Reach4 Trustees & Executive Team


Libby Nicholas


Having graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in English & Philosophy, Libby realised her true vocation when working with the Prince’s Trust leading a group of young people ‘not in education or employment’.

Wanting to teach and help young people, Libby completed her PGCE and was accepted on the National Fast Track Teaching Programme ranking as one of the ‘Top Ten Nationwide Fast Track Teachers’. Progressing quickly from teaching English to increasingly senior roles, Libby has held positions such as Head of Year, Assistant Head, Head Teacher, Deputy Director of Education at the Girls’ Day School Trust and Regional Director of Education for the South & West at the Academies Enterprise Trust.

Libby’s areas of professional expertise include the delivery of school improvement, strategic organisational change, curriculum design and innovation and all aspects of teaching and learning – thinking, theory & pedagogy. She has conducted leadership development for middle and senior leaders in primary and secondary education and has also led staff development in the Netherlands, Slovenia and the United Kingdom.

Most recently co-authoring “Understanding Leadership” and “Stronger Boards, Better Education”, Libby is committed to learning centred leadership; securing high quality education through excellent staff development at all levels.

To this end Libby has completed the NPQH and is nearing the end of her MBA (Masters in Business).

Sir Steve Lancashire


The son of a miner and proud to be able to give something back ‘home’, Steve is a National Leader of Education and lead adviser for the DfE leading on moving schools from “Good” to “Outstanding”.

With over 20 years experience of being a headteacher, Steve is currently Executive Headteacher of Hillyfield Primary Academy in Walthamstow – an outstanding National Support School.

Steve set up REAch2 and led its growth to fifty primary academies over the last three years. It is now the largest and most successful primary-only academy trust in the country. Steve has established a family of schools that share his passion and drive to secure the best possible outcomes for primary aged children and to ensure that primary education has a strong national voice.

Sir Steve received his Knighthood in the 2016 New Year Honours.

Prof John West-Burnham


Having worked in further and adult education and schools for 15 years, John comes to Reach4 with a vast amount of International experience having worked in Australia, Belgium, Cyprus, The Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Qatar, the Republic of Ireland, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the USA.

Today John is the Leadership consultant to CBE Nederland in Amsterdam having previously been a coordinator of the European School Leadership Project.  John also has experience of being Senior Adviser, Centre for Relational Learning, Santa Fe, New Mexico and Consultant to the Leadership Development Schools project, Ministry of Education, Republic of Ireland.

Currently working as an independent teacher, writer and consultant in leadership development, John has held posts in 5 universities and is currently Visiting Professor of Educational leadership at Queens University, Belfast and the University of Bristol. He is also Professor of Educational Leadership at St Mary’s College, Twickenham.

Added to this, John is the author of over 12 books and more than 30 articles and chapters covering subjects such as managing quality in Schools; rethinking educational leadership; spiritual and moral development in schools; effective learning in schools; leadership and professional development in schools and performance management in schools to name a few.

The chair of the trustees of the Southern Educational Leadership Trust, John’s current research and writing interests include the learning centred school, transformational leadership, leadership learning and development and educational leadership in the community.

Jonathan Simons


Jonathan is Head of the Education Unit at Policy Exchange, where he directs research on all aspects of education including Early Years, schools, skills and HE. He is a frequent commentator on television, radio and newspapers and writes a weekly column in the TES newspaper on politics and education policy.

Before joining Policy Exchange Jonathan worked at Serco Group, where he was Director of Strategy and Market Development in both the company’s specialist education and health practices. Prior to that, he was Head of Open Public Services in the Cabinet Office, where he co-authored the Open Public Services White Paper, and Senior Policy Adviser and then Head of Education in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit under the administrations of both Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Outside of work Jonathan is the Chair of Governors and Co-Founder of Greenwich Free School, a new 11-18 school set up in Woolwich in 2012, and a member of the Advisory Board of the UPP Foundation.

Ross Hall


As Director of Education Strategy at Ashoka, Ross has over 20 years experience in building and executing strategies that help organisations to expand, diversify, adapt, innovate and move in to new spaces.

Having founded and nurtured over 20 businesses all across the globe, Ross has spent the last 8 years focusing his attention and energy on an education programme that gives young people the tools to be ‘changemakers’. The ‘Better World’ programme aims to explain what quality of life actually means and what young people need to know to empower that quality.

Currently live with 500,000 children in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, the programme is being extended to Ghana, the UK and Mexico.

Ross has worked extensively at board level with many blue chip companies, small enterprises and not-for-profit organisations heading up previous projects at Pearson Plc involving ministries, employers and educators to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of education systems, institutions and programmes around the world.

Added to this, Ross is also a Board Director of Whole Education, a rapidly growing network of schools committed to providing holistic education.

Prior to his time spent at Pearson Plc, Ross’s 15 years spent in corporate venturing and the establishment of multiple businesses around the world brings with it experience in a wide range of sectors, including education, logistics, media and healthcare. Ross continues to advise organisations and entrepreneurs on innovation for growth.

Peter Little


Peter Little is an active investor who helps companies to grow using his extensive experience across the spectrum of management, marketing and finance with the objective to create and realise shareholder value.

A particular focus in financial technology has seen leadership roles such as Chief Executive of Investmaster Group Limited and Chief Executive Officer of Markit EDM Ltd. (formerly Cadis Software Limited).

Peter has more than 20 years experience in the financial technology industry. He has been an active investor and serves as Director of various financial services organizations, contributing to the capital growth of companies such as Singularity, a provider of business process management solutions, City Networks, the UK treasury, securities and derivatives software vendor, Whittaker & Garnier, a provider of CRM software to the hedge fund industry and Investmaster, a software provider to the wealth management industry.

Added to this, Peter also plays an active role in Dovetail Software ( a bank payments system provider and Firefly (, of which he is Chairman. This is a US and European provider of technical training classes.  Peter is also a Patron of the Prince’s Trust.

Valerie Dunsford


Valerie graduated from Manchester University with a degree in French and PGCE in modern languages. Valerie has worked in both the maintained and independent sectors for over 30 years and is currently the Headteacher at independent Sheffield High School where she has been since 2004.

Areas of professional expertise include strategic planning, leadership development and the delivery of school improvement. Added to this, Valerie has also been a schools inspector for 15 years in the UK and abroad.

Having worked in both education sectors, Valerie is a passionate supporter of partnerships across the two with the aim of learning from best practice and improving outcomes for all children, regardless of background.

At Sheffield High School, Valerie works with 14 primary schools in the Sheffield South East Learning Partnership and on several programmes with secondary schools in Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley to achieve this sharing best practice to continually improve teaching and learning.

Valerie is also a member of the DfE’s Independent/State School Partnership Committee, meeting termly to continually break down barriers between the sectors and to provide a structure for funding and co-operation.

Matthew Robb


A Gatsby Scholar with a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, Matthew is a leading consultant in the education sector as well as in organisation design, performance management and leadership.

Matthew is currently the Managing Director at Parthenon having joined in 2010 and has worked in the education support services sector and leading teams working on school improvement, academy development, the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme and on children’s services technology and management information.

Having worked in both the public and private sectors within the education industry, Matthew previously worked at McKinsey & Co where he led strategy and organisation projects in a range of contexts.

Since joining Parthenon, Matthew has led their education work in the UK and Europe. He has led teams across every stage and sub-sector of education including vocational and further education, universities and support services. He has worked in buy and sell-side diligence, international strategy, marketing and sales force strategy as well as general corporate strategy.

Matthew has an incredible depth of experience and has been a major player in market leading work across the education industry.

Professor Simon Gregory


Simon is Regional Director and Dean of Education and Quality(DEQ), Health Education England (HEE), Midlands and East and national SRO for Primary Care having been DEQ & Postgraduate, Health Education East of England. He is also Honorary Professor at Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia (UEA) and Visiting Professor at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and the University of Pavia, Italy (teaching appointment), and a Fellow of Homerton College Cambridge. He was COPMeD Lead Dean for Selection and Recruitment, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine and Nutrition and now leads for HEE on Primary and Community Care. Simon is Chair of the UK Medical Recruitment Programme Board and the GP Workforce 2020 Programme Board. He also sits on the Genomics Advisory Board, serves on the HEE Medical Workforce Advisory Group and is Chairman of the RCGP Committee on Medical Ethics and the University of Cambridge, East of England Military Education Committee.

Simon is clinically trained as a GP in Northampton previously being a GP Partner at King Edward Road Surgery, Northampton. He is now a Consultant to and Salaried GP at the practice. His research interests are selection methodology, “value-added” in medical education and quality of education, training and care and health outcomes and performance, and his clinical interests respiratory medicine and women’s health.

Outside of medicine and healthcare education Simon’s interests include governance and development roles for the Scout Association, Chairman of Northampton High School Board of Governors until june 2016 and from April 2016 a trustee of the Reach4 Academy Trust. His hobbies include being a season ticket holder at Northampton Saints RFC, woodturning and reading.

James Muir


James graduated from Manchester University with a degree in German, followed by a postgraduate diploma in Marketing and Languages. In 1983 he joined a manufacturer of tableware, spending his first year working full-time in the factory. At 24 he was posted to set up the company’s sales and distribution subsidiary from scratch in the German market. Three years later, he joined Ford Motor Company and held various sales and marketing positions including Sales Director of Ford Switzerland at the age of 32. James became Ford UK’s youngest regional director at 34.

In 2001 he was appointed Managing Director responsible for establishing Mazda’s own company in the UK; in 2003 he was promoted to Mazda’s European headquarters near Cologne, first as Vice-President of Sales & Marketing and then, at 46, as President and CEO of Mazda Europe where he led the Company’s turnaround from loss-maker to Mazda Corporation’s most profitable business unit in the world.

In 2009 James joined Volkswagen Group as President & CEO of SEAT based in Barcelona and tasked with revitalising its ailing brand. Over the following four years, he led the complete restructuring of the company including the development of a new brand and product strategy, improving product and manufacturing quality to meet the Group’s exacting standards and introducing Spain’s first dual-vocational training programme for young apprentices. Thanks to its widely-acclaimed and award-winning Leon car, SEAT has crossed the line as a perennial loss-maker and is on course to a sustainable and profitable future, safeguarding more than 14,000 employees and over 60,000 dependent jobs across the supplier network.

Since mid-2013, James has been based in Wolfsburg, Germany, and is responsible for running the VW Group’s owned national sales companies across more than 20 countries world-wide, accounting for more than 3.5 million vehicle sales with over €70 billion of turnover.

James is married to Julia and has 3 children: William 24, Kate 13 and Alexander 9. He speaks 4 languages, is a keen skier, rugby enthusiast and has a passion for business, economics, change management and social mobility.

Naleena Gururani


Naleena Gururani specialises in building the people agenda for transformation led digital and tech organizations. Her particular focus is on ‘re-energising to invest’ in human capital across different geographies, especially in Europe, Asia and America. She is a thought leader who champions Innovative HR through focus on culture change, talent management, diversity and inclusion, and business transformation through people interventions.

As a HR Director, Naleena has successfully led transformation of the Lebara Group into a multi-product convergent digital company. She has previously worked in global technology organizations like Infosys and NIIT, amongst others. She works with and advises different businesses in telecoms, innovation, tech and digital sectors on their people practices – in particular providing business and commercial insight to HR plans.

As a daughter of two teachers, Naleena is passionate about the link between education and successful business application. Having been appointed as Trustee and HR Committee Chair for the Reach4 Academy Trust, she views this as a step in the right direction in working with academia to help build their people agenda.

Naleena has an MBA in Human Resource Management and a Degree in Economics. In her spare time she loves travelling, is an avid reader, and enjoys spending her time writing.