Meet the board members and trustees

The Redstart Learning Partnership Academy Trust



Bath & Wells Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) Corporate Member - Ed Gregory


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The Bath & Wells DBE was established in 2011 in order to offer a corporate representative to each mixed academy trust containing a church school, this was necessary as the DBE itself is not incorporated; every mixed MAT using church articles has the DBE Trust as a corporate member.

As well as the generic responsibilities and duties of being a member of a charitable company, it is the DBEs additional responsibility to safeguard and promote the values of the academy trust with respect to its church schools and its Christian ethos. Further to support and nurture the relationship between the trust and the Diocese of Bath & Wells.

The  corporate member works with the trust to appoint onto the board to ensure those appointed have the skills and expertise each board needs. The DBE hopes to continue to strengthen links between itself, trusts and the local church and communities.

Currently our main link is Edward Gregory, Diocesan Director of Education for the Diocese of Bath and Wells. Ed has over 30 years of experience in education as a teacher, headteacher and system leader delivering successful school improvement initiatives.

Exeter Diocesan Education Network (EDEN) DBE Trust Corporate Member

Keith Hallam

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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.

Eric van den Barselaar

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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 and then Chair of The Redstart Learning Partnership in 2015. I stepped down as Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Redstart Learning Partnership in 2020 and I am now continuing my role as a Member. 

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.


Tess Gale - Chair of Trustees (Business & Audit Committee & Diocese Representative)

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I have lived in Somerset since 1987, raising four children in the Taunton area and being involved in their schooling as a volunteer, member of the parent/teacher association and as a governor. My training was as a modern linguist and I taught primary French for several years. After working on a government project relating to citizenship in the curriculum, I moved to work for the Diocese of Bath & Wells. Initially responsible for governance, admissions and buildings, my remit increased to include all school organisation, including the academy agenda. In 2012, I became the Director of Education for the Diocese, having responsibility for standards and Christian distinctiveness in 182 schools. I initiated the Bath & Wells MAT and acted as CEO for the first two years, subsequently acting as a trustee both on that and the many other MATs that came to include church schools, including TRLP. Retiring initially in 2018, I soon found myself looking for a challenge and became the Operations Director at TRLP, finally retiring in August 2021. I am passionate about environmental issues and safeguarding the planet for future generations.

Suzanne Flack (SEND)

I am the 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 Trustees.

My role is to ensure that all pupils in any school in the Partnership receive the best educational experience and achieve 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 Central Team including Alison Wyatt, Chief Financial Officer, Dominic Heath-Coleman, Operations Manager, Caroline Lancey, Associate Head of Accelerated Learning, Beth Souster, Trust Manager and Governance Professional, Lani Gold, Trust HR Manager and the Heads of School - Steve Morton, Castle Primary School and Buckland St Mary C of E Primary School; Gareth Nation, Minerva Primary School; Lisa Eadie, Holy Trinity Primary School; Joanne Crocker, Ashill and Hatch Beauchamp Primary Schools; Emma Johns, Winsham; Becky Bendall, Stockland Primary Academy and Carly Ellis, Priorswood Primary School and finally the Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mrs Tess Gale. 

It is my aim that every school in the Partnership will be outstanding.

Joseph Doggrell (Vice Chair & Business & Audit Committee)

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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 10 years.

In March 2015 I was appointed to the Board of Trustees, followed by my appointment as Vice Chair and the Chair of the Business and Audit Committee.  I'm excited to put my professional skills to good use. With the resources and people we have available, the Trust has an exciting future ahead of it.

I very much enjoy working with The Redstart Learning Partnership. 

Mark Brierley (Whistleblower, Diocese Representative & Education Committee Chair)

I am an architect and was director of my practice in Frome between 1980 and 2017. I have spent a large part of my career designing schools and I have developed a good understanding of the needs of both staff and pupils and the issues involved in managing school premises. I developed a good relationship with the Diocese of Bath and Wells and I have also worked with the dioceses of Bristol and Lincoln.

An interest in education runs in the family; my mother was a history teacher and both my children have chosen careers in education; biology at a secondary school and climate change at a university. Following this theme I was pleased to be appointed as Chair of the Education Committee for the Trust. 

I am now retired from full time architecture and excited to be involved with The Redstart Learning Partnership. I whole-heartedly endorse the Trust’s ambitions.

Tim Kavanagh (Business & Audit Committee)

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I am based in London working in Canary Wharf for BP and have previous experience working for RBS, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and The New York Stock Exchange. I have a mixed career background, where I have worked in Risk Management, Ethics and Compliance, Trading and also Project Management; allowing me to develop a number of different skill sets that will be useful in my role as Trustee. I graduated from Loughborough University in 2008 with an Economics degree.

I am excited to be involved with the Trust and utilise experiences from my professional career; having been lucky with my own education and opportunities, I know how important it is to provide high quality education from a young age and I am passionate about ensuring this is delivered.  

Lorraine Davey (Education Committee, EYFS and Safeguarding) 

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I am passionate about raising standards in Education and promoting the rights of all children to develop a love and zest for learning. I am thrilled to be part of The Redstart Learning Partnership as my association with Redstart, and Suzanne Flack in particular, goes back many years, to when I was working for Somerset County Council.

During my time at the County Council I carried out a number of different roles over a period of fifteen years, mainly supporting the development and growth of new early years settings. I was also responsible for the quality of education in early years settings and offering support and advice on how they could improve.  

I am a qualified and experienced primary/middle school teacher and prior to working for Somerset County Council, I managed an independent Nursery, worked as an independent registered nursery inspector and spent many years as an early years support officer and advisor, which has helped me support other educational provision.

Recent achievements include taking on failing nurseries as an independent consultant, offering advice on improvements and offering practical support and improvement plans to improve their practice. I have also delivered training and support to nursery providers on a private consultancy basis. 

My husband and I were respite foster carers and youth workers for a number of years and we also have two sons. We enjoy DIY, walking, and caring for a mad sprocker dog!

I also enjoy a wide range of crafting activities and reading and I am excited to be part of a growing Academy Trust. 

Neil Aries (Business & Audit Committee, Health & Safety) 

I am embarking on a new chapter in my career as a business consultant and non-executive director, supporting businesses to maximise their greatest assets - their people.  This is based on my 30 years’ experience as a proven business manager, director and senior leader with a passion for people management and a strong background in operational excellence.  Personally, I have been married to a teacher for 28 years, have two grown-up sons who have both been through the education system here in Somerset and have been a Governor for a local primary school.

Claire Lowe - (Education Committee & Diocese Representative) 

Claire Lowe is the Chief Executive Officer of Inspire Learning Partnership and has been in this role since May 2018.  She holds an MA(Ed) and more recently was appointed as a founding fellow to the Chartered College of Teaching, recognition of her total commitment to the profession over the past 25+ years.

Previously Claire was the Executive Principal of the Inspire Learning Federation from October 2014 to April 2018.  Before this she was the Executive Headteacher of Blackfield Primary and Fawley Infant Federation.

She moved to the Federation in September 2008 after holding the Headteacher role at a small village primary school in the New Forest.

Tom Deakin (Business & Audit Committee) 

Tom is an experienced digital consultant and marketer with a demonstrated history of working across sectors as wide as retail, media, higher education and not-for-profit. Tom is strong at building relationships, stakeholder management and solving complex problems across digital platforms and has both strategic and commercial experience.

Tom has a first in Economics and Politics (BSc) from the University of Exeter.  He has also been highly involved over the last few years with various political campaigns at local and national level. 

Alexandra Myers - (Business & Audit Committee, Diocese Representative & Attendance) 

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I graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2018 with a degree in History, and went on to complete the Graduate Diploma in Law and the Legal Professional Course, gaining a Masters in Law, Business and Management.

I am currently a second year trainee solicitor for a national law firm. One of my seats was Education, where I assisted in academy conversions and transfers, as well as assisting schools in a range of education law queries.

Whilst at University, I volunteered as a teacher in the dance society, teaching General Contemporary and then Advanced Lyrical. I am an active person who enjoys being outdoors, which has incidentally led to my newest hobby of learning how to play golf. I also enjoy singing, and I used to sing with a choir, as well as take part in musical theatre productions.

As a Foundation Representative, I will strive to ensure that the morals faith teaches us are held at the core of what we do. This is something I was lucky to experience in my own education, which included going on pilgrimage to Lourdes.

I am excited to work with a Trust that is working hard to ensure that all students are afforded support, opportunities, and an education of the highest quality.

  Beth Souster - Governance Professional 

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I joined in December 2015 as the Trust Manager and my role has recently changed to Communications and Development Manager. I coordinate activities to support marketing and PR, training and development, the growth of the Multi Academy Trust and Governance Professional to the Board of Trustees, I also provide support to the Heads of School and CEO. A very busy and varied role!

I am thrilled to be part of such a successful and fantastic team. Previously I worked for an education organisation for 11 years, so I have a good understanding of the sector. I thoroughly enjoy working in an environment that contributes to improving the life chances of young people.

I have 2 children, at Holyrood Academy, a pony and a dachshund, which occupy a lot of my time out of work. 

The Trust is on such an exciting journey and I am so pleased to be a part of it.


Eric van den Barselaar
EDEN Corporate Member 
Keith Hallam 
DB&W Corporate Member
Suzanne Flack Ex-officio & SEND
Tess Gale  Chair, Business & Audit Committee & Foundation
Alexandra Myers  Foundation, Business & Audit Committee & Attendance 
Mark Brierley Foundation, Education Committee Chair & Whistleblower 
Vacancy Foundation & Websites
Joe Doggrell Vice Chair/Business & Audit Committee 
Lorraine Davey  EYFS, Child Protection & Education Committee 
Tim Kavanagh Business & Audit Committee 
Neil Aries  Health & Safety & Business & Audit Committee  
Claire Lowe  Foundation & Education Committee 
Tom Deakin  Business & Audit Committee 
Beth Souster Governance Professional 


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