Stour Vale Academy Trust


Member and Directors


Mrs Diane Lynn Baker, AFA
Member of the Board

Diane is a member of The Institute of Financial Accountants and has worked in accountancy since leaving school. Diane has operated as a senior audit clerk and management accountant, and has some experience of personal tax work. She studied for the membership examinations for the Association of Accounting technicians. She ran her own business of bookkeeping and accountancy services until, in 2004, she moved to her current position working full time as a Group Financial Controller managing a team of around 30 people over two locations. She reports directly to the Finance Director.

Diane has been a school governor since 1992 in a range of both secondary and primary schools.



Mr Dennis Hodson
Member of the Board

Dennis was born and brought up in the Black Country, and is educated to degree level (LLB Hons). After a very brief career in retail management he joined West Midlands Police and served across most of the force area, notably Dudley, Walsall, Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham City Centre and Handsworth. His career was split between uniform and CID roles. He was appointed Lead Officer in two force reorganisations and trained in EFQM (formerly known as the European Foundation for Quality Management) and systems methodologies. Dennis served as Divisional Commander for Dudley Borough prior to retirement.

Upon retirement Dennis was appointed as Director of Partnerships Dudley MBC, with specific responsibility for improved performance outcomes through partnership working. He is currently self-employed as a public sector consultant working across the Black Country and Birmingham.



Ms Linda Lang
Member of the Board

Professor Lang qualified as an Allied Health Professional. Her PhD is in child growth and development. She has international experience in India and the USA. In New York she led multidisciplinary clinical and social research concerning infectious diseases, particularly HIV and AIDS. She has also delivered continuing professional education and consultancy in Canada, South Africa and New Zealand. Linda has successful experience of inter-professional education and multi-professional working applied research that makes a positive difference to health outcomes for patients and communities.

In her recent role at Wolverhampton University Linda led a Faculty with over 8,000 students and a team of 480 multidisciplinary staff. She is currently working as an independent Senior Advisor with the Baker Dearing Educational Trust and is also serving as a Governor at two schools in the West Midlands.

Linda brings experience of inter-professional learning, project development and delivery in health and social care. Linda is committed to working in productive partnerships to improve health and social care outcomes and fostering interactive relationships between service providers and higher education.



Mr Martin Stevens 
Member of the Board

Martin qualified as a CIPFA accountant in 1985, having trained with the Health Service. On qualification, he moved to a local authority where his responsibilities included closure of accounts, financial strategy, financial support to senior managers within Directorate services, VAT, Treasury Management, and providing advice on compulsory competitive tendering (CCT) and white collar CCT.

He subsequently took up a role as regional finance director within the Further Education Funding Council covering the Yorkshire and Humberside region. Prior to the formation of the Learning and Skills Council, he also took on responsibility for the North West region and part of the South West. He provided support to colleagues on dealing with colleges in financial difficulty and on managing capital projects seeking support.

Following the creation of the Learning and Skills Council, Martin became an assistant director of finance with responsibility for financial support on funding plans, capital projects, financial strategy and VAT.

In 2004 Martin joined Birmingham City Council as financial advisor to the Social Care Directorate, before moving across to lead the financial accounting team in 2011.

Martin is currently a member of two national working groups, CIPFA’s Local Authority Accounting Panel (LAAP) and the CIPFA/LASAAC Local Authority Accounting Code Board.



Mr Stephen Bell
Director/Vice Chair of the Board

Stephen works in the school governance world with the responsibility to deliver quality governor training through centrally based courses and local bespoke sessions in schools across the West Midlands.

Stephen is also an accredited Clerk to Governors, sharing good practice with schools to ensure that all aspects of school governance regulations are being followed.

Stephen has carried out a variety of assignments, including External Reviews of Governance, to support and develop governance utilising his vast experience and knowledge of working with schools. This has included periods with primary, secondary and special schools, in the maintained and academy sectors, to promote more effective ways of involving governors in their key role of strategic direction to support school improvement.

Stephen was one of the three Members of the Academy Trust that was formed when the Earls converted to academy status in January 2012. In the recent past Stephen has served as a Governor in a number of Dudley schools and during this time held the position of Chair of the Dudley Association of Governing Bodies and Chair of the Dudley Schools Forum.



Dr Laura Braznell

Laura has worked in the education sector in further education and primary and secondary schools for over 10 years. For the past five years she has worked at Moat Farm Junior School Trust, a large four form entry school in Oldbury, in the role of School Business Director. Her responsibilities include the financial running of the school’s £2.5 million budget, along with the management of HR, premises and safeguarding. The school converted to a Trust in 2011 and, independent from the Local Authority, employs its staff and owns the land and buildings.

Over the past few years Laura has completed various qualifications associated with finance and school business management to develop her role as a key senior leader at Moat Farm Junior School.

Laura is Chair of the Sandwell Business Managers Group. This involves managing membership to the group, all networking meetings, sponsors and finance. The role is vital in passing important information about current educational issues to the members so that they can act appropriately in schools. To support this she is a member of NASBM (National Association of School Business Managers) and attends the annual conference to feed information back from a national level to the regional group.



Mr Stephen Dunster
Chief Executive of the Trust

Before becoming the CEO of the Stour Vale AT Stephen was the headteacher at Redhill School in Stourbridge. He has worked in a number of schools in a wide range of contexts and locations, including both the independent and state sector.

Stephen was appointed as a National Leader of Education in 2013 and at the same time Redhill School was designated a National Teaching School and National Support School. The Stour Vale AT has two National Teaching Schools and these bring a fantastic resource to the Trust, in terms of both talent and experience of working in partnerships.

As a National Leader for Education (NLE) and a ‘Pupil Premium Reviewer’ Stephen has supported a number of schools in the West Midlands with a focus on improving pupil outcomes especially for pupils from a disadvantaged background.

Behind the technical and organisational aspects of the work of a multi-academy trust is our belief that schools working together in a collaborative partnership can achieve more for pupils and communities than by working separately. The two core values that underpin the most successful partnerships are trust and transparency. We have built these two values into our ‘Framework for Excellence’, which expresses our vision for each of our schools and pupils.



Mr Gary Mills FCCA

Gary is a qualified accountant with more than 25 years’ experience in internal audit, external audit and corporate risk management across several industries (house building, construction, manufacturing, utilities and a charity), the public sector and for a Big 4 firm.

Gary currently works as Director of Risk & Internal Audit for McCarthy & Stone, a FTSE 250 business. He has strong experience of working with senior management and a proven ability to work at Board level to provide opinions on the effectiveness of management controls.

Gary has extensive experience in internal audit and risk management best practice, as well as multinational experience gained working in countries such as the USA, China, France and Thailand taking account of different cultures and legal frameworks.

Gary was previously a Governor and Audit Committee Member of Sandwell College.



Mrs Remley Mann

Remley has held the post of Principal at King Edward VI College, Stourbridge since 1 September 2015. Having started her career in New York as the Chair of the Foreign Language Department in 1989, Remley has held various roles at the college including Head of Quality Improvement and she was appointed as Vice Principal in 2012. In her role as Vice Principal, Remley had responsibility for leading quality improvement and staff development. She also has extensive experience as the designated safeguarding lead and leading the college provision in pastoral support. Remley holds a B.A. in Letters (history, literature and philosophy) from Wesleyan University, USA and an M.A. in French Literature from the University of Connecticut, USA.



Mr Andrew Mullaney 

After a 33-year career with Lloyds Bank Andrew is currently enjoying a sabbatical whilst considering his future options. Whilst with Lloyds he started at Stourbridge and became a bank manager in 1994 at Sparkhill in Birmingham. He worked within Retail, Corporate, Commercial Private and International Private Banking departments, including designing the development of a bespoke offering for company directors of large businesses.

A seasoned coach and mentor of people, he has a consistent record of delivery across a wide variety of roles, many of which have required a strong element of innovation and have been at self‑starter/inception status.

Andrew also secured a secondment to work as the first Business Connector for Dudley, working with Business in the Community, one of the Prince of Wales Charities. This gave him a real chance to make a difference to our local communities, where he generated over £300k of tangible benefit. Andrew remains committed to making a positive difference for a better Dudley Borough with education, social enterprises and small charities/community groups being areas of particular interest and focus. He is also a Respect Official for the local Stourbridge and District Youth Football League.

Andrew has been married to Catherine for over 30 years, lives in Pedmore and has two grown-up children, both of whom attended Redhill School.



Ms Joanne Williams
Director/Chair of the Board

Joanne is the Deputy Principal and Director of Teaching and Learning at Halesowen College.

For many years, Halesowen College has held a reputation for high standards, an excellent learning environment and a caring, supportive sense of community. The college offers exceptional support and opportunities for students making the transition from school to higher education or the career of their choice. The college has previously supported schools in the Trust in a variety of ways, including providing post-16 learning to a large number of students who attended the schools.