Our trustees

We are fortunate to have the expertise of trustees with wide ranging experience, including school improvement, HR, safeguarding, finance and health and safety.

Many of our trustees bring with them significant education experience and/or experience pertinent to our Trust, such as with our Diocesan trustees. Please also visit our page for our members.

Ian Wilson MA PhD DIC FRSC – Chair of Trustees

Ian is the headteacher at Bishops’ Blue Coat High School. He is committed to improving education and welfare for all students, not only as a diocesan headteacher but during twenty years of governance as part of four boards spanning primary, secondary, academy and multi-trust. Ian fully understands the importance of accountability, using data and expertise to identify trends and support improvement. Throughout his career he has demonstrated a commitment to ethical behaviour, independence of thought and sound judgement across the range of academy responsibilities; employees, procurement, estates, compliance, equality and the best educational opportunities for the whole child.

Paula Conlin BSc PGCE NPQH – Chief Executive Officer

Paula is the chief executive officer designate for the Trust and so is an ex-officio Trustee. She has 15 years’ experience of headship with repeated experience of school improvement as deputy headteacher, headteacher and IEB member. Within 18 months she led her own school from special measures to good and supported another school that also went from special measures to good. Paula has also worked as an inclusion consultant for the local authority and within a private company in the education sector.

Lloyd Willday

Lloyd was the CEO and executive headteacher of The Adelaide Academy Trust. As a headteacher, his own school was awarded TES Special School of the Year. He is a widely respected and exceptionally experienced leader of special schools in both the public and private sector, and provides consultancy, quality assurance and school improvement support in a variety of settings.

Melanie Renowden BSc

Melanie is Alliance Director at the youth-led charity, Bite Back 2030, which aims to halve childhood obesity by 2030. Melanie joined Bite Back in January 2020 and leads their work with schools, businesses and the youth sector. Before joining Bite Back, Melanie was deputy CEO and CEO at Ambition Institute, a charity providing development to teachers and school leaders in England. In her nine years at Ambition, Melanie grew the charity to its current scale, training 4,000 educators a year. Prior to Ambition, she held senior posts in the public and voluntary sectors, including with the Department for Education. She has served as a primary school governor and is a former trustee of the charity Teach First.

Angela Lewis

Angela has 17 years’ experience working in children’s services commissioning early years, youth services and targeted family support services for local authorities. She has extensive experience of safeguarding systems and practices in education and social service settings. She has previously served on an interim executive board. Angela is currently a commissioning manager and has qualifications in business management, and coaching and mentoring.

Graeme White – Diocesan Trustee

Graeme is Emeritus Professor of Local History at the University of Chester, from where he retired in 2010. He was successively Head of History and Dean of Academic Quality and Standards, in which capacity he helped to facilitate the process by which Chester College became a University. He has reviewed other colleges and universities for the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. Graeme writes on aspects of medieval and landscape history, edits the county history journal Cheshire History and has several connections with church and cathedral communities within the Diocese of Chester.

Ralph Mainard

Following an early career teaching religious studies and philosophy, finishing as head of religion and philosophy at Manchester Grammar School, Ralph joined Dulwich College in 1993 as head of the middle school. In 2014, Ralph was appointed to the newly created post of deputy master external with a brief to develop the college’s links with the maintained sector and to create an international presence. By 2015 Dulwich had seven international schools for which he was responsible. In the maintained sector, Ralph led two academy projects from their creation to opening, on the Isle of Sheppey and in the London borough of Lambeth, working closely with executives and governors and in both cases, chairing the governing body. Ralph retired from Dulwich College in 2015 and is Director International for Aspirance Leadership Services, acting as a consultant to UK schools seeking a move into the international market. Ralph is a Senior Associate for one of the public examination boards, is Vice Chair of the Newton Prep Council in London and governor at Bishops’ Blue Coat High School in Chester.

Nigel Oates

Nigel is a qualified commercial accountant having held several ‘line’ positions as finance director and managing director within the commercial sector. Following this, Nigel joined a ‘big four’ management consultancy, leading multi-disciplinary teams advising private/public sector clients (typically major PLCs). From the mid 1990’s Nigel formed a management consultancy partnership with an ex colleague and built a multi-disciplinary team advising private sector clients (PLCs and SMEs), the public sector (local authorities/central government agencies) and the legal sector via expert witness projects both within the UK and mainland Europe.

Sue Noakes

Sue Noakes is Deputy Director of Education for Chester Diocesan Board of Education. Previously a teacher, Sue has worked for the Board of Education for a number of years providing support for 115 schools over 9 Local Authorities. Sue has been a SIAMS inspector and continues to offer support for church schools in this area. Sue also takes responsibility for the appointment of foundation governors for all church schools in the diocese and leads a governor training programme on specific church school aspects. A member of a local and national governor network Sue has contributed to a number of programmes and is currently working on a programme for headteacher wellbeing and the governor role in this for the diocese.