About Us

Mr Justin Stone, Chief Executive Officer and Headteacher of St Thomas Primary School

Having worked in education for over 20 years my experience of schools is wide ranging. In my two headships spanning more than 10 years I have taken two schools in challenging circumstances and ensured that they have been good with outstanding features.

I have strong beliefs around the opportunities children have to learn and have always ensured the development of the whole child, building on their strengths and interests is prioritised despite the pressures for children to perform in tests and league tables! Children should be excited to go to school and eager to learn.

I am on the management board for the Exeter Consortium where extensive professional development, Initial Teacher Training and a supply teacher agency are well established for Exeter schools. I have been involved in school to school support and worked with a wide range of schools to achieve better outcomes for children.

I am excited about taking a lead role in the Exeter Learning Academy Trust to establish collaborative working across schools, where inspirational practice can be shared and appropriate challenge can be put in place to benefit all the children.

Life is always busy and my family which includes three boys always ensures that I have plenty to do! We live in a stunning part of the world and I enjoy walking, surfing and spending time with family and friends to unwind.

Mark Nightingale, Trustee and Chair of Governors at Ide Primary School

I have worked professionally for 27 years; in the Armed Forces, as a teacher, and lastly as a Vicar. I have had varied training and experience enabling me to offer a breadth of expertise to Exeter Learning Academy Trust. My experience and skills include:

  • Leading teams through change, creating policies, schemes of work and school/environment improvement, whilst managing large teams. Clear thinking, strategic understanding and implementing a vision in work with the Royal Marines, 3 schools and 3 churches (of 75 to 1000 people).
  • I am a Governor and a National Head of Ministry for New Wine (an Evangelical Christian movement of 3500 church leaders and 28,000 members). I manage people training for church leadership. I am on a strategic team responsible for decision making, policy and procedures. I design online resources and manage and lead conferences, events and projects locally and nationally to find funding, build teams and implement strategy.
  • I am Chair of Governors for Ide Primary school and I have also been a Director of the Asante Foundation and the Canterbury Christian Schools Work Trust.
  • I have been a teacher across key stages in both state and private sectors and have experienced the education system in the classroom and at strategic management level. I ran departments, boarding houses, teams and budgets.

Mrs Emma Walker-Brown, Trustee

My husband and I have 3 daughters who are currently at Bowhill Primary School and West Exe School and I have been a governor at Bowhill Primary School since 2010.

I am an AAT member in practice and a CIMA student and have worked in various accountancy roles through my career including at an accountancy practice, private sector and the public sector which has given me a very wide understanding of differing accounting practices and procedures.

I am currently working for a local chain of nurseries as Finance Manager alongside supporting my husband with his digital networking business and having my own private accounting and book-keeping business.

I have been in the South West for the majority of my life and grew up on the edge of Dartmoor. My immediate family all live in Devon and so I enjoy visiting them as much as possible. I also enjoy visiting Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly and have links to Scotland where we visit when we can.

My hobbies include listening to music and walking.

Caren Brooks, Headteacher at Bowhill Primary School

I have lived in Devon since I was a child. I love travelling and I have been lucky enough to visit lots of places in the world but I always love coming home to this lovely county.

I trained to be a teacher at St Luke’s in Exeter and starting working as a teacher in 1996. After gaining experience in the classroom (from Foundation Stage to year 6), I became a Deputy Head teacher, and then the Head teacher of another local school.

I have been proud to be the Head teacher at Bowhill since 2012 – it’s a great school which continues to get better and better! When I’m not thinking about school, I love walking my dog, team rowing on the river, watching films, and eating!

Mrs Debbie Buckingham, School Improvement Officer and Headteacher at Alphington Primary School

I have been a Head since 2000 across a range of schools. Prior to my appointment at Alphington in 2007, I was seconded to a school in special measures. The school was identified as Outstanding three months after I left.
Since 2003 I have been a designated Consultant Leader and a Local Leader. I have supported a range of schools across Devon. Working closely with the LA has enabled me to work with schools in categories and gain first- hand knowledge of strategies such as PP reviews. I have been a lead for the ‘NAHT’ Instead programme undertaking three reviews in Exeter and regularly work with colleagues on a range of projects and exchanges abroad.

Working as the School Improvement Officer is and believe that the planned opportunities for working together, providing support and challenge will have an impact on outcomes across all our schools.

Personally even after thirty years of residing in Devon I still feel extremely fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. I have two grown up sons and am shortly to become a grandmother.

Mr Oliver Raud, Trustee

As Strategic Funding Manager for Plymouth College of Art I am driven by helping young people, communities and businesses to develop innovative creative, digital, media and artistic practice, supporting careers, education and life-long learning as well as fostering balanced economic growth and social cohesion.

My background is in languages, translation and interpreting and European funding, working closely with a host of different stakeholders across Europe in Higher Education, the public and private sectors, as well as NGOs and not-for-profit organisations.

In a volunteering capacity I am on the Governing Body of Ide Primary School, Chair of the Audit and Finance committee and Trustee of the Exeter Learning Academy Trust. As well as this I give my time to Exeter Food Action, a charity that redistributes waste food from supermarkets and retailers to give to organisations across Exeter that feed people in need – hospices, homeless shelters, food banks.

Mrs Sarah O’Meara, Trustee

I trained to be a primary school teacher at Rolle College in Exmouth and started teaching in 1997. In 2001 I became part of the Senior Management Team, as Key Stage One Coordinator, at Willand School. After having my children, I decided to work part time. During my time at Willand School, I have taught across all year groups, from Foundation to Year Six. I currently cover PPA time in various classes, specialising in, and coordinating Languages and EAL.

I became a parent governor at Alphington Primary School in 2013 and I am currently the Chair of the Curriculum Committee. I passionately believe in providing early intervention and support for children and families so I trained to become a volunteer with a local charity doing just that. During my time as a volunteer, I have supported a number of families experiencing a range of difficulties including those dealing with mental health issues, domestic violence and physical difficulties.

Sharon Tarr, Headteacher at Ide Primary School

I started my career as a teaching assistant at a local school and quickly realised that I wanted to take the next step so I began my teaching training. I have been fortunate enough to love my job at every stage and progressed from teaching into assistant head and, as I currently am, head at Ide Primary School.

I became Headteacher at Ide in September 2015 and am very proud of our school. I strongly believe that school should be a place that develops children as a whole and we offer a curriculum and environment that enthuses and motivates children.
I am excited by the opportunities open to our children that being part of Exeter Learning Academy Trust offers.

I was born and raised in Exeter and as it is such an amazing place to live and work I have never ventured very far for it!

Mr Liam Montgomery, Chair of Trustees and Chair of Governors at Alphington Primary School