Janet Hilary, Kate French and Debbie Stokes

Janet Hilary, Kate French and Debbie Stokes

Floreat Education Academies Trust (Feat) has appointed Janet Hilary as its first chief executive.

Ms Hilary, the current executive principal of the trust, will begin the position from 1 February.

The trust’s founder and current managing director, James O’Shaughnessy, becomes a senior adviser as he balances his role at Feat with his new responsibilities as a member of the House of Lords.

Ms Hilary has been a head for the last 20 years, including at national training school St George’s CE School in London, Battersea. She says she is a “true believer” in character education “and that is why Floreat is such a natural home for me”.

As chief executive, Ms Hilary says she will create a group of “truly world class” schools by training inspirational teachers in-house and working in close partnership with parents.

Ms Hilary says she is also passionate about encouraging more women to take the top jobs in education. She ran a national conference for empowering women in school leadership in 2015.

“I’m here and reaching back to bring all of the others with me,” she says.

Kate French has been appointed as the full-time lead for welfare, inclusion and special educational needs and disability (SEND) at The Education Fellowship.

The role is the first of its kind at the multi-academy trust and will involve Ms French overseeing the day-to-day operation of the Fellowship’s SEND policy.

Ms French will also manage inclusion for students with additional educational needs, lead the development of differentiated learning across all academies, as well as mentoring individual teachers who require development and training in classroom skills.

She says: “We recognise that for some children there are barriers that we need to break down, whether they are social, emotional, cultural barriers, which stop them learning and this role is there to breakdown those barriers.”

To achieve this, Ms French says the trust will have a lot of engagement with other agencies as well as taking part in a families and schools together project.

Ms French has worked in a range of schools across Northampton and Wellingborough for 23 years.

She completed a degree in education at the University of Northampton and then a masters at the University of Leicester.

Debbie Stokes, current principal at Greensward Academy in Essex, has announced her retirement after 32 years at the school.

The 65-year-old will step down from the top role, which she has held since 2008, in the summer.

Ms Stokes joined the school as a supply teacher but swiftly made her way up through the ranks of assistant head of year, head of year, head of lower school, head of pastoral and then head of education.

She says her fondest memories are from being a classroom teacher and head of pastoral systems and sharing breakthrough moments with pupils.

“I’ve had some sad cases including a child who had an alcoholic mother who knew they were going to die eventually and how they have managed to get through,” Ms Stokes says.

“I also took a disabled child on a ski trip which I thought was amazing. He was wheelchair bound and taking him away and watching him skiing and enjoying being the same as everybody else was an absolute highlight.”

A national leader in education, Ms Stokes once gained a National Teaching Award for community contribution following a nomination from a parent.

She studied science at York St John University before completing a master’s in education at Anglia Ruskin University.