James Townsend, Tessa Mason and Jenny Williams

James Townsend, Tessa Mason and Jenny Williams

James Townsend has been appointed director of the Church of England foundation for educational leadership.

He was education research and policy officer with the church and says he is “incredibly excited” to set up a new foundation that will “offer leadership development opportunities for school, system and diocesan leaders through networks, programmes and research”.

Townsend says the key to a good education is building “great relationships” with pupils, which is what he will aim to do with the church’s 4,500 schools.

“There is something really powerful in the church and its mission for education, which is to provide a fantastic education for children from disadvantaged backgrounds in particular. We have the aspiration but also the infrastructure to do that . . . and that really excites me.”

After completing a history degree at York University, Townsend trained as a maths teacher at Copley academy in Manchester. He later taught at Brimsham Green school in Bristol.

He also spent a year as a Teach First president.

Tessa Mason is the new chair of Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust (BDAT), taking over from Dr David Lee, the previous Archdeacon of Bradford, who led the trust from its inception in 2012 to his retirement in January.

Mason, who is also a teaching and leadership adviser in Yorkshire and the Humber for the Department for Education and a former headteacher, says the recent white paper has created an “increasingly changing landscape”.

“The announcements mean our ambition is now more important than ever. The education world is changing quickly and the paths schools choose to take between now and 2022 mean collaboration, and often academisation, is the only way forward if we are to deliver a robust, sustainable and improving education offer.

“BDAT is one of a number of trusts that is now going to have to look very hard at its capacity, its growth and the changes the future demands.”

Mason completed a degree in English and music followed by a masters in primary education at Leeds.

Jenny Williams is the new deputy chief executive at the Skills and Education Group. She was director of vocational education and training at the Education and Training Foundation.

Williams says her role at the new group, which was launched this month and which aims to inform, influence and represent
both the education and skills sectors, is to help young people transition into adult and work life.

The group’s founding organisations are ABC Awards, ASDAN and emfec. Williams will also become managing director of ASDAN.

After completing a degree in linguistics and computer studies at Hatfield Polytechnic University, Williams began working with schools, first for Dorset training and enterprise council and then Southampton city council. More recently, she has held a range of national strategic roles in further education.

She says her new role will give her the scope to bring together her early career experience within schools with her more recent further education knowledge.