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Meet our Central Team

Jon Lovatt - Chief Executive Officer and Accounting Officer:

Jon has over 40 years’ experience working as a public servant in the Education Sector, starting his career on leaving school in 1983. Since 1991, supporting senior leaders and governors with strategic resource planning based in the public and then private sector.

He achieved the Certificate and Diploma in Business Administration in 2000 and 2001 respectively, and the majority of an MBA programme in 2003.

Jon helped to found The Societas Trust as a collaborative partnership in 2014, and was appointed CEO in February 2016 on the incorporation of the Trust. He is also a founding member of the Ivy Learning Trust based in Enfield; co-founder and director of The Valiant School - an Independent Primary School for children with extreme social and emotional needs in North Staffordshire; and Chair of Governors at two schools in a neighbouring Trust.

He also undertook the Ambition School Leadership’s Executive Educators course – the forerunner of the National Professional Qualification in Executive Leadership – in 2015. He is a member of Stoke-on-Trent LA’s Children’s Improvement Board and Academy Trust Partnership Board, and also works collaboratively with a number of other CEOs from the West Midlands and nationally.

Jon, who is from Stoke-on-Trent, believes passionately in inclusion and the Trust's maxim - ‘Great Learning Opportunities for All’.


Steve Martin - Deputy Chief Executive Officer:

Steve has over twenty years’ experience as a teacher in the primary sector, including ten years as a Headteacher.

Steve was part of the group of headteachers who helped to found the Trust as a collaborative partnership in 2014, and has been part of the Trust's Executive Board since the Trust's incorporation in 2016. He was appointed Deputy CEO in September 2022 and, in addition to this, is also Headteacher of Goldenhill Primary Academy. 

Part of his role as Deputy CEO is to support the development of an effective business and growth strategy as part of the Trust Strategic Development Plan based upon needs and joint priorities of all the settings within the Trust. He also facilitates the pastoral support for headteachers across the trust and has oversight of all mentoring arrangements for new headteachers.

Steve is passionate about working with school leaders and teachers in a collaborative and supportive way to ensure all children have the very best learning opportunities. He has extensive experience of facilitating school to school support and has carried out Continuing Professional Development in a number of schools as part of this process.

He has also been a governor for over ten years in two primary schools, supporting their strategic direction and vision and supporting their local communities.

Steve passionately believes in developing the whole child; developing them into citizens of the future, ensuring that they achieve their potential. He believes this is achieved through developing a well-structured and sequenced curriculum, consistent high-quality teaching, and meaningful assessment approaches, ensuring that children are taught through engaging and motivating learning experiences that inspire and lead to a deeper level of understanding.


Sally Henderson - Chief Finance Officer:

Sally has eighteen years’ experience in Business Management in the Education Sector and has worked across the entire age range (aged 2 – 19 years) in both mainstream and special schools.

Sally was awarded the Certificate in School Business Management in 2005 and the Diploma in School Business Management along with an Advanced Diploma in Administrative Management in 2008.

A firm believer in collaboration, Sally founded the Stoke-on-Trent School Business Manager Association. She established the group with the belief that collaboration and the sharing of best practice improves performance. Initially formed with three Business Managers in the North of Stoke-on-Trent, the group now comprises the vast majority of schools in the city and has gone from strength to strength.

Sally was the Business Manager at one of The Societas Trust primary schools during the conversion process and went on to be appointed as Deputy Chief Finance Officer in June 2021.

In November 2021, Sally was successfully appointed as Chief Finance Officer and is incredibly proud to be in the post. In addition to this, she is also the Head of Support Services at Summerbank Primary Academy.


Nichola Gibson - Executive Education Representative:

Nichola has over thirty years’ experience as a teacher within the primary sector, including over twenty years as a Headteacher and, more recently, an Executive Leader.

Nichola was part of the group of headteachers who helped to found the Trust as a collaborative partnership in 2014, and has been part of the Trust's Executive Board since the Trust's incorporation in 2016.  She was appointed Executive Education Representative in September 2019 and, in addition to this, is also Executive Headteacher of Ellison Primary Academy and Oaklands Nursery.

Part of her current role as Executive Education Representative is to support the development of an effective Education Improvement Strategy and Education Development Plan based upon the needs of the Trust and joint priorities of its settings. She also works with internal and external partners to enable the identification of improvement priorities across the Trust and in individual settings.  Nichola also leads our dedicated team of Lead Practitioners.

Nichola is passionate about collaborative working and believes that the needs of children are best met when schools and teachers collaborate and cooperate, sharing expertise, knowledge and resources whilst maintaining close links with the communities they serve.

As part of her commitment to lifelong learning and continued professional development, she has achieved a Master’s Degree in Education Management and, more recently, a National Professional Qualification in Executive Leadership.

Nichola is currently undertaking a post-graduate level qualification in coaching and mentoring and believes in the value of coaching to support the development of leadership skills for the benefit of all.


Lisa Barnett - Co-Training and Compliance Manager:

Lisa graduated with an LLB (Hons) Law degree and then worked in IT recruitment for over fifteen years, gaining extensive experience of contract management and compliance. She joined the Education sector in 2015 and has since gained broad experience of school support services, working in school Business Management and as part of the school's Senior Leadership Team.

Lisa is extremely proud to have worked for The Societas Trust since September 2020 as Academy Business Manager at Goldenhill Primary Academy and, In addition to this, as Co-Compliance and Training Manager since April 2022. 

As part of her duties as Compliance and Training Manager, Lisa co-ordinates the Data Protection Audit for the Trust and liaises with the Trust's Data Protection Officer on all related matters. She also strives to ensure all relevant policies and procedures are compliant, implemented and adhered to. Lisa is now looking ahead and is excited to contribute to the Trust’s further development and growth.


Sallie Powell - Co-Training and Compliance Manager:

Sallie has extensive experience of the financial services industry, having worked for over thirteen years in high street banking. This provided an excellent platform for the development of her career as a School Business Manager over the last eighteen years. Her career has taken her to senior leadership positions in a number of schools, eventually leading the support team at Ellison Primary Academy.

She completed the Certificate in School Business Management in 2008 and has recently completed IOSH Managing Health & Safety Risks in the Education Sector.

In April 2022, Sallie was appointed as Co-Compliance and Training Manager.  As part of her duties, she co-ordinates the Internal Audit for the Trust and liaises with the Trust's Internal Auditor on all related matters. She also strives to ensure all health and safety related policies and procedures are compliant, implemented and adhered to.

Sallie is dedicated to the role and particularly the modelling of the values of the Societas Trust, which are Moral Leadership, Collaboration, Innovation and Uniqueness.


Jo Cowden - Trust Lead Practitioner:

Jo has been teaching for eighteen years and has taught across the primary age range. She has been SENCo for sixteen years and a subject leader in a number of subject areas.

In addition to being a Lead Practitioner for the Trust, she is also Assistant Headteacher, responsible for Inclusion and Safeguarding, at Carmountside Primary Academy.

Jo has completed various leadership programmes, including the Aspiring Senior Leader’s programme, and has relished the opportunity to create an environment supportive of individuals in the process of change. Jo has supported other colleagues in other settings in the role of an SLE.

Her responsibilities as Assistant Headteacher include inclusion, child protection, safeguarding and all aspects of pastoral care, including mental health and wellbeing for children and families. She leads a team of teaching assistants who have all been trained to deliver targeted interventions. She liaises extensively with outside agencies, whether statutory or voluntary, in seeking additional support.

Jo is also a trained Mental Health First Aider and has also completed the DfE Senior Lead Mental Health and Wellbeing training. She is also an Early Help Champion and has successfully completed NPSLBA National Programs of Leadership in Behaviour and Attendance.

She has a breath of experience and knowledge, covering aspects of the effects of trauma and the impact on brain development, domestic abuse, child abuse, mental health, substance misuse, neglect, behaviour management, family support, looked after children, and interventions to support behaviour, speech and language.

Jo has a passion for inspiring pupils, parents and colleagues to overcome barriers to learning, increasing self-esteem, moderate behaviours and, in turn, achieve and be happy.


Sally Lynch - Trust Lead Practitioner:

Sally has over thirty years’ teaching and leading across the Early Years in various roles. She has had the opportunity to develop ideas, make suggestions for change and take a lead in projects and new initiatives developed locally and nationally.

In addition to being a Lead Practitioner for the Trust, she is also Assistant Head and Early Years Leader at Carmountside Primary Academy, with responsibility for leading a team of Early Years teachers and practitioners, delivering the EYFS curriculum, leading and implementing change and influencing best practice where possible. Sally is also Head of School at Oaklands Nursery.

Sally has had experience of creating an environment supportive of individuals in the process of change and has been successful in developing teaching and learning and improving outcomes. She strongly believes that outstanding leadership means empowering others and developing practitioners at all levels.

She has completed various leadership programmes, including the Aspiring Senior Leader’s programme which has supported her thinking and reflection when leading change. She has also recently achieved a Masters of Education in Early Years and Leadership.

Sally is passionate about the Early Years and driven by working in an environment which aims to make a difference to the lives of all children and strongly believes that every child has the right to the best start in life.

Previous roles included modelling, action planning, introducing new initiatives and working closely with colleagues to implement change, reflecting on current practice, encouraging self-evaluation, moderation and supporting the implementation of the new EYFS and National curriculum. She is also vice chair of the Staffordshire Professional Network and committee member of the Midlands Early Education group.


Janine Oakley - Trust Lead Practitioner:

Janine has a passion for all things teaching and learning. As an experienced English leader, she enjoys sharing good practice and working with colleagues to try new, innovative approaches or techniques. As an SLE, Janine has led English Leader CPD across Stoke-on-Trent, exploring how to engage with the latest research and to implement it practically in a way that works for individual settings.

In addition to being a Lead Practitioner for the Trust, she is also Lead Practitioner at Ellison Primary Academy with the responsibility for teaching and learning and staff development.

She sees supporting other teachers and leaders through the process of school improvement, acting as a coach and mentor, within her own academy and across the Trust, as an enormous privilege.

Janine has a deeply held belief in collaboration, empowering leaders and investing in the development of all staff to provide the best learning opportunities for all children.


Rebecca Redler - Trust Lead Practitioner:

Rebecca has been teaching for twelve years and, in addition to being a Lead Practitioner for the Trust, she is also Year 6 teacher and Maths Lead at Carmountside Primary Academy. She has held this responsibility for 8 years and is a member of the Senior Leadership Team, as well as a staff governor.

Since taking on the leadership of Maths, she has driven numerous developments in the subject, including redesigning and implementing a new curriculum and a whole school approach to teaching Maths. She has also been involved in a number of projects with the NCETM as part of the Teaching for Mastery programme and has completed the NPQSL.

She has considerable experience of working closely with a range of colleagues to monitor and evaluate teaching and learning, developing bespoke CPD and delivering ongoing support using a coaching style.

Rebecca is passionate about ensuring that all children have access to the highest quality of education and the opportunity to become confident and resilient learners.