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Lee Mason-Ellis - Education Trust Leader (CEO)

Lee Mason-Ellis commenced at Stewart Fleming Primary School in 2008 as the Head Teacher.  At the time the school was in Special Measures but has since been graded as Outstanding in all categories by Ofsted.

Lee has been fundamental in the development of The Pioneer Academy which was started with the prime objective of raising educational achievement for children and ensuring the highest standard of care and guidance.  Under Lee’s direction, The Pioneer Academy has developed a cluster of successful schools in Croydon, Bexley, Bromley and Kent.

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Anne Slade - Chief Finance & Operating Officer

Anne Slade has extensive knowledge of the corporate and operational support functions of schools, having worked in this area of expertise for over ten years.

Anne started working with The Pioneer Academy in 2013 when they supported a school outside of the Trust.  Her role as Chief Finance & Operating Officer encompasses the Chief Finance Officer role, strategically ensuring the most effective use of resources in the support of the learning objectives over all the schools, and the Education Trust.


Tim Rome - Regional Director

Tim has considerable leadership experience as a Head Teacher in a number of primary schools. As a consultant and interim Executive Head Teacher, he has been commissioned by local authorities and trusts to provide leadership, school improvement advice and to  support Head Teachers in schools, many in challenging circumstances. Tim has specific interests in English, mathematics, the early years and in leadership and management and has been an Ofsted inspector for a number of years.

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Karen joined the team in September 2019.  She has worked as the Head Teacher of a very large primary school, interim Head Teacher and she has experience of schools in very different areas.

Karen is passionate about helping every child to be happy and have opportunities and experiences that will enable them to flourish both academically and personally.

Developing cultures and leadership have also been key features of her work.

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Ian McManus - Head of Assessment

Ian McManus became the Head of Assessment having previously led assessment as Acting Deputy Head at Belvedere Junior School. He joined the Academy as a Year 6 Teacher at Belvedere Junior School in 2013.

At a time of great change in primary assessment, a key part of Ian’s role is to ensure a consistent approach is taken across the Education Trust, enabling teachers to make accurate judgements meaning they can fully support every child in achieving their potential.

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Rebecca Hipkins has been an outstanding classroom practitioner for over 19 years.  Rebecca joined The Pioneer Academy in 2015 as a Senior Leader, working in partnership with the Chief Executive Officer and Head Teachers to improve teaching and learning across The Pioneer Academy schools.

In her role as Head of CPD, Rebecca facilitates exceptional training programmes across the academy trust.  Working in partnership with the OLEVI Alliance, the International Centre for Leadership in Teaching and Learning, Rebecca ensures that all staff in The Pioneer Academy access outstanding coaching and professional development, including bespoke NQT training, leadership programmes and the Power of Coaching.

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Carole Hitchens - Head of Educational Support Staff

Carole Hitchens joined the Academy as a support staff leader in one of our schools in 2013.

She works in partnership with our Head Teachers and other senior members of the Academy to ensure that support staff are effectively trained and deployed to deliver high quality teaching and learning support to our children.

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Heather Bonner - Head of Teacher Support

Since joining The Pioneer Academy in 2010 as an NQT, Heather has worked as a class teacher, as a Deputy Head and as a phonics specialist teacher. She is passionate about teaching phonics and has successfully led schools in delivering high quality phonics teaching to pupils.

In her role as Head of Teacher Support, Heather works closely with Head Teachers and other senior leaders to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools. She also facilitates training programmes across the academy, providing CPD for recently qualified teachers as well as a range of OLEVI programmes including the Creative Teacher Programme and Outstanding Teacher Programme for more experienced members of staff.


Alex Weekes - Head of Pupil Welfare

Alex Weekes joined The Pioneer Academy in February 2017 as Head of Pupil Welfare.  Alex's role is to compliment  the professional work of teachers by ensuring that behaviour related policies and procedures of the Academy are embedded within schools and that the provision for children with behaviour needs is of an exceptional quality.

Alex is highly experienced in her field.  She began her career as a Primary School Teacher and SENCO and for the last twelve years has run a successful consultancy providing specialist behaviour and SEND advice to schools across many London Boroughs.


Chris Money-Chappelle - Head of IT Support

Chris has worked in education for 12 years in various roles progressing into his preferred field involving Information Technology.

Chris relishes the continual challenge of taking The Pioneer Academy forward as the Head of IT Support.


Kinza Tahir - Senior IT Technician

Kinza graduated with a BScHons in Computer Science, She has been working in the IT industry for the last 9 years. Initially specialising in CRM Software, she moved away from this specialty so that she could expand her skills and help more people. This is the first time she has worked in a school environment..

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Anita Dowdell - Administrative & IT Officer

Anita has worked in education for 28 years starting in a Nursery school and moving up to teach IT in a Primary School. ​Whilst in the role Anita always helped the external IT company whenever they were on site to further her knowledge of IT.

Anita is the Administrative & IT Officer working alongside Chris Money-Chappelle and Kinza Tahir in supporting The Pioneer Academy.

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Sam Golding - Deputy Chief Finance Officer

Sam is an experienced School Business Manager.  She started working with The Pioneer Academy when her school joined the Trust in September 2018.  In her role as Deputy Chief Finance Officer, Sam works alongside the Chief Finance and Operating Officer to ensure the financial sustainability and development of Education Trust.

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Emma Thomspon - HEAD OF HR

Emma joined The Pioneer Academy in September 2020 and has over 15 years’ experience of working in Education.  She is skilled in Talent Management, Labour Relations, Personnel Management and Employee Engagement.  Emma joined the Trust from working within Further Education and holds a Post Graduate Diploma focused in Psychology from the University of Westminster.

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Simon Frampton - HEAD OF Estates

Simon joined The Pioneer Academy in September 2020.

Previously working as a Commercial & Projects manager in the  Landscape Management & Construction sector, he has many years’ experience in working closely with site teams and contractors and using his experience to lead projects from idea through to fruition.

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Debbie Payne - Executive Team Assistant

Debbie has worked in many different areas of Administration throughout her career and joined the Central Team in September 2019 as the Executive Team Assistant.  Her role is to support the Central Executive Team including the Chief Finance & Operating Officer and Director of Education. 



Jo Lakey joined The Pioneer Academy in November 2017 as Director of Education.  

Between 2003 - 2017, Jo Lakey worked alongside senior leaders and governors on school improvement matters; working as a seconded Head Teacher in Kent and then as Bexley’s Head of School Improvement.  As an Ofsted lead inspector, Jo has led school self-review visits and self-evaluation surgeries.

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