Academy Council

Brook Academy is part of the Cabot Learning Federation, a multi-academy trust that is responsible for a number of academies across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset. Governance for a multi-academy trust operates at two levels. At trust level, there is a Board of Directors. The directors are accountable to the Department for Education and external government agencies, including the Charity Commission, for the quality of the education the trust provides and the effective use of the associated academy funding. They are required to have systems in place through which they can assure themselves of quality, financial probity, safety and good practice. The Board is provided assurance on a number of these areas through various sub-committees, as shown in the diagram below.
At a local level, each academy has an Academy Council comprising of up to 13 Academy Councillors. Academy Councils are responsible for holding Principals and their leadership teams to account for the quality and effectiveness of the academic experience of the students under their care with the aim of securing effective school improvement. They do this through monitoring performance against an annual academy improvement plan, through monitoring risks and responses to risks, and by overseeing systems and processes for the safeguarding of children and the health, safety and wellbeing of academy staff.

Chair of Interim Executive Board

Gus Grimshaw, Chair of Academy Council

Gus is retired and enjoying life back in the Cotswolds with his wife and two dogs. He is a very proud parent of two sons and grandfather to five grandchildren. A passionate follower of sport, his durability is illustrated by being a Bath Rugby season ticket holder for 50 years. Gus became a Trustee in 2018 after spending five very enlightening years 'farming' and running a tourist business in North Devon.

The majority of his working life was as a teacher and then Headteacher in schools in Bath, South Gloucestershire and Bristol. During his 30 years of Headship experience, he was fortunate to be part of a Building Schools for the Future scheme, a mini Education Action Zone, the BEON project (a scheme to introduce IT and the intranet into the classroom) and a School of Creativity. Gus was also privileged to be seconded to work at the local authority on developing federations and trusts to encourage and promote partnership working and executive leadership across schools. His school was one of the first in Britain to host a breakfast club, a forest school and a Children’s University (extended activities on a Saturday).

Gus has the leadership experience of being involved in four new builds and as a founding member of a free school. Throughout his career, Gus believed in parental engagement and partnership working and the value of education in regenerating communities.

Term of office ends: 31 May 2026

Interim Executive Board Members

Vani Devi Kirshnan UnnySponsor Councillor

Vani is a project management professional with over 18 years of experience in organisational change, business and data analysis, process improvements, service management, risk and governance, along with project, programme and portfolio delivery. She has recently moved to Cheltenham to be closer to her son's secondary school.

From a volunteering perspective, Vani has extensive experience working with a homeless charity, in several roles as a home cook, hands-on work from distributing food to running their social media campaigns. Vani has also worked closely with her son's primary school in Bristol, to organise and run PTA events/school fetes, to support teachers with reading and trips. While in India, Vani was working for an educational charity to teach maths and English to children from a deprived area.

Vani is keen to contribute to the community by supporting causes that matter. When she came across this opportunity to work with Brook Academy she felt it would utilise her professional experience to support the school.

Term of office ends: 30 March 2026

Nathan RoeSponsor Councillor

My name is Nathan and I have lived in Gloucestershire since 2010. I trained as a teacher in the 1990s and taught in both special and mainstream schools (where I was a Special Needs Coordinator) in Southampton before working for number of different local authorities in the areas of SEND and inclusion. I have been a governor on and off for a number of years in different types of schools and I am pleased to be part of the Academy Council at Brook Academy as I was involved, in my professional capacity as a local authority officer, from the very earliest stages in the establishment of the school. As a foster carer I have my own personal experience to draw on when it comes to appreciating and responding to the challenges faced by young people with additional and complex needs and their families and how, working together, we can all make a real difference for these exceptional young people.

Term of office ends: 19 June 2025

Executive PrincipalSally Apps

Sally’s career began in Manchester teaching English, and she has worked in several schools with challenging contexts. In 2011 she moved to Bristol and joined the Cabot Learning Federation as Vice Principal at Bristol Metropolitan Academy, a school she went on to lead as Principal before leading John Cabot Academy as Executive. Sally now works as Education Director within the 3-19 team as part of the wider Cabot Learning Federation Executive. Her key areas of responsibility lie in secondary strategy and Alternative and Specialist Provision across the trust. She is passionate about disadvantage and about the cultural and systemic changes that need to occur within and beyond schools in order to ensure equity for all.

Kelis CornockStudent Advocate
Kay SarpongPrincipal
Helen BondParent Councillor (Vice Chair)

Helen is mum to two boys and has lived experience of neurodivergence, including autism and ADHD. She understands the world of special educational needs first-hand. Having spent years working in the oil industry and local authorities, Helen took a career break to raise her boys. Once they were old enough, Helen went back to education, gaining a FdA in therapeutic counselling, a BSc in applied social science and a postgraduate diploma in psychology.

Helen is currently the co-ordinator of her local Parent Carer Forum and actively involved in working with families whose children have SEN or disabilities. Helen has a particular interest in supporting families whose children are not currently in formal education. Helen has been Chair of a small charity in the past and hopes to bring some of her experience from that role along with her interest in SEN to the role of trustee.

At home she enjoys spending time with her family and her chocolate Labrador. Helen likes to read, knit and spend time with friends.

Term of office ends: 19 June 2025

Danielle HarrisonTeacher Councillor
Andrew CharsleySupport Staff Representative

Andrew (or Andy) is the Forest School Lead and a Learning Facilitator at Brook Academy with the Respect Class (Year 8). Andy has previously worked at another SEN school in Cheltenham in a similar role, working predominantly with the secondary pupils; taking an interest in helping to teach students life skills alongside their classroom lessons.

Andy is pleased to be a part of the Academy Council as the Support Staff Representative, bringing the views of the support staff at Brook Academy to the council to help ensure the needs of both pupils and staff are met.

He is really looking forward to taking an active role in helping the community at Brook Academy grow and creating a school that supports and challenges our pupils as they prepare to join the wider community.

Term of office ends: 20 October 2025

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Brook Academy is proud to be part of the Cabot Learning Federation. 
Registered Company: Cabot Learning Federation
Company No: 06207590