Hollie King

Occupation: Chair of Trust Board

Hollie has been involved in education in Somerset for 20 years. Working initially in a small rural primary school on the Blackdowns, she moved to County Hall to join the Local Authority’s Educational Development Service and then to Somerset Governance Services, providing advice and support on governance to maintained schools and academies across the county.

She became a governor at Blackbrook Community Primary School in 2010 and served as Vice Chair and Chair over a period of eight years. During that time she has been commissioned by the Local Authority to work as an additional governor at a number of other schools in Taunton, providing advice and support on governance. Hollie also writes and delivers training courses on a range of topics on behalf of Somerset Governance Services.

Penelope Smith

Occupation: Director of Nursing

As the Executive Director of Nursing for NHS England, Penny has collective responsibility for strategic direction, oversight and system delivery of high quality health services. As Executive Lead for professional practice nursing, she is a visible, credible and motivational leader in service of front line delivery. She is adept at systems approach to good governance and developing people working within those systems. She is adaptable to different settings and flexible around system / organisational need, whilst keeping focused on achievement of key objectives. Penny offers strong leadership experience and skills.She has a passion for cycling, crafts and being with her family and friends

Ian Robinson

Occupation: CEO

Ian has been teaching for twenty five years, having taught in Peterborough, Essex, Oxford and Dorset before coming to Somerset in 2012. He has taught in a variety of different schools from a very small rural school, to a very large inner city Middle school with quite a variety in between. West Monkton was his second Headship, having spent seven years as Head of a small rural school in Dorset. He understands the importance of a continuous focus on school improvement, taking West Monkton from Ofsted Requires Improvement in 2012 to Ofsted Good in 2014 and maintained Ofsted Good in 2018. He has a lot of experience at successfully managing change, not least in leading West Monkton through a rapid period of growth and the move to a new school building. Ian has always looked beyond the walls of his own school, which has been to the benefit of West Monkton and the aim is that this will also be to the benefit of all Oak Partnership schools. Ian is also Chair of the Taunton Learning Partnership, for the past three years, of which all Taunton schools are members. In that time they have worked on establishing strategies and networks to support those most vulnerable children and families within Taunton. They have also put on a range of training opportunities for staff, much of which our own schools have participated.

Bruce Braes

Occupation: Principal Consultant Resilience and Security


Nicholas Hancock

Occupation: Chartered Accountant

By profession Nick is a Chartered Accountant, qualifying in 1990. He joined local Accountancy firm, Albert Goodman in 1987, and became a Partner in 1998. Albert Goodman are a long established firm of chartered accountants, formed in 1866, and now spread over 8 offices employing approx 300 members of staff. For a period, one of Nick’s responsibilities at Partner level, was being in charge of HR. Nick acts for approximately 500 clients, mainly local businesses ranging from 'one-man-bands', to much larger companies with turnover exceeding £5m. He has been involved with start-ups, mergers, acquisitions, business sales, and of course advising on the financial aspects of the day-to-day running of those businesses. Although advising in the private sector is a bit different to schools in the public sector, there are definitely common areas and cross-overs of best practice, and this will be increasingly more relevant to a MAT, which will interact in many ways with private sector providers. Nick has been a governor at Selworthy Special School for approximately 25 years, originally brought in to give that Board a bit of 'financial prowess' at a time when certain parts of school budgets were being devolved to schools to operate themselves, from the LA. Therefore, over time, he has built up knowledge of school budgets, school financial reporting, how to interrogate budgets, and the educational financial systems more generally. Nick always likes to 'put something back' into the local community, and over the years he has been a Parish Councillor (Trull – that role still ongoing), a member of Taunton Round Table ( 0 years), and Vice Chairman at the local Taunton Vale Hockey Club (10 years).

Gemma Beattie

Occupation: HR Manager

Gemma is a HR Professional. Her expertise and experience ranges from operational HR issues in terms of performance management of staff to strategic tasks such as restructuring of departments and workforce planning. Gemma oversees the whole HR function for her organisation. She undertakes strategic workforce planning to ensure that staffing levels are consistent with organisational requirements. She is responsible for all the recruitment and selection processes for all staff, involving other parties as necessary. She is responsible for the strategic planning for the development of business related targets for all fee earning staff. She manages all changes relating to HR policies and processes and employee terms & conditions, overseeing transition arrangements as required ensuring that the Practice is compliant with employment law and best practice.

Mike Greaves

Occupation: Building Surveyor

Experience:  I have spent my entire career working as a Building Surveyor in Local Authority property and estates departments. Firstly, with Bristol City Council, then Gloucestershire County Council and lately Somerset County Council.  During this time I was responsible for both the design and construction of new schools, offices, fire and police stations and libraries. I was also responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the County Councils property and land portfolio including schools and colleges.  More recently I have been involved with Social Housing and housing developments working with a Housing Association. I am also the ‘Surveyor’ for St Peters Hospice in Bristol and look after their properties and Charity Shops.

Education Assets:  During my career I have been involved with Education developments from feasibility studies to the construction of new schools and the rationalisation of existing premises. Being responsible for the County Councils estate involved ensuring that the sites were ‘Fit for Purpose’ and safe environments. At the same time as achieving value for money and meeting all of the stringent governance standards in support of schools legal and educational requirements.

Contribution to Oak Partnership Trust:  With my experience and knowledge of Education standards as well as current practice I feel able to make a positive contribution to the Oak Partnership Trust.  I have current knowledge of the latest design requirements and the standards that have to be achieved to ensure that the premises and services operate and are maintained to current legal and operational criteria. I also have Health and Safety qualifications that would be helpful when managing the estate. I pride myself as being able to resolve difficulties and achieve good solutions that are value for money and meet expectations.

Julia Steward

Occupation: Consultant

Julia is a leadership development consultant who supports group and individual learning through facilitation and one-to-one coaching. She specialises in supporting others to develop and sustain resilience. Although she has worked in education for many years, she started her professional life in publishing and retains an external perspective which promotes a spirit of enquiry. Her commitment to schools stems from her belief that learning has the power to transform lives, and ultimately, society. She has worked with school leaders in a variety of roles, including leading the National Professional Qualification for Headship in the South West region, and as a coach and lead facilitator for the National College, as well as leading Ofsted inspections. She has been a National Leader of Governance (NLG) and currently manages the South West NLG network, working through four sub-regional advocates. She works beyond the South West as a member of the University of Worcester’s school improvement team.


Martin Hurst

Occupation: Finance, Accounting & Business Lecturer

Martin qualified as an accountant in 1989 and spent his early years developing expertise in audit and accounts preparation in public practice.  Subsequently, he moved  into industry, where he spent two years running the finance function of one of the UK's largest homebuilders.  In 1996, Martin returned to public practice with Ernst & Young (EY) in London, where he moved into a project-based role helping both small and large businesses through significant transformatinos including restructuring, mergers and acquisitions.  In 1999, EY offered him the opportunity to move to Germany where, with the exception of a short stint in Australia in 2008, he stayed until 2018, working with some of Europes largest companies (including Nestle, BASF, and Lufthansa).

In 2018, Martin returned to the UK and has settled with his family in Somerset.  As well as the broad-based strategic and financial expertise that Martin brings to the Oak Partnership Trust, he has a keen interest in education, having been involved with professional education throughout his working life.  He continues to lecture part-time, in finance, accounting and business.


Aaron Webster



Duncan McKechnie



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