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The Board of Trustees

Role of the Trustees

The trustees should focus on three core functions:

  • ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
  • overseeing and ensuring effective financial performance.


Kanta Wild-Smith - Chair of the Board of Trustees

Kanta spent 10 years working in the field of  adult and children’s mental health before becoming a qualified primary teacher in 1991.  After working 3 years as a classroom teacher she worked in an advisory capacity with schools cross phase throughout Essex. Kanta was President of the National Association of Teachers of Travellers for 3 years. Since 2007 Kanta has worked in the local authority children's services as a multi- agency team manager with a group of schools and agencies in East Basildon and as a Commissioner of parenting and family support.  As a local government officer Kanta has extensive experience of the performance management of staff and managing a substantial budget at a senior level.

Kanta has been a school governor for twelve years, seven of these as Chair and recently completed the Chair of Governors Leadership Development Course. Using skills developed in her professional life Kanta has been involved in the use of pupil, group and whole school data to monitor school and individual performance.

Ryan Duff - Trustee

Chris Hearn - Trustee

A qualified accountant since 1992 - Chartered Institute of Management Accountants - ACMA CGMA , Chris has worked in senior financial positions throughout his career, specifically as a Regional Finance Director (not a Companies house director) from 2001 to 2009, Academy FD for ten months 2009-2010, and Chief Accountant/Finance Director from 2012 to date. Responsible for Monthly and Annual Accounts, Budgets, dealing with Auditors, etc. 

A part of the Board of Directors developing strategy, monitoring performance and ensure controls in place.Chris worked as Finance Manager at the Girls' Day School Trust, the biggest educational charity in the UK, including two academies, for eighteen months. Responsible for all finance aspects, including monthly and annual accounts.

Chris held the position of Trustee Treasurer of Centre 404 for 4 years to 2013. Centre 404 is a charity for children and adults with learning difficulties. Part of Board that developed long term strategy and ensured financial controls and best use of resources.

Married to Alison since 1991, they have two children who both attended St Martin's School and have subsequently gone on to University to study Business Management and Fashion & Textiles.

Chris Holme - Trustee

Chris is a solicitor, and is a partner at the City law firm Clyde & Co LLP.  He specialises in assisting businesses with all employment and people issues.  He graduated from the University of Leeds with a first class law degree in 1999, and has worked in the law in London since 2000.

Chris has lived in Brentwood for 6 years, and has two young children who take up much of his time, as well as his loves for sport, gardening, and DIY.

He is a passionate supporter of equal treatment for all, and ensuring individual opportunity.  This forms a large part of his working life, and also feeds his support for, and passion for, education.

Trudy Nash - Trustee

Trudy left a 37 year career in Financial Services in the City of London at the end of December 2019. Most recently with RBS/Natwest as Business Manager to the Treasurer, a role she held for 10 years, Trudy has also worked for Citibank and HSBC as Head of Operations in the Treasury function.

As Business Manager for the RBS Treasurer, Trudy's remit included such matters as staff engagement, facility management, training and development, pay and reward, conduct, accountability and operational risk.    

Prior to her appointment as a Trustee, Trudy was a Co-Opted School Governor at Larchwood Primary School, a role she took on in November 2016.

Trudy is now looking for opportunities to use her transferrable skills in the Third Sector and has recently been recruited as a Trustee for a local charity.

Trudy was born in Thurrock and recently moved from Billericay to Chalkwell.

Stuart Palmer - Trustee

Stuart is a retired senior police officer and experienced school governor. He spent 31 years with the Metropolitan Police rising through the ranks and holding several specialist and interesting roles. As a Superintendent he ran the policing operation to secure Parliament for two years and as a Chief Superintendent he was head of Counter Terrorism Protective Security for London. 

Whilst working for the MPS he volunteered as a School Governor for 7 years. As a life long learner, since completing his Biochemistry and Chemistry degree after school, while working, he studied part time to gain further qualifications such as the PGCE and Diploma in School Business Management. 

Karen Tucker - Trustee



Helen Witty - Trustee

Helen has forty-two years teaching experience in secondary schools in London and Essex. 

Throughout her career she has been determined to help all children aim high and maximise their achievements.

She has spent thirty years in senior leadership roles in schools, including responsibility for Curriculum and Timetable, Human Resources and Sixth Form.

She first became a school governor in 1988. She is Chair of Governors of two local authority schools in London, one primary and one secondary.  In addition, she has been a School Governor at Larchwood Primary School since 2001, first as a parent, latterly co-opted.

Her extensive experience of governance has involved responsibility for SEND and Safeguarding, and chairing Finance & Resources, Curriculum & Development, and School Improvement Committees.

More recently she has been a member of panels to examine parental complaints and appointed to undertake an independent investigation of Governing Board conduct.