NGA staff

The head office of the NGA is in the centre of Birmingham, where our staff team provide a service to members and manage the business life of the association.

Emma Knights OBE, Chief Executive

Emma Knights OBE, Chief Executive

Emma Knights OBE, is Chief Executive of the National Governance Association (NGA) - the leading charity for guidance, research, advice and training for school governors and trustees. Prior to her appointment in 2010 she was joint CEO of the Daycare Trust. Before that, she worked in a number of roles in the voluntary sector, particularly in the Legal Services Commission, Citizens Advice and the Local Government Association. As well as leading projects on child poverty and educational attainment, Emma has written on a wide range of topics and is co-author of the NGA’s Chair’s Handbook.

Emma regularly addresses legislators and the media on governance issues, as well as school governors, trustees, clerks and school leaders. She was a governor at a secondary school in Warwickshire for 7 years and is a founding trustee of the Foundation for Leadership in Education. 

Emma was awarded an OBE in the 2018 New Year's Honours list for services to education. 

Follow Emma on Twitter @NGAMedia. Email: emma.knights@nga.org.uk

Gillian Allcroft, Deputy Chief Executive

Gillian Allcroft, Deputy Chief Executive

Gillian Allcroft is NGA's Deputy Chief Executive. Gillian's role includes developing policy, representing NGA at external meetings and oversight of NGA's Policy, Information and advice team.  She is the author of our induction guide for trustees of multi academy trusts and is commissioning editor of NGA’s magazine Governing Matters.

Gillian worked for the National Governors' Council prior to its merger with the National Association of School Governors to form the NGA in 2006. Before that she worked at the Department for Education. She is chair of governors at a junior school in Solihull.

Email: gillian.allcroft@nga.org.uk

Heidi Copland, Business Development Director

Heidi Copland, Business Development Director

Business Development 

Heidi Copland is Business Development Director at NGA. Heidi's role is to lead on business development with partners and stakeholders, including new projects and bids. She oversees consultancy and training, and marketing and communications.

Prior to joining the NGA Heidi worked in business development in the education sector working with further education colleges, universities, private enterprises, training providers and charities.

Sam Henson, Head of Information

Sam Henson, Head of Information

Policy and Information 

Sam is Head of Information. Sam’s role includes managing and developing the NGA online Guidance Centre – the information hub for governors, quality assuring guidance and advice covering all aspects of school governance and developing resources for members. In addition to this, Sam contributes guidance features to the NGA magazine. Sam's policy areas include the structure of multi academy trusts and schemes of delegation.

Before joining the NGA, Sam worked for a large multi academy trust chain leading an in-house governance team, supporting governors across a national network of academies through training, advice and guidance.

Kirstie Ebbs, Public Relations Officer

Kirstie Ebbs, Public Relations Officer

Policy and Information 

Kirstie is the NGA’s Public Relations Officer, responsible for communicating our vision, values, policies and campaigns, and leading on media relations. She also manages communications for the Inspiring Governance project. You can contact Kirstie about our diversity campaign, the Young Governors’ Network, parental engagement and governor recruitment.

Kirstie gained communications and marketing experience in the financial services sector, and prior to joining NGA, worked for a large multi academy trust. She also achieved a BA in Business Management and Marketing at Keele University. Kirstie is currently completing the professional diploma in public relations and governs in a secondary academy in Shropshire. 

Tom Fellows, Senior Research Lead

Tom Fellows, Senior Research Lead

Policy and Information

Tom is the senior research lead at the NGA. He leads on NGA research-based projects, with some of his outputs including work around Ofsted local authority school improvement inspections and executive headteachers. He is currently working on projects around headteacher recruitment, headteacher performance appraisal and multi-academy trust case-studies. Tom is also part of the wider policy and information team at the NGA and leads on secondary assessment, Prevent and sixth-forms.

Before joining the NGA, Tom achieved a first class degree in History and Politics from the University of Lancaster. He has recently achieved a distinction in a research methods MA from the University of Birmingham. 

Fay Holland, Senior Policy Officer

Fay Holland, Senior Policy Officer

Policy and Information 

Fay is the Senior Policy Officer at the NGA. Her role involves responding to consultations and inquiries, producing policy briefings, writing guidance, working on campaigns and research projects, and contributing to communications and publications. Fay co-ordinates content for the weekly e-newsletter, the Community MATs network and the annual NGA & TES school governance survey. Her main policy areas include accountability, Ofsted, school improvement and primary assessment.

Fay is a co-opted governor at a maintained primary school in Birmingham. 

Shelby Roberts, Assistant to the Chief Executive and Projects Officer

Shelby Roberts, Assistant to the Chief Executive and Projects Officer

Policy and Information

Shelby is Assistant to the Chief Executive and Projects Officer. She is responsible for organising the diary of Emma Knights. Her role includes the planning, delivery and evaluation of project work with partners and her areas of interest are: careers, curriculum, disadvantage, school funding and strategy. She contributes to the weekly newsletter and magazine. 

Before joining NGA, Shelby read History at the University of Warwick. She is a co-opted governor at a maintained primary school in Birmingham. 

Judith Hicks, Head of Inspiring Governance

Judith Hicks, Head of Inspiring Governance

Judith has worked as an HR professional within the retail & logistics sector for fifteen years, working for Tesco, Pets At Home and Booker. She has held a variety of national roles focusing on recruitment, talent management, performance management, organisation design and learning & development.

She is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development.

In 2008 Judith became a parent governor at a school in Warwickshire and has been a Chair of Governors since 2010.  Most recently, Judith has worked for Warwickshire County Council as a consultant within the governor development service, where she has worked with maintained schools, academies and MAT’s to design and deliver bespoke interventions, mentored chairs and conducted external reviews of governance.

In September 2016 Judith joined the NGA as Head of Inspiring Governance; the project which partners education and employers to manage a governor recruitment and development service.

Simon Richards, Chairs Development Manager

Simon Richards, Chairs Development Manager

Simon leads the chair of governors recruitment and development element of the Inspiring Governance project. Working with the Inspiring Governance Regional Managers, Simon supports schools and academy trusts that have a foreseeable need for a chair of governors/trustees, vice-chair or committee chair, and oversees the induction and development of future chairs. Simon also supports Judith Hicks, Head of Inspiring Governance, with managing the Inspiring Governance Mentoring Scheme.

Simon is an experienced governor, vice-chair and chair having governed in four different schools on the Isle of Wight in recent years. Before joining NGA, Simon ran a governance development consultancy, worked for the Isle of Wight Council and had a long-term career in business management with Hampshire Constabulary. 

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