Governing Body of Wren Academy

Mel Adams

Born and educated in South Yorkshire, I was privileged to have parents who valued both education and music, both of which have driven my own career forward. Following school I studied music at the Birmingham Conservatoire followed by a PGCE at Birmingham University.  I have since taught in nursery, primary and secondary schools, teaching a range of subjects and continuing my own education by obtaining relevant additional qualifications.  Currently I am head teacher at St Mary's Church of England Primary School in Barnet. It has been a great privilege to have been involved in the development of Wren Academy since its inception and I am happy to be serving as an LDBS sponsor governor.

Kim Archer

I am passionate about all children receiving an education which develops their potential and builds their confidence to achieve their dreams. Growing up locally, I went to St John's Primary School, Friern Barnet and later Copthall County Grammar School for Girls. Somewhat unexpectedly, I joined the Civil Service. This has provided a varied career working in a number of government departments and in a wide range of jobs - from a social security counter to the director of a government agency. Currently, I am finishing an MSC at Ashridge Business School and I am Chair of Governors' at St Andrew's CofE School Totteridge.

Richard Backhouse

I have been Principal of Berkhamsted Schools Group since January 2016, after 10 years as Principal of an all-through independent school in Bath. I read Economics at Cambridge, expecting to go on to be a journalist, but aimed to teach for a couple of years before doing a PhD – and somehow I never went back to university. I have variously taught Economics, coached rowing to GB junior level, been a Head of Year, Head of Department, boarding Housemaster, and Assistant Head. I have also been a governor and Chair of Education Committee at an academy in Birmingham, a member of my local PCC (while working near Reading), am currently a trustee of two charities, and I blog at

Bejal Patel

I have enjoyed being a teacher at Wren Academy as a member of the Religious Studies department since 2014, and Student Voice Co-ordinator from September 2016. I attended North London Collegiate School in Edgware, completing my BA in Philosophy at UCL in 2012. During this time I pursued my passion of working with young people in mental health care and became involved campaigning for children and young people’s wellbeing with YoungMinds. Thus, a move into education felt a natural progression of this work. I began my career at Wren shortly after gaining my PGCE from the University of Roehampton in 2014. I look forward to my term serving as staff Governor and working with other members of the governing committee in order to support the learning of all Wren students.

Sylvia Duthie

I grew up in Birkenhead and did my BA in English and Dip Ed at Sheffield University. As a teacher, pastoral head, lecturer, parent and governor, I have a wide range of experience across the full range of educational provision.  I have also been a counsellor since 1981 and have trained many others in counselling skills.  I did my MSc in Continuing Education and Training at City University when I was fifty!  I have for several years represented Central Barnet Deanery Synod on the London Diocesan Board for Schools.  Now I am retired, it is a particular joy to serve as a governor at Wren Academy -- from the idea to the reality.

Olivia Ellah

I live in North Finchley and work at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust as a Service Transformation Project Manager. I have worked in the NHS for the past 12 years in various operational roles, and prior to that I was a Facilities and Administrative manager in Anadrill Schlumberger Nigeria Limited, a large multinational oil servicing company for 13 years. This has enabled me to gain a broad spectrum of skills, and to work with a variety of interesting people. I had my primary and secondary education between Nigeria and Ireland, and my Business Administration degree was obtained from the University of Westminster, London. In my spare time I enjoy reading, art and going to the theatre. We are constantly learning and I believe a child’s experience in school can leave them with strong impressions and a valuable foundation for their future. 

Chris Kiernan

Chris started his career as a further education lecturer in 1981 at Waltham Forest College, and then taught at Tottenham College before becoming an education officer at Newham council, in east London.  He was the further education officer between 1989 and 1993, before being promoted to run all education client services.  In 1991 he became deputy director, with responsibility for special educational needs and early years services added to his portfolio.

He was appointed as director of education of the London borough of Waltham Forest in 2004, becoming director of children services there in 2006.  He retired in 2011, but has continued to work in the area of education in interim management roles.  He was interim education director for the London borough of Barnet in 2013, and is currently interim director of education for Essex county council.

Chris is married with a grown-up daughter, and has lived in Hackney, east London, since 1993.  His main interest outside work is sport. He plays cricket competes in triathlons as a member of tri London, and watches football, cricket and motor racing when he can.

Marc Rawcliffe

I attended Calday Grange Grammar School on the Wirral, initially studied in Art & Design / English Literature and Drama at Manchester then went on to qualify as an Architect from Liverpool and Landscape Architecture in Birmingham.  I worked in the North West and South Wales on social housing, special needs and estate regeneration projects. The culmination of this being the award of a civic trust medal for a hospice in St Helens. I then moved to London and started working on speculative development, commercial and regeneration projects. This all led to an interest in education and I pioneered the restructuring of the professional examination system for the Landscape Institute, creating the "Pathway to Chartership" based on lifelong learning and self assessment.  I now work as a an Architect / Management / Development / Urban Design consultant on projects in the UK and overseas and maintain an interest and specialization in educational issues.  I am inspired and driven by the process of enabling transformation in education and young people's lives whilst encouraging a spirit of learning.

Linda Turner

I have lived in Finchley for 38 years and been involved in all aspects of public service in the borough.  I chaired Barnet Community Health Council, Barnet Voluntary Service Council and was a non executive director of Wellhouse NHS Trust.  I campaigned for improvements in maternity services and the founding of the Edgware Birth Centre, becoming a trustee of the National Childbirth Trust and a member on the Nursing and Midwifery Council.  I am on the PCC at All Saints, Friern Barnet and a governor at a primary school.  I work as a consultant in recruitment to the Metropolitan Police Service.

The Reverend Dr Gregory Platten

Born in Oxford, a clergy son, I grew up in Lincoln, Portsmouth, London, and Norwich, with my secondary schooling first in London and then in Norwich. Having gone to University to read Theology with the firm vocation to become an infantry officer in the army, I left having sensing a strong a call to ordained ministry. This led me to Cuddesdon near Oxford, where I entered formation for the priesthood, and read for a Masters in Theology. This was followed by a Curacy (training parish) in St John’s Wood. After 3 years, I moved to Oxford, where I served as the Chaplain of Lincoln College, in the University of Oxford, a role which involved overseeing welfare, counselling, organising Chapel worship, and elements of College governance and administration. Whilst at Lincoln, I also undertook postgraduate research in Russian philosophical theology, and I completed a DPhil (PhD) in 2013. In the same year, I felt called to return to parish ministry, and was appointed the Vicar of All Saints’ Church in Whetstone. Alongside the traditional parochial duties, this also includes being a Foundation Governor at All Saints’ Church of England Primary School, Chairing the PCC, financial and fabric administration, fundraising, community outreach, and strategic planning.

Karina Parekh

I was born and brought up in London and went to a Church of England Primary school - St John’s N20.  I was lucky enough to be in Wren Academy’s first year of students in 2008 and continued through to the Wren Sixth Form.  Seeing Wren Academy grow and develop into such a successful school makes me very proud.  I am currently a third year student at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) reading a BSc in Mathematics and Economics.  Wren has played a significant part in shaping my teenage years and led me to the University of my choice.  Even as a student at Wren, I was very keen to be involved in the student voice team, for example I was a prefect and head of the prom committee.  Therefore I am especially grateful for the opportunity of being an Associate Governor and hope to represent the student body and contribute towards Wren’s future.

Peter Nicholls

I have been Vice Principal Business Operations of Berkhamsted Schools Group since 2010, where I look after the non-teaching functions of Finance, IT, Catering, HR and Estates. Just occasionally I enjoy getting into the classroom to teach a mini-MBA, or help out on Duke of Edinburgh trips and training. I read Economics at Cambridge, before joining Coopers and Lybrand’s management consultancy practice, where I qualified as a chartered accountant.  I spent 20 years in telecoms, mostly at British Telecom in a variety of Finance Director and Commercial Director roles in the UK and overseas, including living in Italy.  I am married with three (nearly) grown up children, and believe in the importance and value of an all-round education. Outside work I love being in the mountains and have a passion for cricket.

Gavin Smith

Gavin attended secondary schools in Stockport and Poole before completing a degree in Geography at UCL. He then started his teaching career in Croydon and worked in contrasting schools in the borough.  In that time he held positions as a pastoral leader and Head of Geography.  Before joining Wren as Vice Principal in 2008 he was an Assistant Headteacher at East Barnet School for six years.

Gavin has been at Wren since it first opened, taking a lead in developing the curriculum, assessment and reporting systems.  He has found both his positions at Wren fulfilling and rewarding as he has played a key role in making the school one of the most successful in the country.  Since becoming the Principal of Wren, GCSE and A Level examination results have continued to improve and the Sixth Form become oversubscribed.  He is now focused on ensuring that the academy becomes even more effective at providing the very best all round education for all students.