As an experienced educationalist, having worked in five different secondary schools, three of them in the St Albans and Harpenden area, Alan has a strong understanding of what students and parents expect from their local school. Alan has senior leadership experience in three high performing schools and as the Headteacher of Roundwood Park School he is really excited by the prospect of working with his fellow Headteachers, Rothamsted Research and the University of Hertfordshire to set up this new school.
Jenny Howarth – Chair
Jenny joined the KWS Board of Trustees in January 2019 as a Community Governor. She has been involved with the ‘New School for Harpenden’ project since its inception in 2013 through her involvement with Harpenden Parents Group, a community action group focusing on local school places. Jenny has lived in Harpenden since 2010 and has two primary aged daughters educated locally.
Jenny is a practising solicitor; she works for a global insurance company and focuses on financial and professional risks. Jenny passionately believes that all children deserve an excellent state education providing them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in our ever changing world. She looks forward to supporting Katherine Warington School achieve its goals and aims.
Claire Robins – Member
Claire Robins is head of Sir John Lawes School in Harpenden. After reading Classics at Oxford University, Claire gained a PGCE in English and taught at a number of schools in Hertfordshire before being appointed deputy head at SJL in 2003 and becoming head in 2006. In 2008, Sir John Lawes became a National Support School and Claire was made a National Leader of Education, since when she has led on school to school support work with several local schools, leading to the setting up of the Sir John Lawes Academies Trust in 2011. In 2012, Sir John Lawes became joint lead school in the Alban Teaching School Alliance, which contains the Alban Federation SCITT.
Claire has sat on the Regional Schools’ Commissioner’s Head Teacher Board for the NWLSC region since its inception. She is also a founding trustee of HertsCam Network, a group which aims to improve teaching through teacher leadership.
Helen Barton – Member
Helen is the Headmistress of St George’s School in Harpenden, taking up the post in September 2017. Having studied for a degree in Geography, Helen went on to train as an Accountant in industry. Realising accounting wasn’t for her; she returned to full time study and gained her PGCE in 1993 teaching at a number of schools, both independent and state sectors, within the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire areas. Arriving at St George’s in January 2005 as an Assistant Headteacher whilst studying for her Master’s in Education, she became Deputy Headteacher in September 2008. Helen is a hugely passionate and skilled educator, who’s greatest desire is to see our children grow up to lead fulfilled lives, enjoy healthy lifestyles and make a positive contribution to the wider community.
Helen is looking forward to working with the trust and supporting the development of the new free school.
Julie Newlan – Member
As Pro Vice-Chancellor, Julie is responsible for:
⦁ business development
⦁ marketing and communications
As well as overseeing strategy in these areas, she manages teams and initiatives relating to knowledge transfer, graduate employability, reputation management, fundraising and recruitment.
Julie’s role also covers leveraging intellectual property, and developing enterprise and entrepreneurship opportunities for students and staff.
As director of Marketing and Communications, Julie is also responsible for:
⦁ UK, EU and international recruitment
⦁ corporate media
⦁ PR and events
⦁ alumni relations
She joined the University’s Business School in 1996 as a Senior Lecturer in Business Strategy, and held various posts before being appointed Head of the Business School in 2006.
Julie’s academic career began at the London Institute in 1993, after achieving management success in the hotel and restaurant sector. This included running a chain of high street cafés for Martin The Newsagent, and subsequent strategic marketing position with Guinness when it acquired the business.
Julie was awarded her MBE for services to Higher Education in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2014.
Tony Smith – Trustee
Tony studied Economics at London School of Economics then worked for the BBC and EMI before setting up his own music and media companies. After an MBA at Cranfield University, he entered the education profession initially as an unqualified teacher. He trained via the GTP programme at the University of Hertfordshire and qualified as a teacher in 2008. Promoted shortly afterwards to the Senior Leadership Team as Assistant Headteacher at Roundwood Park School, he became Deputy Headteacher in 2012. Driving excellence in education by establishing the best structures to enable staff to deliver an enriching teaching experience and for students to thrive in a nurturing learning environment has been fundamental to the classroom and whole school work Tony has undertaken. He contributed to the initial proposal to establish a new secondary school in Harpenden in 2013 and has worked as project manager for the Trust since 2015. He takes up his position of founding Headteacher of the Katherine Warington School in January 2018.
Angela Karp – Member
Angela is Director for Science Innovation, Engagement and Partnerships at Rothamsted Research. She is leading the Institute’s overall strategy on external engagement and partnerships, and is developing new mechanisms for collaborative innovation, including a new accelerator initiative (AgRIA) to co-develop innovative solutions with businesses to challenges in agri-food. Angela has more than 35 years’ experience in crop genetics and breeding for food and bio-renewables. Her recent research career focused on optimising the sustainable yield and composition of perennial biomass crops (especially willows) for bioenergy, biofuels and other industrial products, under low-input arable systems. She has more than 130 refereed publications, co-authored a text book on genetics, and is co-editor of books on genetics and bioenergy. In 2007, she received the Royal Agricultural Society of England Research Medal and, in 2008, the Alfred-Toepfer Prize for her research achievements. Angela lives in Harpenden and has two children, one of whom attended Roundwood Park School.
John Burt – Trustee
John spent 30 years between 1989 and 2019 as a primary school practitioner. This included 20 years as a senior leader, 10 years of which were spent as Head Teacher of, Sauncey Wood Primary.
In 2018 he started to work part-time as a Visiting Tutor for the University of Hertfordshire and from 2019 this became his full-time role. This role concentrates on working with and supporting BEd and PGCE students on placement and interviewing new potential students.
Since February 2019, John has been a governor at Surrey Street Primary School in Luton and is Vice-Chair of Governors with specific responsibility for finance and safeguarding.
From September, 2021, I am supporting KWS with the assessment of their Early Careers Teachers.
Neal Tobin – Trustee
Neal retired from an accomplished and successful military career as a senior non commission officer after serving in a significant number of theatres and conflict zones around the world.
Since moving into his civilian career he has gained over 20 years qualifications and experience in Senior Facilities Management, Health and Safety, Construction, Property Estate Rationalisation and Workplace Environment, specialising in hard services facilities management, corporate office fit out and estate portfolio management across the UK and Europe. His Career has spanned the Private sector, Not for Profit Charity sector and the Public Health sector.
He currently leads the Hard Services Facilities Management for one of the largest NHS Trusts in the UK delivering care where it is most needed.
Donna Witter – Trustee
Donna currently serves as a parent governor at KWS and sits on the Education Committee. She is an experienced educationalist having worked in the sector for the past 16 years starting out as a teacher. She spent much of her career working in a large London Comprehensive School in Hampstead before moving to Bedfordshire and taking up a post as an Assistant Head in a Secondary School. From there she moved to another large comprehensive school and on both occasions was Head of the English Department. In addition, she has trained as an English examiner and has overseen the marking of a plethora of English GCSE language scripts over the years.
Presently Donna works in a department within Hertfordshire Local Authority as an Education Advisor tracking the progress and attainment of a cohort of vulnerable children across East Hertfordshire, Welwyn, Hatfield, Bedfordshire and Lincolnshire. Her role sees her travelling across counties offering support to schools and teachers in positions of Senior Leadership – a role that she finds extremely fulfilling and rewarding.
Having three children of her own Donna is no stranger to governance and has also served as a parent governor for the past 8 years at her youngest son’s Primary School. Highlights have included helping the school to grow into two separate sites and championing the transition of this ‘Outstanding’ Primary to Academy status; additionally, serving as vice chair and then being voted to the post of Chair of Governors in the last academic year.
Previous pursuits have included stints in children’s television and for many years competing in brass bands competitions around the country and entertaining abroad. She is therefore proud to be a member of the ‘Brent Brass’ alumni.
Charlotte Zacharia – Trustee
Charlotte is an ACCA qualified Chartered Accountant with over 15 years’ experience working in practice. Having now run her own accountancy practice for 5 years as well as having her technical knowledge and keen eye for statistics, Charlotte now spends the majority of her working life undertaking business growth and development work with her clients.
Over the last two years, Research and Development has played a major role in Charlotte’s skill set and she has managed to secure over £4.5 million in Research and Development tax for innovative companies in the local area.
Charlotte has undertaken 3 years as Parent Governor for a school in Barnet as well as 3 years treasurer for that school’s PTA
Charlotte is really excited to be involved in KWS, and giving back to the community and the pupils of the school, including her own son currently in Year 8 and in 3 years, her daughter.
Alex Vickers – Trustee
Alex joined the board in late 2020 as a finance trustee. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (England and Wales) having qualified over 10 years ago with a Big 4 Accountancy practice. He currently works for a multinational Financial Services Company as the UK Financial Controller in London and holds several Directorships within the Group. In this role, he is primarily responsible for financial reporting, financial process improvement and analysing annual performance against budgets.
Alex moved to Harpenden with his wife and two daughters three years ago and is excited about giving back to the local community through his role on the Board.
Simon Laing – Trustee
Simon has worked in the financial sector since graduating in Engineering Science. He is a CFA charterholder with over 22 years of experience at large multi-national firms. He has been responsible for teams managing US and Global Equity investment portfolios and has expertise in Socially Responsible Investing. In his roles, he has interacted with and advised public company managements and boards.
Simon and his wife have three sons and moved to the Harpenden area seventeen years ago. He has coached local rugby and cricket teams and is delighted to have the opportunity to help KWS achieve its purpose.
Suzy Lawrence – Trustee
Suzy spent eight years working as a solicitor in London specialising in Construction law before changing career to work in academia. She is now studying for a PhD in Shakespeare and teaching undergraduate students at a London university. She is also involved in wider participation work which focuses on encouraging and enabling sixth form students to apply to university. She believes in the importance of opening up higher education to make it accessible to every student possible.
Suzy moved to Wheathampstead ten years ago and has a son and a daughter currently at primary school. She is very excited about helping Katherine Warington School continue to grow and to help it achieve its aims of providing an inspiring and fulfilling education to all of its pupils.
Dani Cook – Trustee
Dani has an MBA from Oxford University, 20 years of ecommerce business experience, and has worked in 4 different countries in her career. She currently leads Commerce Partnerships for a global social media platform and co-chairs a company mentorship programme helping year-12 students gain the soft and technical skills needed for a career in STEM.
Dani joined the KWS Trustee board in early 2022 and is excited to be part of the team. She has lived in Harpenden for 10 years and has two children, one currently attending KWS. She previously served on the parent committee of her children’s Primary school.
Rebecca Robertson – Governance Professional
Rebecca worked in banking for 17 years before entering the world of education. She is currently School Business Manager in a large primary school near St Albans. She reports to their Governors and has worked with 3 different leadership teams over the last 10 years. She is the Founder and current Chair of the Hertfordshire Association of School Business Managers which has over 170 members.
Rebecca was a parent Governor for 6 years (2 1/2 years as Vice Chair) in a St Albans school, the Treasurer of the PTA for several years and has also clerked for over 2 years in her own school.
Rebecca is very happy to be joining KWS on its exciting journey.