About us


Welcome to Activate Learning Education Trust, a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) established by Activate Learning. The Trust is both a company and an exempt charity. This means that it does not need to be registered with the Charity Commission. It does, however, need to comply with aspects of charity law.

You can find out more about our work with schools on this website.

Activate Learning Education Trust has a Local Governing Body. This Body is responsible for ensuring that our schools are run in accordance with their ethos and values, overseeing the appointment and professional development of staff and setting and reviewing the schools’ curriculum.

08-05-07 © Sam Friedrich


Sally Dicketts CBE has been Chair of Activate Learning Education Trust since 2013. She has held senior posts in both secondary schools and further education. She became Principal at Milton Keynes College in 1996, and in 2003 became the first Principal of Oxford & Cherwell Valley College (now Activate Learning).



Lee Nicholls is the CEO of Activate Learning Education Trust and, at Activate Learning is the Deputy CEO and Group Executive Director for Curriculum, Standards and Academies. Lee has held a number of senior posts in further education and higher education after starting out in education as a teacher of science. He has previously held the position of Pro Vice-Chancellor of Further Education at Thames Valley University and, as Executive Director of Further Education, was responsible for the Reading Campuses when part of the university, from 2004 to 2010.

In his roles in further and higher education, and at Activate Learning, Lee has experience of developing strategic projects and partnerships; strategic planning; curriculum design; quality assurance; raising standards; and improving the quality of education and student outcomes. Over the last 5 years, Lee has developed the role of Activate Learning as an academy sponsor and founded two very successful University Technical Colleges (UTCs) in Reading and South Oxfordshire and a Studio School in Bicester, as a means of raising the profile of high achieving technical education, linked to local economies and employment opportunities.

As CEO of the ALET Multi-Academy Trust Lee has increased the number of schools, UTCs and academies in the Trust from 1 to 7 – and has been instrumental in developing the strategic and operational structures and processes that have allowed the Trust to grow sustainably and with a central focus on school improvement. The enhancement of teaching, learning and assessment through the adoption of the Activate Learning group’s unique Learning Philosophy has been a central pillar to the growth of the Trust. Lee have previously been the Chair of the UTC Reading Board of Governors, Chair of UTC Oxfordshire and Chair of an Open College Network accreditation body. Prior to this, Lee has chaired the Economic Development committee for Reading and was a Governor of the Oxford Spires Academy secondary school in Oxford as it became an academy.

Lee is an alumnus of Henley Business School and throughout his career has enjoyed working in complex multi-sector education organisations. In his spare time, and having hung up his football boots after a long career in veteran’s football, Lee can be found road cycling in and around South Oxfordshire.