Meet The Team

Exceed Learning Partnership Members and Directors

Beryce Nixon CEO/Executive Principal

Beryce become 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/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.

Andrew Tuke - Member

Andrew has over 30 years’ finance experience and is both AAT and ACCA qualified. He worked for a local firm of Chartered Accounts for 17 years and for the last 15 years has worked as either a Finance Director or Financial Controller in businesses with turnovers of up to £25m. He worked as Finance Director for a private ambulance company which is based throughout the country, employing upwards of 800 staff members across 20 locations with a fleet of over 400 vehicles.

Andrew assisted with the budgeting and financial forecasting for Partners in Learning (Doncaster Teaching School Alliance), having an in-depth understanding of the needs of a business and its staff as well as the skills to integrate this into budgets.

With excellent analytical and problem-solving skills, Andrew has a wide range of experience in other areas of Management including HR, IT and general Business Management.


Matt 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.   


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.

Diane Dunn - Director

Consolidating a long career in teaching, Diane has extensive experience of leading and driving school improvement. Having raised a school with serious weaknesses to a ‘Good’ Ofsted judgement very early in her Deputy Headship, she went on to be appointed Head and then Executive Head, transforming a number of schools facing challenging circumstances and supporting leadership and management as a Local Leader of Education.

Diane has worked as a Consultant for Literacy to drive the introduction of the Literacy Strategy and is a member of the Strategic Board of the Partners in Learning Teaching School Alliance, sitting on the School to School support and Succession Planning strands. Currently she works for a Teaching School as the Bridging Officer and Quality Assurance Consultant, setting up school to school support deployments and quality-assuring the work of Local and Specialist Leaders of Education. Diane also supports newly-qualified teachers for the Local Authority.

Carol Ann Swift - Director

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.

Joan Briggs - Director

With almost 20 years’ experience as the Company Secretary for her own family business, Joan has been responsible for managing budgets and employees, and ensuring the compliance of policies in line with regulations, including Health and Safety in the workplace.

Joan has been heavily involved in the local community of Edlington for a number of years, including the local Neighbourhood Plan and Woodland Project. She has served as a Local Town Councillor, a member of the Parish Council’s Joint Consultancy Committee and the Hope Quarries and Cemetery Committees, a member of the Tenants’ and Residents’ Association for Old Edlington, Deputy Mayor and Mayor of Edlington.

As Vice Chair of Governors at Hill Top Primary School prior to conversion, Joan has undertaken training in Efficient and Effective Schools, Human Resources and Payroll, Health and Safety, and the Role of the Chair of Governors. She is a Trustee at the Hill Top Centre, and a very popular weekly volunteer in class at Hill Top Academy.

Leanne Hornsby - Director

Leanne is currently Assistant Director for Commissioning and Business Development for Children and Young People Services at Doncaster Council. She began her career as a teacher in secondary schools, progressing to senior leadership roles and then joining local government. Working with the DfE and Becta, Leanne led a Local Authority’s City Learning Centres, developing national centres of excellence to support raising achievement programmes. Leanne’s experience includes representation on ministerial, DfE and ADCS groups, Non- Executive Director for a foundation health care trust, Vice Chair of a further education college’s corporation board and Director for NWGfL and YHGfL.

Leanne has extensive experience of managing large transformation programmes in school, Local Authority, Health and wider-partnership contexts and is passionate about improving outcomes for children and young people and their families. She is currently sponsor for the learning theme as part of the Doncaster Growing Together programme and is the achievement lead for the Children and Young People’s plan.


Andy Hibbitt - Director

As the Chief Operating Officer for Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, Andy's focus is on developing and delivering the Chamber's annual budget. This includes working to develop new and existing income streams to secure the sustainability of the organisation. Andy has responsibility for the operational strategy of the business and delivery of day to day activities, including management of the Membership & Sales Team, Business Support & International Trade, and the Chamber's educational arm, Opportunites Doncaster. 

Andy has worked in the education sector for the past decade, having held senior positions at both a large awarding organisation and two national training providers. For the past four years, Andy has been an integral member of executive teams, supporting business growth, leading on the implementation of new systems, processes and procedures, whilst ensuring high levels of service and quality.

Andy has a 360 degree understanding and experience of the education system, including education delivery to pre and post 16s, apprenticeships, and further education, examinations, learning outcomes, assessments, funding and learner progression. He has a keen eye for detail, and a passion for bringing business and education together to support the Doncaster community, both for now and the future, with young people at the heart of everything the Chamber does.


Doulla Simon - Director

During a long career in education, Doulla worked in four authorities as classroom teacher, head teacher, tutor, consultant, mentor and advisor. Having completed an MSc in 1986 during which she researched ‘The Management of Change in the First Year of Headship’, she went on to lead three very different schools in two authorities, achieving highly positive OFSTED reports citing ‘the outstanding leadership of the Head.’ She prided herself on forging positive working relationships with staff, governors and parents to create an ethos of care and commitment, designing and delivering a range of innovative programmes both within school, and as an Associate Head and Primary Strategy Leadership Consultant.

Doulla has experience of managing change successfully in challenging circumstances within her own and other schools. This has entailed giving people the skills and capacity within the school leadership team to initiate and sustain positive improvement. Leading several schools out of special measures and supporting schools in challenging circumstances has called upon creative management skills to accelerate the change process whilst maintaining focus to maximise impact and ensure sustainability.

During her last 10 years in education, her career elided from Headship into a variety of support and advisory roles, including LEA Mentor for newly-qualified Heads and Heads new to the authority, Basic Skills Consultant CEA and School Improvement Advisor. As an advisor she has worked successfully with Heads and Governors in a variety of schools in three different LEAs.