Stranton Academy Trust

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Meet the Trustees

Dr Peter Hart

Peter Hart is currently Chair of the Trust, he works as a researcher at the School of Education, University of Leeds where his main research interests are professional ethics, character education, and youth work. He has also served as Deputy Director of the Centre for Policy Studies in Education at Leeds, and teaches on courses on the sociology of youth and childhood, and research methods.

Before Peter completed his PhD, he was a youth worker, which involved managing a local church-based project and working with a range of other agencies, and sitting on steering groups for several other organisations. Peter’s skills include project management, data analysis, policy analysis, and teaching in a HE context.

Gillian Danby

Gill Danby is a Doctoral Researcher with Teesside University and through her business ‘Artistry in Leadership’, works to advance the discussion around gender and leadership in organisations. She has held senior leadership positions in the public health and public education sectors in the United Kingdom and Canada, and most recently was Vice President and Chief Finance Officer at The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Banff, Canada. She has a passion for research, leading organisational change, and has a rich history in governance, financial and human resource management, project management and risk management.

Gill’s doctoral research ‘Gender stereotype threat for women: the     potential of arts-based methods in management education’ developed new theory, facilitated by art-based methods in management education, in response to career progression barriers faced by women resulting from gender stereotypes. Gill has recently published a conference paper ‘Thinking beyond gender quotas and targets: Potential of art-based interventions in helping women reflecting on their careers in management’, and is currently preparing articles for publication including ‘Learning from our Lives: Autobiographic Vignettes of Change’. Gill is a Governor at St. Helens Primary School and a trustee at Stranton Academy Trust, both in Hartlepool. She is also a member of Hartlepool Ladies Choir.


Peter Gowland

Peter Gowland worked in the Third Sector for many years, chiefly with Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency, the town’s voluntary sector support body. Peter’s role as project  development officer was to provide advice, guidance and developmental assistance to new and existing organisations. This included help with governance, fund raising, representation and volunteering.

Peter is now a director of Hartlepower and Stranton Academy Trust, a trustee of the Friends of Carlton Camp, the Asylum Seekers and Refugees group and the Hartlepool Men’s Shed. He is also a member of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Hartlepool Action Lab, the latter looking at ways to address community needs in Hartlepool through citizen involvement. 

Sandra Saint


Sandra Saint is an advocate for anything that supports positive personal development within schools, workplaces and communities.

A qualified teacher (BA Hons QTS) with many years of classroom experience; she then spent almost 10 years as a PSHEe/Healthy Schools School Improvement Adviser within a Local Authority. She has developed a range of education programmes and resources at local, regional and national levels.

Since 2010 Sandra has been running her own consultancy and training business in relation to Health & Wellbeing education (so all things PSHEe/Healthy School related) and has spoken at several national conferences in relation to PfBV (Promoting fundamental British Values) and SMSC (Spiritual Moral Social Cultural) curricula. She was the north-east   parent a school coordinator for 3 years for the Alcohol Education Trust. She is a member of the PSHE Association, a train-the-trainer for Quality Circle Time, a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader & Teacher.

Sandra is a national verifier for the Citizenship Foundation’s SMSC Quality Mark award and a national Adviser and Verifier for Optimus’ WAS (Wellbeing Award for Schools).

Sandra is also a Director of Golden Tree CIC which is a community interest company providing a range of innovative Mental Health & Wellbeing programmes. She delivers a range of this mental health training to organisations across the country. She is also a Train-the-Trainer for the FRIENDS programmes.

Sandra is an experienced school Governor, a Trustee of the Stranton MAT and a mother to two teenagers.


Michael Sumpter


A local business owner, Michael has spent 30 years at the forefront of business, bringing great financial, marketing and development planning expertise to the table.  Michael is passionate about giving every child the best start in life, and complete hundreds of hours charity work a year—both in this country and abroad .


Shirley-Anne Paul

PhD, MSc, MA (Hons) Psychology

Shirley—Anne Paul is a Research Psychologist at the University of Leeds where she specializes in the design, delivery, and evaluation of educational interventions. She currently works on the Narnian Virtues Character Education English Curriculum project which is designed to foster character development in 11 – 14 year olds. Her main research passion is in developing and evaluating methods for improving children’s reading skills. In 2013 – 2015 she worked on the Reading for Comprehension (REACH) project at Leeds, a          Randomised Controlled Trial, designed to evaluate the effectiveness of two reading    interventions developed for secondary school children with weak reading skills.


Before moving to Leeds Shirley worked at The University of Edinburgh, first as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and then as Undergraduate Teaching Coordinator in Psychology. Shirley obtained her Psychology degrees from The University of Dundee and is also a certified PRINCE 2 Project Manager, and a qualified Reiki practitioner. She is a Trustee of Stranton Academy and is dedicated to developing evidence-based methods for improving educational outcomes in children and reducing attainment gaps.


Peter Ingham

Peter is the current Chair of Governors of Stranton Primary School—a role he has undertaken for almost 6 years.  With experience of Governorship in a number of other cross-phase Schools and Academies, Peter brings a great wealth of experience in this area to the Trust.

Additional to his work in Schools, Peter is  a  local Councillor—with representation on the Children’s Service Committee, as well as being a committee member of the Citizens Advice Bureau.. Peter is exceptionally passionate about serving the needs of the local community and is a strong advocate of Stranton Academy Trust.


Gillian Slimings

Gillian Slimings is passionate about improving outcomes for children, in particular the very young and those most disadvantaged families.   


With a Masters in Integrated Leadership Gillian managed Hartlepool Children’s Centres for 11 years following a successful career as a Children’s Librarian for 32 years. Her experience with pre-school children in particular has  consolidated her belief in the value of enriching those 1001 Critical Days of early development.


Working with services including midwifery, health visiting, speech and language, Early Help  and Social Care Gillian developed a  Hartlepool Children’s Centres offer which improved outcomes for  the under 5’s and their families,  targeting areas of deprivation including  Stranton, Owton Manor and Chatham areas.  Gillian has a sound knowledge of the demographic of families attending the Trust Academies and the challenges faced by the children to  attend school each day.


An advocate for the importance of rich language and literacy experiences Gillian has been involved in the development of the Talk  Matters project driven by Hartlepool’s Education Commission to  encourage parental  communication and  interaction with their children. As Children’s Librarian Gillian brought the Northern Children’s Book Festival to Hartlepool which was the biggest children’s book festival in Europe attracting top children’s authors and involving all of Hartlepool schools.


Experienced in governorship across a range of cross-phase Schools including Chair of Governors and a past governor of Stranton School,  Gillian will bring a varied skill set to the board.  


Gillian is married with  2 grown up children and has recently retired to enjoy more time with her young grandson.  


Alan Clark


Alan Clark is a former Chair of Hartlepool Borough Council's Children's Services Committee where he was the lead member for social care and education. Alan has a record of standing up for Hartlepool’s schools by challenging and engaging government minister's to deliver and fund education effectively. It is Alan's passion to ensure that all our children are afforded the opportunities and experiences necessary to help them excel in later life whatever their social or cultural background.


As well as spending 10 years in the steel industry before its demise, Alan has also worked as a youth worker in various organisations across Hartlepool. He has been a volunteer for over 20 years and is also the Chair of Trustees at the Belle Vue Community Sports & Youth Centre. As well as this, Alan is currently studying for an Honours Degree at Teesside University in Social Work. '