Chair of Trustees

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Studied Engineering and Management Systems at Brunel University and subsequently completed an MSc in Manufacturing Systems Engineering at the University of Warwick

Spent working career in the automotive industry; experience in a variety of roles including production management, production process planning, business planning, project management, quality systems and finance. Have worked predominantly in engine and vehicle manufacturing divisions, at times in some of the oldest plants in Europe, but also part of the project team that built one of the newest. Have experienced a variety of cultures and styles while the industry has undergone substantial change. This included spending 3 years living and working in Germany.

Currently responsible for financial controlling for the MINI plant in Oxford, press shop in Swindon and the engine plant in Hams Hall, near Birmingham.

As the world develops at an extraordinary pace, keen that the experiences across sectors are used to prepare young people in the best possible way for the changes that lie ahead and be in the best possible position to grasp the opportunities that will undoubtedly arise.



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Joanne is CEO for Activate Learning Education Trust (ALET). In this role Joanne has worked closely with the Chair of ALET to build a strong and dynamic multi academy trust. Joanne has also been recognised by the Department of Education as a National Leader of Education

Prior to this Joanne was the Principal at UTC Reading Ofsted rated Outstanding. In this role she has worked closely with lead sponsors Activate Learning and lead partners Microsoft, Cisco, University of Reading, Network Rail and Peter Brett Associates to ensure that UTC Reading offers, 14-19 year olds in the region, an opportunity to study in a ‘state of the art’ environment where academic, technical and professional qualifications are delivered at a high standard to aspiring Computer Scientists and Engineers.

With a teaching career spanning twenty years, Joanne has a particular interest in education for 14-19 year olds and working closely with industry to ensure students have the skills for the workplace.

Joanne qualified from Loughborough University with an honours degree in Mathematics and Education, specialising in mechanics and decision mathematics, and began her professional life as a Mathematics teacher in London.


Chair of Audit and Finance Committee

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Keith obtained a scholarship with RM Douglas Construction in 1978 and studied Civil Engineering at Southampton University. He joined Peter Brett Associates in 1984, was invited into partnership in 1994, and was elected chairman of PBA in 2010, with responsibility for the strategic development of the Practice. PBA joined forces with Stantec in 2018, and Keith now leads the strategic development and delivery of PBA’s Community Development & Infrastructure services to clients.

Keith has made a significant contribution to the development of the wider profession. He acted as Chairman of the Transport Planning Society in 2001, was Chairman of the Transport Planning Skills Initiative between 2002 and 2004, the TPP Professional Standards Committee between 2008 and 2010, and the Transport Apprenticeship Trailblazer between 2014 and 2018. He is now a trustee of the Activate Learning Education Trust.

Keith has also made a significant contribution to policy development. He was a member of the Outer London Commission between 2015 and 2017, a member of the BCSC High Street Restructuring Working Group between 2016 and 2017, and was Board Chairman of the National Infrastructure Planning Association from its inception in 2010 until 2015. He is currently leading the NIPA Insights II research programme, and contributing to the CIHT programme of Better Planning, Better Transport, Better Places.



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Recently retired, Lee Nicholls has enjoyed a successful career in education both as a teacher and executive leader in various further, higher and secondary settings. Up until July 2021, Lee was Deputy CEO of Activate Learning, responsible for curriculum; curriculum planning; teaching and learning; and quality improvement and standards across several Further Education colleges. He is the founding CEO of the Activate Learning Education Trust (ALET) of seven schools, and has been co-chair of the ALET Trust Board. Most notably in this role, Lee established two successful University Technical Colleges (UTCs) in Reading and South Oxfordshire and a Studio School in Bicester, as a means of raising the profile of technical secondary education linked to local business needs and employment opportunities.

Over a career spanning more than 30 years, Lee has held a number of senior posts in further 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 College Campuses when part of the University from 2004 up until 2010.

Lee has held a number of voluntary positions. He has been Chair of the UTC Reading Board of Governors, Chair of UTC Oxfordshire, Chair of an Open College Network accreditation body, Chair of the Economic Development committee for Reading and Governor of Oxford Spires Academy secondary school in Oxford as it transitioned to become an academy.



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Ann has a Masters from Oxford University and a degree in Engineering from Liverpool University. Her area of interest is the management of major intergenerational projects.   She is currently a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and a member of the Institute of Directors. She has over 35 years’ experience in the nuclear industry and has held a number of senior roles in the UK and internationally.

Ann is a supporter of equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives.  She is a mentor and assessor for applicants for chartered engineer status.  Ann brings to the ALET Board of Trustees her experience of working with Government in a highly regulated environment.


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David Carr has more than 25 years’ experience in the oil and gas and renewable energy sector, and in his career has worked in over 30 countries, living as a resident in 9 of these. David is now Senior Vice President International for Helix Energy Solutions Group, a marine services company focused on energy transition technologies such as subsea well intervention, decommissioning and seabed clearance as well the installation and commissioning of offshore wind-farms. David’s remit is to implement the company’s strategy to expand into new geographies and business segments and leads the companies contract negotiations worldwide.

David has a first class degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Salford and an MBA from Edinburgh Business School. David is a keen mountaineer and sailor and participates in ultramarathon events. He now lives in South Oxfordshire with his wife and two children.



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Colin graduated from Keele University with a First Class degree in Biology and Biochemistry before moving to Oxford to undertake a DPhil in Clinical Medicine. After a short period as a Post Doctorate research scientist with the Radiation and Genome Stability Unit (MRC Harwell/Oxford University) he undertook his PGCE at Oxford. Having developed a love of teaching during his doctorate degree, Colin has been a teacher of Biology since 2006. For the last 14 years he has been a teacher at Magdalen College School (MCS), Oxford, where is now Head of Sixth Form. He has pastoral and academic oversight of a Sixth Form of 320 pupils and many years of experience of guiding pupils through applications to study at some of the leading universities in the country. His area of expertise in this respect tends towards Medicine and the Biosciences, where he has worked to support university applications from pupils from a range of local schools, as well as MCS.

Before moving to his current role he was Head of the Biology Department for five years, during which time the department saw outstanding year-on-year results and increasing numbers taking the subject at A Level. Colin has written and illustrated part of a Revision Guide for Biology A Level for Pearson and this work remains an area of interest.

Having grown up on a farm in southwest Wales attending local state primary and secondary schools, Colin is keenly aware of the transformative power of education. Colin lives with his wife and two young children in South Oxfordshire. He joined the ALET trustees in 2020.