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Central Team

Executive Team

Chief Executive Officer - Rebecca Cox

Rebecca is currently the CEO at Hales Valley Trust. Rebecca has been part of the evolution of the Trust since its inception in 2017. She is also a National Leader of Education, the Director of Hales Valley Teaching hub and an Ofsted Inspector of both Early years and the Schools remit. Prior to being CEO she was the Headteacher of the lead trust school for 10 years and the Director of School Improvement. Rebecca has been the chair of the Black Country Teaching Schools Alliance and successfully wrote one of the 2 round 1 SSIF bids for £500,000 to improve the outcomes for over 2000 EYFS children across the 4 Black Country Authorities over a 2 year period - which was a huge success.  She has worked in a range of schools in a range of roles from Advanced Skills Teacher, to Assistant Headteacher then moving onto headteacher and National Leader of Education.

Rebecca has been the chair of Dudley Primary Forum and is a current member of Dudley Schools Forum which brings all areas of the education and council sector together across the borough. Rebecca continues to engage with the latest CPD and has completed her NPQEL qualification and is a facilitator of the new specialist NPQLBC qualification. Rebecca works closely with Olevi and a school in her Trust is the regional coaching centre of excellence. She is a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching and enjoys engaging with the Chartered College of Teaching in discussions and debates around a number of national and regional issues.

Rebecca is a huge believer in coaching as a way to enable a team to deliver results and develop sustainable long term thinking. She is a trained professional coach and has enjoyed spreading her passion for coaching throughout her Trust and beyond so that others can benefit from the 'Power of Coaching'. She has worked with IRIS connect to develop the use of video technology to improve the quality of teaching and used this as her masters study focus to consider the impact it has improving quality first teaching. Rebecca has spoken at regional and national level including being part of a panel discussion at the Academies show Autumn 2021 and the National data conference in Spring 2022. 

Director for Finance and Operations - Lisa-Jane Garfield 

As Director of Finance and Operations for the Trust, Lisa is responsible for the non-teaching and learning elements of the Trust, predominantly Finance, HR, Estates, IT and operations. Lisa is a qualified Chartered Accountant who holds a professional membership of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (ACMA/CGMA), also AAT, gained a certification in Taxation and holds L7 ILM Diploma in Leadership and Management.

Having started her career in the private sector at accounting entry level she was promoted at various levels in both management accounting and financial accounting roles for 15 years before joining the Charity Sector in 2006. During her time in the private sector she also travelled to USA to assist with implementation of an IT system, and was part of a team embedding the Kaizen approach to continuous improvement.

During her 17 years in the Charity sector as Executive officer she was well respected has a key leader in all areas across Business management; Finance & Audit, Payroll & Pension, IT, Contracts & Leases, Governance, Data Protection, Due diligence, Insurance, HR and TUPE. During this time, she held a position on the West Midlands Pension Fund Employer committee representing the voluntary sector.

Her most recent success was leading the Charity through the full process of Incorporation, overseeing the legal and operational functions. Lisa was recognised by the Board for her tenacity, values ethics, commitment, and her resilience during the challenges that were presented.

Her drive, support and achievements during her time at the Charity fuelled a passion to continue this within a Primary MAT and thus her decision to join Hales Valley MAT which remains a growing Trust.

Lisa served as a Trustee for several years for a Charity who challenges social injustice and health inequalities for people with learning disabilities. As such her personal qualities align closely with the Nolan principles.

Director of Education - Kate Hall 

Kate has worked in primary education for over 20 years. She describes herself as a teacher who constantly refines her teaching skills, knowledge, and experience, so that we can apply this knowledge and understanding to her leadership, enabling her to promote the best outcomes for all pupils across our Trust. 

Within the role of Director of Education, she has focused attention on the education provided by the schools in the Trust and the strategies that are associated with better outcomes for pupils. Through using her secure knowledge and understanding of quality first teaching and learning, she can identify what needs to be done, what it will look like, and what impact it will have.  

Previously, within her role as a Headteacher of a large 3-form entry primary school, she has had extensive experience of being able to successfully implement whole school pedagogical changes, based on research such as IRIS Connect, Accelerated Reader, Early Reading Scheme and Phonic Programme, Mastery Maths, Artificial Intelligence platforms, and the implementation of The Write Stuff approach to the teaching of writing.  

As an accredited professional coach, Kate has seen the benefits of coaching in staff at all career stages for professional development, personal growth, and curriculum changes. Her passion for coaching has extended to volunteering as a coach in the Women Leading in Education network and at the time was instrumental in her school being appointed as an ‘OLEVI Centre of Excellence in the Practice of Coaching’.  

As well as coaching, Kate has implemented IRIS platform across the Trust enabling staff to reflect and gain a deeper insight into their teaching practice. Not just for evaluating the effectiveness of teaching but sharing good practice to develop others further.  

Over many years, as an SLE, Kate has participated in a range of experience of working with headteachers beyond the Trust to initiate whole school changes, in addition to successful, effective school improvement. She is a trained facilitator for NPQ programmes as well as leadership and teaching and learning programmes written by OLEVI.  

Through her role as a Peer-to-Peer Review facilitator, Kate uses her curriculum and pedagogical knowledge alongside a range of interpersonal and communication skills to draw on strengths and tangible actions for schools beyond the Trust – working with leaders from other schools and conducting ‘deep dives’ linked to enquiry questions.  

Kate is a research informed leader. Through reading about and around educational theories, topics and research, she is able to make informed decisions about the education of pupils across the Trust and maintain, improve or change practice to improve the quality of education in our schools.  

Executive Leaders

Executive Headteacher - Hurst Hill Primary School, Lutley Primary School - Rebecca Keen 

Growing up in the Black Country, I then trained at Warwick University as a teacher in 1996, in Drama and Educational Studies. In 2007, I completed my masters’ degree in education at Wolverhampton University.

After becoming an advanced skills teacher, and completing several international research visits to New Zealand, South Africa and Norway, I taught in a range of Primary schools, became Assistant Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher.

I led the initial teacher training programme, School Direct route for Hales Valley Trust, partnerships with Worcester University and the University of Birmingham.

I am currently Executive Head Teacher at Hurst Hill Primary School and Lutley Primary School, having worked for Hales Valley Trust since 2012. I was previously Headteacher of Hurst Hill Primary School which is now a ‘good’ school, having been in challenging circumstances for 22 years.

I have working in education for 22 years and have been a senior leader for 14 years.

I love reading books and am a book club presenter on Teacher Hug Radio at the weekends. I love spending time with my two children and I spend a lot of time at the local rugby club.

Executive Headteacher - Lapal Primary School, Woodside Primary School - Joanna Turner 

Joanna is Executive Headteacher of Lapal Primary School and Woodside Primary School. She has worked in education for the past 21 years, teaching across the primary age range. Joanna gained her National Professional Qualification for Headship in 2011 and has recently participated in training to become the Senior Mental Health Lead in School.

From to 2012 to 2022 Joanna was Head of Lapal Primary School, a successful, over-subscribed, primary in Halesowen. Under her leadership the school has grown from 315 pupils on roll to 380. The school has been extended and modernised during this period and pupil outcomes have improved year upon year. The school has moved from an Ofsted grading of satisfactory, to a school recognised as potentially obtaining outstanding at its next inspection.

Throughout her career, she has supported a number of local schools with their own school improvement journey, acting as a lead facilitator for peer-to-peer reviews. She also provided leadership support for a school in special measures, acting as consultant Headteacher for a 12-month period.

Joanna sits on the steering group for Halesowen Teaching and Learning Community, helping to improve the lives and experiences of pupils, staff and families within the Halesowen township.

Before Headship, she taught across the primary age range and held many senior leadership posts, including, Key Stage leader, Assistant Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher. Joanna became an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) in 2005, a role where she supported individuals and schools across the LA, specialising in Early Years and assessment for learning.

Joanna, trained at Worcester University completing a 4-year BA Hons degree with Qualified Teacher Status and specialism in Art. She wanted to teach from a young age, initially qualifying to teach dance and gaining experience by coordinating summer holiday schemes for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties at a local residential school.

Joanna believes that education can transform children’s lives and is therefore committed to giving the children who attend the schools she leads the very best opportunities to excel. She believes in providing a caring, friendly, and nurturing environment, where children can develop socially, academically, emotionally, and as unique individuals. Joanna thinks that it is important to create and deliver an inspiring and relevant curriculum that will develop children’s knowledge and skills in order to prepare them for life beyond school.

Outside of work, Joanna enjoys spending time with her family, walking in the Lake District and participating in anything creative!

School Improvement Team 

Head of Academic Outcomes and Inclusion - Emma Tolley 

Emma has worked in Dudley for the last 22 years working at Lapal Primary School as an NQT and working my way up to Deputy Head Teacher.

As Deputy Head at Lapal Primary School, Emma was Pupil premium lead, designated safeguarding lead and SENDco. Emma supported Hales Valley Trust schools last academic year to implement and monitor impact of the school led tutoring scheme. Each school now has established school led tutors working with children to close gaps which may have developed through the pandemic.

Emma's passion has always been in education, and will always relish the prospect of supporting schools within the trust to make inclusion at the heart of everything they do. 

EYFS Lead Practitioner - Stephanie Wheatcroft

Stephanie has worked across a range of early years settings across different counties for just over 20 years from a Nursery Nurse, Reception Teacher, EY Leader and now EY Lead Practitioner of the Trust. 

Stephanie is hugely passionate about providing the very best care and education for each and every young child, and in her role as Specialist Leader in Early Years and Specialist Literacy Leader, Stephanie has supported many settings improve their standards and outcomes in early years and phonics. 

A few years ago, Stephanie led a hugely successful Early Years SSIF bid improving the outcomes of children across 40 schools in 4 Black Country Authorities over a 2 year project. 

Stephanie is a current Visiting Fellow on Ambition Institute's NPQEYL. She has written and facilitated early years programmes, including ITT and NQT programmes. Stephanie is an ECERS mentor and has recently trained as a Licensed Tutor for ICAN Early Talk Boost and Talk Boost KS1. 

ECT Lead Practitioner - Hannah Pickles

Hannah Pickles is the Lead Practitioner for Early Career Teachers and Trust School Direct Lead. Hannah has been a qualified Primary school teacher for 23 years. During this time, she has worked in schools across Dudley and the West Midlands.  

As a Specialist Leader in Education, Hannah has supported schools to improve their English and phonic outcomes. She has worked closely with their Senior Leadership Teams, providing support, personalised training and coaching sessions.  

Over the last five years, Hannah has been leading our Initial Teacher Training programmes and has worked closely with ECTs and Mentors across the Dudley area. Hannah has written and facilitated both ITT and ECT programmes, worked as a professional coach and Mentor. Hannah is a Key Stage 1 Local Authority moderator reaching the STA moderation standard to moderate across Dudley and has had the honour of this role for a number of years. 

Hannah is a Visiting Fellow for Ambition Institute and delivers the ECF fully induction programme across Sandwell and Dudley. She also delivers on the National Professional Qualification in Leading Teacher Development programme. 

Hannah’s passion for English and in particular the teaching of reading is very important to her. She is a member of the Open University and UKLA Teachers’ as Readers group. Hannah has also written a phonic reading scheme for children in The Gambia, allowing children to access books that they can take home to read. She has worked alongside Gambian teachers over the last eight years to ensure the books fit alongside their National phonic scheme – Jolly Phonics

Supporting Improvement Practitioner - Coming Soon


IT, Finance and Operations Team

Trust IT Manager - Susan Harris 

Sue joined Lutley Primary School in 2002 as an ICT Technician.  In that role she worked closely with students, NQTs, teaching staff, SLT, outside agencies, DGfL, RM and other schools.   

During the Federation of Lutley and Lapal Primary Schools in 2012, Sue worked as IT Consultant with the staff at Lapal to ensure they were able to enhance teaching and learning through use of IT.  Sue has supported schools through equipment roll outs, and Ofsted Inspections. 

Sue joined the central team in September 2020 on secondment as Trust IT Manager. Sue worked closely with the Director of School Improvement and the IT Steering Group to support the vision, values and ethos of the Trust.   

Sue joined the School Improvement Team permanently in 2023 and has over 20 years’ experience working in IT with schools. Sue works closely with the Director of Education and the wider Executive Team to continually improve the technology provision across the Trusts school.

Senior IT Technician - Chris Naylor

Chris began his career in 2005 as an IT Technician apprentice. He has 15 years’ experience working for primary schools in Dudley and 3 years’ experience working for a Birmingham based secondary school.

He started as an IT Technician with Hales Valley Trust in 2019 originally based at Priory Primary School and Hurst Hill Primary School. After 2 years in the role he began supporting another school in the trust helping pupils and staff across all 3 sites on a weekly basis.

In 2023 his role became central team based allowing him to work across all 7 schools in Hales Valley Trust. He now works with the Trust IT Manager offering technical support to all the schools.

IT Apprentice - Alisha Alias 

Alisha started her apprenticeship with us in September 2023. She works closely with our Senior Technician and Trust IT Manager offering support across all 7 schools in the Trust. 

Head Of Finance - Katie Jones

Katie is a qualified accountant who has worked within an accounts function for over 20 years.  Katie joined the trust in 2019 and brings experience from working in management accounting and financial analyst roles in the public sector and a number of private sector industries.

Finance Officer - Amy Wakeman

Amy joined the central team in September 2019 to assist with the finance functions of the Trust.  She has over 10 years experience in finance related roles.

Finance Assistant - Claire Raxster

Claire is a qualified accountant who worked within an accounting practice for 11 years before joining Woodside Primary School in 2020, as a Finance Administrator. In February 2022 Claire was seconded to the central team and has since been appointed as the Finance Assistant.

HR & Estates Manager- Rachel Dean

Rachel has worked as a Finance Manager for over 13 years within the Banking Industry. She joined Woodside Primary School as a Finance Assistant and supported the school with Office Management, Finance and Administration. Rachel worked closely with the School Business manager to ensure to school operated effectively. Rachel was appointed in November 2018 to the Executive Team to provide operational and financial support for Hales Valley Trust.

HR Assistant - Tracey Hill

Tracey joined the Central team in February 2023 as a HR Assistant to the Trust. She has over 12 years experience in Business Administration and HR working within the Royal Air Force at various locations around the UK and then briefly working at Dudley MBC gaining experience in recruitment.