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Trustees and Members
Chief Executive & Trustee
Mark Kent


Mark joined the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College as Principal in January 2016 and is also the Chief Executive of the Potteries Educational Trust.  Having moved from his previous post as Deputy Principal at King Edward VI College, Stourbridge this is Mark’s sixth post in a sixth form college in his almost 30-year teaching career.

Mark has experience in training groups of teachers (including primary) in maths and statistics, delivering training modules for maths primary school under-graduate trainee teachers. During the course of his career he has also been involved in taster and master class sessions in primary schools.

Mark began his teaching in Oxford as a mathematics teacher, working his way up to Head of Mathematics, to Head of Faculty before re-joining King Edward’s where he had been Assistant Head of Mathematics for four years.

Mark heralds from Liverpool, where he studied maths, F maths, physics and economics A Levels at King David High School (a part Jewish state school) and then went on to complete a mathematics degree at Leeds University, followed by a PGCE and then a masters degree in statistics at Sheffield Hallam.

Mark has served on Mathematics in Education and Industry’s Curriculum Committee since 2006 and for some 15 years acted as an examiner and is trustee of an international publication.

Away from education Mark is a church warden at his local Anglican Church, and in his spare time leads worship in his church (playing a 12-string guitar and mandolin). He is also a photography enthusiast and keen walker and enjoys reading and spending as much time as he can with his family, as well as following Liverpool Football Club.


Liz Barnes


Professor Liz Barnes was appointed Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Staffordshire University and came to post on April 1, 2016. She was previously Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University where she worked for two years and her responsibilities included shaping the academic portfolio, enhancing the student experience and developing partnerships with Colleges, International Institutions and employers. Prior to this she held leadership roles at the University of Derby as Deputy Vice Chancellor (partnerships and region) and previously Pro-Vice-Chancellor – a role she took up in 2010.

Originally from Stafford, Professor Barnes started her career as a PE and Maths teacher in Stoke-on-Trent. She completed her MMedSci at Sheffield University and subsequently taught physiology at Teeside University where she introduced sport science. Whilst at Teesside, she also led the development of technology enhanced learning and internationalisation across the university. She was appointed as the first University Teaching Fellow in 1998 and later became Dean of Social Sciences and Law.

Professor Barnes’ career has been built on her passion for teaching and interests in employer engagement and technology-enhanced learning. She is a QAA auditor and Chair of the charity Safe and Sound Derby. She is also a member and Trustee of a number of other organisations. She is married with two daughters and lives in Abbots Bromley.


Trevor McMillan


Professor Trevor McMillan became Vice-Chancellor of Keele University in August 2015. Before moving to Keele as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost in January 2014 he was Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at Lancaster University, where he led several major academic developments and was the lead for many partnerships with other Universities and external organisations in the UK and abroad. Prior to being PVC at Lancaster Professor McMillan was Dean of the Institute of Environmental and Natural Sciences and Head of the Department of Biological Sciences.

Professor McMillan was educated at Birtley Lord Lawson Comprehensive School before studying biological sciences at Lancaster, graduating in 1981. He was awarded a PhD in Biophysics at the Institute of Cancer Research, University of London in 1984. His early research was carried out at the Institute of Cancer Research/Royal Marsden Hospital and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. A radiation biologist, Professor McMillan has published widely on the use of X-rays in radiotherapy and the harmful effects of long wavelength UV radiation in sunlight. In particular his research has examined the role of DNA damage and repair in the efficacy of radiotherapy and the harmful cellular effects of UVA following environmentally relevant exposures.

On the basis of his research, Professor McMillan has worked on several national committees that have examined the harmful effects of radiation in the environment. He has been awarded Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Radiologists and Honorary Membership of the Royal College of Physicians. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology. He has taught at all levels in Universities and to medical professionals around the world on the biological basis of cancer treatments.


Ian Starkie


With a four year break in the 2000s, Ian was a member of the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College Corporation between 1993 and 2015. He had spells as Chair of the Finance and Resources Committee and the Audit Committee during this period.

A history graduate who converted to accountancy, Ian was previously Director of Finance at Staffordshire University and Director of Corporate Affairs for Foundation Degree Forward. Now retired, Ian now acts as the National Treasurer of a small charity and is a Trustee of the Katharine House Hospice in Stafford.

Ian’s outside interests include travel, reading contemporary fiction and watching live sports.


Mike Herbert


Mike is a native of North Staffordshire with over 40 years’ experience dealing with commercial property in the Stoke on Trent and North Staffordshire area. He trained as a Chartered Surveyor with the Inland Revenue Valuation Office in the 1970’s, spent 10 years in private practice with Louis Taylor Chartered Surveyors before joining St. Modwen in 1990.

Mike has been responsible for St. Modwen’s developments and properties in North Staffordshire for over 25 years. St. Modwen has delivered massive regeneration and redevelopment of major brownfield sites, creating a wide range of commercial development opportunities, bringing about over £900m worth of investment into the area and about 12,500 jobs.

He is also Director of Trentham Estate and Gardens, owned by St. Modwen, and has led the major restoration and redevelopment of the important historic Gardens, Park and Estate creating a very popular tourist and leisure destination attracting over 3m visitors per year. Mike is also Deputy Chair of Governors of Staffordshire University and a Director of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.

In his spare time, Mike enjoys his family, now including grandchildren, attempts long distance cycling and tries to play golf.


Member & Trustee
Martin Jones


Martin is Deputy Vice Chancellor at Staffordshire University. He was previously the Director of the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre and Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sheffield.

Prior to these appointments Martin worked at Aberystwyth University as the Dean of Social Science, Co-Director of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Pro-Vice Chancellor. Martin has also worked at the University of Manchester in the School of Geography. Martin is a graduate of the Leadership Foundation’s Top Management Programme (TMP28) and is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and an Academician of Social Sciences.


John Smart


John has more than 30 years experience as a senior manager and business consultant, working across a whole range of sectors and sizes of organisation. John has two passions, one is helping people think differently, encouraging an environment that allows people to be both creative and innovative and secondly, harnessing that innovation to develop digital technology solutions to improve efficiency and effectiveness. John is semi-retired and, until recently, was Managing Director and Chair of Kapability Consultants Ltd with global clients ranging from blue chip to start-up enterprises.

Prior to this, John was head of Training and Development Services and Technical Training for British Telecommunications plc. He was previously a Board Member, the Head of Business Psychology and Distance Learning for the British Telecom Management College. John has a Master’s degree in Business Studies, and is an Enterprise Fellow at Keele University Mathematics and Computing School. He is an Executive Coach, NLP practitioner and licensed ThinkBuzan Instructor. For the last five years John has helped to develop and expand the renowned Student Led Consultancy Programme at Keele University. He also provides mentoring support for SMEs and start-up enterprises via the Chamber of Commerce. John has been an advisor to a number of organisations including The World Bank and International Telecommunications Union.

He is currently Chair of Digital Staffordshire, a committee of the LEP and Chamber of Commerce. He is also a Trustee of Silitoe Housing and a board member for the Stoke-on-Trent Place Board.


Kath Smith


Kath joined the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College Corporation in July 2015. She has worked in the field of further education most of her adult life. During her time as a lecturer at Stoke-on-Trent College she began to specialise in in the field of special education and in 1987 co-founded an independent specialist college for students with learning difficulties and disabilities.

She became a principal of the college in 1994. During this period as director and principal of the college, she spent two years as a board member of the Staffordshire Learning Skills Council until 2004 when she joined Ofsted as a full time HMI. Since retiring from Ofsted in 2011, she continued as a part-time inspector, whilst also providing consultancy support to general further education colleges and specialist providers. Kath has now retired from inspecting, and has more time to devote to her own interests, which include travelling and volunteering for the CAB.

Having been brought up and educated in the area, she is keen, through her role as governor, to support the College in providing the opportunities and raising the aspirations of students to help them succeed.

Paul Mangnall BSc


Paul spent the whole of his 39 year career in the Sixth Form College initially at Winstanley College, joining the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College in 1981 as a Head of Department. Paul was promoted to a senior manager position in 1993 and was closely involved in the to move independence at Incorporation in 1993. Appointed to the post of Deputy Principal in 2002, Paul demonstrated his extensive experience of the further education sector, with a particular expertise in leadership and management, quality assurance, and information systems.

Following the relocation of the college in 2010, Paul was promoted to Principal in September 2012. Paul has represented the Sixth Form College sector on a number of national representative bodies responsible for the development of funding and information systems policy. For over ten years, 1995 to 2005, Paul was a registered part-time Inspector with the Further Education Funding Council and subsequently transferred to OFSTED. Paul also has extensive experience of curriculum development and assessment. Over a period of 20 years, the period Paul held the position of Chief Examiner for a national assessment board and was subsequently Chair of Examiners. Within the local context, Paul has extensive contacts across educational partnerships and was Vice-Chair of governors at a local school for over 12 years.

Since retirement in 2015, Paul has increased his involvement in school governance in two local Academies.


Peter Gavin


Peter Gavin is an employment lawyer and Managing Partner of Freeths LLP’s Stoke office (formerly KJD Solicitors). Peter is a born and bred Stokie who left High School and spent Peter Gavin is an employment lawyer and Managing Partner of Freeths LLP’s Stoke office (formerly KJD Solicitors).

Peter is a born and bred Stokie who left High School and spent 3 years at Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College before joining KJD Solicitors in 1982. He undertook part time study for a law degree and graduated from Staffordshire University where he also undertook his Legal Practice Course. Peter has advised and acted for Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College for over 20 years and was part of KJD’s team which oversaw the College’s relocation from Fenton Manor to the current Stoke site.

Peter also acts for other colleges and academies although not currently a board member or governor of such institutions. Peter has a particular interest in assisting young people in education and has through his firm actively sponsored activities, study prizes and work experience schemes etc. to help to encourage young people to achieve their maximum potential through education, hard work and experience.

Peter is also actively involved with introducing Tomorrow’s People into our area. This organisation provides dedicated assistance to help young people into sustainable employment. Peter is a member of Freeth’s Management Board and also a member of Freeth’s Education Group which has a number of partners and senior lawyers with specific interest in the Education Sector, many who sit on and/or advise institutions at all levels across the sector.

Peter Gavin is an employment lawyer and Managing Partner of Freeths LLP’s Stoke office (formerly KJD Solicitors).


Charles Freeman PhD, MA(Ed), BSc


Charles has served the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College as Governor since 2002 and has been Chair of the Corporation since September 2010, he is also Vice-Chair of a number of the Corporation Committees. From May 2000 to August 2008 he served as Headteacher of Wolstanton High School, Newcastle-under-Lyme which is an 11-16 mixed comprehensive school with 1100 pupils coming under Staffordshire Local Authority.

Previously Charles was Deputy Head in a similar sized school in Hampshire and prior to that he was Head of Year in two schools also in Hampshire. Charles is also Chair of Governors of St. Margaret’s (CE) Junior School, Newcastle-under-Lyme, having been a Governor since 2008. He has a wealth of experience working with staff and pupils from primary and secondary sectors from 1976 to the present day. Having studied Physiology and Biochemistry at Southampton University and then researched a Biochemistry Ph.D. (Mechanistic Aspects of Cholesterol Biosynthesis!!) it is not surprising that he taught Science as his main subject.

In September 2008 Charles retired from teaching after 32 years service but he continues to provide voluntary support to education in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire on various committees and panels. In his spare time Charles is an avid gardener, wildlife photographer and all things practical. He is an expert rifle shooter having shot for the Great Britain Junior team in his younger days, but ageing vision mean that he no longer reaches such dizzy heights of achievement.


Michael Astley


Michael graduated in International History and Educational Studies and gained his PGCE at Keele University. He became a History teacher at Sandon High School in Stoke on Trent and soon became a Head of Year and led a team of Learning Mentors across six secondary schools. Michael then became Head of Humanities at Hagley Park in Rugeley.

By the age of 33, Michael had been promoted to one of the youngest Headteachers in the country, overseeing an increase in the GCSE performance of students from 22% 5A* – C (including English and Maths) in 2010 to 60% 5A* – C (including English and Maths) in 2015.

He also chaired a District Inclusion Panel and was an adviser for PiXL. He then became Principal at St Peter’s Academy in Stoke on Trent, a school in Special Measures. Within 18 months, the Academy had come out of Special Measures, achieving a ‘Good’ grade for Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare. Ofsted reported that he had ‘transformed the school by instilling a positive and ambitious culture and considerably improving rates of attainment and progress’.

Michael is also a representative of the City for education, working with the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce. Michael is driven to get the very best from his staff and therefore his students. He is passionate about giving them the opportunities to develop the confidence and determination that will help them thrive in school and beyond.

In his spare time Michael enjoys playing cricket, as well as following Crewe Alexandra Football Club.


Michelle Johnstone


Michelle Johnstone is an executive Headteacher working across two large primary schools and a nursery school in Stoke-on-Trent. She is a qualified teacher and has extensive senior management experience in schools as a Headteacher and as a local authority adviser, supporting and challenging schools within the primary sector and leading the early years quality improvement team.

She has particular expertise in early years, primary education, pupils for whom English is an additional language and supporting schools which are deemed inadequate. Michelle has recently qualified as an Ofsted Inspector. Her employment history is as follows:

  • Teacher at Holden Lane Primary School Sep 1990 – 1998
  • Deputy Headteaher at Oakhill Primary School Sep 1998 – 2004
  • Advisory Headteacher with the LA from Sep 2004 – 2010 (role changed, primary SIP and lead for Early Years Quality Improvement Team.
  • Headteacher for St Mark’s Primary School Sep 2010 to current date
  • Became Exec Head in Jan 2014 for Thomas Boughey Nursery School and then in Feb 2014 for Etruscan Primary School