Meet the board members and directors
The Redstart Learning Partnership Academy Trust
Chair of The Redstart Learning Partnership Board
Eric van den Barselaar
I have been Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Redstart Learning Partnership since it was formed in March 2015. I first became involved in school governance as an elected parent governor at The Redstart Primary School in 2001. In 2006 I became Chair of Governors at Redstart.
As well as my knowledge and experience in school governance, I have also fulfilled governance roles on Boards in the NHS, where I work full-time as an Extended Scope Physiotherapist, specialising in spinal problems. From 2010 to 2015 I was Chairman of Chard and District Swimming Club.
It has been very exciting to be involved with the team at Redstart over the years and the formation of The Redstart Learning Partnership was the logical next step in the school’s development. Working with all the schools in The Partnership, aiming to provide an outstanding education for every child, has been equally exciting and rewarding.
I have had a long standing involvement with education in Somerset having been a Deputy Head and then Headteacher of two large Primaries as well as a Leading Adviser for Primary Education in Somerset. I retired 3 years ago but was still keen to stay involved in education and now, with a colleague, work as a consultant in schools across the West Country.
I have been lucky to have had a long standing connection with Redstart and am proud and honoured to continue this association as the school moves into the next and very exciting phase of its development.
The Redstart Learning Partnership Academy Trust
Suzanne Flack (Diocese Representative)
I am the Executive Principal and CEO of The Redstart Learning Partnership based at The Redstart Primary School. I work with all schools in our Multi Academy Trust and sit on the Board of Directors.
My role is to ensure that all pupils in any school in the Partnership receive the best educational experience and achieve to their full potential. I spend time in all of the schools working alongside the Heads of School and we work very closely together to develop each school.
I have a very strong leadership team which works across the Trust. This includes the Heads of School (Mrs Chris Hunt, The Redstart Primary School; Mr Jeremy Handscomb, Castle Primary School and Mr Steve Morton, Buckland St Mary C of E Primary School) , Director of Business and Finance, Mrs Jane Freestone, Mr Eric van den Barselaar the Chair of the Board and the Board of Directors.
It is my aim that every school in the Partnership will be outstanding.
I have been involved with Redstart as a governor since about 1998 when I worked at the Chard branch of Tesco and we supported the school with what was then the new Computers for Schools initiative.
I live and work in Honiton and work for Tesco as a Compliance Manager and have been with Tesco for almost 25 years, working in lots of stores in the South West in a variety of different roles.
I really enjoy being part of the school community and am a strong believer that every child has the right to a great education and they need good schools to help them develop. I am extremely proud to be a director of the Redstart Learning Partnership and to be part of a committed and resourceful team
I feel my role is to bring my skills and experience from the business world into the governance of the trust.
In my spare time I love photography and all sort of arts and crafts and am part of a charity fundraising group which keeps me busy.
I was born and raised in Chard and lived in Tatworth for a while before moving to Axminster in 2000.
My children both attended a local Primary school, where I was privileged to be elected as the Chair of Governors, having previously been the Chair of the Friends of School.
I am married to Jane and we have 2 children. Steph is in her NQT Year at an Upper School in Bedfordshire and Jake is in his second year, studying Economics at the London School of Economics. I have always taken a keen interest in their education and am pleased that I can bring all of my experiences to a new and very exciting role.
I have worked for a local regional company for the last 28 years, where I currently work as an Operations Manager with 40 staff, across 15 locations.
After graduating from the University of Bath in 2009 I moved to Taunton to train as a Chartered Accountant with Albert Goodman LLP. I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2012 based in the audit department. As well as working with companies and charities, I have acted for a number of academies across Somerset and Dorset over the last 5 years.
In March 2015 I was appointed to the Board of Directors for The Redstart Learning Partnership and I'm excited to put my professional skills to good use. With the resources and people we have available, the academy has an exciting future ahead of it. I very much look forward to the years ahead and what we will accomplish!
I retired last September after 38 years of teaching, the last twenty as Headteacher of Ashill Primary School near Ilminster. Prior to that I worked for the Service Children's Authority abroad, mainly in Germany, where I was Headteacher of two successful schools.
I have worked closely with The Redstart Primary School on many occasions in the past and was delighted to be appointed as a Partnership Director and look forward to working with such a delightful and successful school.
I live in Misterton and am thoroughly enjoying the spare time I now have. However, I'm never very far away from education. My partner is Headteacher of Wellesley Park Academy in Wellington and I'm hoping to do some voluntary work this year both there and at Redstart.
Theresa Gale (Diocese Representative)
Tess is a modern linguist by training and, prior to joining the diocese almost 13 years ago, worked in developing strategies for primary French teaching in Somerset, facilitating links with the Pays de la Loire region of France and leading a programme for teacher exchange. When citizenship was introduced into the curriculum, Tess worked on a three year pilot project looking at how to develop citizenship within the curriculum and developing international links between primary schools in Somerset and across the world.
In 2003, Tess was appointed as Buildings Officer to the Diocese, leading on capital investment, buildings, governance and school admissions, including the building and development of new primary schools. This role expanded to cover all areas of school organisation, subsequently including the emerging academy agenda. She was appointed as leader of the Schools Team in January 2009 and rapidly acquired an understanding of issues around school improvement and performance. She has been a governor at a VA secondary school, an FE college with a Christian foundation and currently at The Redstart Learning Partnership, has chaired admissions forums in two LA areas, been a member numerous statutory committees and works with diocesan colleagues at national level. She was appointed as Director of Education in September 2012.
Simon Billington – Director
Born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent, I trained and worked as a primary school teacher in Birmingham, before moving to Taunton in 2000. Having spent 4 years as an assistant headteacher at Minerva (then Halcon), I was headteacher of Buckland St Mary Primary School and then Priorswood Primary School in Taunton.
As a Christian, I was involved in my local church, Taunton Vineyard Church, while teaching full time, before taking on the leadership of the church with my wife Rachelle, at first bi-vocationally, before eventually stepping down as a headteacher in 2012 to commit to the post of Senior Pastor on a full time basis.
I have a passion for high quality education which equips children for life, and particularly to see children grow holistically as responsible citizens in an ever-changing world through the promotion of Christian values, and a discovery of their value and worth to a God who loves them.
My wife Rachelle and I have 4 boys - Jonah, Reuben, Gabriel and Caleb - and we enjoy a range of sport, music and being with friends in our spare time! I also love to read, particularly the books of C.S Lewis
I am thrilled at the opportunity to join the partnership as a MAT Board foundation director, and hope to play just a small part in helping children and staff across the partnership to achieve, thrive and be content in their time with us.
I am a Partner with Pardoes Solicitors and was thrilled to be asked to join the Board of Directors of Redstart Learning Partnership in March 2016. As a solicitor specialising in wills, probate and elderly client I am excited to be able to use my analytical, problem solving and people skills in a completely different sphere.
I live on the outskirts of Yeovil and have two teenage sons, who were both born and educated in Somerset. As they now embark on their chosen careers I have some time to myself! I am very much looking forward to being part of the Redstart Learning Partnership as it goes from strength to strength.
Beth Souster – Clerk to the Board of Directors
I started at The Redstart Learning Partnership in December 2015 as the new Trust Manager, a role that is completely new to the Trust. My role was been introduced to co-ordinate activities across the schools in the multi academy trust, clerking responsibilities for the Board and LAB’s, assisting with the set up and development of the Redstart Teaching Alliance (Teaching School) and supporting Suzanne Flack, CEO, so a very busy and varied role!
I am thrilled to be part of such a successful and fantastic team here at Redstart. Previously I worked for an education organisation for 11 years, so luckily I have a good understanding of the education sector and thoroughly enjoy working in an environment that contributes to improving the life chances of young people.
I have 2 young children – Isla who is 11 and Ava who is 7 both are now at The Redstart Primary School.
The Trust and the teaching school are on such an exciting journey and I am so pleased to be a part of it. I am really looking forward to seeing how they grow and develop.