Overseeing the Work of the Trust are its Members and Strategic Trust Board

There are six members (four Independent Members and two Members who are also Trustees/Directors) and six Trustees/Directors who sit on the Trust Board.

Independent Members

Adrian Duke-Cohan

Specialist Area: Finance and Business Development

Adrian is a local resident. Having grown up in Stanmore, he has lived in Bushey since 2004 and relocated his primary business to the area in 2005. He has a real heart for the local people and the community and originally applied to be a governor at Hartsbourne Primary School for those reasons; simply to give something back.

Adrian has gained a wealth of experience in financial services since 1988 and is currently a Director of three different companies; Dukes IFA Limited, now based in Bushey Heath which has been operating as a limited company since 2004, Dukes Wills & Trusts Limited and also a new retail shop in Bushey ‘Just Because’ which sells gifts and accessories. He has other business interests, primarily in an auto-enrolment company. With two children currently of Key Stage 2 age at two different schools and recent experience of local governance within a primary school setting, he sees the role of Independent Member as something that he can give his full attention to and one through which he can continue to contribute to the local education landscape in Bushey, within the Multi Academy Trust setting.

Anna Smakowska

Specialist Area: Education and Local Governance

Anna is the Headteacher of Woodlands School in Edgware, Harrow, London. Woodlands is a primary maintained special school in the Local Authority of Harrow for children which caters for 120 pupils aged 3-11 years with a wide range of complex and profound learning difficulties. These include severe autism, complex medical conditions, physical and mobility difficulties, as well as severe developmental delay. The school is recognised as an excellent educational provision and this is evidenced by LA requests for continued expansion since 2006 and increased parental requests for places. Anna has extensive experience of local governance through her own school’s local Governing Body and also from serving as a Parent Governor at Bushey Meads School from 2013 -2016. She has 14 years of teaching experience (9 in senior leadership) and two sons.

Brenda Batten

Specialist Area: Local Government and Community Affairs

Besides being a teacher for over 10 years, Brenda has also served for many years as a local councillor and was elected to be the Deputy Mayor and Mayor of the Borough of Hertsmere in 2017.18 and 2018.19 respectively. Her responsibilities during her time in office included overseeing the Leisure, Culture and Health Portfolio. She has much to offer to the Trust Board, not least through her direct involvement of working in schools, but also through her keen interest in education and young people, coupled with her wealth of experience in politics local affairs. 

Andrew Hawkins

Specialist Areas: Facilities & Management Consultancy, Corporate Strategy

Andrew is a strategy consultant with 15 years’ experience advising management teams or government on their strategy. He is experienced across a range of sectors and in particular within the education sectors both in the UK and abroad. A key reason he chose his particular career was to help investors, management teams, and government offices to make well informed decisions to assist organisations be the best they can be. When not helping clients with their strategic issues he loves to spend time with his young family, he also plays an active role in his local church community. Relevant education sector experience includes advising an international school group and specialist tertiary education provider on their growth strategies; assisting the management teams of leading companies who provide services into UK schools including facilities management and catering; teacher recruitment; back-office hr and payroll outsourcing; teacher training and; continuous professional development.

Strategic Trust Board

Sam Russell

Member and Trustee/Director

Chair of Bushey St James Trust
Specialist Area: Recruitment, HR and Relationship Management

Sam moved to Bushey when he was ten years old, attending Bushey Hall School (now the Bushey Academy) before taking a degree in European Politics at the University of Kent. Sam has been a School Governor for nearly 11 years, starting at Bushey Meads School. When Bushey Meads and Little Reddings became the Bushey St James Academy Trust, he became an elected Bushey Meads Trustee. In August 2013, he took over as Chair of the Trust. At this time, the Trust was in need of new Headteachers for both schools and he coordinated the process which resulted in the recruitment of Mr Turner and Miss Simmonds to the Trust.

Sam is a Railway Manager, where amongst other things, he works on recruitment and people management as well as local community engagement. Previously, he worked in Local Government, including a short time supporting colleagues in Schools and Social Care. He lives with his wife, Gemma and his baby son, Rowan.

Graham Mercer

Member and Trustee/Director

Specialist Area: Corporate Construction and Project Management

Graham has over 30 years’ experience of overseeing major construction projects in the corporate industry and is a leading project manager with Skanska, nominated in 2019 for the Construction Manager of the Year Awards, celebrating individuals who go above and beyond to deliver buildings that make a positive impact on the lives of the people who use them. Graham is a well organised, reliable and commercially aware multifunctional technical manager with a wealth of experience in both large and small organisations. He is accustomed to working to tight budgets and schedules in a pressurised environment and, besides these highly relevant skills, brings a real understanding of education and local community transformation, having served as a governor for many years and also through his work and links with local communities in north London. 

Dinah Hoeksma

Trustee/Director

Chair of Bushey Meads School Local Governing Body
Specialist Area: Finance and Accountability

Di has over 30 years of experience as a teacher and school Governor, the latter including Primary and Special schools in Bushey.  With over 12 years of experience as a local Borough Councillor she has an excellent knowledge of the local area as well as many contacts locally. Chairing the Scrutiny Committee and Leisure Committee, as well as being a Financial Monitor responsible for overseeing the Council’s budget and expenditure, she has real strengths in the area of financial accountability and securing best value. She was instrumental in helping to set up a Women’s Refuge in Watford and for several years was the Treasurer of this organisation. More recently she has been a key member of a group who have established a Senior Citizens’ Day Centre in Borehamwood and is a Trustee for Community Action Hertsmere. 

Nick Smith

Trustee/Director

Vice Chair of Bushey St James Trust
Specialist Area: Finance, Legal and Corporate Business Oversight

Nick lives in Bushey and has two children at Hartsbourne Primary School, with his youngest child due to join in 2018. Nick has been a governor at Hartsbourne for almost 10 years, originally applying due to his longstanding interest in Education and a desire to undertake a voluntary role in the community, before later becoming a Parent Governor once his initial term expired. Having spent a significant period at Hartsbourne, Nick was keen to gain a different perspective within the Multi Academy Trust. Nick is a CFO at a fashion company and brings to the Trust Board the skills he has developed throughout his professional career, where he has led a number of Finance departments and held executive responsibility for a number of other areas including Legal, IT and Logistics.  

Janet McNulty

Trustee/Director

Specialist Area: Corporate Strategy, Scrutiny of Standards and Change Management.

Janet has lived in Bushey since 1992 and takes a keen interest in helping the local community. For five years she was chair of the Bushey Festival and does voluntary work at the local museum and Reveley Lodge. At the former Bushey United Reformed Church, she leads the group of Elders that managed Church affairs, including being Church Secretary and Treasurer. She was an independent member of the Hertsmere Council Standards Committee until its abolition, scrutinising professional standards among council members.

Janet’s professional life was in education and latterly in whole-council management where she was Head of Corporate Performance and Development in a new unitary authority in Berkshire. Here she was responsible for whole council improvement, the quality of services, performance indicators, response to government inspections, Audit Commission liaison, Best Value, information management, community safety and equal opportunities. She managed reports to the Council’s Scrutiny Committee and links with partner agencies, including setting up the multi-agency Children’s Board. 

Jeremy Turner

Trustee/Director

Executive Principal of Bushey Meads School
Specialist Area: Education Strategy and School Improvement

Jeremy has over 20 years of experience working in a diverse range of secondary schools in Inner and Outer London and Hertfordshire and over 18 years’ experience of school leadership at a senior level. This experience has involved working with all aspects of school governance and trusts. He has been a Lead Strategic Partner in four teaching and learning partnerships and consortiums, served on the Barnet School Forum and at a regional level on various Educational Management Committees. He has participated in Local Authority Strategic Reviews and has worked at a National Level on the Strategic Board of Partners in Excellence (PiXL) since 2008.  

He has supported the work of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and the National Leadership College speaking at many conferences and developing the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and Senior Leadership Development programmes. 

In his previous school where he was the Headteacher for 8 years, Governance in 2011 was rated as Outstanding and, under the re-inspection in 2014, Leadership and Management was rated as Good with Outstanding features and Governance as a ‘real strength of the school’. His work with the Bushey St James Trust, highlighted by Ofsted and the Local Authority, has included a formal review of Governance at Little Reddings School which played a key part of their journey to Good. He works collaboratively across a number of schools in Hertfordshire and also Chairs the Management and School Improvement Committees of Chessbrook, the PRU in Watford.