The board is responsible for the operation of the trust and governs in the interests of the trust as a whole.  The board sets vision and strategy and is the accountable body for finances and the performance of the three academies.  



Stephen Ward

Chair of Trustees

Stephen Ward is a management consultant, executive coach and non- executive director, with a sound track record of leadership, performance and experience gained in a number of service environments, in the public, private and voluntary sectors. These include education, housing, care and the prison/immigration service. He has previous experience as a chair, deputy chair, school governor and trustee. He believes that for organisations providing local services to consistently succeed, a very high level of service user involvement, care, quality of service and value for money, with an emphasis on continuous and sustainable improvement of services is critical, to meet the ever changing needs of the people and families that these organisations support in their local area.

Howard Brown

Howard is a former senior officer in the Armed Forces, with operational and commercial experience spanning the private and defence sectors in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. Howard has demonstrable leadership experience, shaping strategy, leading successful business negotiations and engaging Board members, coupled with an ability to constructively challenge senior executives in order to strengthen organisational performance. With Board-level executive coaching and a champion for businesses adopting holistic cyber security, Howard seeks to offer a challenging perspective and share experience in order to optimise organisational performance and deliver growth in a secure operating environment.

Philippa Gasson


Philippa is recently retired from 35 years in education, mainly in the secondary sector. Having trained as a science teacher, Philippa taught in Buckinghamshire and the London Borough of Merton before returning to East Sussex. Here she 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. Philippa then held interim head teacher roles on a part-time basis in 2 local primary schools. Philippa is committed to working with the Rye Academy Trust and you, our parents and carers, to ensure that all our learners are able to make their best possible progress, in a happy, vibrant and safe environment.

Sally King

Sally is a teacher and has been teaching for almost thirty years: in London, Eastbourne and Hastings. She has held a variety of roles including those in leadership. Sally has also lived and worked abroad, in both China and France. Sally is particularly interested in democracy in schools and is keen to see a more prominent role given to the opinions of both parents and students across the Trust.

Helen Mucci

Helen is a lifelong resident of Rye who takes great pride in her family connections to community through farming and sailing. Helen’s career to date has been working for local and independent business. As a parent, Helen understands the challenges facing families and chose Rye Community Primary School to start her children’s educational journey for its aspirational approach to nurturing children’s learning and the opportunity to continue on to Rye College. Helen is passionate about developing the trust as a whole for the benefit of all learners while respecting the distinctive local ethos of the schools in Rye to serve the needs of young people locally and their families. Helen is committed to ensuring that the trust’s schools provide a safe and supportive environment in which all learners are encouraged in the pursuit of high academic standards while developing life-skills of confidence and creativity. Helen also takes a practical approach to implementing improvements to the children’s learning environment, such as the willow structure and garden area for Rye Community Primary School. Helen’s purpose as a trustee is to support children and young people locally to excel through education.

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 projects and business planning, with a focus on effective and streamlined business practices, quality assurance, and transformation and change.

Max Victory

Max is an IT Consultant working in the Telecoms and Media Sectors. He lives in Kent and his eldest son recently completed his studies at Rye College achieving 10 GCSE passes. Max delivers change programs within companies, implementing software and delivering process change to improve operational efficiency, management visibility and cost savings- skills he will apply to supporting the trust in this new phase of rebuilding.

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 on 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 Governance and Communications Manager 



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