Our Board

Tessa Mason, FCCT

Chair of the Trust

Skills: Education (primary and secondary), consultancy, strategy and policy

Tessa is a highly experienced education adviser and consultant. Following sixteen years in headship in Leeds, Tessa became the Regional Programme Leader for the TDA for Yorkshire and Humber until 2010 and subsequently a Teaching and Learning Adviser for the NCTL and a DfE Education Adviser for the RSC in Lancashire and West Yorkshire and the north of England (current).

Tessa has specialised in the professional development of the whole of the teaching workforce, in school and MAT governance and in supporting and advising the emergence and development of the self-improving system in all phases of education. In this context Tessa has developed the regional NLE, NLG and TSA presence and influence across the north of England. In recent years Tessa has had a direct role in supporting the National Teaching School Council representatives and the DfE on strategy and coordination in Yorkshire, Humber and in Lancashire/West Yorkshire.

Tessa is recognised for her work in the diocesan schools sector and has understanding and experience of the shape and scope and leadership of a full range of multi academy trusts, as well as for her deep knowledge and understanding of the school led system. Tessa contributes to the facilitation.

In November 2019, Tessa was awarded a Fellowship of the Chartered College of Teaching (FCCT). This is an impressive accolade reserved for the most committed teachers and leaders who have shown a significant and sustained contribution to the teaching profession and their own professional development. As the highest and most prestigious category of membership at the Chartered College, it is clear recognition of of Tessa’s achievements, skills and expertise as a teaching professional.

Bill Henry

Vice Chair of the Trust

Skills: Strategy, change management, facilitation

Bill was a senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) prior to his recent retirement, where he led a large practice across the North. He is an experienced facilitator and mentor with expertise in strategic risk and governance.

Peter Addison-Child

Trustee of the MAT

Skills: Education
Peter’s career has spanned both public and private sectors, with senior roles in government departments working directly with Ministers as well as appointments up to board level in business, including a spell with consultancy PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
His commercial experience includes co-founding a business consultancy start-up which grew to generate over £23 million in revenue during his tenure as a Director.

Since 2011, Peter has worked as an independent consultant, focused mainly in the education sector. His has worked closely with National Leaders of Education in projects for the Teaching Schools’ Council and the former National College for Teaching and Leadership. His most recent clients include the Institute of Education at UCL and Deloitte, as well as various teaching schools and multi-academy trusts and local authorities. He brings particular expertise in strategic business communication and engagement.

Beyond education, he has also provided consultancy and executive support at the top level in the health sector and the sports sector, working with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and UK Sport amongst others.

Nurjahan Ali Arobi

Trustee of the MAT

Skills: NHS Manager, SEN

Nurjahan is a Voluntary Partnerships Senior Manager for NHS England. She has two daughters and initially became a Governor due to her interest in Education and a desire to ensure her own children receive the best education possible.

Nurjahan has vast experience in dealing with SEND and is passionate abut supporting the progress and well-being for all students.

Nurjahan is the Vice Chair of the Governing Board and Chair of the Standards, Provision and Care Committee at Belle Vue Girls Academy.

Dr Ruby Bhatti, OBE

Trustee of the MAT and Chair of Governors at Clayton St John

Skills: Legal, Governance

Ruby is a highly successful Solicitor with over 27 years’ experience in the legal field. She has over 21 years’ experience of various Non-Executive Directorships, including previous Chair of a BME Housing Association. Her other Non-Executive roles include a social enterprise company, Carlisle Business Centre (CBC) and its charity arm ACL Ltd. She is also a Director of Yorkshire Arise Ltd, a unique company that has four social enterprise companies working together in Bradford on key projects.

Ruby sits as a Non-Executive Director, previously in the Social Housing sector on Incommunities Group Board and currently Deputy Chair and lay member – governance for NHS Bradford City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

She is a National Leader of Governance for Education (NLG) for Yorkshire and the Humber, a Non Executive Director for the Dixon Multi Academies Trust and Rainbow Academy. She is also a panel member for Bradford Local Authority Education Appeals Admission Panel.

Ruby is Chair for the Quality and Safety Patient’s Panel based at the Bradford Institute for Health and Research (BIHR), Panel member for The Improvement Academy for Yorkshire and the Humber and Public Reviewer for the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR). She has recently been appointed as a Patient Research Ambassador for the Bradford Teaching Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust. Ruby is Chair of the Wolfson Centre for Applied Health Research and Board Member for the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Yorkshire and Humber.

She is a Patient Lecturer at the University of Bradford. She sits as an Associate Hospital Manager for the Mental Health Department, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust.
Ruby is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce ( FRSA) and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA).

Ruby was awarded an OBE in New Year’s Honours 2019 for her services to young people and housing.

In November 2020 Ruby was awarded honorary doctorate from University of Bradford.

Roland Clark

Trustee of the MAT

Skills: Business Advisor

Roland is a Director of L’Arche UK and a Governor at Belle Vue Girls Academy and has been involved in the education sector for many years which has given him wide experience including as Chair of Governors of a local Church Primary School. In a professional role he has experience as an Auditor and Advisor to Academies since they were first created. Roland is Chair of the YMCA in Bradford as well as Chair of ‘Inn Churches’ which, in Winter organises overnight accommodation in local churches and also runs ‘The Storehouse’ café in Bradford and delivers training on healthy cooking on a limited budget.

His role within BDAT enables him to make a positive contribution both in the area of education in a Christian context, and also to the overall welfare of this part of the country generally.

Carol Dewhurst, OBE

Trustee of the MAT and CEO of the Trust

Skills: Project management, strategy, policy, communications

Carol has been Chief Executive Officer of Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust since April 2014 overseeing the Trust growth from a three school MAT to Trust of 17 schools, educating more than 8,500 pupils and with a budget of over £54 million by the end of 2018.

During her time at BDAT, Carol has also supported the set-up of a new Diocesan MAT in the Richmond area of North Yorkshire, acted as a Trustee on the LEAF Academy Trust board to support their re-brokerage into Abbey Academies Trust and is Vice Chair of the New Collective Learning Trust, a new sixth form Trust based in West Yorkshire.

Carol’s work for BDAT also enables her to support a number of regional and national initiatives, including sitting on the National Church of England MAT CEO Steering Group and participating in the DfE West Yorkshire Strategic Partnership on collaborative working across education in the region.

In 2020, Carol was awarded an OBE for her services to Education in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Carol is a political science graduate from Leeds University and Chartered Marketer. Carol has worked in a number of public sector roles delivering project work across different areas of the children’s workforce from early years, social work and integrated working (every child matters).

Carol previously worked as a team leader in the Academies programme at the Department for Education covering Yorkshire and Humber and the North West.



Neil Diamond

Trustee of the MAT

Skills: Education and Business

Neil originally qualified as a PE teacher including a period at St Aiden’s in Harrogate. He moved into financial consultancy and has had a successful career with a range of companies, both in the UK and abroad. He completed his first masters degree in education in 1990 and also has an MBA.

Neil recently completed the Institute of Directors course via Leeds Beckett University. Having run his own consultancy since 2000, much of his most recent work has been abroad including strategic and restructuring roles in Vietnam and company set-ups in Romania and Brazil.

Stephen Emsley

Trustee of the MAT and Chair of Governors at The Academy at St James

Skills: Recruitment, Business

Stephen is a Recruitment Specialist and works with a large volume of schools and local authorities to form their recruitment strategies to attract and retain the best staff to their schools, ensuring that pupil outcomes are increased via better teaching. He has been a Governor, Vice Chair and Chair since 2011 and successfully reshaped a governing body that was criticised by OFSTED for failing to hold the school to account, to a governing body praised for its transformation.

Stephen is committed to the potential for all schools to achieve an “outstanding” status through strong and committed leadership, and a shared strategic vision that is embraced by all staff.

Richard Giles

Trustee of the MAT

Skills : Finance and Risk Management

Richard is Head of the Teachers Pension Scheme and leads a team of 300 people at Capita, responsible for the close partnership with the Department for Education.

Richard brings a broad range of experience to the board including experience in market and client relationship roles as well as team leadership with full responsibility for financial and operational performance.

Outside of work Richard is Chairman of Ilkley Town.  Harnessing the power of sport in the community is a real passion of his.

Richard has previously acted as Independent Chair to the BDAT audit committee.

Tony Hesselwood

Trustee of the MAT

Skills: Finance, accountancy and risk management

Tony is a Chartered Accountant having retired after 41 years in a local general practice in 2009.  He worships at St Paul’s, Shipley where Tony acts as Administrator of the Hirst Wood Burial Board and is also affiliated to St Michael’s in Cottingley.

Tony was Chairman of the Bradford Diocesan Board of Finance for 27 years, again until 2009, through which he had oversight of the DBE’s finances.  He also represents the DBE as a member of the Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust and has been involved in the Trust from the beginning.

Currently he is Vice Chairman of the Scargill Movement and on the Board of the Cottingley Community Centre .

Denise Sterling

Trustee of the MAT and Chair of Governors at Immanuel College

Skills: NHS senior manager, strategy, governance

Denise is an Occupational Therapist by profession with 38 year experience within the NHS she has held a variety of clinical, managerial and professional leadership positions. Most recently until retirement as Head of Occupational Therapy at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust with responsibility for the strategic, professional and managerial leadership of Trust staff.

She is currently a Non-Executive Director at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust.

Denise is an experienced school governor who is committed to supporting schools and school leaders to maximise opportunities for children of all abilities and backgrounds.

Catherine Wilson

Trustee of the MAT

Skills: HR, employment law

Catherine is an employment lawyer and consultant with W Legal limited, a boutique commercial law firm based in London.  She read law at Oxford University before practicing as a barrister. Catherine has been a partner with two national law firms based in London and the South East before relocating back to Yorkshire in 2014.

Catherine has a long history of advising education clients and charities on employment and governance issues. Catherine has been the Chair of Governors at Westminster Primary School since September 2019.  She is passionate about improving children’s life chances through education.

Canon John Wood

Trustee of the MAT

Skills: Education

John has recently retired from education having worked at St Aidan’s C/E High School Harrogate for the whole of his career. He started in 1977 as a Teacher of Religious Studies and since then has held a variety of Leadership roles culminating in becoming Headteacher in January 2012. He is passionate about improving the quality of education for every child and in ensuring that an all round education with access to as many opportunities as possible is available for each child throughout their school careers.

In the last 7 years, John has formed The Yorkshire Causeway Schools Trust and has been involved in its growth strategy that not only supports new schools to the Trust but also develops those that have been members since its inception. He has also been responsible for the foundation of The Yorkshire Teaching Schools Alliance, a group of over 20 secondary schools which supports the training of new teachers, ensures high quality Professional Development for all teachers and support staff within the Alliance, is involved in School to School support for those schools identified or wishing for development, and in a programme of Research and Development which enables sound and proven educational studies to be introduced and used in all areas of the educational world.

John is married with 2 children, both of whom are teachers, and 3 wonderful grandchildren. He was appointed as an Honorary Lay Chaplain in Ripon Cathedral a number of years ago and regularly worships at St Mark’s Harrogate.

John is looking forward to working within BDAT and making a contribution to its development as an Educational Trust.

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As the last BDAT school closes their doors for the summer holidays, we want to issue every student and every staff member a wonderful summer and say a huge thank you for being AMAZING in what has been a very unique (and hopefully never to be repeated) year. Happy holidays! 🌞😎☀️


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