United Schools Trust

To contact the Trustees directly, please email Julie Stuchbery-Ullah at chair@kingsteigntonschool.org


Penny Fitch

Principal , Chief Executive Officer and Accounting Officer

I began my teaching career in 2000 when my daughter started primary school, training through the Devon Primary SCITT – a programme which allowed me to train in a school-based setting. Previously, following a long period at University, first at Edinburgh where I studied Ecology and then at Exeter where I obtained my PhD researching badgers and bovine tuberculosis with the sponsorship of the Ministry of Agriculture, I worked as an ecological consultant and landscape designer.

Following my teacher training, I worked as a teacher in the South Hams until I was seconded to St Catherine’s School at Heathfield as Assistant Head and Year 6 teacher in 2010. The school celebrated an award for being one of the100 most improved schools in the UK in terms of the Year 6 results in 2012. In September 2012 I was appointed Head of School at Brixton St Mary’s Primary School which became part of the United Schools Federation in 2013. The school was judged as ‘Requires Improvement’ in an Ofsted inspection in December 2012 but in the next inspection in November 2014 the school was judged to be ‘Outstanding’ in all areas.

I was part of the team of Heads who put together the bid for the Kingsteignton Free School and was delighted to be appointed as Principal ready to open the school in September 2016. Since then I have been working hard to make sure the school provides the very best in terms of education for our children and we aim to make sure that the school is judged as Outstanding by Ofsted in our first inspection three years after opening.

If that all sounds rather dry, then I think it is essential to say that I also think it is incredibly important that what we do at school is fun, inspirational and highly motivating and that all our children want to come into school every day because they really enjoy the challenge of their learning.

Julie Stuchbery-Ullah

Chair of Trustees

Between 1982 and 2008, I worked in six secondary schools in different parts of the country and across both urban and rural settings. I have undertaken a number of different roles including: Classroom teacher, Head of Department, Head of Year, Assistant Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher, Vice Principal and Acting Principal. I was involved in creating a federation between a primary and secondary school to become an All-through School. I also spent 2 years as Director of Professional Development for the International Curriculum and Assessment Agency.

Since 2008, I have been a consultant to primary and secondary schools wishing to work collaboratively to improve outcomes for children and staff. This has involved supporting governors and senior leaders when embarking on formal consultation processes to form management partnerships, federations and co-operative trusts.

Throughout my career, I have volunteered as a staff governor and more recently have served on an Interim Executive Board for the LA, the management committee for a local provider of alternative provision and the trust board for two co-operative trusts.

Christina Mabin

Safeguarding Trustee

I am employed as a governance and admissions adviser for the CofE Diocese in Exeter. I work with over 130 CofE schools in 3 local authorities and represent the Diocese at local, regional and national level. My role involves supporting and advising schools in converting to academy and joining multi-academy trusts. Prior to this I was a primary school teacher. I have been a governor for many years in several different schools. I am currently a local governing body member of a school in a MAT, a member representative of a MAT as well as a director of a Kingsteignton Primary School.

Sue Clarke

Standards Trustee

I began my teaching career at an inner London primary school and recently retired from my post as Head of Education for Devon. I have also been a primary headteacher, a curriculum and leadership adviser, an inspector and was part of a ministerial advisory group.

I have lived in Teignbridge for over twenty years,. I am married and have two grown up children who both attended local schools.

I have always been a strong advocate of schools working in formal partnership and the importance of a broad and child centred curriculum particularly in the early years.

Charlotte Vicary-Ward

Parent Trustee

I have lived in Kingsteignton for the last 25 years. I am a mother of two, with my oldest being one of the first children to attend Kingsteignton School.

Since I left school in 2005 I have worked in a variety of Accounting and Finance roles. My current role is as a Finance Analyst for a company based in the South West, we build submarines and are currently building a series of boats for the United States Military.

I’m regularly around the school for drop off’s and pickups and I’m fully invested in Kingsteignton school and its community.

Kevin Presland


Kevin Presland is the national architectural lead for archive design, as architectural representative on the BSI drafting committee.

Kevin is also a specialist in education design working across all sectors. He has extensive experience of public sector buildings with Local Authority employment for 14 years and has worked for Atkins for the past 12 years.

Helen Hanks


I am a mental health occupational therapist (although not working clinically at present) and a quality improvement manager for Devon Partnership Trust, who provide the mental health and learning disability services for Devon. I am passionate about promoting the importance of mental well-being, challenging the stigma of mental ill-health and supporting all people to learn the skills needed to maintain positive physical, mental and emotional health.

I feel immense pride at the work being completed within Kingsteignton school – setting up as a dementia friendly school; the new school build being level access with adaptations throughout to make it accessible to all pupils, staff and carers; Grandparents day and teaching about all faiths and beliefs systems to name a few.

I am keen to be involved in supporting the school to grow and to develop on its outstanding start. I bring skills and experience of learning disabilities, mental health, quality improvement and change management, along with a desire to support this school in any way I can.

David Barnett


I am passionate about achieving the best for all our children and young people and have spent my whole career in the education system. I started as a teacher in Bristol and Bath, working there for 14 years, before relocating to Devon to take up my first primary Headship in a small school in the South Hams. I then worked for the Department for Education for 2 years. In 2008 I assumed the Headship of a large expanding primary school in Teignbridge during which time I supported other school leadership teams and was a member of the Devon Association of Primary Headteachers executive board. I left my last Headship in 2019 to work as an Educational Leadership and Management Consultant. I currently work with the Church of England Foundation for Education facilitating the National Professional Qualification for Headteachers programme across the country. I also work with the Devon Teaching School Partnership on the national qualifications for middle and senior leaders, as well as supporting a number of schools and Academy Trusts across the county.

I have 4 grown-up children who all attended local schools and when not working I enjoy being outdoors, particularly kayaking, paddle boarding and exploring the coastline.

Suzannah Wharf


I grew up in and around Exeter and following my A levels went to university in London and studied Biology at University College London. I started my teaching career in London in 1997 as a science teacher at Hampstead school in the Borough of Camden following my teacher training at King’s College London. Four and half years later I moved to Acland Burghley School, Camden, as Head of Science. In 2009 my family and I moved back to Devon where I worked for three years as an Assistant Headteacher at Eggbuckland Community College in Plymouth. In 2012 I moved to Coombeshead Academy in Newton Abbot and worked there for five years as Deputy Head. During this time I completed a Masters in Education with a focus on Professional Development and School Leadership. In 2017 I was appointed as Headteacher of Teign School in Kingsteignton, my current position, and completed my NPQH shortly afterwards.

I am passionate about the power of education in providing young people with the knowledge and understanding they need to navigate through a complex and rapidly changing society. Engaging with children to spark their curiosity, to develop their love of learning and to enthuse them about finding out about their world is central to my educational philosophy. I am committed to this role as Trustee for Kingsteignton School in order to support all children; their wellbeing and their education.

Karen West



Elizabeth Thompson


As Chair of United Schools Federation Governing Body, I was involved in the founding of Kingsteignton School and subsequently appointed as a Member, to support the work of the School’s Trustees. I have lived in Kingsteignton for fifty years and my four children attended local schools up to the age of 18. Prior to its closure, I worked for 18 years at a specialist College for deaf young people, run by a national charity. I then gained a degree in Human Resources and Personnel Management, and worked for local authorities until retirement eight years ago.

I am currently Vice-Chair of USF Governors, serving as Link Governor to St. Michael’s School and with specific concern for Special Needs and Disabilities’ provision across all USF schools. During the past years, I served on both secondary and primary schools’ Governing Bodies and acted as a Trustee for local organisations. I am still actively involved with numerous community projects within Kingsteignton.

I am passionate about children having the best possible opportunity to develop their potential in a safe and secure environment, and am committed to staff receiving appropriate and effective support as they serve the children and their families. I bring a commitment, enthusiasm and a positive approach to any role I undertake and as a Member, honoured to be part of Kingsteignton School team.

Nigel Canham


Initially trained as a registered psychiatric nurse and enjoyed a 15-year career in mental health and NHS/voluntary sector management. Subsequently worked with BBC Radio Devon as a volunteer for the South West Action for the Environment Team, a role which landed me a brief spell as broadcast assistant with ITV Westcountry. Later spent 13 years as reporter/senior reporter with the Mid-Devon Advertiser based in Newton Abbot and covering many aspects of local life, particularly politics.

In 2011 I founded Strategy Public Relations Ltd and have run the company profitably every year since. Clients include the USF and Newton Abbot Town Council. My company also represents the UK arm of the global minerals firm Sibelco.

I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, a Voluntary Warden with Dartmoor National Park Authority, Voluntary Press Officer for the Christow and District Show and formerly a member of the Christow Community Land Trust.

Ian Sherriff


Ian is a lecturer and researcher into dementia at Plymouth University. Ian lectures about dementia to all medical students i.e. nurses, doctors, paramedics, dentists etc. Ian’s lectures were the first in the country-teaching students from all medical professions about dementia. Ian is a founder member of the Plymouth University Dementia Group. Its research to date includes ‘Early Diagnosis of Dementia in Plymouth’, ‘Dementia Quality Mark for Residential Care’, evaluation of day opportunities provided by the voluntary and private sector for individuals with dementia and their carers, evaluation of residential care in Torbay which recently received the British Medical Journals Award for dementia team of the year. Ian is a member of a team from Plymouth University, which has secured six year funding (£9 million) to evaluate a ‘Living Well’ programme for older people in Torbay. Ian and the team from Plymouth University has recently been awarded £2.7 million for a 3 year to research study evaluating dementia support workers based in primary care from 2019 to 2021. Ian has just signed a memorandum agreement between Plymouth University and the University of Macau 2017/18/19/20 sharing expertise on dementia; Ian has secured two year funding to teach Chinese students in the UK and in China.

Ian presented at Alzheimer’s International Conferences between 2012 and 2020 and the all Wales Dementia Conference, the Prime Ministers Dementia Challenge launch, and at the D.of.H Expo. Ian has been a member of the Prime Ministers Dementia Friendly Communities Challenge Group since 2015, and is chair and represents the South and South West of England on this group. Ian was a Trustee for six years for the Alzheimer’s Society. Currently Ian is a national and international Ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society. Ian advised Devon County Council on its Centre of Excellence approach to dementia care. He is a founder member Dementia Friendly Parishes around the Yealm. Ian is the chair of the Prime Ministers Task and Finish group for Rural Dementia since 2015. He has been the national chair of the Prime Ministers Air Transport Dementia Group since 2015. Ian is the driving force behind the successful Plymouth International Dementia Conferences over the past seven years. Ian is a founder member and chair of the Plymouth Dementia Action Alliance, which won a national award of ‘Dementia Friendly City of the Year’.

He was commissioned by the Drake Foundation to evaluate the ex-military veteran’s memory café in Plymouth. This service is an exemplar in dementia support. Ian is currently working with researcher from China and Japan exploring cross-country ideas in dementia. Ian chairs a global group for dementia.

Ian is the chair of ‘Dementia in the Maritime Industry’ research programme 2019/2020.He launched the first dementia friendly community in Italy. Ian was a keynote speaker at the 2017 Tokyo and Osaka international dementia conferences and gave the keynote speech at the Osaka 2018 and 2019 international conferences. During 2019 Ian gave forty keynote speeches at regional, national and international conferences.

Ian is chair of Blind Veterans Research & Innovation Group.

In collaboration with National Association of Local Councils Ian is currently undertaking a survey of all town and parish councils in England to find out – how 10,000 town and parish councils are involved in the development and delivery of inclusive dementia friendly comminutes across the country. This research will identify solutions to the challenges faced by people living with dementia and their families in rural communities.

In Mach 2020, Ian has accepted an invited to join the International Standards group for Health & Social Care.

During the COVID19 crisis, Ian and the team at Plymouth University team are providing their skills and knowledge to the corona virus hub in Plymouth City, to support people living with dementia and their families.

Ian was awarded a B.E.M in the 2019 Queens Birthday Honours list in recognition for his work on dementia.

Ian Kenneth Grant Sherriff B.E.M.MA.DMS.CQSW. DipCll Academic Partnership Lead For Dementia Primary Care Group

Clinical Trials and Population Studies Faculty of Health: Medicine, Dentistry& Human Sciences University of Plymouth.