MNAT’s governance structure combines the benefits of Trust-level oversight and strategic direction from experienced trustees and members, with Local Academy Boards for each member school, which always include parent representatives.


The members are akin to the shareholders of a company. They have ultimate control over the academy trust, with the ability to appoint some of the trustees and the right to amend the trust’s ‘articles of association’ (the rules by which the trust is governed).


MNAT’s trustees are responsible for the same three core governance functions performed by the governing body in a maintained school:

  • setting the strategic direction for the trust
  • holding the Executive Headteacher / Senior Executive Leader to account
  • ensuring financial probity.

As charity trustees, they also ensure compliance with charity law requirements. Academy trusts are charitable companies and the trustees are company directors and must comply with company law requirements. This may sound daunting, but, in reality, the duties are largely the same as those of a governor of a maintained school, such as regularly attending meetings, managing conflicts of interest, seeking advice from the academy’s leadership team and ensuring the academy has appropriate procedures in place for reporting financial information.

The articles of association state that the chair of the board of trustees will also be a member, thereby ensuring a link between the two layers. However, while trustees can also serve as members, the most effective governance models recognise that the members are responsible for holding the trustees to account. Some separation between those serving as trustees and those serving as members is, therefore, desirable for achieving robust accountability. This is the model which has been adopted by the Mid Norfolk Academy Trust.


Individuals who sit on Local Academy Boards (LABs) are referred to as ‘local governors’. MNAT’s trustees can delegate governance functions to the local level. Trustees have complete discretion over what is delegated to each LAB and this is laid out and explained in each school’s Scheme of Delegation. MNAT schools have their own Local Academy Board, to include two parent representatives.



Alan Ferguson
Brought up in Belfast, Alan won a RAF university scholarship, gaining a degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Southampton University and subsequently went to RAF College Cranwell, where he qualified as an Engineering Officer. He spent 16 years in the RAF,
culminating in an appointment at RAF Swanton-Morley, close to Dereham. He retired from the RAF in 1991, at the age of 38, having held the rank of Squadron Leader for several years.
AIan next spent four years working as a Project Manager for Norwich Union, before leaving to establish his own management consultancy, AFA, based in Dereham, which delivers accredited training and consultancy services around the world. Since the mid-nineties, Alan played a leading role in developing structured management methods, in partnership with the UK Government’s Office of Government Commerce (OCG) and APM Group (the examining body).

Alan has written three books: Integrating PRINCE2 (publ. TSO), MSP for dummies (publ. Wiley) and Tailoring PRINCE2 (publ. TSO). He retired recently, having sold his business to IIL (a training company based in the USA).

Ian Mayers
Educated at Westminster City School and Warwick University, where he gained an LLB (Hons), Ian passed his Part 2 Solicitor exams in 1979 and completed articles, becoming a solicitor in 1981. His entire legal career has been based in Norfolk and he lives in a village close to Dereham. He became a partner in Mills & Reeve in 1988, later becoming a team leader within the firm, managing lawyers and support staff based in Norwich, Cambridge, Birmingham and Manchester.

For some ten years, Ian was the partner responsible for trainee recruitment. More recently, he has been a member of the practice’s Audit, Governance and Oversight Panel and has formed and led the practice’s Core Regulatory Unit. Ian takes an active role in supporting various aspects of community life, including being a Mentor to year 10 students in a Norfolk Academy.

Richard Woolf
Richard has huge experience in education. He started teaching in 1972 at Henry Compton School for Boys KS3/4 for 12 years. Richard took a Deputy Headship (Mathematics) in 1985 and then in 1993 took the role as Headteacher at Mayfield High School. Richard also holds a Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Management at the Institute of Education, London University.

Richard still remains in education having worked in training and enterprise for many years. He is extremely experienced as an Educational Consultant, enhancing teaching and learning and advising schools on professional development. Richard was an Ofsted Team Inspector for 6 years. He currently works as an Education Consultant for Norfolk Better to Best.

Tracey Allan
A previous Neatherd High School student, Tracey has been heavily involved within the local community for the last 20 years, and has vast experience in the voluntary sector mainly through her role as an adult instructor within the Royal Air Force Air Cadets. Commissioned for the last 14 years, she took on the role of Commanding Officer at 1249 (Dereham) Squadron in 2010 and has been inspiring young people between the ages of 13 and 20 while managing a team of adult volunteers. Her goal has been to help local youth experience everything the Air Cadets can offer, whilst ensuring that all activities and events are organised, within the confines of various policies and procedures including health and safety and safeguarding.

Her career has seen her work for a local charity for the last 8 years, being at the forefront of its development towards being a national charity. Currently focused on volunteer management and charity development, this has given her a greater knowledge of charity governance.

Tracey is married to Jason and they have two young children


Peter Devonish (Executive Head Teacher and Senior Executive Leader)
Peter is currently the Head Teacher of Dereham Neatherd High School. He obtained BSc (Chemistry) from Bristol University, PGCE (Chemistry and General Science) from Sheffield University and MA (University of the West of England). His 26-year career in teaching has seen him take on the posts of Science Teacher, Head of Science, Assistant Head Teacher, Deputy Head Teacher and, from 2007 onwards, Head Teacher at Neatherd, where his record of successful leadership is attested by the school’s OFSTED rating and the strong senior leadership team he has built. He became an OFSTED Additional Inspector in 2014.
Andrew Rowley (Chair of Trustees)
A levels taken in Abingdon were followed by a Law degree from University College Cardiff and then to London to qualify as a Chartered Accountant. The career developed primarily via consultancy and Interim Director Roles across Europe, America and the Middle East. The focuses of these roles varied but were mostly at board level concentrating on Finance and I.T. This period saw me involved through activities such as managing the building of a sugar refinery in the Middle East, integrating one of the largest fast food chains in the USA into a new corporate structure and financial management of the building of an Oil Rig in the North Sea.

The globetrotting came to an end following the birth of our daughter and we settled in Norfolk where I took responsibility for strategy & planning for a major local company. This was followed by a return to the City of London helping create a new reinsurance company. In an attempt to spend more time at home with the family, 14 years ago we purchased a business in Dereham – having achieved 500% increase in turnover and nearly tripling the workforce, we accepted an offer to buy the company and so we are looking for fresh challenges (and to do more travelling).

I am a passionate believer in education and training, but the key is not just to provide courses – we need to provide the encouragement and motivation to want to learn, whilst ensuring that the education will meet current and future needs. This is my first experience within the education sector (other than as a pupil or as a parent) – so still learning!

Andrew Long
Andrew has lived in Mid Norfolk throughout his life and has very extensive local knowledge and connections. He has been a Market Research professional for some twenty years. Having formerly been Research Manager for East Anglia’s largest research company, he became a founding partner in Avalon Research in 2006. He has experience of local, national and international research projects and is an expert in quantitative data collection and analysis and in turning data into actionable information. He was previously a governor at Dereham Neatherd from 2006 onwards. His position as a partner allows him to plan his time to be able to play a full role in many aspects of school governance.
Vince Warren
Formerly a parent governor at Neatherd, Vince is passionate about ensuring that the Mid Norfolk Academy Trust excels and provides an outstanding learning experience for all pupils. He is a Civil Engineer and construction professional with 25 years’ experience in designing and managing road, rail, environmental, and commercial building projects. He has three children at Neatherd High School. His hobbies include cycling, football (although reduced to watching his son play these days), surfing (as a former beach lifeguard) and motorsport.
Leda Tarabay
Leda is the parent of four children who have all attended Neatherd High School over the past 15 years, the youngest having just started in year 7.

Leda attended Wymondham College, then the University of Birmingham and qualified as a Chartered Public Financial Accountant whilst working in the West Midlands. Moving back to Norfolk in the 1980s Leda worked for Norwich City Council before setting up a successful restaurant in Norwich.

After selling the business, Leda is now semi-retired and is Honorary Treasurer to Norwich Preservation Trust Ltd.

Steve Frost
Steve works in the Financial Services sector focusing on Business Development, Partnerships, Sales and Marketing. Working in India on assignment in 2008 inspired me to take my experience into the Charity Sector.

I moved into Corporate Social Responsibility for a major Corporate giving me the opportunity to lead on charity partnerships and community programs. Some years later I took the opportunity of working with a International Children’s Charity to create a funding strategy for projects to support street children in UK, Africa and India. I found this both challenging and rewarding and it provided me the opportunity to travel and see first-hand the difficulties faced by the young in our society.

Education was key to changing lives and programs were created to ensure children had access to a classroom and the chance of creating a better future.

Following 4 years in the Third Sector I made the choice to return to a commercial role and now lead a Sales and Marketing department.

Over the years as a volunteer I became a Youth Football Coach and have organised, trained and led groups on the National 3 peaks Challenge raising funds for local Norfolk charities.

I have lived in Norfolk all my life and have a passion for the outdoors and motorbikes…

Martyn Davey

Martyn is the Curriculum Quality Manager at Easton and Otley College where he has worked since 2000; he was instrumental in helping the colleges to merge in 2012 and looks forward to using this experience in his role as a Trustee. He graduated with Honors in Landscape and Amenity Management from the University of Hertfordshire.  The Chair of the Norfolk and Norwich Horticultural Society and a gardening column in a local newspaper, a regular local radio slot and invitations to talk to gardening societies demonstrate his extensive horticultural experience and knowledge. Martyn lives locally and has children at Neatherd High School.