Michelle Callaghan

Michelle is the Platform Director for a data management company where she is responsible for the delivery and support of all internal IT systems across the organisation, with a passion for delivering change whilst ensuring an exceptional user experience. Michelle is also a core member of her current organisations’ Incident Management Team and Audit / Risk management committee. Previously Michelle held the position of Head of Solutions Architecture for a large facilities management and construction company after working as a consultant for a number of large IT professional services organisations for over 25 years across different industry verticals. Michelle was keen to work with the Midland Academy Trust and understand how she can bring her experience to help and contribute to the students, wider communities and MAT initiatives. 

Steve Dover- Chair of Finance and Resource Committee

My first job at the age of 15 was as an Apprentice Shipbuilder with Cammell Lairds in Birkenhead. I went on to Further Education and eventually achieved a Degree in Environmental Engineering at Newcastle Polytechnic in 1978. I spent 24 years in construction operating in the UK, Jordan, Iraq and the Sultanate of Oman. I led the overall construction of some of the largest developments in the City of London during the ‘80s and early ‘90s as well as leading on

major construction projects for the Royal Oman Police and Sultan’s Armoured Regiment in the Sultanate of Oman – where I got to drive a Chieftain Tank and fire the gun – which was fun! In 1999 I led the implementation of the Criminal Records Bureau quickly followed by the establishment of the London Congestion Charge. Following those I started my own company and worked with Thames Water / ITNET / Transport for London / Stratford District Council / HMRC and Cap Gemini Aspire and Central Government. I became a top Civil Servant in Central Government and was a leader of the major Welfare Reform Programmes in the Department for Work & Pensions (Employment & Support Allowance and Universal Credit). I also led in the outsourcing initiative of Departmental back office services to two Shared Services Providers across all Government Departments. Moving on from Government I went to transform the charity Help for Heroes and latterly have led and advised on major Transformations in the UK Higher Education sector – within which I continue to strive to make a difference.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and have led two major scientific expeditions to the remotest part of the Sultanate of Oman discovering the wreck of the first British Merchant ship to be sunk by the Germans in World War One; a new species of Humpback Whale and untouched tombs and dwellings over 5,000 years old. Google it to see more if you like. My interests are family (married with 3 grown up kids and 3 Grandchildren) / scuba diving – which I have been doing now for 40 years / climbing & walking / photography / writing poetry -published author. I wanted to join the Midland Academies Trust (MAT) because I feel my professional and personal attributes and experiences have much to offer the Trust; the Academies within it and the children coming through the Academies. And what better use to put these to than supporting the next generations and the positive societal differences they will influence and make for the future. I aspire to serve and make a difference to the society within which I live and the people around me.

Ian Dunn (Chair)

Ian Dunn

As Provost for Coventry University Group, Ian is Chief Academic Officer and takes responsibility for driving the highest standards of academic excellence and supporting the leadership of the Education & Student Experience, Research and Enterprise & Innovation pillars of the corporate strategy.

Ian has worked at Coventry University since 1992, beginning as an academic in the Engineering Faculty and has subsequently taken many roles in Engineering and Computing before being appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor in 2010, Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2013 and Provost in 2018.

Ian led the development of Coventry University College in 2011 and was involved in the subsequent developments to create campuses in Scarborough and Dagenham. He led the creation of Coventry University Online in 2017 to create a suite of fully online degrees available in partnership with FutureLearn.

Ian is highly engaged with the higher education sector both nationally and internationally. He is a member of the QAA Advisory Committee for Degree Awarding Powers in the UK and a member of the European University Association steering committee for learning and teaching. In 2016 Ian was voted “Inspiring Leader of the Year” at the Guardian Higher Education Awards. He is highly engaged in his local communities, working with schools, the justice system and charities.

Jeannette Essex

Jeannette has accumulated over 30 years of senior leadership experience, across a range of West Midlands LAs, including leading regional work with the DfE on SEND reforms. Specialising in Special Educational Needs and vulnerable children Jeannette is currently Head of Special Educational Needs and Specialist Services for a West Midlands Local Authority and remans passionately focused on securing positive outcomes for children and young people, who face social, financial and learning barriers to achievement, which was the focus of her Masters degree.
Jeannette lives within the Nuneaton Community of schools and is proud of the fact that her own (now adult) children benefitted from an excellent education at a Midlands Academy School. She now wants to invest her skills and experience in supporting our schools to continue to provide high quality inclusive education for all that leads to aspirational outcomes in adulthood.

Paul Joesbury

I am a qualified accountant who works across a number of industries including manufacturing, construction leisure and my current employment area, financial services.

I am recognised as a senior leader by the Financial Conduct Authority and have Director responsibility for change programmes, risk and health and safety, with over 50 staff reporting to me.

I am the father of 2 daughters and have a great passion for improving the educational opportunities of our school age children, providing them with the help, guidance and support in their chosen goals and professions.

Andrew Mackereth

Andrew is an experienced educationalist who has served as a Secondary Head, Senior Executive Leader in a large multi academy trust, Ofsted Inspector and School Improvement Advisor.

Fuelled by a life long passion for music, Andrew graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with specialisms in conducting, composing and performing before entering a career as a music teacher.

Raising standards and building inclusive communities have been hallmarks of his leadership career and led to opportunities to work with the Department of Education and the British Board of Film Classification, where he was a member of the advisory panel on children’s viewing for over a decade.

Andrew brings a wealth of experience in transforming schools facing challenging circumstances and has a desire to contribute significantly to the life chances of the young people of his adopted hometown and neighbouring communities.

Ann Melville (Vice Chair and Chair of the Curriculum, Quality and Achievement and Academy Scrutiny Committees)     

Ann Meville

I am now retired but was Assistant Executive Director of Children’s Services in Liverpool. Prior to that post I worked in several different posts in community education including Head of Community Education in Tameside. I have been involved in the Midland Academies Trust since it was established. I am a Governor of a primary school in Leicestershire. I am also Vice Chair of Citizens Advice Leicestershire.

I have maintained an interest in policy developments within Education. I am committed to promoting equality and diversity in all the organisations I have worked or volunteered in, and have experience in the delivery of diversity and equality training.

When I retired I moved down to Leicestershire to be closer to my family.

Dominque Mowle

As a mother of two boys Dominique believes that all children deserve the right support and environment to help them learn, develop and succeed in life. Education is a huge part of every child’s journey of discovery.

She has spent 12 years in finance and audit, providing her with an extensive set of skills and is currently the finance director of a renewable energy company with the sole responsibility for the financial success of the business. Dominique’s duties include developing and managing robust short and long-term financial plans, ensuring tight governance and controls, providing meaningful performance insight and developing a diverse team.

During her 5 years in audit she was an academy specialist seconded to a number of trusts during their transition into academy status, which very much highlighted to her a passion to help and guide those who do not have a financial background. As a senior auditor of academies, she was required to fully understand the complex accounting requirements and provide audit improvement plans focussing on the development and implementation of robust financial controls. Dominique finds the academy trust industry both fascinating and vital to our society.

Kirston Nelson

Kirston has served as a Director/ Assistant Director for Education for over 12 years across 2 Local Authorities. She has significant knowledge and understanding of the operating environment and a high level of experience working with Local Authorities, the Department for Education, the Regional Schools Commissioner, Ofsted, WMCA and Government.

Kirston wanted to join the MAT Board to give something back to the profession that she has served for 25 years and offer her expertise in the best interest of improving outcomes for children, young people and the local area.

Marion Plant OBE FCGI

Marion Plant

(Principal and Chief Executive)

Marion Plant is Principal and Chief Executive of a large FE College; North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College in Leicestershire and Warwickshire.  She is also Chief Executive of the Midland Academies Trust which sponsors four secondary schools. Marion also served a 3 year term as a non-executive director at the Department for Education and in March 2018 was awarded the ‘Business Woman of the Year Award’ by the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce.

She serves on several national/ regional bodies including:

  • Deputy-Chair and Trustee of WorldSkills UK·      
  • Board member (Director) for the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and skills lead; leading the COVID reset plan response for Coventry and Warwickshire
  • Member of West Midlands Combined Authority’s Skills Advisory Panel
  • Vice Chair of the Nuneaton Towns’ Fund Board
  • Trustee of the National Society Council (Church of England)
  • Member of the Education & Skills Funding Agency Advisory Group
  • Member of the Leicester and Leicestershire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Programme Board
  • Member of the AoC’s Portfolio Group for Climate Change

Phil Rowley 

Phil Rowley

Phil is a chartered engineer with 28 years’ experience of delivering transportation strategy advisory services to senior government figures and agencies.

He is currently delivering a national traffic management project in the UK. Phil is a Director of a small business services consultancy and has previously managed consultancy business in the middle east. He holds a BSc Hons in International Studies and has an Executive MBA.

Phil is keen to bring his strategic and Governance experience to the MAT and help make a difference to the students and communities the MAT serves.


Tim Render


A chartered public finance accountant and a trained town planner, Tim retired as Director of Finance for a major local authority in 2008. He is “retired” but occasionally still works as a consultant in finance and governance, and holds a number of non-executive roles. He is also the independent chair of the audit committees at North East Lincolnshire Council and North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group. Tim is a trustee and non-executive director in the public and private sector of various local charities including Hinckley Homeless Group, CAB, Food Bank and Worklink and the family and work initiative. 

Tim is Chair of the combined George Eliot / Hartshill School RAB.

Uly Lyons

I am currently Chief Executive of Better Futures Multi Academy Trust (BFMAT), which is a group of three Sixth form Colleges in Nuneaton, Leicester and Nottingham. Prior to this I have over 20 years experience in the education sector, initially as a film and media teacher at NewVIc in east London, then moved through various levels of leadership culminating in becoming Principal at King Edward VI college in Nuneaton (KEGS) in 2015, where I set up BFMAT with our sponsor, Coventry University.

In my personal life I’ve got 3 grown up children, two grandsons, two very spoilt cockapoos and am a West Ham season ticket holder.