Meet the Board of Trustees

Ian is a committed Trustee, with experience of both secondary and primary school governance, and a track record of support for school leadership together with constructive challenge for over twenty years. His tenure as longstanding Chair of the governors of Fulford School which moved from “good” to “outstanding” during his term of office provides strategic school improvement expertise at governing body level. His experience of governance includes finance, HR, policy development and review, pupil discipline, staff discipline and parental complaint investigations.


He is a Local Leader of Governance, and joined the Governors at Heworth Primary School as Chair in 2015 to provide expertise at strategic level together with leadership and mentoring for the Heworth governors. He led the Heworth Governing body through the process of converting to academy, and prior to becoming a Trustee of the South York MAT, was Vice Chair of the Board of the new Pathfinder MAT.


He is a fisheries scientist by training, a Chartered Environmentalist, and holds a national role in the Environment Agency. He is a Fellow, Vice-President, former Chair and currently Director of Finance of the Institute of Fisheries Management. He is a Board member of the Society for the Environment, and an Assessor of Licensed Bodies for the Society.

Ian is a Partner and Chief Commercial Officer at Isio, the previous KPMG pensions business.  His role covers all aspects of running the business including leadership, financial management, people skills and operational effectiveness.  Ian also leads Isio’s relationship with a number of key clients.


Prior to becoming a Trustee of the South York Multi Academy Trust, Ian was a governor of Fulford School where he had active roles on the Finance, Personnel and Pay Committees, and acted as Link Governor for Progress and Achievement.

Until recently, Anooj was the owner of Leeds Montessori Pre-School and Nursery, and has over 25 years’ commercial experience in senior management roles and management consulting.


The nursery has had a number of successful OFSTED and Montessori inspections. Anooj’s prior experience includes a Non-Executive Directorship at Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust where he chaired the Business Committee. He is passionate about education and the community, has been a Primary School Governor and run successful Corporate Social Responsibility programmes. All spare time is taken by his five children!

I am a professor of economics and deputy head of the department of economics at the University of York, where I have worked since 2011. Before that I spent 11 very happy years at the University of Bristol following my PhD taken at the University of Exeter.


My research is predominantly in the broad field of quantitative political economics. I established and led the research cluster in political economy in the Department of Economics for several years. I am currently Managing Editor and Editor-In-Chief of the Bulletin of Economic Research.


Outside of academia I am a trustee for the South York Multi-Academy Trust and also get overly animated both as competitive dad and as FA level 1 coach for Wheldrake Junior Football Club. I also play the piano quite badly and play chess for the Eagle and Child.

Nathaniel Potts is a director of one of the largest privately owned agri/soft commodities companies in the UK. A highly experienced board director, he has held executive management positions within publicly listed global corporations, venture capital and SME’s.        


Nathaniel currently sits on multi-sector boards across education, agri sector and not-for-profit, and holds a Masters of Business Administration. He has extensive knowledge of corporate and educational governance and serves as chair of governors at a primary school in North Yorkshire, where he has recently overseen recruitment of the new head and led the school through two successful Ofsted inspections in his tenure.


A keen advocate of animal welfare, he is a non-executive director of the Mane Chance Sanctuary in Surrey – a high profile, community-centred charity, focused on the rescue and rehabilitation of abandoned and abused horses. The centre also provides a holistic outlet for children suffering from poor mental health and physical disabilities. He is currently overseeing the plans to build a new purpose-built visitor centre on the main site.


His outside business interests include residential property development, and in his spare time he is a passionate follower of rugby union.

Simon Mennell is native of York, growing up in the village of Osbaldwick.  A global Human Resources Executive having held senior positions across the world in brands such as Qatar Airways, AIG, Dow Jones, The Wall Street Journal and Nestle.  An experienced Board Director, Simon has held positions in the UK, India, the UAE and Sri Lanka, as well as Risk and Health and Safety committees.  Simon is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK. 


Simon has extensive experience of corporate governance, finance and people management, as well as business transformation and restructuring.  Simon’s career has also been within training and development, as well as delivering training and career advice within the education sector.  Simon is passionate about education, in particular special needs.  

In his spare time, he spends time with his family and is a keen golfer at York Golf Club. 

Sandra has worked in Education since 1988 when she qualified as a Physical Education and Science teacher.  She has predominately worked in the Further Education sector and since 2017 as Vice Principal for quality and students at Askham Byran College, York. She has a passion for high quality education for all young people.


She has an MA in Educational Management and continues to coach leaders and managers in both the education and private sector.


She has lived in Yorkshire all her life and outside of education is a keen dog walker.

Phil is the Commercial Director for a growing professional services company within the UK and Ireland which is part of a multi million pound UK based PLC.  His role covers fully understanding commercial opportunities and setting the growth strategy for the company within a heavily regulated PLC environment.  These skills will support SYMAT to ensure its strategic thinking is underpinned by solid foundations.


Phil has been a Foundation governor (Church appointed) within a local authority managed Church of England primary school based in Leeds, and more recently was Chair of Governors at Wheldrake with Thorganby primary school within the SYMAT group of schools. Phil’s knowledge and experience of primary school governance and requirements place him well to support SYMAT as it looks to actively grow. Phil is the Diocese of York Educational Trust (DYET)appointed trustee for SYMAT so will be chairing the Church Schools Development Group which is focused on ensuring a distinctive Christian vision and encouraging spiritual, moral, social and cultural development within the schools.  This is important for the DYET to ensure the SYMAT continues to support those Church of England schools within its group.

Meet the Members of the Board

Dr Rachel Wicaksono is Head of the School of Education, Language and Psychology and York St John University. Her first degree was in English Language and Literature from Oxford University, and her MA TESOL and EdD are from the Institute of Education, University College London.


Rachel has taught English, trained teachers, and managed and inspected schools in Indonesia, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Pakistan, Sweden and Sri Lanka.

Andrew Smith is the Diocesan Director of Education (DDE) for the Diocese of York.  He is a qualified teacher with over 25 years’ worth of experience in primary education and, prior to this role, was the Headteacher of a church school for over ten years, securing good and outstanding judgements in both Ofsted and SIAMS inspections.  Andrew has also worked successfully in a number of collaborative partnerships, including within Teaching School Alliances and with schools overseas, particularly focusing on developing effective school leadership and shared curriculum development.


Andrew currently represents the Diocese of York Educational Trust (DYET) as a corporate Member on Multi Academy Trusts and is a director of DBE Services, a consortia of several Church of England dioceses in the north of England. He is also a Trustee of the National Society which oversees the work of Church School education nationally.

Peter has been Diocesan Secretary and Chief Executive of the Diocese of York since 2006 and oversees the delivery of all the legal, financial, advisory and support functions for its family of over 600 churches and 127 schools & academies.  He also became a Lay Canon of York Minster in 2008.


He has lived in York for 35 years and his earlier career was focussed on business planning and logistics; as Operational Research Manager for Nestlé UK and, subsequently, European Development Director for the Adaytum and Cognos Planning products. Peter served as a governor at Clifton Green Primary School for 19 years, and continues to serve as a trustee/director of a number of ecclesiastical, educational and welfare charities.

Sharon Holm gained her doctorate in Native American Literature from Birkbeck, University of London, as a mature student in 2007. She has lectured at Birkbeck, Kings, Leeds, and most recently at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, University of York. Previously she was a professional actor and voice-over artist for twenty years.


Her interest in secondary school education began with her involvement with Fulford School from 2011-2019, first as a Parent governor and subsequently as a Community/Trust Appointed governor.  Her varied roles during this time included Chair of the School Improvement Sub-Committee, Deputy Chair of the LGB, and five years as Lead Governor for Pupil Premium. As well as being involved in two headship appointments and on the committee overseeing Fulford’s conversion to academy status and as founder member of SYMAT, Sharon was also a vocal advocate of the importance of music and performing arts in the school. Her past involvement with Fulford School and her new role as Member reflects her continuing commitment to good governance, to transparency for all stakeholders, and unwavering support of the comprehensive school ethos of inclusion and an excellent education for all.

Appointed Senior Staff

Steve became the Headteacher of Fulford School in 2019. A role he combined with CEO of SYMAT. As the trust has grown and to further develop trust wide school improvement Steve relinquished the role of Headteacher from January 2024 to fully focus on the role of CEO.


Under his leadership Fulford was recognised at The Sunday Times Comprehensive School of the Decade gained World Class School Status in 2022 and achieved an Ofsted Outstanding grading in October 2023.


Prior to his time in York Steve was a Headteacher in large Secondary School in Nottinghamshire. The school had an Outstanding Ofsted rating and was a finalist in the TES School of the Year Awards. Under his leadership as Executive Headteacher Steve facilitated an exceptional improvement in the outcomes of a neighbouring school that had been placed into Ofsted inadequate


Steve has also led the trust to World Class Trust status in 2023, in recognition of the collaborative working of the trust and its emphasis on the holistic development of its children and young people.

Sam is a Chartered Public Finance Accountant. He qualified with KPMG in the Public Sector audit department in Leeds in 2008 and has also worked in audit roles within the commercial sector.


He joined Fulford School in April 2016 as the School Business Manager and was appointed as Director of Finance (CFO) of the South York Multi Academy Trust upon conversion in January 2018.

Caroline has considerable leadership experience in several schools in York, and over 17 years as headteacher of a successful primary school. Under her leadership, the school has consistently secured good and outstanding judgments in Ofsted and SIAMs inspections respectively


As a local leader for education, she has experience of system leadership, school improvement and supporting schools causing concern. She has also mentored several newly-appointed headteachers.