SM

Meet the Team

We have a highly-skilled and dedicated leadership team and central staff to support the work of our Trust.

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SM's Central Team

Dave Carter
Chief Executive Officer

It is a privilege to serve the children, staff, and school communities of SM as CEO. I get to work with the most committed, capable, and kind colleagues anyone could wish for and, since the formation of the Trust in 2017, it has been a joy to witness the ever-closer collaboration and shared ministry of schools within the SM family.

Prior to taking on the role of CEO, I was Headteacher of St Philip Howard Catholic School in Barnham - an Ofsted Outstanding secondary school in Barnham. I have enjoyed working as a National Leader of Education, Executive Head in both Primary and Secondary settings and leading a vibrant Teaching School Alliance. Before teaching, I trained and worked for four years as a Chartered Accountant. Whilst not the vocation for me, it has certainly come in handy over the course of my teaching career.

Paul Bilton
Chief Finance & Operations Officer

I joined the Trust on 31 October 2022. I am excited about helping the Trust to grow in line with the Bishop’s Vision for education in Sussex and in supporting individual Catholic schools to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our pupils.

Prior to joining the Trust, I worked for five years as Chief Operating Office of Worth School and Abbey. I am a qualified accountant and have been a civil servant in my career as well as working in FTSE-100 companies and in a large accountancy firm. Many years ago, I was a governor in one of our primary schools. In 2017 I was ordained as a Permanent Deacon and am part of the clergy team in the Parish of St Paul’s, Haywards Heath.

Jill Alcorn
Regional Hub Manager

I began working in West Sussex schools in January 1999, having worked previously for Barclays Bank, GTE Directories and running my own dog grooming business. My first school job was at Summerlea in Rustington, where I began doing two hours a day. My career, although never planned, has expanded beyond anything I could have imagined. I became the Chief Finance Officer when the Trust began in 2017 then subsequently became Regional Hub Manager in 2023, supporting several schools across the Trust alongside my role as School Business Manager at St Philip Howard Catholic School in Barnham.

I hold the Certificate and Diploma in School Business Management and the Certificate in Financial Reporting for Academies. The Trust is beginning to grow more quickly now, and the next phase will bring many more challenges.

Gemma Irvine
Director of Primary Education

I am privileged to work as Director of Primary for the SM Trust as well as fulfilling my role as Headteacher at one of our Trust schools, St Mary’s. I joined St Mary’s in 2017 just after it joined the Trust. We are very proud to say we were the first primary school in the Trust. Through collaborative working with like minded people the school has grown and developed on its journey.

I work closely with the Directors of English and Maths and the Primary Heads across the Trust to support the strategic development and improvement of the teaching and learning of all pupils. I love data and use it ensure no child in the primary schools gets left behind in their progress and attainment. I believe I was called to work for SM as I am passionate about enabling children, particularly those who may be disadvantaged or have additional needs to reach their full potential and believe in themselves and their abilities.

Rob Carter
Director of Secondary Education

I have been Headteacher at St Paul’s Catholic College since 2009. During this time we have lived out a deep-rooted commitment to being outreaching in our work with other schools, teacher training and universities both nationally and internationally. This has led the school to being consistently in the top 10% in exams at GCSE and A level.

I have been an Executive Headteacher and National Leader of Education with a focus on school improvement work in primary and secondary schools. We believe we need to ‘inspire a living faith with hope and love’ and this is lived out in the work in the SM family of schools. Our faith challenges us to ‘never accept second best’ for any of the young people we are blessed to serve. By being deeply committed to learning, individually and collectively, we always strive to improve what we do each day.

Lucie Brown
Director of Primary English

I work part-time as the Director of Primary English for the Trust whilst fulfilling my role as Year 4 teacher and Assistant Headteacher at one of our Trust schools, St Joseph’s. I'm passionate about allowing children to immerse themselves into high quality and inspiring books to promote a love of learning and enabling individuals to unlock the power of language.

I work closely with the English leads across the Trust to support the development of all literacy skills and offer a variety of training to all staff members, support school leaders and use links with local authorities to aid moderation training and events.

I'm passionate about children knowing the impact their voice and words can have, leaving the education system as kind, empathetic and empowered young people. Through the magic of language, books and poetry, I hope to provide children with the gift of linguistic diversity, opening doors to explore people, cultures and ideas.

Rebecca Turvill
Director of Primary Maths

I am the Director of Primary Maths for the trust and work part time in this role. Alongside the maths subject leaders in the schools, I make bespoke plans to support schools as they continue their own development with mathematics. This includes offering staff training, working alongside teachers and teaching assistants and supporting subject leads and other senior leaders in strategic planning. I also run projects for the Maths Hub and encourage schools to make good use of Maths Hub provision to support their own school CPD.

My passion is social justice through mathematics education and seek opportunities to offer ways to “read and write the world with mathematics”. I believe that becoming mathematically literate is not only vital for educational purposes and personal fulfilment, but also to equip children to address the key challenges which face their generation such as climate change and social inequality.

Graham Jones
Director of Teacher Training

I have 25 years experience as a science teacher and leader within Hampshire and West Sussex schools. My leadership roles have included both pastoral and faculty responsibilities at a number of schools, as well as being part of the extended leadership team at St Philip Howard Catholic School.

Currently, I am the Director of SM Teacher Training. My primary role involves the recruitment and training of teachers, in both our primary and secondary SCITT Hubs based in Sussex. Our ITT courses lead to the award of QTS and PGCE in partnership with Teach SouthEast SCITT and the University of Sussex.

I also lead the delivery of the ECF programme to our trust and diocese primary and secondary school across Sussex.

Katie Wood
Educational Psychologist

I'm a HCPC registered Child and Educational Psychologist and support all of the schools in the SM trust working with students, staff and families. Primarily using a consultation model, I work with adults who know the children best to identify strengths and needs, and to develop shared strategies and actions. I also offer clinical supervision to school counselling staff and safeguarding leads and deliver training and workshops.

I live in Brighton with my husband and two sons. I completed my undergraduate degree at Loughborough University, and my doctorate at the University of East London. My research interests are in attachment and trauma, and power within the education system. In my free time, I enjoy swimming in the sea, following the ups and downs of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, and watching my sons play cricket.

Dan Smith
Director of IT

I am passionate about delivering exciting technology-enhanced learning (TEL) experiences for learners, and high-quality services for our community. I believe in the importance of being grounded in evidence-based practice, and in 2019 I successfully completed a Masters degree in Education, specialising in research leadership.

As a Specialist Leader of Education in technology, I have collaborated with teaching professionals from across the south east of England, and with colleagues from international schools including Shanghai. I have provided coaching, consultation and support to schools on topics such as one-to-one device management and deployment, and the effective use of technology for teaching.

I am fortunate enough to oversee a fantastic team of IT specialists and professionals dedicated to providing outstanding support and development for SM's schools.

Vicki Ford-Smith
Estates Compliance Manager

I joined SM in February 2023 as the Estates Compliance Manager. I have worked as a health and safety professional for around 17 years and spent most of my career working in the education sector.

I love working in schools because they are such complex environments, where you rarely get the same day twice. I have lived in Sussex my whole life and am really excited about joining the trust that operates within my area. I can’t wait to start supporting the schools already in the trust, and those who will join in the future, with their compliance needs.  

I believe passionately that effective health and safety management can be built into the day to day running of any organisation and is vital in demonstrating to staff and key stakeholders our commitment to providing a safe and healthy learning and working environment.

Mary Sawyer
Finance Manager

I started work as the trust's Finance Manager in April, bringing with me a wealth of skills and knowledge from my background in finance and school business management. My initial focus is on supporting the Trust to meet its financial requirements at an exciting time of the Trust’s growth and development.

I am a qualified accountant having achieved membership of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants whilst working in local government. Returning to work after having had triplets, I went onto pursue a career in school business management. My finance and management skills proved useful working as a business manager in primary schools, where I enjoyed being part of the management team helping children to obtain a rewarding educational experience. I consolidated this knowledge, obtaining a Diploma in School Business Management with my transition to the central team enabling me to return to focus on using my finance and accounting skills whilst understanding the particular needs of schools.

When not supporting my children, my passion is music; I play oboe and bassoon in two local concert bands and an orchestra, and also support the bands as treasurer.

Alice Mackay
Office Manager

I joined SM in April 2022. After seven years in the Royal Navy as a Wren Radio Operator I found my love for organisation and teamwork translated perfectly into an administrative career in "civvy street". Since 1994 I have been a PA, EA and Office Manager in all sorts of industry sectors including healthcare, sales, investment banking and private equity. Along the way I've developed a sound knowledge and wealth of experience in admin management, HR, projects, research, proof-reading, minute-taking, finance and events.


I feel so lucky to be working with such a dedicated and inspirational team and am excited to see what the future holds.