Meet our Trustees

Sarah Armitage (Chair of Trustees and HR Committee)

Sarah has been a school governor for 12 years, a chair for 6 years and a National Leader of Governance for 3 years. She also has held the position of NLG Coordinator for Derby and Derbyshire since September 2017.  This involves supporting the work of the (currently) 11 NLGs across the county and liaising with commissioners of this work, including Teaching School Alliances, MATs and Local Authorities.

Professionally she specialises in leadership, team and cultural development and is dedicated to helping people work more effectively and collaboratively together.  She feels this is crucial for excellent governance and a productive, high-trust working relationship between school leaders, staff and governors.

Sarah has worked with over 20 schools and colleges in her capacity as an NLG and as a professional facilitator/development consultant and carried out many external reviews of governance. Her mission is to help schools/MATs/federations develop a high-performance culture and organisation built on a clear shared vision, values and a team-driven approach.

She has a degree in Educational Psychology and has worked at a senior level in Human Resources in the chemical industry (originally Courtaulds), contributing to significant organisational and cultural change.

Having established Work Vitality in 2007, Sarah now has a wide range of clients including Tarmac, the Vaillant Group, the University of Derby, Lafarge, Vinci Energies and the Volvo Group.

With a background in Human Resources, coaching qualifications and extensive experience of coaching senior leaders, Sarah brings a sharp understanding of how to develop an engaged and performing workplace to her governance system-leadership role.

Sarah’s two daughters both attended Richardson Endowed Primary school in Smalley (now within Embark Federation) and being Derby born and bred, Sarah is passionate about improving the education and life-chances for all children and young people in her home county.

 Ian Paxton

Ian has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry, picking up and utilising technical, project, operational management and sales skills. Ian worked previously for IBM and Hewlett Packard and now for DXC Technology. His current job role is that of a Solution Architect working in the defence sector. 

Ian has over 7 years of experience working within School Governing Bodies, ranging from being a Parent Governor, chairing Finance Committees and assisting schools in delivering a Good Ofsted report. He has also participated in the Embark Strategy Group, effectively steering the direction the Embark Federation. 

On a personal level, Ian is married, with two children and lives locally to schools in the Embark Federation. He enjoys keeping fit, by running, playing competitive tennis, golf and in the warmer weather, water-skiing!

Alix Round

Alix has worked for 17 years at a large FTSE 100 company, working within the Public Sector Team providing a wealth of data, information and analysis to Public Sector departments. Alix is now a Senior Account Manager working within the Strategic Team and looking after 2 major banks. She manages a portfolio of £15million revenue and fosters excellent relationships with these key clients.

Alix has been a school governor for 7 years, she is currently a governor of three schools, including an Infant and Nursery School, a Junior School and she is Chair of Governors at a High School. The Infant school is an outstanding school and Alix was part of the interview process with Ofsted when the school was awarded their outstanding status. She lives with her husband and 2 children and spends her spare time supporting her son playing for his local football team and also her daughter who is a keen gymnast and ice skater.

Dr Deborah Outhwaite (Chair of Educational Standards and Performance Committee)

Deb Outhwaite runs the MA in Professional Education at the Centre for Teacher Education, University of Warwick. A qualified 11-18 teacher, Deb taught Social Sciences in secondary education for 12 years prior to coming in to university teaching and was an A-Level Government and Politics examiner for European Politics.

Deb’s Education Doctorate was on Educational Leadership in the International Baccalaureate and was awarded in 2017. Deb co-convenes the Leadership Preparation and Development Research Interest Group (RIG) for the British Educational Leadership and Management Administration Society (BELMAS), and she is an elected member and trustee of their Council. Deb is also an elected member of the International Professional Development Association (IPDA)’s International Committee.

She is also a parent governor and trustee in an 11-18 Derbyshire comprehensive school rated outstanding by Ofsted, where she is also a chair, and a trustee, of their school Foundation. Deb has authored book chapters and papers in the areas of contemporary issues in education policy; pupil premium; the deployment of Specialist Leaders in Education (SLEs); and the International Baccalaureate’s Diploma Programme in England.

Eleanor Headley

As a leader, Eleanor strongly believes in the fundamental core purpose of education and the importance in the collaboration of a shared vision to the benefit of children. She offers a variety of skills and experience to the Embark trust board providing balance and passion to support school objectives and those of the community.

Originally from Canada, Eleanor offers a diverse background in a career spanning over 25 years across three business sectors in the areas of product and programme development, business administration and operations, training, customer service, safeguarding, performance management and human resources. She has been fortunate to be able to practice her knowledge across the community at local and regional level.

Eleanor holds degrees in Law and Sociology and International Management, certification in multidisciplinary rehabilitation and qualifications in education and training. Trained with the National College and as an experienced integrated centre leader she has have demonstrated practice in Early Years to post 16 and beyond. Eleanor is currently a tutor in family learning and has been a coach to many professionals. 

Matthew Crawford

Matthew has six and a half years of headship experience and several years of working as a leader in schools. He is currently Executive Head of Embark Federation in Derbyshire which consists of Richardson Endowed Primary in Smalley and Kilburn Junior School. The Federation launched in January 2017 and he has been headteacher at Richardson Endowed since September 2011.

 Matthew has been designated a National Leader of Education in February 2017 as a result of his work as a system leader and Richardson Endowed Primary became a National Support School. 

Matthew has worked as an Associate School Improvement Adviser for Derbyshire County Council over the last three and a half years supporting nine schools and their leaders in a wide variety of school improvement activities. All nine schools now have good or better Ofsted judgements. 

Matthew has also recently enjoyed working with a ‘coasting’ school in his role as NLE which was assigned by the RSC team. 

He believes that schools are ‘stronger together’ and enjoys sharing practice whilst also learning from others and helping to improve the federation. He also believes that schools should be at the heart of their communities and give their children the best possible education. 

Both schools in the federation have an exciting curriculum which is accompanied by a rich diet of wider opportunities in Music, Sport, Science and the Arts. The federation has excellent leadership in both schools and very good capacity to support others. 

Prior to his work in Smalley, Matthew taught for nine years in two Derby City schools and then for four years as a Deputy Head in Nottinghamshire.

Matthew enjoys playing sports in his spare time and is also a member of the Parish Council Committee of All Saints Church in Breadsall Village, Derbyshire.

David King

David is an ambitious leader of business transformation and ongoing operational delivery, with over 20 years’ experience gained through a multi-disciplined career in FTSE100Plc, private equity/ownership and public sector environments. An MBA graduate, with procurement, operations, facilities management, commercial fleet, retail pharmacy and change management expertise, strong commercial acumen and a history in delivering significant value improvement to organisations.

David is currently the Head of Building Services and Facilities Management for Nottingham City Council, ensuring that the building assets within Nottingham are adequately maintained and meet the needs of the diverse stakeholders who use the facilities.

David enjoys playing sport in his spare time; golf, tennis and badminton, as well as relaxing with yoga and learning to play bridge.

On a personal level, David has been married to Dawn for over 30 years, living in Derby for the majority of that time. Their two sons attended Derby schools, enjoying their academic, musical and sporting experiences. Having graduated as dentists they now work in the NHS and privately in Manchester and Halifax.  

Peter Ricketts

Peter has worked in a variety of positions in finance in both public and private sector for over thirty years. He currently works for the Ministry of Defence in procurement for CAAS (Cost Assurance and Analysis Service) producing reports to aid decision making for buying defence equipment and platforms. He has also worked for the Surgeon General as a Financial Controller for the Defence Medical Services and as a Resource Manager for Prime Contracting in Defence Estates. Earlier in his career, Peter worked as a Brewery and Distribution Accountant for Bass Brewers and at British Rail Engineering in Derby.

Peter was awarded an MBA in 2005, studying part-time through the Open University. He also has a qualification in teaching English as a foreign language and has worked in Japan and Indonesia including two years of working with Voluntary Service Overseas.

It was inevitable that Peter should end up working with schools in some capacity as he has a wife who was Headteacher of two schools and worked latterly for the Derbyshire Education Improvement Service as a Senior Advisor. His daughter is a teacher at an Infant school in Sandiacre. As a result, educational issues are in integral part of dinnertime conversation in the Ricketts’ household.

Outside of work Peter enjoys running and cycling. He has recently started doing parkruns – shorter distances being better in old age. He recently achieved a significant milestone by coming first at Rosliston Forestry Parkrun, albeit in the 60-64 age group.


To create 'stand out' schools at the heart of their community.

Reading with Rosie!

22 Apr 2021

Embark’s Fundraising and Events Manager Rosie Mclaughlin started recording a daily story to keep pupils entertained during the second lockdown. Rosie wanted to do something that would help her t...

Christmas isn't cancelled at Embark!

22 Apr 2021

Embark arranged a special treat for all our schools called ‘Christmas isn't cancelled for Embark schools!’ As part of that we arranged licences for all our children to...

Chatsworth House Partnership

15 Dec 2020

Howitt Primary School and Chaucer Junior School were lucky to experience a fantastic trip to Chatsworth House. Embark's partnership with the Chatsworth Estate and Lord Burlington's has begun with this...

EMBARK Trust Christmas Songs - Dec 2020

14 Dec 2020

Our fabulous @embarkfed family wanted to work together and create a few Christmas videos! Huge thank you @martin_whitemanfor putting these together so skilfully! #family #teamwork Click below to see t...

The Ultimate West End Day Trip!

03 Dec 2019

On Wednesday 13th November, Embark Federation ‘embarked’ on a trip of a lifetime for 42 of our children across 7 of our schools. After an early start of 6:30am from Derby, we travelled to...

Hot House Jazz Day!

03 Dec 2019

Please see below a press release following our day with Hot House: Over 100 children from Bondholder Embark Federation, came together earlier this month to work with the inspirational Jon Eno and his...

Embark Art Day 2019

08 Jul 2019

70 children from across our Embark schools came together this week for a fabulous Art Day.   They were so excited by the opportunity to work with the brilliant artist Sophie Edwards and the amaz...

Leigh Timmis' Tales Inspire Kilburn Junior

03 Jun 2019

Round the World cyclist, World Record holder, Adventurer and friend of Kilburn Junior School, Leigh Timmis, visited us today, captivating pupils, parents and staff with tales of his accomplishments an...

EMBARK Pupils Make History

13 May 2019

Pupils from four of our Academy Schools, Kilburn Junior, Horsley Woodhouse Primary, Howitt  Primary and Smalley Richardson Primary made history today when they planted the first of 250,000 trees...

West End Stars Visit

13 Apr 2019

Tuesday 9th April is a day that will live long in the memory for 70 children from Embark Federation, a trust of 7 schools across Derbyshire. Two stars from the West End, Victoria Farley and Sophie Isa...