Japan Nikki stepped down as MD and became its Honorary Chairman.
While Nikki continues to work with Isuzu Truck UK she is also Chairman of the Greenacres Academies Trust and is the only business leader in the UK to be appointed to one of the eight Head Teacher Boards, a Dept of Education Initiative.


Andrew Morley – Andrew Morley is a former Senior Civil Servant with experience across the Home Office and Ministry of Justice now advising Public Sector and Government clients internationally.

His last significant leadership role was as the very first chief executive to the London Criminal Justice Partnership from 2005 to 2011 where he designed and delivered the authoritative crime partnership arrangements for London, which in turn oversaw significant improvements in the timeliness and effectiveness of criminal justice. Prior to this, Andrew held Civil Service roles in policing, mental health, prisons and Immigration.
He has chaired two Governing Bodies for schools in Croydon and a track record of enabling school leadership teams to deliver rapid and sustained improvements in attainment. He currently chairs two social enterprises with a focus on justice and education, and is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Criminal Policy Research at the University of London and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts.


Danny Sullivan – Danny Sullivan is a former primary Headteacher in the 1980s and former Director of Education for the Diocese of Oxford.  Chair of the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission in England and Wales (succeeding Baroness Scotland in 2012).  Until recently, he worked as a schools broker at DfE covering the South East region.

Danny retired as a Hampshire magistrate in 2014 having sat in the family and criminal courts.

Danny was previously a Trustee and continues to provide valuable support and expertise to  STEP Academy Trust.




Mark Ducker PicMark Ducker OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Executive Trustee
Mark Ducker was appointed Headteacher of Gonville Primary School in September 2002. Six years later, Gonville was rated Outstanding by Ofsted, which led to the school becoming an accredited National Support School (NSS) and Mark being a National Leader in Education (NLE). Through his work as a NLE, he has supported a number of schools in London.  In May 2011, the Governing Body of Gonville established STEP Academy Trust (Striving Together for Excellence in Partnership) and converted to become an academy. Founded on moral purpose, the Trust was created to transform underperforming schools. The multi-academy trust currently has thirteen academies spread across two geographical areas, South London and East Sussex.  Initially managed alongside his Executive Headteacher role at Gonville Academy, in November 2012 Mark was appointed Chief Executive Officer of STEP Academy Trust. In September 2014 the role became a full-time position.

In January 2015, Mark was appointed a Co-opted Member of the Headteacher Board for South London and the South East of England.

Most recently, Mark has been awarded the OBE in The Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours List for services to education.


Isabelle Dennigan, Non Executive Trustee/Chair of Governors, Heathfield Academy & La Fontaine Academy

Isabelle Dennigan is an accomplished professional with a proven track record of managing strategic projects and has extensive experience in managing people in a Customer Services and controlled environment, including the past 17 years in Investment Banking Operations. Isabelle joined the finance industry in 1997. Since then, she has held a number of positions in Operations at different banks. In her current role, she oversees European Operations where she is responsible for 170 staff.  Her mandate is to ensure that the European operations strategy is aligned to business strategy. Isabelle has been a Trustee since March 2014 and is also Vice Chair of  STEP Operations & Audit Committee.

Patrick McAleenan, Non Executive Trustee, Chair of Operations & Audit Committee
Patrick McAleenan is a retired Chartered Accountant with over 30 years’ experience as a Senior Executive and Board member.  Patrick has extensive people management skills and experience of building and leading teams from different backgrounds and cultures. He is also a practical and pragmatic manager of finance and IT functions. Patrick has worked for several organisations, including Director of Finance of EMAP UK; CFO of UBM Data Services, a UBM PLC division and has also been a Trustee of a UBM Pension Fund.  Until his retirement, Patrick was employed by AXIO Data Group Ltd which was the PE buy-out of UBM’s £200m Data Services business, being responsible for the creation of the financial business plan that supported the buy-out. Patrick has been a Trustee of STEP Academy Trust since November 2014.  He is also Chair of STEP Audit Committee, providing valuable experience to the Trust in this role.

Dr Kate Chhatwal, STEP Trustee – Chair of STEP Standards Committee

Kate is passionate about education and social justice, and has extensive experience of researching, designing and implementing policies and programmes to improve educational outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged children. Kate currently holds a number of roles: as Director of Southwark Teaching School Alliance; founder of her own education consultancy, Empowering School Leaders; and Co-Founder of the Leading Women’s Alliance. She previously worked as Chief Programme Officer at the Future Leaders Trust, and as a Senior Civil Servant at the Department for Education – where she was responsible for the flagship National Challenge Programme and academy funding policy, among other things. She holds a doctorate in English and Scottish education policy from the European University Institute in Florence.

Kate joined STEP Academy Trust in October 2015 and established and chairs the STEP Standards Committee.

ross-gardner-pic-2Ross Gardner, Non-Executive Trustee
Global Delivery & Business Engagement Lead for Technology & Operations for the Royal Bank of Canada, Ross is responsible for defining the global strategic operating model for the Technology and Operations (T & O) group (10,000+ employees).

Ross joined the Board of Trustees in March 2015 and provides valuable advice by serving on the STEP Audit Committee.

Paul Glover, Deputy Chief Executive Office, Executive Trustee –
Paul Glover has worked in primary schools for the last fourteen years driving rapid school improvement.  He has taught and held leadership roles in the West Midlands and several boroughs across London.  Paul has worked as a Governor for the last eight years, including the role as Chair of Auriol Junior School in Epsom.  Paul has been a STEP Headteacher since 2011 and Executive Headteacher since September 2013.  Paul has been successfully using a “Leadership Plus” model of support whereby he works as Executive Headteacher supporting the Headteacher to develop and rapidly transform a school.  In December 2011, Paul was employed as Headteacher of Applegarth Junior School which had been in Special Measures for fifteen months.  Following a rapid transformation, in June 2012, the school was regraded as Good by Ofsted in all areas.  Paul recently completed the Leadership Plus model at Angel Oak Academy in Southwark and in July 2015 was appointed as Deputy CEO of STEP.


The Board of Trustees is supported by:

STEP Company Secretary, Cheryl Gilbert

STEP Senior Clerk, Carol Fagan

Details of the constitution and membership of Strategic Governing Bodies are available on member Academy websites.