Co-operative Directors

The Co-op Academies Trust has a small central team to provide strategic leadership, school improvement services and essential support functions to our academies. Many of our team are co-located with our sponsor, The Co-op, at its iconic head office, 1 Angel Square in Manchester.

Click to view our organisational chart.

Frank Norris View Profile >

Trust Director

Frank was born in Essex, and worked in banking before going to university to train as a teacher. He taught in a number of schools in Stockport before becoming a headteacher, and leading schools in Trafford and Cheshire.

He joined Ofsted in 2001 as one of Her Majesty's Inspectors, and quickly became involved in working on quality assurance and development of the inspection framework, in addition to leading inspections of schools, secure units and prisons.

Subsequent roles at Ofsted have seen him lead on inspection methodology, local authority inspections and the monitoring and evaluation of inspection providers. He became Divisional Manager for Education and Care in 2009, before leaving Ofsted in 2012 to lead school improvement for a local authority. He joined the Co-operative Academies Trust in 2013.

Frank is married with three grown up children, and lives in Cheadle Hulme. He is a keen sportsman, and a life member of Bramhall Cricket Club.

Frank is responsible for:

  • Vision – Drive the development and delivery of the strategic vision of the CAT
  • Teaching and Learning - Working with the Academies to deliver outstanding teaching and learning.
  • Educational outcomes - Improving the educational outcomes to beyond national averages for learners in all the Academies.
  • Finance – to act as Accounting Officer to the Trust and work with the Trust Finance Directors to ensure good financial management of CAT funds, transparency regarding the money spent by CAT and value for money.
  • Enhance and facilitate opportunities for the Co-operative Group Academies through partnerships with educational associations, HE and FE partners, Local Authorities, the DfE, other schools, voluntary organisations, professional associations other public sector bodies
  • Principal primary academy improvement manager (temporary)
  • To lead on the performance management of all primary Principals in conjunction with Chairs of Governors (temporary)


Declarations of Interest 2016/17

  • Non-Executive Director of Paperworks based in Leeds
  • Committee member at Bramhall Cricket Club
Joan Keysell View Profile >

Chief Operating Manager

Joan is responsible for:

  • To provide leadership for CAT and work with the Trust’s primary and secondary academies to ensure outstanding education and governance
  • To be responsible for effective liaison between The Co-operative Group and CAT academies
  • To be responsible for developing governance services and governor professional development to CAT academies
  • To drive forward greater awareness of our co-operative heritage and values in our academies
  • To identify opportunities to enhance the curriculum for staff, pupils and students and to support the strengthening of our co-operative culture and ethos
  • To provide effective governors from within The Co-operative Group for CAT academies
  • To assist with the  due diligence process when new schools might be joining the Trust

Declarations of Interest 2016/17

  • Former employee of our Sponsor The Co-operative Group
Heather Unwin View Profile >

Administration and Clerking Officer

Heather has over 10 years’ experience administration.

She has worked for The Co-operative Group since 2009 as a HR Administrator. In 2012 she moved to the Social Goals and Membership team as a Grants Development Co-ordinator.  She joined the Co-operative Academies Trust in 2014.

Heather is married with one child, lives in Hazel Grove and is a keen crafter.

Heather is responsible for:

  • Collation and distribution of regular meeting papers and other documents.
  • Co-ordinate Trust Board and governing body meetings
  • Minute taking for various meetings of school governing bodies as required
  • Maintain Central Trust website
  • Maintain close links with key colleagues at the Co-operative Group
  • Primary contact point for external and partner organisations


Declarations of Interest 2016/17

  • None to Declare
Joe Dundas View Profile >

Communications Manager

Joe is a communications and public relations specialist with experience working for some of the largest UK businesses.

Born in Staffordshire, he lives in Newcastle-under-Lyme with his wife. Outside of work he can be found supporting his beloved Liverpool and is a keen photographer.

For specific media requests you can email Joe at 

Joe is responsible for:

  • Creating an effective central communications strategy for the Trust.

  • Being a central expert on communications and to enable key academy staff to share their expertise.

  • Helping to manage any media enquiries for the trust and liaise effectively with the sponsor’s PR team.

  • Engaging effectively with academy staff responsible for communication providing them with professional guidance and advice and the opportunities to learn.

Declarations of Interest 2016/17

  • None to Declare
Emma Kershaw View Profile >

Senior Administrative and Governance Officer

Emma has joined us from Arts Council England, having managed North Area Council which formed part of the Governing Body of the organisation. Emma is also experienced in providing  Personal Assistant support to Directors and Senior managers. Emma is an avid reader and is an active member at her local library where she previously worked for four and a half years.

In her spare time, Emma enjoys going to the gym and participates regularly in classes such as Body Combat, Insanity, Kettlebells and Spinning.


Collette Allen View Profile >

Administrative and Governance Officer

Collette has joined us from the third sector, working as a Finance Officer for small charity for young people. She supported the board of trustees, acting as PA to the leadership team of the Charity. Collette has extensive experience in Finance and Internal Audit, and is also on the board of trustees of Citizens Advice Manchester.

In her spare time she is studying part time for a business management degree, is an avid northern soul and motown fan and enjoys walking to keep fit.

Lynda Johnson View Profile >

Education Director (East Pennines)


Juliet Caunt View Profile >

Head of HR

Juliet was born in the Midlands and went to school in Northampton.  She studied psychology at Reading University, and worked as a hotel receptionist for two years, prior to commencing her personnel career with Royal Mail.

Moving to Leeds in 1995, Juliet progressed her career and undertook a wide range of personnel, training and human resources roles at Royal Mail.  In 2004 Juliet joined the Legal Services Commission (LSC) where she provided both strategic and operational HR support on a national basis through a challenging period of organisational change as the LSC became the Legal Aid Agency.

Juliet joined the Co-operative Academies Trust in 2013.  She is a keen horse-rider, follower of professional cycling, and enjoys holidaying in France.

Juliet is responsible for:

  • To develop HR policies and practices that drive forward the strategic aims of the Trust
  • To create a HR framework that brings together the best educational and business HR practice
  • To implement a HR service that provides advice and assists line managers with the full range of recruitment and selection activities
  • To ensure that the Trust has an effective working relationship with trade unions and to develop a joint negotiating framework
  • To assist with the  due diligence process when new schools might be joining the Trust

Declarations of Interest 2016/17

  • Partner is an employee of Britcon (construction company) who operate in the Yorkshire area
Tony Stephens View Profile >

Data Manager

Tony had four successful secondary headships over 20 years with consistent Ofsted praise for his leadership. He then worked with a wide range of schools across the country offering all types of improvement support to academies and schools, with an emphasis on developing all aspects of leadership and management, specialising with considerable success in helping academies secure rapid but sustainable overall improvement. He thus has extensive experience of supporting individual school and academy development and improvement through his work for trusts, consultancy work and school improvement partnerships.

Tony has worked closely with HMIs and Ofsted inspectors, as well as delivering CPD and guidance on how to prepare for Ofsted, often attending during inspections to provide advice and support as well as regularly being a member of teams reviewing schools and academies using the Ofsted framework and methodology

Tony is responsible for:

  • To support the trust wide data management process
  • To support trust-wide governor training
  • To manage the Trust Raising Achievement website
  • To assist with the  due diligence process when new schools might be joining the Trust

Declarations of Interest 2016/17

  • None to Declare
Jennica Rama View Profile >

HR Officer

Jennica was born in Manchester and currently lives in Warrington. She studied at Manchester Metropolitan University completing her undergraduate degree in Business Information Technology and her Masters in Human Resource Management.

Jennica started her HR career in Turning Point as the first point of contact on all HR related issues and working on a retention project. In 2014 she then started working for a Multi Academy Trust where she was responsible for the HR in one academy.

Jennica joined the Co-operative Academies Trust in May 2016. She enjoys keeping active, watching comedians perform live and attending music concerts.

Jennica is responsible for:

  • Providing proactive professional HR support, advice and guidance on employee relations, HR policies and procedures and on other Trust wide and academy- specific HR projects
  • Organising and supporting recruitment activity in our academies throughout the year whilst promoting  diversity and equality
  • Managing the Trust’s employee benefits package and including regular promotion of this across the academies
  • Working closely with academy-based HR staff and managers, offering support to help them learn and to solve people issues

Declarations of Interest 2016/17

  • None to Declare
Gary Lagar View Profile >

Finance and Resources Director

Gary is a senior finance professional with over 30 years’ experience in both the public and private services sectors where he’s held a variety of posts including Managing Director and Finance Director. Gary provides the Trust with strategic leadership in both financial and corporate service areas to enable the Trust to meet its objectives and working closely with colleagues to enhance business efficiency and performance.

Gary is a trained accountant, married with two grown up children, and lives in Appleton Thorn Cheshire. He is a keen sportsman enjoying a variety of activities including running, golf and sailing.

Gary is responsible for:

  • Strategic leadership across the Trust (as a key member of the senior leadership team);
  • Strategic financial management, planning, treasury and reporting;
  • Growth and development of the Trust;
  • Governance and regulatory compliance;
  • Procurement and contract management; and
  • Human resources.
Lily Connaghan View Profile >

Marketing and Communications Officer


Mark Williams View Profile >

Education Director (West Pennines)

Mark Williams joined the Co-op Academies Trust as Education Director (West Pennines) in January 2017. Born in Birkenhead, Mark qualified as a teacher in 1985. He taught in a number of schools on The Wirral before becoming a headteacher of two schools in that local authority.  
Following headship, Mark joined Ofsted in 2005 as one of Her Majesty's Inspectors. During 11 years, he  inspected the full range of schools and age ranges, ITE partnerships and led annual performance assessments of local authorities. As well as inspecting History as part of subject surveys, Mark, was involved in working on quality assurance and the development of school and ITE frameworks. He also held the position of National Lead for Academies and Free Schools and Senior HMI.
Mark is married with two children in their twenties. He lives on The Wirral and is a keen golfer requiring improvement and supports Tranmere Rovers Football Club.