Meet The Team


Core Team

Julian Dutnall, CEO

Julian studied Law at Exeter University and qualified as a barrister in 1996. After a year working as a Crown Prosecutor he completed a PGCE at Anglia Ruskin University and began teaching. He has taught in 5 state schools in 3 local authorities. At Chelmsford County High he was Deputy Headteacher when the school was graded Outstanding by Ofsted and gained the highest GCSE results in England in the January league tables.  He is in his 7th year as Headteacher at Frances Bardsley Academy, a Good school with Outstanding features.  Julian holds a 1st Class honours degree in English, a Masters in Educational Leadership and the NPQH. He is a Committee Member of the Association of State Girls Schools, has chaired the cross phase Havering Education Strategic Partnership and writes for the National Education Trust.


Denise Broom, Director Of Operations

Denise worked for Marks and Spencer, joining the graduate trainee programme at their Head Office in London. This led to her appointment as Procurement manager within the Food Division, securing contracts across all stores.

She was recruited by London Borough of Havering to set up the finance system and infrastructure at the Havering Sixth Form College, ready for its opening in 1991. Staying within Havering she moved to a secondary school and as Bursar took them through the Academisation process as one of the first converters. During this time Denise studied for the certificate in School Business Management (CSBM).

Whilst at this school, Denise was seconded to another secondary school, for one year, to review financial systems, processes and procedures reporting directly to London Borough of Havering.


Ian Gurman, Director Of Education

Ian has over 30 years’ experience in education, in the UK and overseas. Having achieved a BA (Hons) in Economics and Geography (2:1) and a PGCE, he started his teaching career in 1980 but then spent much of the next decade travelling, living and working abroad, including teaching in Australia and Guatemala, where he became fluent in Spanish. From 1991 to 2008 he held middle and senior leadership roles in three Inner London secondary schools, as Deputy Headteacher in two schools, a period as Acting Head in one and achieving the NPQH. Since 2008, Ian has worked as a senior education adviser for Havering Local Authority and for a national academy chain. His advisory work has been across the primary and secondary phases, specialising in data analysis and improving teaching and learning and school leadership. As well as carrying out in-school support, Ian has regularly delivered staff training at all levels, including to headteachers and governors. He has undergone Ofsted inspector training and supports schools through the inspection process, as well as carrying out school reviews. Ian is also an experienced governor, having served for eight years as a governor in a primary school and three years for a sixth form college.


Kathy Hardy, Clerk To The Board & PA To The CEO

Kathy worked as a Legal Secretary at Clifford Chance LLP for 7 years before moving on to become PA to the Managing Director of Development at Canary Wharf. After 10 years she moved closer to home to work as the Church Administrator at her local church where she successfully managed the planning and tender process for the church refurbishment and extension programme. Kathy then moved on to work as PA to the Fundraising Director of Saint Francis Hospice in Havering atte Bower where she worked closely with a team of fundraising staff raising vital funds for patient care. In 2012 Kathy moved to The Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls as PA to the Headteacher and has since worked closely with him and the wider Senior Leadership Team providing help and support. Kathy took over as Clerk to the Local Governing Body in 2014 and, once the Academy joined LIFE Education Trust, now Clerks Board, Member and Committee meetings as well as continuing to work as PA to the Headteacher and CEO. Kathy has recently gained accreditation from the National Clerk’s Development Programme having completed training run by the National Governor’s Association and the National College for Teaching & Learning.


Heads of Schools

David Denchfield, Headteacher

After working in banking for 5 years, David returned to full time education where he completed a BA (Hons) in Business Studies. Following this, he undertook a PGCE and began teaching in primary education. David has taught in 6 state schools in two authorities. Whilst working as Deputy Headteacher at Great Berry Primary in Essex, the school was graded Outstanding for the first time and is widely recognised as a lead primary in Basildon. The school also successfully converted to an academy during this time.

Upon completion of the NPQH, David was awarded his first headship at Benhurst Primary. Within his first year of headship, David successfully led the school from Requires Improvement to Good. Five years on, the school is now firmly working towards Outstanding. In 2014, Benhurst’s excellent work was recognised and the school expanded from 1½ FE to 2FE. Benhurst Primary is now widely known for its forward-thinking ethos and has worked extensively with many local, national and international schools and businesses in its constant drive for excellence. David also held the position of Executive Headteacher for another local school during a period of prolonged absence of the substantive Headteacher. David is currently Executive Headteacher for both Benhurst Primary School and Dame Tipping C of E Primary School.

David is an active member of the local Cluster group, has been a governor in four schools and holds a position on the Schools’ Funding Forum for Havering, the Havering Academy of Leadership and is a member of the Management Board of the Billericay SCITT.


Máire O’Regan, Executive Headteacher

Maire is the Executive headteacher of Margaretting C of E Primary School and Roxwell C of E Primary School, which has recently joined the LIFE Education Trust.

Maire has a variety of experience in teaching in all the key stages, including Secondary, third level as well as Primary, in Ireland, Israel, Egypt and Germany.  Her degree is in Music and she has a passion for the Arts in education as a tool to support all subjects in the curriculum, so that learning is both exciting and engaging.  Maire has a particular interest in Maths and encourage all children to take part in a variety of sport. She is also a trained counsellor and use her skills to communicate effectively.


Amy Holmes, Acting Head Of School

Amy studied Theatre Arts at De Montfort University before completing her Post Graduate Certificate in Education at Wolverhampton University. After moving to Essex from the Midlands in 2010, she started her teaching career as a Year 2 teacher at Warren Primary School in Thurrock.  As a school which has a larger than average number of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, Amy has a firm understanding of equality and inclusion. In 2011, Amy worked with the Royal Opera House and completed the creative teacher programme, which sparked her passion for promoting and delivering a creative curriculum. Amy’s first middle leadership role was as a Key Stage 1 Phase leader and English lead, which she took on in 2012 and she further developed her role as a Middle leader in 2014, when she became a Key Stage 1 lead moderator for Thurrock Local Authority. In 2015, Amy became a Teach First Mentor, training two outstanding trainees. Amy joined Dame Tipping Primary School in September 2017 as Deputy Head teacher and Year 1 and 2 class teacher. In the past 2 years, Amy has developed her role and has been responsible for successfully leading Teaching and Learning and Assessment across the school. Most recently she has taken on the role of Head of School and is excited about the journey that the school is on. She is keen to support the children, staff and wider community to live out the Core Christian Values whilst also ensuring that each and every child is provided with limitless opportunities to become the best that they can be.


Toni Cox, Head of school

For over 15 years, Toni worked for a number of London based Advertising Agencies as a Media Manager and Media Director. Toni left to set up a promotions company working with Sodexo, implementing promotions across their client portfolio: The NHS, BP, Ford, and News International.   After selling the business, Toni retrained and worked as a Home School Support Worker for the London Borough of Havering,    engaging hard to reach families, raising attendance of disadvantaged students and helping set-up the My Time Project, the pre-cursor to Pupil Premium.  Toni joined Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls as Inclusion Manager and Deputy Safeguarding Lead for the School, and established an Alternative Provision for those students who struggled to attend mainstream school on a fulltime basis, with the focus on offering timetables best suited to their needs. Following the success of this, Frances Bardsley was asked to take over the Havering Medical Tuition Centre. In 2018, the Trust was granted Independent School Status for the Bridge and Toni became Head of School. The Bridge    currently has 25 students attending on a regular basis.


David Turrell, Head of School

Joint Head of School at Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls, David has been teaching Geography since 2000 at Clacton County High School and then Chelmsford County High school as Head of Department.  In 2008 he became Head of Humanities at Chelmsford County High School and joined Frances Bardsley in September 2012 as Assistant Headteacher where he leads on standards and assessment, curriculum, teaching and learning and development planning.


Emilie Darabasz, Head of school

Following  completion of French as a foreign language master and PGCE at Canterbury Christ Church University, Emilie started her career in a school in Essex where she gained 10 years’ experience and during which time was promoted to various positions including a Head of Year, a Pastoral Lead and Head of 6th form. 

Emilie joined FBA in September 2015 as an Assistant Head overseeing the school’s behaviour and pastoral system but also the pupil premium provision.  After three years of positive trends and a very strong track record, Emilie was appointed joint Head of School in September 2019. Emilie loves cooking, travelling and has a passion for working with young women and helping them to become empowered strong women


Vicky Smith, HR Manager

Vicky worked as a HR Administrator at Sainsbury’s PLC for 12 years supporting stores within the region in which she was based with HR support, staff development, training needs, internal audits and new store openings.  In April 2014 Vicky had a change in career leaving the corporate world behind and moving closer to home joining the Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls as PA to the Senior Vice Principal and support to various departments within the School. In 2016 Vicky took over as Clerk to the Local Governing Body and in 2017 progressed into the role as ASO to Headteacher, PA to Senior Vice Principal and HR Administrator. Within the role, Vicky works closely within the Senior Leadership Team, ensuring all staffing, recruitment and wellbeing needs for staff are highlighted and actioned.  Vicky is currently completing her CIPD Level 3 in HR to further support, the HR needs of the staff and School.


Tom Garet, Head of IT Services

Tom is a certified and experienced IT Engineer who has been working for some of the biggest names in the industry for the last 20 years.

Originally from France, he moved to Ireland in 1998, then to England in 2005. He has been working in the Education sector for the past 5 years, and is very aware of the importance of having an up to date, stable and operational system to be used by students and staff.

He firmly believes that taking pride in looking after the IT structure for the LIFE Education Trust and providing the best possible Hardware and Software tools will have a major impact on students’ results for the years to come.


Nichola Brickell, Marketing Officer

Nichola is an experienced Marketing professional with over 10 years’ experience working within the corporate, government and education sectors. After taking a career break to raise her children, she has recently joined the LIFE Education Trust as Marketing Officer. Her priorities are to help raise brand awareness of the Trust and its schools, by devising a strategic marketing communications plan which will support the Trust as it moves forward onto its next stage of exciting development.


Rachel Grimwood, Culture and Ethos Manager

Rachel worked in the NHS, retail management and primary and secondary school settings before joining Frances Bardsley Academy for Girls working with disadvantaged and troubled students using the her skills as an accredited Learning Mentor in settings such as the Farm and the Railway to encourage students into grow in resilience and confidence for their journey ahead. 

Rachel was instrumental in setting up the Farm which attracts schools and colleges from across Havering and which supports lessons throughout the curriculum.  The Railway, working with members of the local model railway club, has enabled students to view engineering, by helping to build a miniature train and tracks, in a new light and encourage them to consider pursuing careers in STEM professions.  

As Ethos Development Manager and using the values of Learning from the Past, Living in the Present and Looking to the Future, Rachel seeks to create a person centred community which works together across the Trust using the LIFE Ambassadors scheme to concentrate on the development of an individual person’s potential regardless of their past, to have a whole community culture without taking away from each school’s individuality or tradition. 

Rachel focuses on bringing together individuals from varied backgrounds, within school and the wider community to strengthen relationships and unity under a common ethos of understanding.  As part of the Erasmus Project, annual trips will help embed the Trust’s understanding of shared values.


Faith Spinks, Internationalism & EAL Manager

Faith brings a wealth of experience from the charity and education sectors. After qualifying as a teacher in Early Years Education she went on to teach across all Key Stages from Nursery up to Y11. In 2002 Faith made the shift into the charity sector with a move to Northeast Brazil where she worked for a little over 5 years in multiple capacities for a project working with street children.  She is fluent in Brazilian Portuguese and enjoyed the challenge of overseeing the teaching of literacy skills, and coordinating volunteer teachers while still learning the language.  After returning to the UK she worked as a supply teacher while completing a Master’s degree at Kings College London in Portuguese & Brazilian Studies.  In 2010 Faith began work with the International relief and development charity Samaritan’s Purse where she worked as a Regional Manager for their gift box project known as Operation Christmas Child. She travelled extensively internationally, supporting volunteer leaders to ensure the effective running of the programme. 

In 2019 Faith joined the team at LIFE Education Trust to develop internationalism across our LIFE schools, giving the children experience and understanding of the diverse world around them. She is also passionate about supporting our EAL students to be able to integrate into school life well in spite of the language challenges they face, and celebrating the richness they bring to our school culture.

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