Staff Team

The Youth Engagement Schools Trust is lead and supported by a dedicated and experienced central team whose sole purpose is to support and improve our schools to provide the best possible outcomes for the vulnerable young people that we support.


Trust Executive Team

Select a team member to read their bio

Nic was the founding Principal of The Fermain Academy, from design, to oversubscribed provision every year since opening, to ‘universal’ grade for the provision from the Local Authority, and culminating with an Outstanding Ofsted in 2018. Nic is now continuing to work closely with the DFE and EFSA as he embarks on a similar journey as the CEO of the YES Trust, opening The Axis Academy in September 2020 – a brand new SEN provision in Crewe for young people with a diagnosis for Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs.

Nic has a background of working with SEN and vulnerable students throughout his career overseeing many different aspects of the schools such as; covering the school development plan, SEF, curriculum, Behaviour & Welfare, Attainment planning, whole school data and completing the paperwork to expand to a MAT. Nic also wrote the application and bid that won one of his schools the SEN school of the year 2013/14, and more recently, The Fermain Academy’s shortlisting for Alternative Provision School of the Year.

Nic has a passion for developing all, continuing to lecture at three universities and multiple teaching school alliances to deliver CPD on Leadership at Senior and Middle levels, SEN in the classroom and early intervention and multiple elements on managing behaviour. Currently Nic has recently completed his National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL) and is currently embarking on a Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Strategic Leadership for Education settings.

Chris was appointed as Business Manager of The Fermain Academy in 2015, the founding Academy of the YES Trust, and played a lead role in establishing the systems and processes which underpin the great work the Trust does today. Chris is now the Trust’s Director of Business, and has overseen the opening of two new Free Schools, and a small Independent School in that time, with a 3rd new Free School also in the pre-opening phase.

Chris has a background working for the Local Authority within the Business Support and Schools Capital Strategy teams, and as a Business Manager / CFO in three Special and AP Trusts. He has experience in leading the conversion to Multi Academy Trust from maintained school at a previous Trust, as well as setting up the Fermain Academy from scratch and bringing new Academies in to an existing MAT set up.

Committed to ensuring that the Trust’s Academies have the best possible staffing, resources and environment in which to inspire our learners, Chris oversees finance, H&S, HR/recruitment and operational leadership across the Trust, and works closely with Senior Leaders, Office Managers and Site Managers to help drive standards in our schools.

Chris completed the CIPFA Level 7 Certificate in School Financial and Operational Leadership in 2020, and carries out the role of Chief Finance Officer for the Trust

In post since September 2020 Helen is working as part of the Executive Leadership Team to ensure that the quality of curriculum and education across the Trust is maintained to an outstanding level and one which prepares young people to become fully functioning members of a global society.  Helen brings to the post a wealth of experience through coaching leaders, training teachers and promoting outstanding teaching and learning across Primary and Secondary settings, having led in both mainstream and alternative provision.  

Helen designed and delivered an innovative Home Office funded project, aimed at re-engaging and improving the life chances of some of our most vulnerable pupils, which was praised as being the only one nationally to achieve its aims. She has taken on failing schools which have then been judged to be Good by Ofsted. 

Helen puts pupils at the heart of all she does and brings not only enthusiasm and passion to everything she does, but an intelligence and depth of understanding of pedagogy which informs her training of teachers and leaders; she is herself an outstanding practitioner and uses her degree in French and Russian Studies to continue to inspire and motivate language learning and literacy in children and adults alike. Her passion for language teaching and literacy has led her to write and develop an exciting inter-generational language scheme which is now in the implementation stage; she hopes to map the impact of this as part of her EdD studies.

Andy joins us with over 20 years of experience in education having started his career as a French teacher in 2002. He went on to work as a senior leader in three mainstream secondary schools across Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire and Sandwell, primarily leading on Quality of Education in all of these roles.

Andy has worked in Alternative Provision since 2017 when he joined The Edge Academy in Birmingham, initially as Vice Principal and becoming Principal in 2018. The Edge is the current holder of the PRUsAP “National Alternative Provision Team of the Year” and won the Midlands Education Awards “Outstanding Support for Students” Award in 2022. More recently, the school was named as the first Alternative Provision school in the country to be awarded “When the Adults Change” Partner School status. This recognises a culture built at the school founded on relational practice, emotional connections and trauma-informed approaches to positive behaviour management.

Outside of school life, Andy lives in the West Midlands with his wife and two children, is a member of a running club and enjoys European travel. He is also a long-suffering Birmingham City supporter!

Trust Central Team

Select a team member to read their bio

Linda joins has recently joined the Trust with 15 years of finance and business admin experience in education having started as a bursar in a mainstream first school in 2008 and will be primarily supporting our Director of Business, Chris Heptinstall and our academy teams.

Linda developed her passion for Alternative Provision working as a School Business Manager at an SEN school in Staffordshire.  Most recently, she was working with a large secondary school in North Staffordshire.

Linda lives in Cheddleton, North Staffordshire with her husband, son and two dogs (Chester and Bob), enjoys eating out, going to concerts and the theatre and is a keen crafter.

Having joined the YES Trust in September 2021 as Administrative Assistant, Ilona progressed to Office Manager and is responsible for primarily supporting the Trusts executive leadership team. As an overarching role, Ilona also enjoys supporting and collaborating with all our academies office managers as well as all our teaching staff and senior leadership teams across the Trust.

Ilona particularly enjoys the supportive aspect of her role in ensuring all our staff are able to work efficiently to realise our overriding goal of supporting and achieving the best outcomes for all the children within our schools.

Ilona has a background in school office administration and brings with her a breadth of experience from mainstream primary school administration as well as her most recent role as Attendance Manager at Holmes Chapel Secondary School.

In addition to her Office Manager role, Ilona has recently taken on the role of Governance Officer at the Trust. Ilona is looking forward to broadening her experience and knowledge of MAT Governance to further enhance her role with the Trusts Board of Trustees and local support governors to ensure governance issues and compliance are upheld across the whole Trust.

Jayne has recently joined the Trust from busy HR Team at Cheshire Police and will now be helping Trust to increase its people management capacity and service from the Central Team.  Jayne will also be focusing on developing the staff benefits side of the Trust.

Jayne lives in Crewe with her husband, 2 children and pet tortoise (called Toad!)

Kate joined the Trust as Administrative Assistant in June 2023.

She has a background in education having completed a PGCE equivalent at Ankara University and worked as a language teacher for several years before starting a bespoke childcare facility for Early Years and Primary age children.

Kate then worked as a translator before starting a successful online business from home and has now returned to work now that her children are in full time education and looks forward to supporting the Trust with their future expansion.