Chairs of LABs

Dr Christopher Mansell

Co-Chair of Nethersole CofE Primary School

Christopher took up post as CEO of BDMAT on 01 September 2017. Prior to this, he had been Headteacher of 4 schools during a period of 17 years in Derby City, Derbyshire and Warwickshire, having commenced his first headship in 2000. All of his headships were at schools which were in ‘difficult situations’, including one that had recently been placed into Special Measures and one in an inner-city, highly deprived area. In 2013 he completed a Master of Philosophy degree at the University of Birmingham and in 2020 was awarded a doctorate from the University of Nottingham (thesis: examining the relationships that headteachers experience with their sponsor academy trusts).

Wendy Smith

Co-Chair of Nethersole CofE Primary School

Wendy was previously a parent governor between 2015 – 2020 and a co-opted governor from April 2022 on the Nethersole Local Academy Board. She has worked for 24 years in local government as an Environmental Health Practitioner and is currently Head of Environmental Health at Tamworth Borough Council. Wendy is married with 2 children, one at Tamworth College and the other at school in Year 8.

Dr Paulette Osborne MBE

Chair of St Michael's Handsworth CofE Primary School

Paulette has been working in Birmingham for over 27 years and is really proud to have had a long and outstanding career as an educator and mentor. She was designated a National leader of Education in 2016 and was part of the DFE Advisory Group, brought together to reform and strengthen the structure of system leadership throughout the country.
In addition to being a NLE, Paulette is an accredited Pupil Premium and SEND Reviewer, a NPQSL Assessor, and an accreditor for the RE Quality Mark.
Currently, Paulette is the part time Assistant Director for School Improvement at Birmingham Education Partnership.

Krystal Knight

Chair of Woodside CofE Primary School

Krystal has recently taken on the role of Chair of Governors at Woodside having originally joined the LAB as a Parent Governor in 2022. Krystal has two girls at the school, with the youngest due to finish Year 6 in 2028.  Krystal’s background is within Policing, which is where she has nurtured her career over the last 20 years. Her passion is working within the Public Protection Unit, where she works with children, young adults and vulnerable adults. She engages with people from all walks of life and from many different backgrounds both socially and culturally. Safeguarding children is at the heart of the work that she does and she understands just how important this is to every parent that sends their child to Woodside.

Outside of her career, she enjoys the outdoors with her family and loves to explore the UK and beyond in their campervan. Krystal and her family love walking, paddle-boarding and wild water swimming when the opportunity presents itself. “The wellbeing of my family is incredibly important so it is forever my goal to ensure the correct balance between my career and my family.”

Krystal believes that a good education, that is a broad one and goes beyond the academic, is fundamental to ensuring our children can become the best versions of themselves so that they can ‘live life in all its fullness.’ The ethos at Woodside seeks to do just that and Krystal as chair, along with the LAB, aims to support them in achieving their goals.

John Pemberton

Chair of St Clement's CE Academy

John runs his own IT support company; his wife works in SEN education. They have young boys, one at Victoria School, one at Laycroft Academy, who both have autistic diagnosis with their individual distinct needs. John volunteers his time at several places believing in helping them to get the most of limited resources.

Lesa Nield

Chair of Austrey and Newton Regis C of E Primary School

Previously vice chair and parent governor.
30 years in the telecoms sector – Ex- BT security sales – now retired
Fitness instructor with 30+ years experience – teaching yoga, step, pump and aqua
Married with 2 girls, one at University studying BioMedicine and the other in year 8.
Lesa is passionate about supporting the local school and the teachers who do a wonderful job, being so closely involved is an eye opener for her. And Lesa is enjoying watching and challenging the school and seeing it go from strength to strength with such a supportive team .

Nic Hammett

Chair of Lady Katherine

Having been a governor in schools for over 10 years, with a background in education and SEND, Nic was excited to take on the role of Chair at Lady K in 2019. Not only is it the school her children attend but it is also the heart of her local community. Farming close by and being an active member of the community helps her to understand the strengths and difficulties a rural school can face. Working alongside staff, students and the church, it is a continuous pleasure to see Lady K move from strength to strength

Linda Buckingham

Chair of Warton Nethersole Church of England Primary School

Linda has been a church governor of Warton Nethersole’s CE Primary since 2013 and Chair since 2019. Linda has been a Christian for over thirty-five years. She is a communicant member of the Church of England and worships at St Mary’s Atherstone.  When on holiday Linda worships with Christians in the city of Tours, France. Her faith has carried her through many uncertain times because in Jeremiah 29:11 it says “‘I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'” Linda says it is a privilege to serve the pupils and staff of her village school as a member of the LAB and Christian Ethos Committee. Linda has two grown-up children, who both attended Warton School, and four grandchildren. Although now retired from primary school teaching, she maintains her interest in Special Educational Needs and Religious Education. Linda is an avid reader, collects children’s literature and enjoys walking, craft activities and French life and culture.

Stephen Pihlaja

Chair of St. Michael’s Church of England Primary School

Stephen Pihlaja is a Reader in English Language and Linguistics at Newman University Birmingham. He is the author of several books on language and religion, including a Grove Series booklet on religious diversity in church schools. Originally from the United States, Stephen and his partner, Yoko, moved to the UK from Japan in 2008, and with their three daughters have made Birmingham their home since 2014. He’s passionate about inclusion, animal rights and liberation, and long-distance running.

Lorraine Graham

Chair of St. George’s Church of England Primary School

Lorraine has been involved in education the whole of her working life. She started in a middle school before moving on to a girls’ school teaching mainstream children who had special educational needs.

Lorraine made the move as a senior teacher to a large co-ed school in Lichfield where she became Learning Support Coordinator and was in charge of creating a fully inclusive environment for pupils with a wide range of needs. In addition, she provided training for Staffordshire, helped develop and implement the Inclusion Quality Mark and was involved in curriculum development for the QCA.

Since retiring Lorraine has undertaken SEN consultancy along with becoming a governor at St George’s CE Primary, Edgbaston. Her interests are travel, reading, family and local history along with watching West Brom!

Paul Bridges

Chair of Quinton Church Primary School

As a parent with children at the wonderful Quinton Church Primary School, Paul cares deeply about how successful his children, your children and the school can be. He has worked in a Church of England school and knows how important values and compassion are in a child’s education. He has been a leader at a primary school in Birmingham with responsibility for the broader curriculum, reading, pastoral care and computing and currently works in a Pupil Referral Unit. He has worked on boards and governing committees, inside and outside the education sector, to drive up standards and performance and create the best environment for success.

Margaret Andrew

Chair of Nonsuch Primary School

Margaret was born in St Helens in Lancashire, grew up in Wetherby in West Yorkshire, went to secondary school in Leeds and studied English at London University, where she met her husband. She worked in the civil service in central London for 2 years and then moved to Birmingham when they got married. They had 2 children very quickly and she was a stay-at-home mum until the younger one went to school when she felt she needed to do something else as well.
Margaret started teaching English and Communication Skills part-time at Bournville College. Since then, she has always worked in the FE sector, gradually moving up the career ladder at Bournville and picking up a Cert Ed on the way before moving to Halesowen College, a vastly different kind of place, as Head of the English Department.
At Halesowen Margaret became involved in school liaison and admissions, setting up and managing the re-vamped college-wide Admissions system and she split her time initially between teaching English and doing the cross-college role, having handed over the running of the English department. As time moved on, Margaret dropped the teaching element and concentrated on the management role. Margaret got to know a lot of the secondary schools in the Black Country and south Birmingham and really enjoyed the opportunities to work with young people in an advice and guidance role.
Margaret has always been very involved in church activities, including a period as churchwarden and membership of Moseley Deanery Synod and now of the new “super-deanery” of Kings Norton, Moseley, and Shirley. Through involvement with the wider church Margaret signed up to be involved in Appeals Panels for church schools and has done that for several years which has given her quite an insight into how primary schools work – a sector vastly different from post-16 and secondary.
When Margaret fully retired, she responded to a request for volunteers to be school governors. Nonsuch Primary which had just joined with St Michael’s, Bartley Green and Christ Church, Quinton in a little MAT, was suggested. Margaret became Chair of Governors within a short space of time to assist the school through a challenging time. The school is now back on track and has made tremendous improvements.

David Willey

Chair of Holy Trinity Church of England Primary Academy

David was borne in Walsall in the Midlands in 1953 attending various local schools. At sixteen years old David left school and joined Staffordshire Fire Service as a full time Junior Firefighter on a two-year training scheme having to live away from home. From the age of sixteen David attended various Colleges of Further education, became a Mensan and attended University as a mature Student until the age of thirty-three. David served for thirty years in the Fire and Rescue Service working in Staffordshire, West Midlands and spent three years with the Home Office Fire Service Inspectorate. Whilst in the West Midlands David also served for three years as an Assistant Chief Fire officer responsible for all matters concerned with Human Resources.
On retirement from the Service, David was appointed to an Assistant Director of Human Resources at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and was also appointed as a National Assessor for the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme together with secondments to the Commission for Health Improvement, the fore runner of the Care Quality Commission. David also undertook the Human Resources lead for safeguarding within the Hospital Trust. After 12 Years David retired for a second time and was then appointed to a Senior position with Birmingham City Council working with a team of consultants who provided Employee Relations advice to over three hundred Birmingham Schools Headteachers and Chairs of Governors. For five years of the eight with the City Council David was also the Chair of the Interim Executive Board for a through school of 4- to 16-year-olds in East Birmingham.

David has been involved with various voluntary roles within the community of Birmingham. David has recently relocated with his wife Ellen to Derbyshire and has therefore had to leave his role as a PCC (Parochial Church Council) member with a Church of England Parish Church in Sutton Coldfield which he held continuously for 28 Years. David has though continued with his Chairmanship of the Local Academy Board, Holy Trinity Primary Academy, Handsworth (21 years). Chairman of The Birmingham Trust for Psychoanalytical Psychotherapy (15 years). Justice of the Peace and Presiding Justice at Victoria Law Courts (20 years). Additionally, David also is a Company Member of the Firefighters Charity and has been associated with this voluntary work in many roles within the charity since 1986.

David since the age of seven years old has been interested in spending most of the spare time that he has, watching football or cricket at all levels of the sport.

Revd Larry Wright

Chair of Hawkesley Church Primary Academy

Revd Larry Wright is the vicar of St Nicolas’ Church, Kings Norton which is part of the Kings Norton Team ministry. He grew up in Birmingham and served in two parishes in North Birmingham until coming to Kings Norton in 2016. He has been chair of governors in north Birmingham and is particularly keen to foster links between school, home and wider community.  The link between the school and church is an important part of fostering our Christian ethos and we hope to build upon this link for the mutual benefit of both.

The Very Revd Matt Thompson, Dean of Birmingham

Chair of Christ Church Secondary Academy and St, George’s Church of England Academy Newtown

Dean Matt is Dean of Birmingham. He was installed as Dean of Birmingham on 30 September 2017.
Matt grew up in the West Midlands and attended school in Walsall. He studied Theology & Religious Studies at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and trained for ordination at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.
Matt served his title at the Parish of the Ascension, Hulme in the Diocese of Manchester from 1994 to 1997. From 1997 to 2000 he served first as Assistant Curate and then as Team Vicar in the Langley and Parkfield Team Ministry. From 2000 to 2008 he was Priest-in-Charge at St Cross Clayton and Area Dean of Ardwick from 2003 to 2008. From 2008-2017 he was Vicar of Bolton and Borough Dean of Bolton from 2010-2017. He served as an honorary canon of Manchester Cathedral from 2012-2017 and as Chair of the House of Clergy for the Diocese of Manchester from 2015-2017.
Throughout his ministry, he has been particularly involved in schools, urban regeneration, interfaith ministry and community cohesion. He is interested in public theology and Ignatian spirituality.