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MEET THE TEAM

Meet the Team: Text

EXECUTIVE TEAM

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LIZ HARDY

CEO/Executive Headteacher

Liz has been involved in teaching and leading primary schools and early years settings across Greater Manchester for over 25 years. Liz has served as a headteacher for 11 years and joined Beaver Road in September 2017.
In 2015, Liz was designated as a National Leader of Education. This involves supporting developments in primary schools and early years settings across the City of Manchester and the North-West.
Liz is passionate about ensuring the highest quality and creative education and care for all children. Specifically, for the M20 Learning Trust, Liz uses her experience to ensure each child within the Trust communities are treated as individuals, allowing room for particular talents and skills to flourish, as well as encouraging confidence and success in areas they find challenging to accomplish.
Liz is a relational and enthusiastic leader who promotes collaboration, mutual respect and community. She is an advocate for professional development and will provide opportunities for staff to reach their potential and be their best. Liz loves to celebrate diversity, and is inspired by culture, creativity and experiential learning.

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TINA SMITH

Chief Finance & Operations Officer

Tina is a qualified accountant with over 20 years’ experience of strategic financial management in both private and public sectors. Tina’s early career experience spanned utility, motor, manufacturing, and the creative and animation industries. During this time, Tina developed expertise in complex budget management and strategic planning.
In 2011, Tina moved to One Education working in close partnership with Manchester City Council, where she supported primary, secondary and special schools with budget planning and providing secondment cover. As part of this role, Tina gave advice to head teachers preparing three-year budget plans and monitored their progress to ensure their plans were being delivered and robust enough to meet both operational demands and longer-term strategic objectives.
Tina now combines her time as chief finance and operations officer at Beaver Road Primary and as an independent consultant to maintained schools across Manchester. This affords Tina a rounded view of the various budget allocation and funding models used across the education sector. As such, Tina can is well placed to offer in-depth expertise to schools in the M20 Trust, ensuring the schools have the solid footings they need for a secure financial future.

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TRUSTEES

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DAVID ALLAN QC

CHAIR OF THE TRUST

David has been involved with the M20 Learning Trust since 2017 and was appointed chair in 2019. Prior to this, David had a long career as a Queen’s Counsel and judge, specialising in complex cases of personal injury and industrial disease.

David’s role as chair encompasses every facet of compliance and strategy related to delivering educational excellence. Above all, he ensures the Trust has robust frameworks in place for meeting its governance and funding obligations. His approach is underpinned by his vast experience of applying analytical skills and critical thinking as a barrister and judge.

David’s responsibilities also include setting the Trust’s strategic direction, and when necessary, establishing working parties to develop specific proposals and plans. David also supports the Trust’s leadership team on complex operational matters often providing advice on how to interpret and apply government guidelines.


In his spare time, David reads avidly and enjoys hill walking, playing tennis and spending time with his six grandchildren.

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NIC BROWN

TRUSTEE

Nick is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute for Professional Development. As a consultant, he specialises in employment law and policy and has experience of working in the private sector with law firms, and in the education sector with local government teams across the North West.
Nick’s experience spans many facets of employment law and operational HR management from national pay awards and contracts, through safeguarding, to managing the dynamics of working with ACAS. He also has considerable experience in the recruitment of leadership teams, headteachers, business managers and CEOs for academies.
Nick joined the Trust in 2020 and is a member of the Finance, Oversight, Audit and Risk committee. He’s also the appointed Health and Safety custodian and will apply his practical experience of implementing employment law and managing risk as part of the role. Above all, Nick will help schools correctly navigate the law when making HR related decisions about their teaching and site teams.
Nick lives in West Didsbury and spends much of his spare time either playing or watching sport. Favourites include football, cricket, golf, and cross-fit.

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KATE DEAN

TRUSTEE

Kate has worked in education for over thirty years, firstly, as a primary teacher across several Manchester boroughs and then as a college lecturer in education. Kate then moved to Trafford Council where she was a primary School Improvement Adviser and Senior Early Years Adviser. She has also been an Ofsted inspector and now provides independent consultancy to schools.
As a specialist in improvement, Kate is comfortable in using a range of factors to inform and evaluate improvement plans in order to reach a high quality of education. As such, Kate sees herself as a ‘critical friend’ to the school and trust, providing the expertise, reassurance and validation they need when formulating and adopting improvement measures.
Kate is a former pupil of Beaver Road Primary and lives in Didsbury. Kate is a keen gardener, enjoys spending time with family and friends and is also a trustee of a charity working in sub-Saharan Africa.

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MARK O'KEEFE

TRUSTEE

Mark is the founding director of Optima Consultancy, a specialist payments consultancy that provides financial modelling, training, research and regulatory support to banks, payment networks and retailers around the world. Mark is a trained accountant and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and a member of the Payment Systems Regulator Panel.
Mark chairs the Trust’s Finance Oversight, Audit and Risk committee ensuring financial plans and proposals are challenged, validated and meet regulatory frameworks and policies. The committee also oversees internal and external audits and makes recommendations to the Trust board on matters related to reserves, investments and financial strategy.
Mark has two children at Beaver Road Primary, both of whom love taking part in sport. When he’s not being their biggest fan at sporting events, he can be found at Old Trafford supporting Manchester United. Mark is also an enthusiastic runner and podcast devotee

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KAREN WALKDEN

TRUSTEE

Karen, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development, joined the board of Trustees in 2020, bringing her expertise as an HR director and specialist in change management. During her career in the nuclear power industry, Karen has managed the strategic and operational people plans related to merger and acquisitions, scaling operations and closing sites.

 With expertise in policy, cultural change, employee communications and training, due diligence and risk management, Karen is well equipped to help Trust members build people plans that reflect the goals of the M20 Learning Trust while remaining true to their local roots.

Karen has studied and worked in and around Manchester all her life. Now semi-retired, she enjoys long walks with her dog Rocky, playing badminton in the Manchester League, and has recently discovered the joy that life as a new grandmother brings.

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EMMA FORRESTER

TRUSTEE

Emma has 20 years HR and Recruitment Business Partnering experience in corporate environments, both in retail and pharmaceutical sectors.  She specialises in change management, organisational development and talent development.
Emma lives in Didsbury and has two children who both attended Beaver Road Primary School.

MEMBERS

LUCY POWELL

DAVID ALLAN

FAYAZ HAMMOND

DR. GUNJIT BANDESHA

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