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The BET Board

As directors of a charitable trust, our Board ensure that they comply with charity and company law.

The Board of the BET has two core functions: they are to set the strategic direction of the organisation and to ensure financial probity. The Board is supported by the Executive Group (comprising the CEO, Chief Operating Officer, Operations Director, Education Directors and all the headteachers in the Trust).

As a multi-academy trust, the Board is responsible for all of the academies in the Trust. We exercise this responsibility by delegating functions to the Local Governing Committee of each academy through our scheme of delegation.

Chair of the Board    Sara Lipscombe
Chief Executive Officer  Alex Russell
Chief Operating Officer Kate Sanders
Chair of Resources Committee    Audrey Wade
Chair of Performance and Standards Committee Peter Deane
Chair of Audit and Risk Committee Doug MacLennan
Governance Professional (Clerk) to the Board Alison Watts


Board membership



  • To maintain oversight of the Board of Directors.

Sara Lipscombe, Chair of the Board (member and director)

  • ​Former governor and vice-chair at Epsom and Ewell High School
  • A communications director by profession with 30 year’s experience
  • Experienced executive director who has led corporate communications and marketing functions for large FTSE 200 and international organisations
  • Visiting university lecturer on MBA programmes.
Sally Brooks
  • A serving executive principal in London
  • Over 20 years of experience in schools
  • NPQEL and Masters in Education.

David Burr

  • Experienced governor and chair of governors
  • Qualified Actuary, with significant senior management and local board experience in insurance and pensions
  • Former Surrey Area Manager for The Prince’s Trust.

Roger Evans

  • Former science teacher
  • Experienced education officer focussing on school governance, human resources and special education services
  • Former school governor (and chair) in both the maintained and independent sectors
  • Education consultancy.

Tony Oakden

  • Chair of governors at Jubilee High School (2014-17) and school governor for 10 years
  • Consultant for the Diocese of Guildford
  • Extensive experience in social services including management of residential care services
  • Qualified social worker
  • Diploma in management studies.
  • Directors (Trustees)


  • To oversee the strategic direction of the Trust, ensure full compliance and hold its executives to account.

Charmain Browning

  • Business and HR leader with over 20 years’ experience
  • Chartered fellow of the CIPD
  • Expert in HR Strategy, OD, change management, talent attraction and retention, employee engagement, employment law, pay and reward and employee benefits and succession planning.

Peter Deane

  • Specialist in business development, mergers and acquisitions, change management, global strategic partnerships and sales strategy

  • 30 years managing businesses within the IT and telecoms industries at managing director and VP level

  • Executive MBA from INSEAD.

Stephen Dennison
  • Business transformation leader within education and assessment, specialising in business development, organisational and cultural change

  • Delivered multiple assignments for International Baccalaureate, University of London, General Dental Council, London Gifted & Talented, learndirect and The Royal Horticultural Society

  • Cumulatively, more than 30 years governance experience in further education, vocational training; and charities in education and the arts

  • Fellow of Chartered Management Institute.

Susan Gibbin
  • More than 30 years extensive experience working within the NHS both nationally and locally in senior leadership and management consultancy roles

  • Expertise in strategic planning, critical thinking, facilitation and stakeholder management, governance and organisational structures and partnership working

  • Experienced chair of governors and local leader of governance; specialising in strategy, governance and raising standards.

Douglas MacLennan
  • Chartered Accountant with over 30 years’ experience as both a Chief Financial Officer and Chief Risk Officer in the financial services sector
  • Over 10 years’ experience supporting schools in the special educational needs sector as a governor and trustee.
Alex Russell, CEO
  • CEO of Bourne Education Trust, initially establishing the Trust to work with schools in challenging circumstances
  • Successfully led the Trust from 2 to 20 schools, plus a further 5 associate schools) and taken 9 schools out of category or requiring improvement to be good or outstanding
  • An experienced and widely skilled senior leader with over 17 years of education management, strategic planning, business execution and people leadership gained in state education 
  • National Leader of Education
  • Chair of Teach SouthEast Teaching School Alliance and experience of several non-executive roles across the education sector including mainstream schools and a pupil referral unit as well as leading key local authority strategies on equality, diversity and inclusion and post-COVID recovery with a particular focus on mental health and well-being
  • Awarded an OBE for services to education in 2021.
Ruth Simpson
  • Former Governor and Chair at Sythwood Primary School, Woking
  • Over 25 years’ experience as coach and facilitator, with both corporate and consulting background
  • EMCC accredited coach to Master Practitioner Level
  • Conducting PhD research exploring coaching for leaders stepping up into senior positions.
Robert Ukiah
  • Chief Operating Officer of the Royal Grammar School, Guildford
  • Experienced governor of maintained and private schools
  • Inspector of independent schools
  • Significant experience in strategic leadership, including the merging, founding and development of schools.
Jane Vaughan
  • Certified company director (IOD) 
  • Experienced governor of both special and mainstream schools
  • Masters degree in autism and former executive director of the biggest autism charity in the UK
  • Former education consultant and school improvement partner. 
Audrey Wade
  • Qualified CIMA Accountant with 20 years’ experience in FMCG and retail businesses

  • Worked with the Global Property at Prêt-á-Manger, supporting its global expansion

  • Managing Director of Citywide Financial Partners

  • Worked with small businesses as Finance Director of several investee businesses in Unilever’s start-up and early stage venture capital fund and through various consultancy roles.

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