GEMS Learning Trust Central Board

GEMS Learning Trust Board

Our Central Governing Board

All schools are overseen by the central Governing Board.  All Directors are selected for the range of skills and expertise they bring to help realise our vision and values in the GEMS Learning Trust academies and to ensure effective strategic leadership and management. Terms of office are four years. Parent governors sit on the Local Academy Boards.


Chair of the Trust Board – DR HARRY ZIMAN 

Dr Harry Ziman is a National Leader of Governance and a Director of the Independent Academies Association. He has chaired numerous governing bodies and is a recognised system leader. His services are much in demand to lead Interim Executive Boards of schools in both primary and secondary phases, and he is a regular speaker on the subject of governance at the Academies Show.  During his tenure as chair of Kelsall Primary School, the school was judged to be Outstanding by Ofsted; and throughout his governance, the school formed the first Teaching School Alliance. Dr Ziman has also chaired Interim Executive Boards at West Bank and Upton Heath C of E Primary Schools; both of which improved so rapidly, that Ofsted judged them as Good schools, post requiring Special Measures. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Harry also has a successful consulting business.

Vice Chair of the Trust Board – JOE GARROD

Joe Garrod is an Associate Director and Lead Advisor for an organisation called Cleanslate. He has over 10 years’ experience of successfully delivering complex investment and development programmes. His track record includes working both as a private sector bid manager and as a client-side advisor; and his sectorial experience spans education, health, and regeneration. Joe’s key, educational experience includes projects on the Building Schools for the Future programme, St Catherine’s Academy and Firwood School in Bolton, RSA Academy, Sandwell, and Eden Primary School in Muswell Hill. Joe also works for the Education Funding Agency as a Project Director, leading the procurement of a batch of six schools located in South East London as part of the Priority Schools Building Programme. He is an Independent Member and Director of the GEMS Learning Trust.

CEO and Director of Operations  JODIE CROFT

Jodie Croft is the founder and chief executive of the GEMS Learning Trust. She joined GEMS in January 2013 from Swedish Free School Company, IES, where she established a new secondary free school in Norfolk, UK, and her previous roles have included Deputy Head of Brentside High School in Ealing and Middle Leadership at Longford Community School in Feltham. Jodie oversees all operational matters as well as providing executive oversight of GEMS Learning Trust.

Chief Education Officer, Director of SEND,  Safeguarding and Child Protection  TERRI DE QUINCEY

Trained Ofsted Inspector and a former Director of London Leadership Strategy, Terri has successfully led two outstanding state schools in London, based on her educational approach. Additionally, as part of London Challenge and The London Leadership Strategy, she has effectively supported schools in Wandsworth, Brighton and Hove and Southwark.  Terri provides effective leadership and school improvement expertise. Terri will ensure outstanding teaching and learning in GEMS Learning Trust Academies, advise on system leadership and structures that create the environment for high standards for all children, and ensure strategic plans reflect the vision and ethos of the school, and translate them into actions which have impact.  With extensive experience in primary, and experience in secondary and initial teacher training, Terri has the skills and experience to offer bespoke support in response to specific, organisational needs.

Director – RONY VALENY

Rony Valeny has recently taken up the post of CEO of GEMS UK and Europe and is responsible for the quality and growth of GEMS’ independent schools in both regions. He joins the wider GEMS organisation from the Deloitte Middle East Financial Advisory Practice, where he headed up the Technology, Media & Telecommunications division for the region following a decade with PricewaterhouseCoopers in London. Rony is a qualified chartered accountant with a proven track record advising corporate and private equity clients as well as lending banks. Rony lends his expertise to the Trust on a voluntary basis.


Director of Finance, Audit and Risk  ANDY COLLINGS

Andy was, until recently, the Chief Finance Officer of GEMS UK and Europe. He led finance for the UK and Europe verticals within the GEMS Education Rest of World business, supporting the Rest of World CFO and the Senior Management Team. His particular focus was helping the GEMS business expand its service lines and geographical footprint whilst maintaining strong, financial control and providing vital management information. Andy is now set to join the Challenger Academy Trust as Chief Operating Officer. He gives his time and expertise to GEMS Learning Trust on a voluntary basis.

Director of Recruitment – DANIELLE WEST 

Danielle currently leads the development, design and implementation of the strategy for recruiting first-class Principals/Head of Schools/Executive Leaders from around the world for GEMS Education. Danielle assists the GEMS Learning Trust in all matters relating to recruitment as well as assisting with the governance on Edudcational Standards. Prior to working at GEMS, Danielle was a member of an Executive Leadership Team at a large Multi Academy Trust; developing strategic direction, quality assurance and operational delivery for the Company working alongside the CEO, Director of Finance and Director of Education. She undertook school operations and developed policies and practices for the group of nearly 40 Academies.


Hannah Wilson is the Headteacher Designate for Aureus School, Didcot and Regional Director of the Oxfordshire Hub for GLF Schools. Aureus is a Year 7 start-up school which will be opened in September 2017.

Prior to this Hannah was the Professional Learning Lead Consultant for the Harris Federation. She progressed through the MAT as a Middle Leader, a Pastoral Leader, an Assistant Principal and a Vice Principal. She has led rapid improvements in Teaching and Learning moving inadequate provision to excellent through coaching and targeted professional learning.

Hannah is also the Co-Founder of #WomenEd, a grassroots gender equality movement that connects aspiring, emerging and serving women leaders in education. She wants the school leadership teams around the country to reflect the diverse workforce. She is also a coach in the DfE’s women leading in education coaching pilot. Hannah is an independent director and sits on the Standards Committee.

Click here for the Governors handbook which includes the remit of each committee and board.

Click here for the register of Member, Director and LAB Business Interests 

Click here for the log of Governor’s visits to the academies