Who we are

Picture 1 Gee Cook, CEO
Picture 1 Martin Glick, Chair of Trust
Picture 2 Issy Maxwell, Trustee
Picture 3 Angela Daniel, Trustee
Picture 4 Gregory Holmes, Trustee, Herts County Council
Picture 5 Robyn Haythorpe, Trustee, Herts County Council
Picture 6 Phillip Barton, COG Ascot Road CFS
Picture 7 Kristian North, Trustee, Governor Jupiter CFS
Picture 8 Tim Ffrench-Lynch, COG Jupiter CFS
Picture 9 Danish Affarka, COG Lanchester CFS
Picture 10 Dr Barbara Henry, Member, University of Herts
Picture 11 Graham Cunningham, Member, Head, Longdean School
Picture 12 Jo Kavakeb, Member, Squirrels Day Nurseries
Picture 13 Kate Ma, Member, Herts County Council
Picture 14 John Harris, Member
Picture 15 Amandip Sidhu, Member

Trustee Biographies




Graham Cunningham

Appointed 01/08/2013

Meetings attended 2017/18 & 2018/19: Board: 06/06/2019, 27/03/2019, 12/12/2018, 17/10/2018, 20/06/2018, 14/03/2018, 18/10/2017

Graham has been the Head teacher of Longdean School, in Hemel Hempstead for 6 years and was the Deputy Head teacher before that. Prior to that he worked at The Cavendish School in Hemel Hempstead and Walford High School in London. His particular areas of interest are teaching and learning, leadership and management and pastoral care. Away from education he is a keen reader and has an interest in military history.


Jo Kavakeb

Appointed 04/08/2013

Meetings attended 2017/18 & 2018/19: 27/03/2019, AGM 16/01/2019, Board 12/12/2018, Board 17/10/2018, 14/03/2018, Board 18/10/2017

Jo Kavakeb is an Early Years Professional. She is the owner of Squirrels Nurseries which she established almost 30 years ago. Her business consists of six nurseries, three of which are providers for the Trust schools in Watford and Hemel Hempstead. Her nurseries aim to provide parents with a high quality, affordable and flexible service.


Kate Ma

Appointed 27/09/2013

Meetings attended 2017/18 & 2018/19: AGM: 17/01/2018

Kate works as a Senior School Planning Officer for Hertfordshire County Council. The School Planning Team is responsible for ensuring there are sufficient school places across the County. They do this by forecasting pupil numbers and negotiating with school providers to try to match the level of school capacity in an area with projected demand. In recent years this has involved bringing forward statutory proposals to expand schools as well as supporting the establishment of new schools. Through her role, she has a breadth & depth of experience working with schools at a local level and planning school provision at a strategic level. She is also embarking on part-time study with the University of Hertfordshire; and is due to complete an Executive MBA in Spring 2018.


Amandip Sidhu

Appointed 08/03/2017 by the Members. Appointed Chair of the Board of Trustees 14/01/2020, appointed as Member 21/05/2020, resigned Chair of Board of Trustees 16/06/2020

Meetings attended 2017/18 & 2018/19: Board: 06/06/2019, Board: 27/03/2019, Board 17/10/2018, Board 20/06/2018, Board 14/03/2018, AGM 17/01/2018, Board 18/10/2017

Amandip is a pharmacist and has a varied background in the healthcare sector. Understanding of safeguarding, strategic design and execution coupled with a passion for learning allows him to offer these varied skillsets to benefit the Trust board. A single focussed objective of positive educational outcomes for children is the main driver for his activities and involvement with the trust. In line with his religious and cultural background the ethos of "selfless service to others" is paramount to his role as a board member but also a member of the local community. Amandip has a child at Lanchester CFS.


John Harris

Appointed as Member 21/05/2020

John Harris has a distinguished career in Children’s Services and Education, both in local government and the private sector. John was Director of Education in Westminster and went on to serve as Hertfordshire’s Director of Children’s Services until he retired from that role in 2011. He was inaugural chair of the ADCS Families, Communities and Young People Policy Committee and chair of the Local Authorities Research Consortium. He now works as a management consultant and currently has a lead role at national level with the Children’s Improvement Board in driving forward sector-led improvement in Children’s Services. John has a particular interest in the role that evidence and research play in supporting service improvement and better outcomes for children. He is Vice-Chair of the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER). He is contributing to national thinking about the future role of schools working in formal partnerships and collaboratives to drive school improvement and is a founder director of the West Herts Schools Trust and a former Chair of the Board of Trustees.


Barbara Henry

Appointed 22/07/2019

Meetings attended 2019/20:





Martin Glick

Appointed 23/12/2015 by the Members. Appointed as Chair 16/06/2020

Meetings attended 2017/18 & 2018/19: Board 06/06/2019, Finance & Audit Committee: 06/06/2019, Board: 27/03/2019, Finance & Audit Committee: 19/03/2019, AGM 16/01/2019, Board: 12/12/2018, Finance & Audit Committee: 06/12/2018, Board 17/10/2018, Finance & Audit Committee 05/06/2018, Board 14/03/2018, Finance & Audit Committee 06/03/2018, AGM 17/01/2018, Finance & Audit Committee 01/12/2017,

Having trained as a Chartered Accountant, Martin helps keep an eye on Trust finances and compliance. He is particularly interested in the Free School movement and the opportunity that it brings for innovation. Martin currently serves as Interim Chair of the Trust and contributes to governor meetings at Jupiter CFS as their link trustee.


Angela Daniel

Appointed 02/11/2017 by the Members

Meetings attended 2017/18 & 2018/19: Board: 06*06/2019, Board 12/12/2018, Board 20/06/2018, 14/03/2018

Angela is a Fellow Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants with over 18 years’ experience within the industry. She has acquired her experience within the Accounting & Audit Practice, Consulting and Banking. Currently she works as the Head of Finance for an International Asset Management Firm. She enjoys mentoring young people and has a passion to see young people maximise their potential. She acts as the link trustee for Ascot Road CFS.


Issy Maxwell

Appointed 10/10/2017

Meetings attended 2017/18 & 2018/19: Board: 06/06/2019, Board: 27/03/2019, AGM 16/01/2019, Board 12/12/2018, Board 20/06/2018, Board 14/03/2018, Board 18/10/2017

Issy is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development with 30 years experience acquired in dynamic and diverse companies characterised by change and growth. Born and schooled in Watford, Issy qualified from university in Business Studies & Finance with an HR Specialism, before gaining 2 Masters Degrees in Human Resource Management (HRM) & Employment Strategy; and HRM & Employment Legislation. Issy has many broad, transferable and professional skills to bring to the Trust and relevant experience in Business Transformation, Change Management, Strategic Development and Organisational Design. She is passionate about education, training and development, and enjoys mentoring and supporting people maximise their potential.


Kristian North

Appointed 26/05/2015 by the Members

Meetings attended 2017/18 & 2018/19: Board: 06/06/2019, Finance & Audit Committee: 06/06/2019, Finance & Audit Committee: 19/03/2019, Board 12/12/2018, Finance & Audit Committee 06/12/2018, Board 20/06/2018, Board 14/03/2018, Finance & Audit Committee 06/03/2018, Finance & Audit Committee 01/12/2017, Board 18/10/2017

Kristian is the Chair of Governors at Jupiter CFS. After graduating from University Kristian joined BT Global Services where he has worked for the last 15 years. He spent the first half of his career working as a Project Manager delivering complex transformational programmes before he changed tack and moved into Business and Contract Management. This has allowed him to develop a broad set of skills which he now brings to the role of Governor and Trustee.


Gregory Holmes

Appointed 23/11/2017 by the Members

Meetings attended 2017/18 & 2018/19: Board: 27/03/2019, Board 17/10/2018, Board 14/03/2018

Greg has worked for Hertfordshire County Council since 2008 and is currently a senior manager in the School Admissions & Transport department. Alongside managing both the Reception and Secondary transfer processes, he represents the local authority and schools in defending admission appeals. He has also helped develop and implement a number policies that the County Council currently operate.


Danish Affarka

Appointed 16/06/2020 by the Members

Danish is Chair of Governors at Lanchester Community Free School. He has a background in finance and has worked in that sector for over 15 years specialising in Risk Management and business development. He is a volunteer for Ability.Net – an IT charity that provide support to disabled and elderly people in their homes. Danish also provides mentoring and career guidance to students at City University London.


Phillip Barton

Appointed 16/06/2020 by the Members

Phillip is Chair of Governors at Ascot Road Community Free School and has 2 children that both attend the school. Following 9 years of military service in the Royal Air Force his career took him into Aircraft Engineering, Education and Training, Counselling and Rehabilitation of Offenders and most recently HR/Occupational Psychology. He currently works in two part-time roles, at a National Charity working with the rehabilitation of offenders related to Alcohol and Drug abuse and as an Assessor for the Metropolitan Police Service relating to suitability criteria of potential and serving Police officers. He is also currently undertaking an MA in Social Work at Middlesex University.


Tim Ffrench-Lynch

Appointed 16/06/2020 by the Members

Tim has been involved with West Herts Schools Trust since 2013 when plans started for building a new school in Hemel Hempstead, where he's both a neighbour to the school and the parent of a pupil.


He has worked in IT Management and now as a Systems & Modelling Engineer for a large aerospace company in Luton, which involves analysing a system, modelling it and understanding what works and what doesn't. As an engineer, he takes a particular interest in the STEAM parts of the curriculum. Tim's particular interests at the Trust level are long term stability, and the sharing of resources and ideas between the schools.


Robyn Haythorpe

Appointed 16/06/2020 by the Members


Gee Cook

Appointed 01/01/2019 by the Directors, Board: 06/06/2019, Finance & Audit Committee: 06/06/2019, Board: 27/03/2019, Finance & Audit Committee: 19/03/2019

I am honoured to lead the West Herts Schools Trust, a Trust with a clear moral purpose focused on raising aspirations and promoting social mobility for disadvantaged children and their families ‘for a better future’. We believe that every child can and will succeed.


I will be working with the West Herts Schools Trust communities to raise aspirations, improve learning and teaching, raise attainment, improve standards and independent learning skills to prepare pupils for the next phase in their education.


I am looking forward to working with all partners and stakeholders in West Hertfordshire to establish academies that are focused on happiness, aspiration, innovation, achievement and community enrichment.


I have a proven track record of transformational leadership as the CEO of a MAT, responsible for both secondary and primary academies. Prior to this I served as the Executive Principal of Iceni Academy and Senior Vice Principal in two Ofsted rated ‘outstanding’ Academies - Ormiston Venture Academy (highest GCSE results in any Norfolk state school or Academy) and Barnfield West Academy (awarded Most Improved Academy by the SSAT). This followed six years successful experience in primary education, where I served as Deputy Head Teacher in the establishment of a new primary school.


Previous Members Resigned 2017/18

Andrew Nightingale (appointed 30/12/2012, resigned 19/01/2018)

James Jenkins (appointed 21/06/2017, resigned 12/12/2018)

John Harris (appointed 18/09/2013, resigned 05/09/2019)


Previous Trustees Resigned 2019/20

Phil Mason (appointed 14/12/2017, resigned 10/10/2019)

David Gelernter (appointed 23/12/2015, resigned 10/12/2019)

Ann Punter (appointed 06/11/2019, resigned 17/03/2020)


Previous Trustees Resigned 2018/19

John Harris, Chair of the Board of Trustees (appointed by the Members 18/09/2013, resigned 27/03/2019)


Previous Trustees Resigned 2017/18

Randall Whittaker (appointed by the Members 30/01/2017, resigned 30/01/2019)

Gillian Jones, Chief Executive Officer (appointed by the Members 06/10/2014, resigned 31/12/2018)

Pulvi Polpat, Chair of Governors LCFS (appointed by the Members 01/09/2017, resigned 29/01/2019)

Susan Poole (appointed by the Members 7/10/2011, resigned 14/03/2018)


JCFS = Jupiter Community Free School
LCFS = Lanchester Community Free School
ARCFS = Ascot Road Community Free School


Company registered number:



Company name:

West Herts Community Free School Trust


Principal and registered office:

Lanchester Community Free School, Hempstead Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD17 3HD