David Heywood

David Heywood

Start of service 13 December 2012

David is the Chair of the local governing body of Stoke Studio Colleges and is also a Director of the Alpha Academies Trust and Vice Chair of the Excel Academy local governing body. 

He is a retired Chartered Surveyor and until recently senior partner in a North Staffordshire based firm of Independent Chartered Surveyors.

Until retirement David was a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. He specialised in Commercial Agency, particularly warehouses, offices and land deals and lists a number of major national Developers as his principal clients.

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Carol Jones

Carol Jones
Vice Chair

Start of service September 2011

Carol is Vice Chair of the local governing body of Stoke Studio Colleges and is also the Chair of the Alpha Academies Trust and a member of the Alpha Academies Trust Finance and Operations Committee.  

Carol is the owner and director of a business consultancy company, working with education providers and charities to develop and improve strategic and operational management, raise quality and improve outcomes for their clients and beneficiaries.

As a National Leader of Governance in Further Education, Carol has worked with many different types of colleges across the country; developing governing bodies and supporting individual Chairs and governors to improve Board effectiveness and college performance. She is also a co-opted member of the AoC’s Governors Council.

Carol is the former Chief Executive of the Connexions Service for Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent. She has served on numerous committees and groups in both the County and the City, including the Local Safeguarding Children Board, always seeking to improve educational outcomes and employment opportunities for young people and helping unemployed adults get back into work.

Carol’s professional background is in careers guidance and she holds a BA (Hons) and a Master’s degree in Research. Carol is also a Fellow of the RSA. 

Sarah Robinson

Sarah Robinson

Alpha Academies Trust Chief Executive Officer

Start of Service: 23 September 2011

Sarah is a member of the local governing body of the Stoke Studio Colleges.  She is also the CEO of the Alpha Academies Trust, a member of the Alpha Academies Trust Finance and Operations Committee and a member of the local governing bodies of the Discovery Academy, Excel Academy and Maple Court Academy.

She has worked as a senior manager in colleges across the North of England prior to taking up her current post at Stoke on Trent College in January 2010.

For 8 years she was Principal and Chief Executive of Darlington College.   Under her leadership, the College relocated to a purpose built campus, achieved a Grade 1 Outstanding OFSTED inspection and was awarded Beacon status. 

 Sarah was appointed as Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham in 2006 until her departure and was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours 2009 for her services to further education.  She has been Chair of Governors of primary, secondary and special schools, and governor on college Corporations.

Sarah holds a MA in Education Management and LSDA Principals’ Programme.




Governor Vacancy

Zoe Simpson-Collins

Zoe Simpson

Staff Governor

Start of Service: 25 November 2013

Zoe is a staff member of the local governing body of the Stoke Studio Colleges and is employed as Lead Personal Coach, a position she has held since the College opened in 2012.

She acts a key link between all aspects of the curriculum, working with students and learning coaches/mentors to ensure the curriculum is holistic and personalised.  She also plays a central part in shaping core projects to meet students’ needs and goals and to develop their skills within the CREATE framework.

Zoe has worked in education for 14 years and has a 2:1 Honours Degree in Applied Social Studies, Psychology and Sociology.  She also has a Masters Degree in Education.



Student Governor

Student Governor Vacancy

Maxine Bagshaw

Maxine Bagshaw

Clerk to the Alpha Academies Trust

Start of Service 1 January 2011.

Maxine is the Clerk and Company Secretary to the Alpha Academies Trust, which includes the Studio Colleges, Maple Court Academy, Excel Academy and the Discovery Academy.

She is also Clerk to the Corporation at Stoke on Trent College, West Nottinghamshire College and Birches Head Academy.

Maxine has worked in the FE sector for 14 years and prior to that was a solicitor in private practice. Her role is to support the board and provide independent advice and guidance.

Sharon Shaw

Sharon Shaw
Deputy Clerk / Executive Assistant at the Alpha Academies Trust

Start of Service: 1 September 2017

Sharon is the Deputy Clerk/Executive Assistant at the Alpha Academies Trust, which includes the Studio Colleges, Maple Court Academy, the Discovery Academy and the Excel Academy.

She is also the Deputy Clerk to the Birches Head Academy board of governors.

Sharon has worked in the Education sector for many years and her role is to provide support on all aspects of governance.