Board of Trustees

Paul Whitman (Chair)

For the first 10 years of his career, Paul worked for Barclays plc in a variety of retail banking roles in the UK and Africa. Since 2007, he has run his own business as an independent Learning and Development Consultant working across the globe with a range of diverse blue-chip organisations focusing on leadership and creating the conditions for team success. He is experienced in project management, program design and facilitation at all levels of leadership and enjoys the challenge of working and facilitating diverse geographical and cultural groups.

A Trustee of Abbey MAT since its inception, Paul considers himself fortunate to have had the opportunity to create something new, lending his previous local governor experience and professional skills to help create the conditions for the Trust to be successful. Paul continues to be motivated to help the Trust provide the best possible start in life for the children of Leeds which encompasses all aspects of education – academic, social and spiritual.

Paul has three children who have all attended St Chad’s C of E Primary and Abbey Grange C of E Academy and is a practicing Christian worshipping at St George’s Church. In his spare time, Paul enjoys travelling and pursues a wide variety of interests including live music, playing the piano, mountain biking, swimming, and running.

Gefrin Price (Vice Chair)

Gefrin has worked at Lloyds Banking Group for 30 years where he is currently the Operations Director for the Halifax Community Bank and has responsibility across Operations, Risk, Brand and People whilst supporting Lloyds Banking Group’s overall purpose of Helping Britain Prosper.

An MBA graduate, Gefrin’s career has seen him undertake a range of leadership, policy and strategic roles. He enjoys working with others to help maximise opportunities and overcome challenges, whilst coaching individuals to help them reach their potential. Gefrin is married and enjoys cycling, hill walking and reading.

Tessa Mason

A highly experienced education adviser and consultant, Tessa was a primary teacher and then headteacher before joining the Department for Education in 2008 to undertake a number of national roles including Regional Adviser for the Training and Development Agency (TDA) for Yorkshire and the Humber, Regional Adviser for the NCTL (Yorkshire), and then Regional Adviser (Lancashire and West Yorkshire) for the Teaching School Council. In November 2019, Tessa was awarded a Fellowship of the Chartered College of Teaching (FCCT).

Tessa is passionate about high quality education and is recognised for her work in the diocesan schools’ sector. Lending her professional skills and experience to support leaders, Tessa’s role as a Trustee with Abbey MAT is motivated by her deep commitment to Leeds communities and addressing inequality in educational outcomes. Formerly Chair of St Chad’s C of E Primary, Tessa is Chair of the local governing board of Bishop Young CE Academy and is also a Member and the Chair of the Board of Trustees of another diocesan MAT as well as being a member of the Leeds Playhouse Development Board.

Tessa enjoys piano playing and gardening and her free time is devoted to a range of interests including fine arts, music, environment and health, design, and most especially, her grandchildren.

Steve Simkins

Steve is an Actuary and a Partner of Isio where he leads the Public Services team with many clients across the sector, including school academies and local authorities, working closely with colleagues on a wide range of issues. He is married to Naomi and has four children who have all attended Abbey Grange Academy. Steve lives in Calverley and is a member of St Wilfrid's C of E Church. In his spare moments Steve might be found playing the trombone or riding his bike.

Frances Baker

Fran is a barrister specialising in civil litigation. She read law at Oxford University and was called to the Bar by Lincolns Inn in 2007. Frances joined DWF Advocacy in April 2020 after over eleven years' experience at the self-employed bar.

In May 2020, Fran was appointed as a Deputy District Judge on the North Eastern Circuit. Fran also acts as an external examiner for the Bar Standards Board and provides training in advocacy and public speaking. In her spare time, Frances enjoys reading, hiking and cinema.

Peter Laurence

Peter worked for over forty years as a secondary history teacher, senior leader, headteacher, and then led the creation of a cross-phase co-operative trust which became a seven-school multi-academy trust in 2016. He also worked as a regional adviser with The National College in supporting leadership development and succession planning, as a consultant headteacher with a local authority, and advised leaders and governors in setting up school partnerships and multi-academy trusts. In theory, he has been retired since 2019.

As well as being a Trustee of the Abbey MAT, Peter is also a Member of three other MATs in the region. He is currently Chair of Governors of two academies in the Abbey MAT: Lightcliffe Academy and Christ Church Upper Armley Primary. Peter is a member of the Leeds Diocesan Board of Education.

William Rachmann

William qualified as an accountant in South Africa, with an additional MBA degree obtained from Bradford University. William was Divisional Finance Director of a FTSE 250 company for over 28 years, growing the company into a multimillion business by strategizing and overseeing growth, risks, and governance, and is presently the Group Head of Finance for Trespass. William is also a member of The UK Chartered Governance Institute.

Inspired by his partner, a primary school teacher for the past 28 years and committed Town Councillor, William caught the bug for giving back to the community and now utilises his years of experience in the business sector for the benefit of Abbey MAT through his role as a Trustee.

An enthusiastic cyclist, William also enjoys walks with their little dog, and family time at their seaside caravan. He is fond of good, home cooked food, and an excellent barbeque.

Robert Pritchard

An education professional of over 30 years’ experience, Robert has been a teacher, headteacher in three secondary schools, governor, trustee, a senior Her Majesty’s Inspector and a MAT CEO. Robert has also worked as a national leader of education (NLE) supporting schools in challenging circumstances, working with colleagues to ensure they made rapid progress to become good and outstanding. He is currently National Director of Education for Ormiston Academies Trust, a large national multi academy trust comprised of primary, secondary, special, and alternative provision academies. In his free time, Robert enjoys walking and cycling.

Kamila Morawiecka-Watkins

A highly skilled HR professional with over 17 years of experience in human resources roles within large organisations, Kamila is presently Senior HR Business Partner at Oxfam.

Having joined Abbey MAT as a Trustee in 2020, Kamila now lends her skills and experience to help improve outcomes for young people within the Trust and the wider local community. She is committed to ensuring that the future of Abbey MAT is sustainable, diverse, and that it continues to uphold and deeply embed its educational philosophy, ethos and values.

Kamila previously served for four years as a trustee and non-executive director of another academy trust in Leeds, contributing to its growth from one single school to a high-performing MAT of four.