The Trust Team

Sue Samson MBE

CEO, University of Chichester Academy Trust





Sue is responsible for the strategic development of the Trust.

Sue is a committed and experienced educationalist with her heart very firmly in the classroom. She trained as a teacher and has an MA in Education.  During her career she has taught in a number of challenging schools across the phases and managed and led a wide range of educational change programmes locally, regionally and nationally. She has worked in primary, secondary, special and further education establishments as a teacher, education adviser, a management trainer and an Ofsted inspector. She has also had local and national government roles which have included School Improvement Adviser, Partnership Manager, Director of Young Peoples Learning and Director of Academies for London and the South East. Sue has also been responsible for major change programmes in the Department for Education and recently spent some time in Uganda working in a voluntary capacity, using her experience to inform educational change programmes elsewhere.  

Sue Samson was awarded an MBE in the 2020 Honours List for her "outstanding contribution to education"

Jacqui Farrell

PA to Sue Samson, CEO

Jacqui has relocated from Bristol where she most recently worked in a large Secondary School as Personal Assistant to the Heads of House and Office Manager for 15 years. Previously to that her role was Human Resources Officer within the Supercomputer Industry which spanned 12 years.  Both of these roles have required high level organisational skills and a ‘can do’ attitude. 

Education and School Improvement

James Humphries

Director of Standards and Effectiveness
University of Chichester Academy Trust

Working in education for over 25 years, James has spent his career in a wide range of challenging urban settings. He has experience as a subject leader for English and as a curriculum adviser in a local authority. His senior leadership has focused on the curriculum as Assistant Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher, with staff development around teaching and learning as a particular strength. Before joining the Trust, James had two Headships, one of a large inner-city secondary school and another as an interim Head in a special school.

Alan Coombs

Trust Administrator
University of Chichester Academy Trust

Alan recently took redundancy from a local District Council where he worked as a Senior Benefits Officer within the Revenue Division for 13 years. Before this he had a similar role with a neighbouring Council for a 15-year period, where he was responsible for managing teams engaging in the collection of local taxation (Council Tax) and the assessment of Housing Benefit.

Sam Parkes

School Improvement Specialist - Mathematics
University of Chichester

Sam teaches on the primary undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, contributes to secondary subject knowledge enhancement courses and designs and delivers masters-level programmes in mathematics. Previously a mathematics leader and assistant head teacher, Sam has undertaken CPD with a number of schools focusing on topics such as: mathematical reasoning; questioning; developing good quality mathematical activities within an investigative approach; working with parents; curriculum delivery; and AfL. Her research interests lie in the field of collaborative professional development, leading and managing sustainable change and developing an effective school culture in mathematics.

Kirstie Hewett

Kirstie Hewett

School Improvement Specialist - English
University of Chichester

Following twenty years' experience as a Primary school teacher Kirstie joined the University’s English team, teaching on both the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Previously a Deputy Head and Co-Head teacher, Kirstie has a BEd (Hons) in English and an MA (Ed) in Leadership and Management as well as the NPQH and National Award for Special Needs Co-ordinators. Her research interests lie in the field of the leadership and management of change and in developing outstanding leadership of and learning in English throughout the Primary phase. She has recently led CPD focusing on all aspects of English including Guided Reading, Talk For Writing, raising attainment in Phonics and developing middle leadership.

Also working with the Academy Trust’s School Improvement team

Our Academy Improvement Partners  

  • Bruce Waelend
  • Marie Heinst
  • Liz Bowes
  • Kevin Parfoot
  • Julie Turvey
  • Andrew Olive

Professional Services


David Watling

Director of Finance and Operations






Aksana Trifonos

Financial Controller

Aksana Trifonos is an ACCA qualified accountant who has worked in variety of roles demonstrating strong financial understanding with increasing responsibilities in private practice of accountants, private companies, and charity sector. A track record of achievement and recognition has been built on strong academic success, varied experience, and self-motivation. She has worked at one of the largest accountancy practices in West Sussex MHA Carpenter Box Limited where she gained her experience in the tax advisory team, audit and assurance services, as well as business services group. ​ 

Kyla Batcheler

School Business Partner

Kyla has accumulated 15 years in finance, working in a large variety of accounting based roles, from Local Housing Association to large defence contracts. 5 years ACCA qualified she has a solid foundation of Business Partnering experience and a firm focus on utilising systems to provide efficiencies and effective finance training.