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Trust Board

The Girls' Learning Trust has eleven trustees. Ten of these are volunteers and one is the Chief Executive Officer.  Board Meetings are also attended by the Chief Operating Officer.

Sandy Gillett (Appointed Trustee - Chair)

Sandy is currently Chair of the Trust Board, having been Vice Chair for a number of years and is a founding member of the Trust. Before that she was Chair of Governors at Wallington High School for Girls and a governor at Wallington County Grammar School for Boys.  Prior to her retirement Sandy worked in Human Resources in the NHS and was HR Director of an NHS Trust.  She is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and has a Masters in Organisational Behaviour from Birkbeck College, University of London.  Sandy is also an accredited coach and is qualified in psychometric testing.

Term of office expires: 31 August 2024

Philip Taylor (Appointed Trustee - Vice Chair)

Philip was a parent governor at Nonsuch for 8 years prior to joining the Board as a Trustee when the Trust was formed.  After 32 years in a variety of roles at IBM, most recently as Chief Operating Officer for IBM’s European Artificial Intelligence division, Philip changed career and now works as frontline emergency ambulance crew for the South East Coast Ambulance Service, beginning his journey to qualify as a paramedic.  Outside work, Philip is a keen musician belonging to two amateur orchestras in London.  He can occasionally be seen in the jazz band at Nonsuch.

Term of office expires: 31 August 2027

Hamza Aumeer (Appointed Trustee)

Hamza became an appointed governor at Wallington High School for Girls in 2002 and, in 2017, Chair of Governors.  He was appointed as a Member of the Girls’ Learning Trust in 2015.  During his long career in healthcare, he has held senior posts including Principal of a College of Healthcare Studies, Inspector with the statutory nursing body (ENB) and Senior Regional Officer with the Royal College of Nursing; he served for six years on the national committee for research and policy development of the Chartered Management Institute where his is a Fellow.  He was also appointed for ten years on the Quality Scrutiny Group of the General Medical Council to oversee UK-wide medical education. He is a part- time Associate Lecturer and Practice Tutor with the Open University.  He has been an elected trustee for the pension scheme of the Nursing and Midwifery Council since 2008.

Term of office expires: 23 August 2024

Raeesa Chowdhury (Appointed Trustee)

Raeesa was appointed to the Board as a Co-opted trustee in 2022. She is a corporate solicitor, practising for approximately 9 years and currently works for an international private practice legal business in London. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature from UCL and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Law. She has is passionate about equal opportunities in education and is keen to promote, develop and support policies for the benefit of students and educational institutions in this regard. Outside of work, she enjoys keeping active (whether by hiking or going to the gym) and is a keen traveller (travel restrictions permitting) with the objective of visiting at least three new cities or countries a year.

Term of office expires: 9 February 2026

Nina Combellack Chabrier (Co-opted Trustee)

Nina is a qualified lawyer and coach. She began her career in an international law firm in Paris, prior to moving to the USA where she joined a non-profit organisation protecting domestic violence survivors and working to improve the wellbeing of children living in poverty. Since relocating to London in 2015, Nina has worked in the international charity sector focusing primarily on children’s rights. Nina is also a certified health and life coach, and dedicates her practice to supporting women’s wellbeing and empowerment.

Term of office: Nina was co-opted on to Trust Board in September 2023 for an initial one-year term.

Andrea Cooke (Appointed Trustee)

Andrea is Chair of Governors for Nonsuch High School for Girls having started as a parent at Nonsuch 12 years ago.  She is a Chartered Accountant with a degree in Natural Sciences and Management Studies. She has had a career in finance working as an audit manager in a city accounting practice before transferring to the education sector with experience in both secondary and primary schools.  She now works as a School Business Manager in a local primary school.  She has been involved in finance across the Trust since it was set up and has been Vice Chair of the Trust Finance Committee for the past 4 years. She was a former pupil in a girls’ grammar school and has keen interest in girls’ education.

Term of office expires: 31 August 2026

Rob Etchell (Appointed Trustee)

Robert was a governor at Wallington High School for Girls for over 8 years including Vice Chair for the last 3 years.  His career in Architecture has spanned over 30 years in leading design practices within the UK, currently a Director heading up the Healthcare Sector for both national and international work.  His experience is also utilised on behalf of the Government’s DIT and Healthcare UK, as a Board Director of UKIHMA where his experience is put to use enabling both private sector and NHS Trusts winning valuable work internationally.  From the MAT’s inception Robert has supported its vision to enhance the quality of girls’ education in the local area.

Term of office expires: 23 August 2024

Fiona Johnston (Co-opted Trustee)

Fiona is currently Chair of Governors at Carshalton High School for Girls, as well as a former parent at Wallington High School for Girls - where she was an active member of the PTA. She has recently left teaching, after over 34 years in the SEND sector. She has worked as a consultant with a specialist provision in Sutton, as well as in a voluntary capacity with local Children's Centres, in developing early communication. In her spare time, she enjoys running, pilates and yoga, as well as growing her own veg.

Term of office expires: 22 September 2024

Nigel Pepper (Appointed Trustee)

Nigel has enjoyed a long career in finance and business and has held senior positions in a number of leading international institutions.  He has an accomplished track record in risk management, developing strong and sustained partnerships with clients, industry bodies and regulators.  Nigel employs his extensive strategic and analytical experience to drive educational improvements across the Trust and increase opportunities for students from all abilities and backgrounds.  He holds a Master’s degree from Imperial College in London and is a founding trustee of the Trust.

Term of office expires: 31 August 2027

Veena Sivapalan (Co-opted Trustee)

Veena is a UK qualified solicitor, having read Law with German Law at Oxford.  She spent a number of years practising as an employment lawyer at a global law firm, before moving to a large international children’s charity, where she is responsible for the day-to-day running of its in-house legal team.  As a former pupil of Wallington High School for Girls, and with a young daughter, Veena has a keen interest in girls’ education. 

Term of office: Veena was co-opted on to Trust Board in September 2023 for an initial one-year term.

Jennifer Smith (Chief Executive Officer and Trustee)

Jen Smith (@JenSmithGLT) / TwitterJennifer joined the Trust as CEO in September 2019. She provides strategic leadership to the Trust and is accountable, with the Board, for the performance of its schools. With a degree in English and a Masters in Comparative Education, she began her teaching career 35 years ago in Glasgow comprehensives. Since then she has been Head of English at Rosebery School in Epsom and at Wallington County Grammar. She was Deputy Head for ten years at Wilsons School in Sutton and was latterly Head for seven years at Brighton Girls School, GDST.

We’re always keen to speak to potential Trustees and School Governors. If you’re interested in volunteering with us, you can sign up to our waiting list here.

You can contact the Trust Board directly through the Clerk by emailing Andrew Horrod at