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

Claire Bisdorff

Being a teacher at Wren Academy is hugely rewarding. A member of the French department since 2012 and Head of Languages from September 2016, I have experience teaching secondary school students in my native Luxembourg, France and the UK. I first came to London to study English literature at UCL in 2001. Teaching undergraduates while completing a PhD in French Caribbean literature at the University of Cambridge (2006-2010), I was inspired to return to the classroom and obtained a PGCE from King's College London in 2012. I am honoured to be staff governor and look forward to serving Wren's community of students, support staff and teachers.

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. 

David Gurtler

I am married to Caroline and have two children both of whom have attended Wren, my daughter has just left for sixth form college and my son, Marcus, is now in Year 11. I have been involved with Wren since its inception, and as a chartered town planner have offered my knowledge and experience of Barnet planning to help to achieve the LDBS’ vision for Wren Academy.

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.

Fr Mark McAulay

I have been the Vicar of St. Paul, New Southgate and Chaplain of New Southgate Cemetery and Crematorium since 2007 and before coming to St. Paul’s I was on the staff at St. Martin’s, Ruislip.  Prior to ordination, I practised for a decade as a barrister in private practice from Chambers in Gray’s Inn, London.  As well as serving on the Governing Body of St. Paul’s primary school, I serve as a Bishop’s Surrogate and the Chapter Clerk for Central Barnet Deanery (the Church of England Deanery in which Wren Academy is situated).  I hold first degrees in both law and theology, and an M.A. in systematic theology.

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.

Michael Whitworth

I was born in Northumberland and attended Ridley High School (now sadly defunct) in Blyth. After studying History at Newcastle University I worked as a civil servant before qualifying as a teacher in 1991. I have worked in five comprehensive schools in and around London and prior to joining Wren I was, for five years, Headteacher of Kelmscott School in Walthamstow. Working in schools is fascinating and always fulfilling. I enjoy all aspects of being Wren Academy Executive Principal but find those jobs which bring me into direct contact with students and staff most rewarding.