Members and Directors

Exceed Learning Partnership Members and Directors


Beryce Nixon CEO

Beryce became a leading Literacy and Numeracy specialist early in her teaching career, she was appointed as Deputy Head of Hill Top Primary School and very soon moved into the role of Headteacher, where she recognised the need for significant change.  Working closely alongside the senior leadership team, they raised the school from special measures in 2004 to ‘good with outstanding features’ by 2007, achieving a judgement of ‘outstanding’ by 2011.  During this period, Beryce also led on the pilot for ‘Extended Schools’ which was recognised at both National and Local level as a model of excellence.  In 2012 she was appointed a National Leader of Education and has supported a number of schools with wide-ranging circumstances from LA to Ofsted categories.

In April 2015 Beryce was appointed Executive Head of Edlington Victoria Primary School, when the school was placed in special measures; within four terms the school had received a ‘good’ judgement, one of only four schools in the country to achieve this turnaround. As a result of the partnership between the two schools, Exceed Learning Partnership Multi Academy Trust was formed in April 2017.

As the Executive Principal and CEO of Exceed Learning Partnership, Beryce has undertaken the Cambridge Education Programme, consolidating her knowledge of business functions and operations within a MAT, she is also lead on school-to-school support for Partners in Learning and is very passionate about learning pedagogy and believes that ‘every child has the potential to succeed’ as long as schools provide the right provision, support and challenge to enable them to do so.

Fr Stephen Edmonds - Member and Director

Fr Stephen Edmonds gained his BA Hons degree from the University of Durham in 1999 and subsequently graduated from the University of Leeds in 2008 with his MA with merit.

He worked for five years as a Policy Officer for Northern Housing Consortium, advising member organisations on emerging government housing policy and best practice, and for three years with Darlington Borough Council, ultimately as Housing Investment Manager, leading on housing investments both within the authority and private sector. He was responsible for day to day management of a budget of roughly £10m, ensuring that the authority was compliant with all statutory requirements for housing and caring and he was involved in the strategic planning and development of this department.

Having decided to follow his vocation to become a priest in the Church of England, he trained in West Yorkshire from 2006 to 2008 and then served his curacy in Hendon, Sunderland for three and a half years. Fr Stephen then moved to Doncaster in January 2012 to take up is his current position as Church of England Parish Priest of Edlington Saint John the Baptist with Hexthorpe Saint Jude in the borough of Doncaster. Fr Stephen was an active School Community Governor of Hill Top Primary School before it converted to Hill Top Academy, and currently is a member of the Local Governing Body at Sir Thomas Wharton Academy, part of the Maltby Academy Trust.

Martin Oldknow - Member

Martin is retired from South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service after a career spanning 30 years. He was Divisional Officer and Head of the Technical Fire Safety department, with over 15 years’ experience in Fire safety and Emergency Planning. He now runs his own Fire Safety Consultancy and Training company.

Martin has a BA (Hons) degree in Law awarded by the University of Kent and has a University Certificate in Forensic Science from the University of Central Lancashire. He is Vice Chair of the Doncaster Education Improvement Board and has over 25 years’ experience as a senior manager, including budgeting and financial control, and the management and implementation of policies and strategies.

Until recently he was a National Leader of Governance, with 25 years’ experience of governance within schools and academies, and is currently assisting five other schools. As Chair of a school that had been placed in special measures, Martin worked closely with the Executive Head Teacher to raise the school to a ‘Good’ judgement within 14 months. He is also currently the Chair of a secondary academy that was also in special measures but is now improving. This academy is currently on track to becoming ‘Good’ or better. He has been a member of a number of Interim Executive Boards.


Matthew Stewart - Member

Matt is the Investment Manager for UKSE, part of the Tata Group of companies.  UKSE’s remit is to assist with the regeneration of steel areas in the UK by helping to create new job opportunities.  They achieve this by supporting growing businesses, either through their investment programme or the provision of workspace in their Innovation and Business Centres.  Matt is responsible for UKSE’s investment activities and is part of the Senior Leadership Team. 

Matt and his team appraise, implement and manage investments of up to £1m in qualifying businesses.  At any one time he sits on 10-15 company boards, supporting those companies achieve their growth plans and create local job opportunities.      

Matt graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in Economics and more recently attained an MBA in Corporate Social Responsibility from Nottingham University.  He is a Chartered Management Accountant (ACMA).  He started his career as a graduate with British Steel in 1997 and after fulfilling several financial roles eventually joined UKSE and its investment team in 2003.     

Outside of work and education Matt is the Company Secretary for AFC Pogmoor where his son and daughter both play football.  If he has any spare time left after football and family, he’ll be on his mountain bike somewhere in the Peak District.   

Professor Sam Twiselton OBE - Member

Professor Sam Twiselton is the Director of Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University and Vice President (External) of the Chartered College of Teaching.  She uses her research and practice in the progression of teacher expertise, and curriculum design to improve school embedded approaches to teacher development. Sam has been involved in influencing Government policy on teacher education and is the Chair of the DfE ITT Framework Group, a member of the DfE Teacher Recruitment and Retention Advisory Group, the specialist NPQs Group, the Carter Review of ITT and Expert Behaviour Management Panel, and the OFSTED Curriculum Review Panel. She is a recent recipient of an OBE for services to Higher Education.

John Blount - Chair of Directors

John was a secondary science teacher for 35 years, 10 of which he served as Assistant Head Teacher at Hall Cross Comprehensive (now known as Hall Cross Academy), where he was responsible for standards and achievements, data analysis, pupil tracking and timetable construction. He was instrumental in preparing the bidding process to secure funding in excess of £1m over five years to transform the school into Doncaster’s first specialist Science and Mathematics Centre in 2004. He subsequently became Chair and coordinator of a newly-established ICT Strategy Group, securing a further £500,000 for the development of a robust and reliable ICT infrastructure to support staff and students, and ensuring ‘best value’ in the purchase of new equipment. He has vast experience in the implementation of school policies and procedures, as well as the management and monitoring of budgets to support the substantial development of both premises and internal infrastructure, while adhering to DfE guidance and strict funding criteria.

John became a self-employed Education Consultant in 2008 and served actively on the Local Governing Body of Hill Top Primary School prior to its conversion to academy, undertaking training in Schools Finance, HR and Payroll, Pupil Premium, Data Analysis, Roll of Governing Body, Governor FFT Dashboard, Raising Achievement, Academy Growth and Changing the Academies Landscape.

Melissa Flett - Director

Melissa is the UK HR Director at Polypipe Group plc, Edlington and has over 20 years’ experience in generalist HR, consolidated by a post-graduate diploma in Personnel and Development and is currently a member of the CIPD. She has previously served as a Human Resources Trustee/Director on the charitable board ‘People United Against Crime’. Her knowledge of Human Resources and Personnel is vast, encompassing Payroll, Pensions, Employee Benefits, Contract and Policy Writing, Wellbeing, Conduct and Capability, Tribunal and Litigation Requirements, Redundancy, Union Negotiation and Learning and Development.

As a former Business Advisor and Board Member of Young Enterprise for the Yorkshire and Humber region, Melissa has also delivered support in terms of employability skills and interview techniques in both businesses and education alongside the Doncaster Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise.

Richard Brown - Director

Following a 35 year career that started in History and Geography teaching in Sheffield, Richard went on to become the Principal of Minsthorpe Community College in Wakefield, where he was responsible for nearly 2000 children, up to 4000 community users, 300 staff, an £8m revenue budget and capital projects in excess of £10m.

Upon retirement in August 2011, Richard formed ‘Leading Edge Associates’ with two colleagues which has been busy working with NCTL, Edge Hill University, Local Authorities, schools and academies to develop the effectiveness and impact of Governance on school improvement. He has also served on three Interim Executive Boards, two as professional Chair, all in schools facing challenging circumstances and in which he has helped stabilize leadership, begun to raise standards and progressed them into Multi Academy Trusts.

Richard has served as a member of local, regional, and national boards including the West Yorkshire Enterprise Agency, and the DfE’s Implementation Review Unit (IRU). He was for many years the Chair of Governors at a Rotherham primary school and is currently on the board of a local Charitable Trust.

Carol Ann Swift - Director and Vice Chair of Directors

Carol Ann joined the teaching profession in 1978, eventually culminating in two Headships in schools in challenging circumstances. During this time she served as a member of the South Yorkshire Child Protection Committee as well as supporting other schools and governing bodies as an Associate Head Teacher, driving improvements in teaching and learning, curriculum development, financial planning and governance development.

Having left Headship in 2004, Carol Ann became a Senior Advisor for Education Leeds, coordinating the work of a large number of primary practitioners and leading the development programme for newly-appointed Head Teachers, while concurrently passing the requirements to become an Ofsted Inspector. After joining Barnsley’s Local Authority in 2006, she led and managed the Primary team and supported schools in a variety of contexts, with her work largely concentrated on schools in challenging circumstances. Under Carol Ann’s leadership, the Primary team supported in delivering tremendous improvements in outcomes for pupils in Barnsley.

Carol Ann has recently retired from running her own limited company, offering advice, guidance and support to schools and academy trusts across four Local Authorities. She has been involved in school governance for many years and has served as a member of an Interim Executive Board (IEB) of a school in special measures in Barnsley. Presently she is a School Governor and Trust Director in Barnsley.

Jill Wood - Director

Jill has a wealth of experience in facilities and estates management. As the current Managing Director of Signum Facilities Management Ltd, she is responsible for the development and implementation of business growth strategy to ensure effective service delivery, while exceeding sales targets, building strong client relationships and recruiting high-performing teams.

Previously Jill has worked as the Facilities Manager of Doncaster Primary Care Trust, where she ensured the efficient operation of premises throughout Doncaster, including public and private sector partnership health centres. She was involved in the estate rationalisation process enabling the smooth transition of buildings and staff to a neighbouring NHS Trust during a government-led restructure.

Currently the Vice President at Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, Jill’s other areas of expertise include management of long term capital projects, development of policies and procedures and management of contractors on small and large projects.


Stewart Olsen - Director

Stewart is a Doncaster born, consummate professional, leading the way in the regions recruitment industry and wider business community.  

Stewart is the Managing Director of ORB Recruitment, a multi-award-winning recruitment consultancy, and operates as a high-level interface between clients, candidates and ORB to ensure that solutions provided are effective and suited to requirement, whilst driving growth in one of the fastest growing businesses in Yorkshire.  

Having been recognised in the 2020 Yorkshire 42 under 42 list for his entrepreneurism and business success, Stewart continues to champion the region with the hope to help “level-up” the area through investing back into the community and local economy. His expertise in managing high-growth businesses, driving new business development and his ability to build high-calibre teams from the ground up will help progress the trust’s ambitions and future growth plans." 

Izzie Drylie - Director and Chair of Audit Committee

Izzie is a senior associate at DLA Piper LLP in Leeds, with a focus on business restructuring and insolvency. She has experience advising directors of large companies facing significant disruption to their businesses, including external shocks and insufficient liquidity, as well as acting for creditors and insolvency practitioners.

Throughout her university years and beyond, Izzie has demonstrated a commitment to mentoring and supporting young people through education and development projects with the University of Oxford, TeachFirst, Lawyers in Schools and the School of Hard Knocks. 

Vivienne Trask-Hall - Director

Viv is the Head of Innovation in Education and Principal Trainer for the Thrive Approach promoting children’s and young people’s positive mental health by helping adults know how to be and what to do in response to their differing and sometimes distressed behaviour, she has worked with Thrive since 2015.

Thrive, and Viv as the Principal Trainer, is considered a market leader in supporting emotional health and wellbeing. She is often called upon for keynotes, interviews in the media, and influencing practice in education. Her current role focuses on developing methods of training delivery to ensure delegates have an experiential shift in their learning. Creating and delivering training programmes to train Thrive licensed practitioners to become Thrive trainers is a key part of the role and she has been instrumental in supporting the development of Thrive across the UK and internationally. She is passionate about supporting other professionals to embed the practice and reach as many children and families as possible.

Rob Carpenter - Director

Rob is the Trust Leader of the Inspire Partnership, a group of 9 schools based in Croydon, Greenwich and Medway.  He is a National Leader of Education and senior partner with Challenge Partners.  He has experience of school leadership in a range of contexts, including special measures and schools serving a high proportion of disadvantaged pupils.  

Rob is a Trustee of the Danes Educational Trust and a member of the ASCL Council as a primary representative.     

Robert Stephenson - Director

Before his retirement, Robert worked for over 39 years in 3 Local Authorities in various disciplines including Architecture, Town Planning, and Corporate Management, the last 10 years of which were as Chief Executive of Wansbeck District Council in Northumberland until its merger into a single unitary authority in 2009.

Robert gained his Master Degree in Business Administration in March 1992 from Sunderland University.

He has extensive experience in the management and delivery of a wide range of public services, including budgeting, financial control and the management and implementation of policies and strategies. As well specialist knowledge in community regeneration and development, having been involved in a number of major community regeneration programmes. Sitting on the boards of a number of community regeneration partnerships and companies at both local and regional level.