Our Team

Rachel Shaw, Chief Executive Officer

Rachel Shaw joined Exeter Learning Academy Trust (ELAT) as the CEO in September 2019.
She was raised, educated and trained to be a teacher in Devon and is committed to supporting children and families within the county.

Rachel has spent her professional career as a teacher working in primary education and more than 20 years in senior leadership roles. She has been a Headteacher, Executive Principal and CEO across a number of schools in Devon covering education from 2-19. She has improved schools in challenging circumstances both within and beyond the organisations she has worked in and strongly believes in the strength of collaborative work across the education sector.

Rachel is also the chair of the Devon School Leadership Service which supports and provides training for school leaders working in schools and Trusts across Devon. She has been a governor or Trustee for over 25 years and is currently also a Trustee for First Federation and a member of the Devon Education Forum.

As well as providing the strategic direction and being responsible for the day to day operation of the Trust, Rachel is also the Accounting Officer. She is responsible to Parliament and the Secretary of State for ensuring that ELAT uses public funds appropriately to advance education for the public benefit. More details about this role can be found in the Academies Financial Handbook.

Rachel believes passionately that education provides choices and opportunities for our children and young people and that we must ensure all achieve their potential regardless of their starting point in life. Ensuring that the adults working with our children are experts in their field and also strive to always be the best they can be is an essential element of this.

If you wish to find out more about the Trust then please contact info@elatschools.com.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

Brian Cook M.Sc, B.A(Hons), A.C.I.B., Dip.F.S.

It’s a privilege to contribute to the work of ELAT. I joined the Board because I have a strong family interest in primary education, a desire to give something back to a local community and a wish to challenge myself in new areas.

My professional background is in finance and after a career working with commercial and corporate businesses all around the UK, I returned to the West Country and now live on the edge of Dartmoor. I want to bring to ELAT not only my financial and business experience but also an objective, commonsense support and challenge to our leadership, to help to optimise the opportunities for our children. We need to make sure that we make the most of all of our resources to support the quality of our teaching and learning.

As well as serving on the ELAT Board I am also a director of a multi-academy trust in Cornwall and I chair the governing body of a small maintained primary school. Both of these roles help to bring a hands-on understanding of the issues facing our schools.
My relaxation comes from my ongoing interest in sport (sadly less and less active!), walking my dogs and trying to keep my large garden under control.

I really look forward to continuing to work with a talented and committed leadership team as we build the future of the ELAT schools.

Sharon Tarr, Headteacher at Alphington 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 Alphington Primary School.

I became Headteacher at Alphington in September 2018 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!

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!

Alice Purcell , Headteacher at Ide Primary School

I am delighted to be taking up the Headship of Ide, embracing the vibrant community surrounding our lovely village school.

After teaching at Alphington for several years, I was appointed at Ottery St Mary as Assistant Headteacher . In my spare time I enjoy amateur dramatics and running.