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 and their details can be found on the LAB page of each academy website.
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.
Director of Finance, Audit and Risk (Interim basis)- RONY VALENY
Rony Valeny is currently Head of Marine Services at Union Maritime Limited. Formerly Rony was the CEO of GEMS UK and Europe and was responsible for the quality and growth of GEMS’ independent schools in both regions. Formerly, Rony worked in 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 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.
Director – LEAH PERRING
Leah Perring is currently deputy head at Ashton Keynes CE Primary School in Wiltshire, having previously worked as an assistant head at Gorse Hill Primary in Swindon and as a phase leader at Robinswood Academy Trust in Gloucester.
Leah has taken part in annual Challenge Partner reviews for the past few years whereby teams of inspectors and other school senior leaders visit and supply a rigorous quality assurance check. She has also been on an outward review working alongside others to review a school in Hounslow.
Having worked at both state primaries and MATs, Leah has knowledge and experience of varied governance structures and is a current associate governor at AKPS. Leah gives her time to Trust governance on a voluntary basis.
Director – LARA ROBSON
Lara is a qualified and experienced solicitor and mother of 2 primary age children. She has professional experience in both the education and charity sector and has trained Boards of Directors in aspects of compliance with company articles and assisted with legal updates. She is also experience in handling and resolving legal disputes. Lara gives her time to Trust governance on a voluntary basis.
Director – SANKET SOLANKI
Sanket is a CIMA qualified accountant with recent experience working at CapGemini and is now an independent consultant. Formerly, Sanket worked at Unilever in a Business Partner role, at BskyB in finance/CapEx and has experience writing financial policies, ecommerce, accounts, marketing, the implementation of new technology, software development, and cost optimisation for SMES and Multinational corporations. He is an independent, non-executive director of the GEMS Learning Trust and will take over the finance role from Rony later this academic year.
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
In Memory – Andy Collings
Very sadly, Andy Collings, our Director of Finance, Audit and Risk, passed away in April 2018. Andy was a director of the GEMS Learning Trust from very early on and was committed to successfully setting up and running the trust on a voluntary basis. Andy was also Chief Operating Officer of the Challenger Academy Trust and former Finance Director of GEMS UK and Europe. We will remember Andy for his endless energy and good nature and for the pride he took in all his roles.