NGA Staff

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

Emma Knights, Chief Executive

Emma Knights, Chief Executive

Emma Knights is Chief Executive of the National Goverance 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 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 recently became a founding trustee of the Foundation for Leadership in Education. Follow Emma on Twitter @NGAMedia. Email emma.knights@nga.org.uk

Our help service is open during office hours (Monday - Friday 09.00 - 16.30) to answer questions about membership, events, or our website. Please call us on 0121 237 3780, or email governorhq@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 and Information team.

Gillian worked for the National Governors' Council prior to its merger with the National Association of School Governors to form the NGA. Before that she worked at the Department for Education. She is co-author of the Chair’s Handbook with Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the NGA, and is chair of governors at a junior school in Solihull.

gillian.allcroft@nga.org.uk

Heidi Copland, Business Development Director

Heidi Copland, Business Development Director

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

Kirstie Ebbs, Public Relations Officer

Kirstie Ebbs, Public Relations Officer

Kirstie is the NGA’s Public Relations Officer, responsible for promoting our vision, values, policies and campaigns, and leading on media relations. She ensures members views are at forefront of our work, and encourages members to share their experience and best practice through Governing Matters, through the NGA website and other channels. Kirstie also provides the communications function for the Inspiring Governance project.


Prior to joining the NGA, Kirstie gained communications and marketing experience in the financial services and education sectors, and achieved a BA in Business Management and Marketing at Keele University.

kirstie.ebbs@nga.org.uk

Shelby Roberts, Assistant to the Chief Executive and Projects Officer

Shelby Roberts, Assistant to the Chief Executive and Projects Officer

Shelby is Assistant to the Chief Executive and Projects Officer. She is responsible for organising the diary of Emma Knights. Her role includes assisting in the planning, delivery and evaluation of project work and contributing to the newsletter. Her main policy leads are: careers, curriculum and Pupil Voice. 

Before joining NGA, Shelby read History at the University of Warwick. 

Clare Collins MBE, Head of Consultancy

Clare Collins MBE, Head of Consultancy

Clare leads NGA’s consultancy operation.  Clare’s role includes developing the governance review frameworks for both maintained schools and academy trusts and working with multi academy trusts in determining the methodology for their reviews; she also quality assures all the work that is undertaken by the team.  Clare works alongside NGA’s Head of Training Development overseeing the team of consultants including the recruitment of new consultants.

Clare’s background is in governance and trusteeship.  She has chaired the governing board in a number of schools in different phases and in varying stages of their development.  Clare has also chaired her local authority Schools Forum, and her trustee experience includes chairing the NGA trust board from 2008-2011.

Paul Aber, Head of Training Development

Paul Aber, Head of Training Development

Paul is NGA's Head of Training Development. Paul's role includes developing our training offer for schools and academies. Along side NGA's lead consultant Paul oversees NGA's team of trainers and consultants, including recruitment of new trainers. 

Prior to this, Paul was centre director at the University of Law in York where his role included strategic planning and quality assurance. A former solicitor, Paul has also held course director roles at the University of Westminster and City University and course assessor roles for The Law Society. 

training@nga.org.uk

Francey Smith, Head of Marketing and Communications

Francey Smith, Head of Marketing and Communications

Francey is NGA's Head of Marketing and Communications. Francey's role includes developing NGA's marketing strategy for promoting NGA's membership and training services, overseeing NGA's website and publishing the Governing Matters magazine and NGA publications.

Prior to joining the NGA, Francey worked in the education sector including universities and further education colleges overseeing marketing communications activity.

Sam Henson, Head of Information

Sam Henson, Head of 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.

Claire Keetch, Head of Advice

Claire Keetch, Head of Advice

Claire Keetch joined NGA as Head of Advice in March 2016.  Claire’s role is to manage the Advice Team operating the GOLDline advice service available to NGA GOLD Members.  The advice service offers advice to Governing Boards across aspects of education law and best practice related to the management of schools.  Claire leads on the Pupil Premium, Pupil Referral Unit and disadvantage/closing the attainment gap policy areas.

Claire is a member of the Management Committee of a Pupil Referral Unit in the West Midlands.

Prior to joining NGA, Claire managed a Citizens Advice Bureau.

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