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Central Team

Central Team Story


An extraordinary education is not always achieved through radical change but by everyone continually engaging in the pursuit of the small things that together will make the biggest difference.


We work alongside children and staff in schools.  Aiming never to lose sight of our ambition to provide an extraordinary educational journey, we support schools to identify what needs to improve and provide guidance in how the improvements can be made. It is our goal for all schools to deliver an extraordinary education and we recognise that sometimes the improvement journey can be tough and sometimes it can be more straightforward. Because of this, we tailor our support according to need. 

Adam Matthews

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Adam is an experienced and innovative leader of education. Following a career in logistical management he retrained in 1991 and has worked in education ever since as a teacher, headteacher, Local Leader of Education, National Leader of Education, Advisory Head, Ofsted Inspector and now CEO of a multi-academy trust.


Adam is driven by a core belief that every child should receive the best, schools should be bespoke to the community they serve and that all schools should work together to develop and achieve in partnership.


Adam is recognised for his innovative and collaborative approach has seen him lead a school to outstanding, support and work with academy trusts, schools, teaching schools and local authorities across the country, work on DFE (Department for Education) and other national programmes and many other school and trust development projects across the UK.


As CEO, Adam's goals include

  • Providing every child with an extraordinary education
  • Ensuring schools meet the needs of their community and are allowed to do this
  • Creating effective and innovative networks that support children and improves outcomes and opportunity across the educational landscape
  • The continual development of central working so that schools are free to focus on their core function

Lynn Winter

Head of Business and Operations (HBO)

An experienced corporate, charity and public sector development manager with a history of working to support children and young people in education and extended schools, Lynn has led the business and operation functions of the trust since the beginning. 


As HBO, Lynn leads, develops and co-ordinates comprehensive business services across the trust, enabling schools to focus on the education of children. Her primary focus is to provide strategic development in all key areas, including finance, administration, operations and HR.


Lynn is committed to improving life chances for children, families and communities. As founder of charity XTND – Improving Futures Lynn spent many years working to provide out of school activities, aspirational opportunities,  community enterprise initiatives and family projects in partnership with other charities, private sponsors and local authorities.

Kerri McArdle

Innovation and Development Lead

Kerri is an experienced teacher, senior leader, school development specialist and recognised for her in-depth knowledge of and research into pedagogy. She has taught across a broad range of schools, directed teaching and learning within an outstanding school, undertaken extensive advisory work with schools, local authorities, SCITTs and trusts across the country

Kerri’s other key areas of expertise include curriculum development, CPD, assessment, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and school leadership. Already a successful mentor to many educational practitioners, Kerri developed and led The Beach Teaching School Alliance, facilitating on professional and leadership development, delivering school-to-school support, coordinating school-led initial teacher training and speaking at educational conferences on supporting and raising the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. 


Her all-encompassing knowledge and drive for high standards in teaching and learning now see Kerri leading development and innovation across the trust. Kerri designs, implements and facilitates on a programme of support and CPD devised in response to both individual school and trust wide priorities. She further connects ELAN schools to the greater world of educational research, with the aim of developing collective understanding of current theory and evidence-based practice of effective teaching and learning and leadership.  Kerri coordinates and facilitates collaboration via networks, pilots, working parties and projects. 

Penny Boardman

School Improvement Lead

Penny has extensive experience in school improvement spanning over 20 years mostly working within Local Authority school improvement. Penny has worked alongside many school leaders and governors within and beyond North Somerset to secure improvement. Her specialisms are in English and assessment and her work in these fields is extensive.


Penny delivers training for schools across the country on all aspects of reading, writing and spoken language. She also works with many schools to develop principled approaches to assessment, enabling them to shape their systems and processes so that all stakeholders access reliable and valid assessment information that is useful to them.


Cat Wright

Cognition and Learning Lead – Advisory Teacher

Cat has extensive teaching and senior leadership experience gained across the primary range.  Cat has worked as an Advisory Teacher across the country, initially working with schools and vulnerable children toward inclusion in a ‘Behaviour Support’ role. As a member of the North Somerset Vulnerable Learners Service (VLS) she developed her expertise in cognition and learning, with a particular interest in dyslexia and dyscalculia along with the social and emotional impact learning difficulties can have upon an individual. 


Cat supports ELAN schools by working directly with staff, children and families.  She also shares her knowledge by developing, training and coaching staff within school to be curious about difficulties and responses children may experience when learning (and within the learning environment).


The focus of Cat’s work is to develop curiosity, knowledge and understanding within our workforce in order to sensitively support students in their education.

Jane Steele

Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) Lead – Advisory Teacher

With an extensive teaching background across all key stages Jane is an integral part of ELAN, supporting schools and children as SEMH Advisory Teacher.

Jane’s in-depth experience as: a teacher; SENDCo and Inclusion Manager; Advisory Teacher within a multi-disciplinary team; and Head of a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), has equipped her with an excellent knowledge base from which she is able to support children with SEMH needs, developmental trauma and insecure attachment, and the impacts of these on a child’s ability to learn.


Jane has benefited from wide exposure to learning, training and networking within trauma informed and sensitive practice and with a broad understanding of therapeutic responses to vulnerable children. She has worked collaboratively with education psychology (EP), Inclusion and other professional teams whilst an Advisory teacher with the Vulnerable Learners Service (VLS) prior to joining the trust.


Through consultation, training and coaching, and whilst using a solution focused approach, Jane shares her knowledge and professional curiosity with staff, to develop a deeper understanding and recognition of children’s needs.

Mahad Ali

Education Welfare Officer

With no local authority provision available, Mahad is essential to ensuring the best possible attendance in ELAN schools. Mahad has a long history of supporting children and families to achieve change throughout the south west by developing engagement strategies and robust attendance monitoring systems across the trust.


Working with headteachers, school attendance leads and directly with families, Mahad is dedicated to improving children’s life chance’s by supporting them and their families to improve children’s attendance and subsequent attainment.

Lee Molland

Sports Premium Manager

Lee is an experienced coach and primary school sports lead.  He has a strong track record in developing physical education (PE), school sports and physical activity. Lee is committed to promoting sport and works with local and national sports teams, organisations and providers to achieve this.


Lee’s passion is that children are able to access as many opportunities as they can to reach their potential and use the power of sport and physical activity, regardless of ability, to better themselves and be the best that they can be.


Having developed and instilled into others a philosophy of ‘personal best’, Lee promotes healthy competition in school, across the trust and beyond.

 He has led ELAN to be recognised as the first primary multi-academy trust to have all schools simultaneously partaking in The Daily Mile.


Lee coordinates cross trust events, works with individual schools to upskill staff and works with PE Leads to help improve their school’s sports provision.



Sarah Edwards

Executive Assistant

Sarah is a highly skilled and experienced assistant who supports senior leaders within the trust. In addition, Sarah works closely with the board of trustees and members to support them where needed and ensure trust governance is maintains a high standard.  


As an experienced and highly qualified Clerk to Governors, Sarah advises and works with schools on effective governance, statutory requirements, policies and protocol. She is also very knowledgeable with regards to school admissions having worked for North Somerset Council for many years. Sarah is very detail oriented and precise with her organisation and delivery of work.

Laura Elmont

Communications Lead

Laura leads communications for the trust and its schools. She is responsible for the trust's marketing strategies, communications and public relations activities. Laura brings magazine account management and advertising agency experience to the trust and is constantly striving to keep things moving forward and growing.


Laura‘s goal is to ensure good marketing practices and aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of all communication channels across the trust.  Laura is an advocate for positive social media and growing online presence. She supports academic staff with social media and website content management within their individual schools.

Jo Campbell

Education Team Administrator

Jo has a wealth of experience in customer service and business administration in both commercial and public sector. Having been a personal assistant (PA) and a school business manager. Jo has a strong understanding of and experience within the education sector.


Jo is an integral part of training and CPD for ELAN schools and beyond. Jo manages the administration requirements of all The Beach operations and activity.

Jo works closely with the education team to develop, facilitate and analyse a training and CPD programme for each academic year dependent on individual, whole school and trust training needs and foci.  Jo also works with teaching schools around the country, the Department for Education (DfE), the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) and Somerset SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) to ensure nationally led and locally led training needs are met effectively.

Maria Davidson

Chief Finance Officer (CFO)

A qualified accountant, Maria has over two decades worth of senior corporate finance experience. As CFO Maria has responsibility for all aspects of trust finance and works closely with all our schools.


Maria plays an integral role in supporting the growth and development of the trust and ensuring it continues to be financially sustainable. Her significant senior financial management and strategic leadership experience ensure that finance, audit and risk at both school and trust level are maintained to the highest standard and  that the trust’s financial resources are directed towards teaching, learning and children.

Jo Lewis

Finance Manager

Jo is a very experienced finance professional. She brings extensive experience to the trust gained firstly in accountancy and then specialising in school finance at council and school level.

Jo works with schools preparing budgets and providing regular support visits throughout the year enabling them to target resources where needed, leaving schools free to focus on the provision of an extraordinary education


Jo has gained much insight and understanding into the workings of school governance and senior leadership standpoint having been a clerk for several governing bodies and bursar of a large primary school.

Gemma Coyle

Finance Assistant

Gemma has worked in finance her whole career. She has developed a broad, working knowledge of finance, specialising in accounts payable, credit control and sales ledgers in a commercial environment.


Gemma works in schools with administration teams to run healthy finance checks and works with staff to ensure their process are robust and efficient. Gemma uses her expertise to ensure that all school and central supplier invoices and expenses are processed and paid in a timely manner, leaving schools more time to focus on the families and children’s learning and experiences.

Debbie Johns

Finance Assistant

Debbie has an excellent, general working knowledge of school finance at both primary and secondary level. She has worked with a school throughout its merger to an all through school set over three sites.


Debbie is experienced with school purchasing needs, managing income and paying invoices. Debbie has worked with department heads on managing their budgets to ensure no overspend.


Debbie uses her wealth of financial processing experience to process all schools and central team sales ledgers, manage income, reconcile and monitor bank balances.

Denise Price

HR Lead

Denise is an experienced, people-focused leader and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.


Denise has had a portfolio career which started in education as a primary school teacher working on the UK south coast and in international education.


Denise developed a passion for supporting people through continuous learning and change management. She developed an agile employee engagement approach throughout a varied experience in administration, human resources, continuous processional learning and development, project and change management positions in many private, public, NHS, and charities organisations, both global and small including a Master Academy Trust, delivering overall successful outcomes to many challenges.


Denise seeks to deliver a bespoke integrated employee service that aims to empower everyone to deliver the best we can be though collaborative and distributive leadership.


As Head of HR, Denise’s goals include:

  • appreciation and building on the success of ELAN so far on its journey to “extraordinary learning”.
  • mutually work with our Trust schools to build on the excellent Human Resource Team service delivery
  • inspire and aspire for an “extraordinary employee experience” that  empowers everyone to be the best they can be  
  • integrate systems to ensure positive, continuous change improvements that balance a compassionate and inclusive support for our employees against the vision and challenges our Trust face together in the national and academy education sector.

Michelle Clarke

HR Assistant

Michelle provides a professional and confidential HR service to the central team and trust schools. Michelle ensures the high quality processing of HR data, administration and supports headteachers with HR procedures. She develops and maintains effective professional relationships with managers, union representatives, school staff and external service partners in a very busy and varied role.


Michelle’s areas of expertise include DBS criminal record checks, recruitment and selection, single central record and employee benefits. She makes sure that that accurate contractual documentation is issued to new employees and that all safer recruitment practice documentation, references and checks are securely in place to safeguard all children and staff throughout the trust.

Kimberley Underhill

HR and Payroll Assistant

Kim began working in education within a school and has brought her experience and expertise to central HR and payroll. Kim ensures that all payroll processes and procedures are effective, efficient and compliant with the Financial Regulations Manual.


Kim manages the administration of the monthly payroll and assists the central team in providing HR support for the trust as it continues to grow and develop and assists with DBS applications and checks, absence records and reports and employment contracts.

Emily Stevens

HR and Payroll Assistant

Emily began working in education within a school and has brought her experience and expertise to central HR and payroll. Emily ensures the high quality processing of HR data, administration and supports staff with HR and payroll procedures.


Emily is adept in many areas of HR policy and procedure including areas DBS criminal record applications and checks, preparing employee contracts and maintain absence records and reports.