Redhill Science Students

Stour Vale Academy Trust

Central Team

Executive Team

Rachel Salter


Prior to stepping up to the role of CEO, Rachel was a member of the Stour Vale Executive Leadership team from September 2018. As Executive Lead for Schools, Rachel led on school improvement and outcomes for Stour Vale, working closely with school leaders and developing systems, resources and bespoke support which facilitate continuous school improvement. Having begun her teaching career in Leeds in 1994, Rachel returned to the West Midlands in 2002, working as a senior leader in schools in Sandwell before becoming a headteacher. Rachel had two successful headships, most recently leading Olive Hill Primary School on its journey of school improvement from January 2012 until September 2018.

Joanne Murphy

Chief Finance Officer

Jo is responsible for the strategic, financial, HR and business operations of the Trust to ensure the continuing growth and success of our schools. She has over 30 years of experience working in local government finance which includes 17 years as a School Business Manager.

Interim Executive Leaders

Tom Johnston

Interim Executive Leader
Olive Hill Primary School, Oldbury Academy, The Earls High School

Tom was Principal of The Earls High School, Halesowen, Dudley from 2000 to 2016. Prior to this he was Deputy Head at a large 11-18 inner city, multi-ethnic, comprehensive school in Wolverhampton and was previously a Head of Science and a Science teacher at schools in Telford, Bristol and London, beginning his teaching career in Waltham Forest in 1977. The Earls is a National Support School (NSS), Tom was a National Leader of Education (NLE) and has significant experience of school improvement and leadership development for schools of all phases. The Earls High was a government designated National Teaching School and worked with over 400 other schools, nationally and internationally, to improve the quality of teaching and learning, training well over 4000 teaching and non-teaching staff on their Teaching & Learning and Leadership Programmes. Previously Tom was Secondary Leadership Director for the successful Black Country City Challenge (2009-2012). In addition, he was a Board member of the Transcontinental Schools Innovation Alliance (TSIA) and Chair of the Teacher Education Advisory Group (TEAG) of the University of Wolverhampton. In 2014 he became a Challenge Advisor with Schools Challenge Cymru and has continued working directly with schools, local, regional and national organisations on improvement agendas as an independent consultant. He is currently working with primary and secondary schools in Newport (Gwent), RCT, Conwy, Flintshire, Dudley, Sandwell and Herefordshire. He has international experience working on school Improvement with schools in India, The Maldives, UAE, Taiwan and most recently in Qatar, and is joint author of the book The High School.

Dai Meredith

Interim Executive Leader
Redhill School, Ridgewood High School

Over a significant period of time, Dai has been involved in a variety of leadership roles which have seen him develop a wealth of understanding of all aspects of the present educational landscape. This rich and wide experience includes a range of school leadership roles up to and including 15 years as a Headteacher. It has also included being the consultant Headteacher (LLE) supporting taking three secondary/primary schools out of special measures and working with numerous Heads as their challenge adviser/consultant/coach/mentor. To supplement this experience, during his Headship Dai worked with Walsall Council to reorganise their school educational service offer, was a board member for the Education Central Multi Academy Trust and represented the DfE in a school liaison visit to New York Charter schools. During this period, Dai has developed a style of leadership which is inclusive and carefully combines advice and support with clear strategic challenge to ensure schools make good progress. During the Black Country Challenge it became clear that with strong support, guided intervention and clear strategic leadership, schools can make significant progress. The development of leadership at all levels with strong networking provides school leaders and governors with an excellent platform to create change and make sustained progress. Dai’s experiences working as a Secondary Headteacher, Primary Chair of Governors, Challenge Advisor/LLE and supporting local council services has provided him with a unique set of experiences and skills, which he is keen to share with other school leaders. Dai is a trained Estyn Peer Inspector and is currently working for 2/3 years as a consultant Challenge Adviser in South Wales with responsibilities for 5 Secondary and 1 Primary school. This role has given him further experience of working closely with Headteachers to support their journey of ensuring consistent and sustainable school improvement.

Lara Stone

Interim Executive Leader
Newtown Primary School, Northfield Road Primary School

Lara is headteacher at Moat Farm Juniors, the largest Junior school in Sandwell. She has been in post since September 2014. Moat Farm is a four-form entry school that serves a diverse area in Oldbury. The school has improved significantly with pupil outcomes now significantly above national averages at the end of Key Stage 2. Moat Farm has supported a number of other schools in Sandwell to develop teaching and learning, leadership and curriculum provision. Most recently, Moat Farm has been identified as a best practice school for online learning and is leading training for schools across Sandwell. Before working at Moat Farm, from 2010 Lara was deputy head at Uplands Manor, a very large primary school in Smethwick. During her time there, Lara led on Teaching and Learning and Achievement. The school improved standards for all pupils and was in the top 200 schools nationally for the attainment and progress of Pupil Premium Pupils. The school moved from Satisfactory to Good in 2012. Prior to that Lara worked at a number of schools in Suffolk and Essex before moving to Sandwell. She advised other schools on provision for Higher Attaining pupils.

School Improvement Team

Andy Burton

School Improvement Leader for Mathematics

Andy is the School Improvement Leader for Maths at Stour Vale. Andy has previously been a successful Head of Department and Senior Leader in different schools and is now focusing his passion for developing mathematics within the cross-phase Trust and through the local authority. Andy is part of the Secondary Maths Mastery Specialist cohort and also works with Pearson as a Senior Assessment Associate at both Key Stage 2 and GCSE.

Tom Holder

Lead for Teacher Training and Development

Tom leads on teacher training and development at Stour Vale, working with a range of partnership schools and FE providers to coordinate and deliver high-quality professional development for trainees, NQTs and experienced teachers alike. He has experience of teaching and leading across EYFS, KS1 and KS2 having worked in a variety of Dudley schools, most recently as an Assistant Headteacher at Olive Hill Primary Academy. Tom is also a primary maths SLE and maths mastery specialist for the Central Maths Hub where he supports primary teachers to develop their practice.

Finance and Operations Team

Sue Scott

Trust Business Manager

Sue supports the CFO with all the Trust’s finance and business operations. Particularly focusing on financial management processes and procedures, around budget planning, monitoring and final closure of the Trust’s yearly accounts. Sue has over 20 years of experience in school financial management in the Dudley Borough, having worked at both The Earls High School and Windsor High Schools in a Finance/Business role.

Mark Freathy

HR Manager

Mark began working in personnel for a south London authority in 1985 and started his association with schools and education services when he crossed the river to join the Education HR team in Hackney. He moved to the West Midlands to set up an HR service for the newly created Education Department in Telford in 1999 and worked at Walsall and (briefly) at Dudley before taking up the role of HR Manager at Oldbury Academy. He moved into the Central Team at SVAT when the school joined the Trust. Mark is Chair of Trustees at a secondary school in Shropshire and a governor at a Telford primary school.

Louise Broxton

Operations Officer

Louise provides administrative support to the Central Team and Board of Directors. After a number of years working in the private sector, Louise joined one of the member schools as a Teaching School and Pastoral Administrator before moving across to the Central Team in 2017.

Donna Thorneycroft

Administrative Assistant


For all enquiries, call us on 0121 585 5385 or email