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Uppingham Community College Academy Trust and Governing Body

The broad object of the Academy Trust is to advance education for the public benefit by establishing, maintaining, managing and developing a school which offers a broad and balanced curriculum. The Academy Trust is also bound to comply with the Companies Act 2006 in the pursuit of this object.

This means, as a College and Specialist Technology Academy, we have greater freedom, scope, and flexibility to deliver the very best education and development that we can for our students and are accountable for doing so within a legal framework.

The statutory requirements and obligations of the Academy Trust are set out in the ‘Model Funding Agreement’ and the ‘Memorandum of Association’ as agreed between the College and the Secretary of State for Education.

The role of the Governing Body is to support, challenge and be a ‘critical friend’ in relation to the work and future development of the College and the wider community. Good governance requires involvement in strategy and policy development; ensures sound personnel and financial management; measures performance and supports the pursuit of challenging medium and short term goals.

The work of the Governing Body is facilitated through Full Governor Meetings, various Committees, plus Special Area and Curriculum Links. Governors are also involved in other day to day activities in support of the Principal and Staff as required.

The governing board comprises of 6 Members. In total, the Governing Body currently comprises of 23 Governors, including the Principal as an Ex-Officio Governor. Broadly, 50% are elected (minimum of 2 Parent Governors and maximum of 4 Staff Governors) and 50% are appointed (maximum of 12).

With the exception of the Principal, being a Governor is a voluntary role. We are extremely fortunate to have a very committed Governing Body made up of individuals with varied backgrounds and a valuable mix of experiences and skills as summarised below:

Ex-Officio Governor & Principal:

Ben Solly


Ex-officio by virtue of office as headteacher/principal

I joined UCC in August 2017 as Principal. I have been a teacher since 2004, initially teaching PE in the Black Country as an Advanced Skills Teacher, before moving across to Leicestershire in 2010 to take up a senior leadership position in Melton Mowbray. I secured my first headship at Lutterworth College in 2014 and led the school through an age range change conversion to become an 11-18 all through school. I have been a member of the editorial board of the weekly educational publication Sec Ed since 2012 and I also occasionally contribute articles and opinions through this online magazine. I am currently Chair of Rutland Schools’ Forum, Chair of the Active Together (LRS) Headteacher steering group, Headteacher representative of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Local Children's Safeguarding Partnership and a Trustee of the Rutland Music Education Hub.  I am also a Governor of Harington School, the Sixth Form Free School that UCC is co-sponsoring and a facilitator on the National Professional Qualification for Headteachers (NPQH).


Geoff Thompson

(Chair of Governors)

Term of office:

Appointed by Academy members

I had been Chair of the Governing Body from 2012 to 2021 and I was involved in all the committees. I was originally a parent governor at UCC before becoming the Chair until September 2021. I was re-appointed Chair of Governors in June 2022. I was a Founder Governor and Chair of the Scrutiny Committee at Harington School. I was a member of the Rutland Learning Trust from 2020 to 2021, Chair of Resilient Rutland from 2018 to 2021 and High Sheriff of Rutland for 2022/23.

We live in Uppingham and the whole family are involved in local community activities. My wife is the Chair of Uppingham Neighbourhood Forum. I enjoy walking, cycling, travelling, skiing, sailing and singing.

Skills and qualifications:

I have worked for the London Stock Exchange for 2 years and a large international bank for 38 years in a wide variety of roles (including Finance, Marketing, Sales, Strategy, IT Development, Relationship Management, Risk Management and General Management), including five years in Canada and Switzerland before returning to the UK in 2011. I am a Freeman of the City of London, a Liveryman of the Information Technologists Company, and have B.Sc(Hons), ACIB and CIMA Cert.BA qualifications.

To contact the Chair of Governors:

Lizzie Souter

(Chair of Resources Committee)

Term of office:

Appointed by Academy members

I have been a governor at UCC since 2017.  I live locally in Market Harborough with my husband and our two children.  I am a qualified chartered management accountant (CIMA) and experienced company secretary.  I currently lead the finance and treasury function at Market Harborough Building Society, where I am also the company secretary and have responsibility for governance arrangements.  I have worked for the Society for a number of years and am well versed in operating in a highly regulated environment.  I enjoy trampolining and running, including volunteering at Parkrun.

John Woodhead

Term of office:

Appointed by Academy members

Prior to retirement I was for 20 years Headteacher of an 11-18 Specialist Science College near Northampton. My earlier experience included the positions of First Deputy Head of a Leicestershire Upper School and Head of English at a school in the North-East of England. I studied for my first degree (MA in English) at Clare College, University of Cambridge, and was later a student at Durham University, where I was awarded an MA in Education.

My wider experience in Education included a year’s secondment to County Hall in Leicester, where I worked on issues of school staffing. For a time, I was a board member of both the AEB and AQA, the examinations authorities. I was Chair of the Governors of Northamptonshire’s Longtown Outdoor Education Centre, situated in Herefordshire and, as a senior secondary Headteacher, I took my turn as Chair of the Northamptonshire County Secondary Heads Group. Since retirement I have represented the Diocese of Peterborough on the Rutland Schools Forum.

My wife and I have lived in Uppingham for over 30 years. Our children (now grown up with families of their own) both attended UCC in the late 1980s and early 90s. I have many interests, including walking holidays, reading and theatre, and supporting Leicester City Football Club. I am a member of Uppingham Parish Church, where I sing in the choir.

Sally Allen

Term of office:

Appointed by Academy members


I am a mother of 2 ex pupils of UCC who left UCC in 2009  and 2012.

I was a School Governor at UCC for quite a few years, when our children were at the school leaving at the same time Jan Turner retired.  During my time as Governor I was link to the English Dept and also for the Duke of Edinburgh awards.  I was also a school mentor which linked pupils to have regular meetings during Year 11 to help / encourage these pupils with their GCSE's etc.

As a local Rotarian I am still involved in encouraging UCC to send 2 pupils per year on a Young Rotary Youth Leader course which is held in February in Derbyshire at Whitehall.  This has been a successful partnership with the school and Rotary.

I currently work as a Practice Manager for my husband's dental practice in Uppingham and we do have Year 10 students from UCC apply to us to do work experience.  Some of these students later have gone into medicine or dentistry.

Rob Sawyer

Term of office:

Appointed by Academy members

Following thirty years in business, I became a Governor at UCC early in 2004.

I was Chair for six years from 2006 and also a Trustee of Harington School during formation and opening phases of its development.

Although my involvement with UCC ceased in 2016, the College has always remained close to my heart and I am pleased to serve, once again, as a Member of the Academy Trust.

Nick Clarke

Term of Office:





Elected Staff Governors:

Kirsty Rodgers

Term of office:

Elected by school staff

I qualified as a teacher in 2005 and I have been Head of History/2ic Humanities at Uppingham Community College since September 2011. I have been encouraged to thrive as a teacher and to develop my career at UCC and since 2019 I have been a Lead Practitioner in charge of all teacher trainees; PGCE/School Direct, NQT's and RQT's. In January 2019 I was fully supported by the school to gain my certificate in Coaching and Mentoring from Warwick University.

Previous to my career as a teacher, I worked in the advertising and marketing industry for 11 years. Starting my career at the Leicester Mercury, I moved from sales into buying advertising and worked for two advertising agencies; planning and buying over £1.5 million of media a year. 

I have both experience at UCC as a teacher and a parent. My two children have been educated at UCC: one has completed his time here and gone on to study A levels and the other is currently in Year 8.

I believe first and foremost that students should enjoy their learning and want to succeed. The learning environment at UCC allows students to experience this as it is an excellent community of staff and students who all work together to thrive and achieve their very best.

Laurence Redmond

Term of office:
12.10.2021 - 


Elected by school staff

I have worked at Uppingham Community College since 2002 and in that time I have been a teacher and Head of Department (Humanities); and parent to three children who have all been educated here. My experience as a parent, teacher and local resident give me a good knowledge of the school, the surrounding area and the issues faced in our context and in the broader educational landscape. Communication is paramount to being an effective governor. I believe that I see decisions through the eyes of the staff and can understand strategic decisions from a teacher’s perspective.


Elected Parent Governors:

Alix Cunnell

Term of office:
01.01.2021 – 31.12.2024

Elected by parents

I have been a parent governor at UCC since 2021. I live in one of the Uppingham villages with my husband and our three children, the two eldest of whom are current students at UCC. I hold a BSc in Computer Science and my career has spanned software development, project management, business development, marketing and graphic design. I am currently the marketing lead for a company Oakham that delivers customer experience solutions to the public sector. I am passionate about the education and the wider experiences that UCC delivers to its students.

Kim Stuart-Jones

Term of office:
04.12.2023 - 03.12.2027

Appointed by the Academy Members

My association with UCC goes back to 2013 when I first began working at the College. I undertook a variety of different support staff roles and my 2 children also started at UCC in 2019 and 2020. Whilst I am no longer working at the College, I still care deeply about its future, for the benefit of my own children currently, but for children of the future also.

I have a background in school admissions and also HR and am currently working in a marketing role for a large Multi-Academy Trust.

Fraser Stephen-Smith

Term of office:
13.10.2022 - 13.10.2026

I have joined UCC’s governance board because I wish to contribute to UCC’s success in looking after our children. My aim is to support UCC by:

  1. Constructively challenging decisions. My professional career within a global consultancy includes constructively dissenting with senior executives. I am sometimes relied upon to recommend plans that are different to those initially requested by executives, because I perceive ramifications and/or risks that have not been factored in. I understand that UCC’s leadership welcome that type of diverse discussion on governance topics, to ultimately achieve the best answers

  2. Enhancing our children’s opportunity to enjoy exercise: Before starting my consulting career, I competed internationally in fencing for New Zealand and coached the sport professionally. I know how powerfully youthful access to exercise can support physical and mental health throughout our lives.

  3. Demonstrating my commitment to UCC: I have been a primary school trustee previously, and I have 4 children who attend, or will attend UCC. I have experience of UCC’s support for children who succeed independently, and also those who benefit from the new SEN provision. I’m motivated to drive further success.

Ko Tangi-te-keo te maunga. Ko Pupeke te awa. Nõ Tāmaki ahau. Ko Stephen-Smith tõku whanau. Ko Fraser tõku ingoa.

My mountain is Tangi-te-keo. Pupeke is my lake. I'm from Auckland. My family name is Stephen-Smith. My name is Fraser.

Emma Morley

Term of office:
13.10.2022 - 13.10.2026

I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of education and in particular the work UCC does, with its strong sense of community and inclusion.  I am committed to supporting the resource committee to further develop opportunities for all UCC pupils.  I look forward to being able to make a positive contribution with the governing body to the overall experience of pupils and staff at UCC.

With over 15 years as a commercial accountant (CIMA qualified), I have a good understanding of operating within a regulatory framework and implementing change involving many stakeholders.  I currently work as a head of finance and operations for a life insurer.   In former roles I have managed client money operations for an investment bank, been a financial controller and a finance project manager.  

I have lived locally for the past 15 years, with both my children going to our local primary and now to UCC.  

Alongside work, I look after the finances for a small charity which supports rural communities in Nepal rebuilding schools, setting up school meals programs and women’s health education workshops in conjunction with local partners.

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my two children (11 and 13 – both at UCC) and travelling whenever possible

Elected Governors:

Andrew Mankowski

Term of office:
04.12.2023 - 03.12.2027

Appointed by Academy members

I am an architect and a CDM Consultant (health, safety and risk management) and have been working in Central London for the last ten years on high-end projects including The Royal Opera House, The British Museum and Battersea Power Station development.

I was engaged by the organising committee through preparation for the London Olympic Games. I have designed and built a Further Education College and individual buildings at a High School.

I was appointed as CDM Consultant for a centre of London School, for extensions above three storeys on a demanding site while the school was engaged in full teaching activities. I have prepared papers for Health and Safety Policies, Fire Protection, Risk Assessments and many others, as well as reviews and inspections setting high standards.

I have taught sailing in school and been part of school training for White Water Rafting, Caving, Scuba Diving and others, and have driven to the other side of the world. My hobbies are sailing instructor, fell walking, running and cycling.

I am married with two sons with Phds. I have chaired the Professional Conduct Committee at the Royal Institute of British Architects and sit on the London branch of the Association of Project Safety, primarily driving the best in Health and Safety.

Morag Topham

Term of office:
04.12.2023 - 03.12.2027

Appointed by Academy members

I have lived with my family in Manton since moving to Rutland in 2009. I have been an Appointed Governor at UCC since December 2011 and I was previously involved in governance from 2003 to 2009 at a school in Surrey. Both of my children were educated at UCC and School governance enabled me to remain involved in their education whilst they were here.

I completed 30 years of Police Service and following retirement, I worked for Cambridgeshire County Council as an Education Welfare Officer and then in the Virtual School before changing roles to become a full time L&D facilitator in the Civil Service. During my policing career I gained extensive experience in Child Protection along with other specialist areas of investigation.

I am currently the link Governor for Drama & DT. I am also the Safeguarding Link Governor working closely with the Designated Safeguarding Lead and his deputies.

I have a BA (Hons) Degree in English Literature and Language and I enjoy live music, reading, art and travelling when I can. I am a trustee of Manton Village Hall.


Andrew Robinson

(Vice Chair of the UCC Governing Board)

Term of office

09.03.2020 - 31.12.2024

Appointed by Academy members

I have lived in Rutland for over 30 years. My 3 daughters went to school in Rutland. My wife, Kathy, and I have lived in Uppingham for 2 years.

I am largely retired from paid employment but I am still a Director of the business (which I was CEO of for 16 years) that manufactures screens for cinemas worldwide. I am also a founder Director of a business planning to open a boutique cinema in Rutland.

I am a Cambridge Science MA and hold an MBA from Cranfield Business School.

I am a member of a number of local organisations.

My leisure interests are diverse and include cycling, gardening, bridge, politics, travel and restoring woven chair seats.

Given the huge importance of education, I am delighted to be a member of UCC’s Governing Body.

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Jeannette Warner

(Vice Chair of the Resources Committee)

Term of office:
04.12.2023 - 03.12.2027

Appointed by Academy members

I live in a small village just outside of Uppingham and am married with two grown up sons. On graduating from Exeter University with a BA(Hons) I worked for a large national insurance company in their Personnel and Training Department gaining knowledge and experience in all fields of HR

Following the birth of our sons I took a career break before joining my husband in the family print business, producing magazines, brochures and catalogues. I am now a company director and have a particular interest in charities and manage the firm’s corporate social responsibility budget.

I also have the privilege to be Vice Lord Lieutenant for the county of Rutland as well as being involved in a number of local charities which include ‘Rutland First’ of which I am on the Board of Directors and ‘For Rutland’ where I am Chair

When time allows, I enjoy gardening, walking and cooking.

Ron Simpson

(Chair of the Education Committee)

Term of office:
07.12.2021 - 06.12.2025

Appointed by Academy members

In his early career Ron Simpson was a teacher, community centre leader, university lecturer and trainer. He was first elected as a local councillor at the age of 21. He now has over 50 years public, private and social enterprise management and leadership experience as a community leader, senior manager and volunteer. In Leicestershire he is noted for being the very first in the county to achieve Investor in People status. In Rutland he is known in business circles for being one of the first to achieve the national standard of ‘chartered manager’

During his period of service as East Midlands Regional Director of the Local Government Management Board (LGMB), Ron was the regional accountable local government lead on employer/employee relations, best management practice and leadership development matters. He also acted as UK lead on public sector re-entry into the European Social Dialogue in Brussels. Ron has extensive experience of vocational qualifications and competence based assessment and, prior to his relocation to the East Midlands, was a Director of the North East Regional Management Centre, the organisation which developed the UK’s first ever competence based distance learning MBA. His own Masters degree is in the field of Equality in Education.

Ron is a town councillor, a former town mayor and a Director/Trustee of a number of local community organisations including the Uppingham First Community Partnership, the Uppingham Homes Community Land Trust, the Beeches Residents Association Ltd, the Community Heartbeat Trust and CPRE Rutland, the countryside charity. Ron also currently chairs the town’s Business Forum and coordinates the Uppingham Neighbourhood Forum.

Further information on Ron is online at

Charlie Pallett

Term of office:
07.12.2021 - 06.12.2025

Appointed by Academy members

I was born and bred in Rutland and was a pupil at UCC from 2006 to 2011. My family for 4 generations have been pupils of UCC and the school is close to all our hearts for many reasons.

In 2014, I started blogging and after a successful first three years in the ‘blogosphere, I was a finalist in a national blogging award for two years running. In March 2017, I launched a new blog, The Rutland Blogger.

I’d always been so proud of our small, quirky county and everything it has to offer, and the blog was launched to celebrate the local area, the businesses, and the communities within it, but with a hope to inspire the younger generation to love where they live - just like I do.

As well as being ‘The Rutland Blogger’, I also have two other businesses including a graphic design and social media agency and an online shop selling vintage and second-hand homewares.

In 2021, I became a Town Councillor and was co-opted onto Uppingham Town Council where I hope to be a voice for the younger generations of the town.

As well as being one of the local area's biggest fans, I’m also hugely passionate about mental health and wellbeing, encouraging creativity, looking after the environment, being more sustainable at home, fundraising for charities, exercising for your mind, and working towards creating a more diverse and inclusive community.

Amanda Steele

Term of office:
07.12.2021 - 06.12.2025

Appointed by Academy members

Our youngest son attended UCC from 2007. His experience at UCC was very positive and he was given every encouragement to develop and thrive. My background is in Horticulture and I graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a degree in Plantsmanship and Propagation having also completed an industry placement with Garden Organic at its site in Ryton. The pursuit of my qualification gave me the inquisitiveness to question and analyse and the willingness to learn.

I am currently employed at Tugby C of E Primary School as the Premises Officer. I started with the school in 2012 and since then have seen many changes.

I am very grateful to UCC for the comprehensive education it gave to our son and would now welcome the opportunity to make a contribution in return as SEND Governor.

Fiona Borrows

Term of Office:
13.10.2022 - 13.10.2026

Appointed by Academy members

I have a BSc in Pharmacy from Manchester University but, following working at a summer camp in America I decided to try teaching which I did for 37 year. My career involved 3 years teaching service children in Germany and a teacher exchange to America. Whilst Science was my subject, being a Head of Year was my passion, a role I had for 25 years at UCC. Helping the child is not just teaching them. I also spent a great deal of time running school trips, Don Bosco, ski trips, netball trips etc, giving students opportunities outside the classroom was another highlight of my teaching career, watching students making so many unique memories. After 31 years at UCC age and a lack of energy told me it was time to retire, still loving the job.

As a governor, I will bring the perspective of what it is like to be a teacher at the whiteboard face and apply that experience to ensure decisions are made for the right reason, the child.

Matthew Knight

Term of Office:
13.10.2022 - 13.10.2026

I have a BSc (Hons) Degree in Science and the Environment. After graduating from Leicester Polytechnic, I was employed as a Research Assistant, to carry out postgraduate research in Freshwater Ecology. This gave me an early experience of teaching and a thorough grounding in systems analysis and computing. Later I worked with Leicester City Council to write educational materials and to conduct community liaison in support of their urban wildlife projects. I then worked as an I.T. Instructor at a Leicestershire Community College which confirmed my interest in pursuing a career in teaching.

After completing my PGCE from Leicester University School of Education. I started working at UCC in 1987. Initially I was employed to teach Maths, Science and to introduce Electronics as a new topic. However, as my career progressed, I went on to teach a much broader range of subjects: Systems & Control, ICT, and Design Technology.

When the College became a Specialist Technology College in 1995. I changed role to become the Director of Specialism giving me the opportunity to work with staff across the school, and our community partners to develop a coherent approach to our use of Technology and secure future funding. My responsibilities included developing the staff IT skills and infrastructure, introducing new subjects and managing teaching staff and specialist support staff at the College.

I later joined the SLT as an Assistant Head to continue the College's development. In 2009 I gained the National Professional Qualification for Headteachers (NPQH).

Since my retirement, I have enjoyed developing my interests in coastal sailing, engineering and wildlife gardening. Above all being able to spend more time with my wife, our two sons and their growing families.

Associate Members:

Kirstie Croote

Term of office:
UCC employment


I took up the post of School Business Director at UCC in January 2017 and during my time, there have been many interesting but very rewarding challenges. I have held previous Senior Leadership posts relating to Business Management at other establishments, mostly based in the North West. Some of these positions were based in Primary settings and others, Secondary. All have provided me with an in-depth knowledge of funding and school business management across both sectors.

I thoroughly enjoy working at UCC and feel fortunate to lead a team of Support staff so committed to contributing to the students' education.

Recent Ex-Governors:

Nick Davenport- Term of office: 05.12.2021 - 04.12.2025 Resigned 20.09.2022

Nick Brookes - Term of office: 01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024 Resigned: 11.03.2022

Miriam Stoate - Term of office: 13.03.2018 - 12.03.2022

Sarah Furness - Term of office: 05.12.2017 - 04.12.2021 Resigned: 05.07.2021

Lisa Thipthorp - Term of office: 01.09.2019 - 31.08.2023 Resigned: 17.05.2021

Margaret Jennings - Term of office: 25.05.2011 - 24.06.2023 Resigned: 31.12.2020

Stephen Kirk - Term of office: 13.03.2018 - 12.03.2022 - Resigned: 14.09.2020

Emma Cohen - Term of office: - 23.03.2016 - 23.03.2020

Joanne Armstrong - Term of office: - 23.03.2016 - 23.03.2020 - Resigned : 4.11.2019

Stephen Berridge (Support Staff Governor) - Term of office: 25.05.2011 - 30.09.2019

John Woodhead - Term of office: 01.09.2015 - 31.08.2019

Mike Deely - Term of office: 030.1.2013 - 01.01.2021 - Resigned : 21.03.2019

Robert Wills - Term of office: 010.1.2013 - 010.1.2021 - Resigned: 14.03.2019

Stephen Lambert - Term of office: 07.12.2021 - 09.02.2024