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Meet Our Directors

David Cheeseman: Chair of Directors and Trustee

Dave Cheeseman is a retired Actuary, having held a number of senior financial and strategic roles in the insurance industry.

He has been a Governor since 1994, and was Chair of Governors at Heathlands for 10 years.

He is a member of the Bournemouth Schools Forum and the Bournemouth School Improvement Board. 

Ralph Batten: Director

Ralph is currently operating as The Best Practice Network’s (Bristol) Director of Inspections and Accountability. In this role he is responsible for developing a range of strategic support programmes and products for school leaders and governors as well as creating new materials to enable schools and colleges to confidently undertake self reviews and be accountable to a range of organisations.


From 2009 until October 2014 Ralph was Assistant Director of Inspections for Serco Inspections and key to the successful delivery of Ofsted Inspections throughout the Serco Ofsted Inspection region. During this time had responsibility for the Inspection Workforce ensuring new inspectors were trained and accredited as well as the overall responsibility for some 1200 Ofsted inspectors professional development.

Prior to this (1974 – 1996) Ralph had a very successful career as a Primary teacher and Headteacher in the London Borough of Lewisham before being trained as an Ofsted Inspector and being appointed a Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at Christchurch College Canterbury. During his time there he was seconded to work with the TTA and Hay McBer to write and develop the Leadership Programme for Serving Headteachers. This involved both piloting the programmes as well as then training facilitators and evaluating the impact and effectiveness of programmes.

Ralph then helped develop a very successful Inspection and Consultancy business in Dorset before joining Serco in 2000 as Director of Training. During this time he led and managed the Serco NCSL leadership programmes in the South of England as well as becoming the Director of the Leadership Programmes for Serving Headteachers in Wales. This involved both programme design as well as training the facilitators and evaluating programmes.  His consultancy work expanded into being asked to join the School and Colleges Team in the States of Jersey where for five years he had responsibility for strategic leadership development and leading on the creation of the Jersey Accountability Framework for Schools.


Ralph still lives in rural Dorset and has recently returned to writing children’s books in his spare time.

Amanda Johnston: Director

Before assuming the role of Academies Officer for the Diocese of Portsmouth and Diocese of Winchester, Amanda worked in primary schools for 13 years, including seven years as a Headteacher in two Voluntary Aided primary schools within both dioceses. Amanda's experience has included: the establishment and leadership of a brand new church aided primary school; undertaking significant school building projects; demonstrating expertise in school budget and SLA procurement; local authority school reorganisation; school improvement support to other schools; mentoring of new Headteachers; being a member of SACRE as well as the Local Authority Primary Headteachers Executive Board.

As the Diocesan Academies Officer, Amanda co-ordinates all aspects of the joint Dioceses’ work with academies. On a day-to-day basis, Amanda manages the strategic operations of the existing multi academy trust, Portsmouth and Winchester Diocesan Academies Trust (P&WDAT) and is currently leading the establishment of the new multi-academy trust for the Winchester Diocese,  in order to assist both of these Trusts in achieving their objectives and to facilitate local networks of excellence. This work includes: working directly with academies and others to recommend and/or commission academy-specific interventions, providing aspects of school improvement support, the full recruitment process for appointing new Principals, pastoral support, affirmation and ‘on-the-spot’ advice or referral as appropriate, negotiating Service Level Agreements, the creation of all strategic plans, policies and the overall co-ordination of the academies programme and MAT Boards for both dioceses. 


Additionally, Amanda assists in the conversion of church schools to academies, the establishment of new multi-academy trusts and supports the Mark 1 'standalone' academies as required or requested, including in the areas of governance, insurance, buildings and some aspects of school improvement and leadership development.

Amanda has previous managerial experience in the retail sector and also spent several years working at a strategic level, in a volunteer capacity for GirlGuiding UK.


Amanda is a Director on the following Board: Portsmouth and Winchester Diocesan Academies Trust, Septenary Trust, Moordown St John’s Church of England Primary School and St Michael’s Church of England Primary School.

Elizabeth Spreadbury MBE: Director

I am married, with five children and now, nine soon to be ten, grand children.  I have lived in Bournemouth for over 33 years and been a school Governor for most of that time.

Currently I am one of the Directors of The Ocean Multi Academy Trust, Chair of the Federation of St Clements and St John and Bethany CE VA Schools and a Trustee and Governor of The Bishop of Winchester Academy.  Previously I served as a Parent Governor at Bournemouth School for Girls when our daughters were pupils there. 

I served as a local Magistrate for 10 years, eight of which were also on the Family Bench.  I am currently a Lay Member of the Bournemouth and Poole Local Safeguarding Children Board where I chair the Pan-Dorset Communications Committee.

I have volunteered with Samaritans for over 30 years and as a Trustee with Dorset Action on Abuse since inception some 10 years ago. For five years I was part of the team which dealt with visiting (auditing) other branches to ensure that policy and procedure was being followed and I helped in the development of national policy.  I am currently the Schools Lead at Bournemouth Samaritans and regularly present sessions on Emotional Health in local secondary schools.  Since the time of inception, I have been a trustee of Dorset Action on Abuse, which is a local charity set up to support the adult survivors of childhood abuse, where I act as secretary and as a facilitator for a Self-Help Group.


I am extremely interested in the education and welfare of all children as they are the future and so deserve the best possible start we are able to give them.

For relaxation, I  love reading, gardening, being with animals, walking in the country or by the sea and being with our large family whenever  possible!


Michael Thomas: Director

Michael is currently chairman of the UK Board for International Nepal Fellowship, a long established NGO helping the poor and marginalised in that country.  He has a strong desire to work with those needing help whatever their status and situation.


Over 25 years until 2013 were spent working in international cross cultural NGO’s particularly those focused on work to Arabic speaking countries. Also in charities working in senior leadership roles bringing education, relief, skill training, medical care, compassion and many other needs to those without. This has given a good understanding of charity work and structure and the benefit of enthusing young and old. Naturally all this should be focused to see excellent outcomes and careful use of the available, and always limited, resources. In addition, many years have been spent working in the business community in this country both as an employee and in establishing and running two successful business, one in print and the other in plastic manufacturing.


Additionally, Michael is involved with a church, local to home in Wimborne, as treasurer and in other capacities.


Being a father of three daughters and grandfather to five who live across the world there is always an opportunity for travel, exploration and the discovery of new ways and opportunities.

Stuart Clark: Director

I have been married for the past 40 years and have three children and five grandchildren, aged 2-8. I have been in secondary education for 36 years and have been retired for the last three years. I taught English throughout my career and for most of the time held various leadership posts, first as Head of English, then Director of a large sixth form and finally as Headteacher of a large secondary comprehensive school of nearly 1500 students. In the latter post, we suffered two major fires, one as a result of arson and one as a result of a massive lightning bolt. This resulted in nearly £20 million of investment and enabled us to redevelop the school. At the same time, the school continued to flourish and grow despite the considerable disruption caused by extensive building works.

Through much of my life, I have been a convinced Christian and have played an active part in a number of very different but equally good churches.

I strongly believe that the quality of education and guidance children receive from the earliest years through to adulthood is of enormous importance and worthy of very careful protection and development by teachers and Governors alike. I particularly appreciate the values cultivated by a Church of England school which seem to me to give a vital foundation for life.

Music and the performing arts are a lifelong passion of mine, as is sport. While I see academic success as being a crucial aspect of school life, I also see considerable worth in the wider curriculum in cultivating important life skills and talents that young people can go on to deploy to great effect throughout their lives in and beyond work.