The board of trustees are the accountable body for the three academies within the trust and govern in the interests of the trust as a whole. The board sets the vision for the trust, holds the executive leadership to account for delivering the trust's strategic plans, and supports and challenges school leadership. The board meets monthly.



Ian Potter

Chair of Trustees

Ian spent 14 years in independent practice as a barrister and is now a Case Examiner for the Nursing and Midwifery Council. In addition, Ian is an Independent Review Panel Chair for NHS England, handling continuing health care appeals for the South East region. Ian was educated at local schools and is a former student of what is now Rye College. He then completed his education by gaining degrees from both the University of Kent and the Inns of Court School of Law. Ian spent four years as a governor of a local Primary school and was also Mayor of Rye (2004-2006); he continues to be an independent Councillor on Rye Town Council. Ian became a Director of the Rye Academy Trust in 2013 to provide advice and assistance on legal matters.

David Cooper

Vice-Chair of Trustees

David was a school governor for twenty five years, largely at Rye College and including two periods as Chair of Governors. Following a career in the nuclear power industry at Dungeness David ran his own consultancy business for five years. More recently, in a complete change of direction, David has been a trustee and is currently Chair of the group that has established a branch of the homelessness charity, Emmaus, in Hastings & Rother. He is now also a national trustee of Emmaus UK. David is the nominated lead member for Estates matters on the Rye Academy Trust Board. David chairs the Organisation Efficiency and Effectiveness Committee.

Nicola Podd

Nicola has worked with schools and school leaders and local authorities for the last twenty years, initially with East Sussex in various roles for the Youth Service and School Improvement Service. After a short period of working with 4Children, Nicola joined Southern Educational Leadership Trust to lead on the delivery of large scale regional and national contracts for schools leaders, head teachers and governors on leadership development, the leadership curriculum for school leaders and head teacher recruitment and assessment. This also involved working with the wider public and private sector on leadership development and the developing high performing teams and organisations. In 2015, Nicola joined NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) where she leads the association's change and programme management department to ensure members have access to high quality and effective support, advice and information.

Niki Stuart

Niki has worked in Education for 25 years. She was a primary school teacher and senior leader of schools in the London Borough of Southwark. She was instrumental in leading a school out of special measures and became its Headteacher. She has been the chair of governors at Rye Primary since it opened in 2008. She has lived permanently in Rye since 2007 and has maintained links with London schools through governance and consultancy. Niki has become increasingly involved in the community since her time in Rye. She is a co-founder and a director of “The Music Well CIC” which provides music therapy and musical activities for children and adults in the area. She is a Trustee of the Rye Arts Festival and has worked hard to strengthen the relationship between the Festival and Rye schools. She has become involved in the Rye Community Transport scheme and volunteers as a driver one day per week.

Philippa Gasson

I am recently retired from 35 years in education, mainly in the secondary sector. Having trained as a science teacher, I taught in Buckinghamshire and the London Borough of Merton before returning to East Sussex. Here I held posts as head of faculty, head of year, deputy head, acting head and vice principal, the latter post at The Hastings Academy before retiring in 2013. I then worked as a part time, interim head teacher in 2 local primary schools. I am committed to working with the Rye Academy Trust and you, our parents and carers, to ensure that our students are able to make their best possible progress, in a happy, vibrant and safe environment.

Tim Hulme

Chief Executive

Tim joined the Trust in September 2016 and his career to date has included Executive roles in a range of industries including pharmaceutical, construction and hospitality. With a strong track record in leading transformational change and business recovery, Tim has operated in the charitable environment, as well as both the public and private sectors and has a strong belief in the power of education and the impact it has in changing communities and peoples lives. In accepting the role as the Trust Chief Executive, Tim is particularly focused in establishing a sound business platform from which the Trust, in all its dimensions, can grow.


Details on how to contact any board member are below:

Sally Welch (Clerk to the Trust)



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