Valley Road Academy, Corporation Road, Hendon, Sunderland, SR2 8PL

01915 002999

  1. IRIS Learning Trust
  2. Statutory Information
  3. ILT Board of Trustees

ILT Board of Trustees

Darren Andrews  - Chair of Trustees

Vikkie Morton 

Simon Hodgson



There are  9 Trustees in the Iris Learning Trust.

The Trustees are appointment by the members. The Executive headteacher is a Trustee. There are no other employed representatives within the Trustees, and the Trustees will not exceed the 33% ‘employed within the Trust’ limitation at any time. There will also be no more than 19.9% of the Trustees associated with a Local Authority.


Debra De Muschamp

(Executive Head)


Debra’s first headship was in 1998 at Mount Pleasant Primary School in Darlington. During this time, she achieved a successful Ofsted outcome with a reputation for high standards and an inclusive culture. She led one of the founding schools of the High Force SCITT. Debra moved into Darlington local authority in 2004 becoming an adviser to Primary Schools in the Borough.

Debra then moved on to Redcar and Cleveland local authority in 2006 as a Senior Adviser and promoted to Principal Adviser in 2008. During this time, she trained as an Ofsted Inspector and completed a small number of Inspections acting as an additional Inspector.

Debra returned to headship, joining Valley Road Community Primary in 2012 leading the school through a difficult time to achieve improving standards across all key stages receiving recognition from Nick Gibb in 2015 and a Pupil Premium award in the previous year. Debra led on the development of a data service, which support school performance data across more than 100 schools in the region.  She has also been supporting two other primary schools in an Executive Head role during the last 2 years, following a request for support from the Local Authority


Darren Andrews

(Chair of Trustees)

Darren specialises within the working environment in instrumentation and control from design stage through to installation and commissioning. He is used to working within tight budgets and limited time frames.

Darren is enthusiastic and passionate and strives to ensure that the ethos and aspirations of Valley Road Academy are carried through to the IRIS Academy and into the future. Darren will endeavour to utilise the experiences, skills and qualities gained during his12 years on the governing body at Valley Road to provide challenge and support to the Head in raising standards whist keeping pupils safe and engaged. Darren champions high achievement for all pupils and is able to monitor school performance with priority and integrity whilst seeking to optimise value for money across the trust.  Darren has good analytical skills and good communication skills. Darren also has drive and energy and able to take tough and decisive actions where needed for the benefit of the trust. 


Neil Macdonald Clyde


Neil specialises in the following fields and is now retired he is a Qualified social worker, Generic Social Work/Child Care/Mental Health Former Qualified Debt Counsellor, Project Management, School Governor, Chairing Committees, Benefits/Housing/Employment Adviser,  County Court Advocate,Tribunal advocate, Project Director and Advice Service management.

Neil has helped setup the following within the community, community Printing Press, Credit Union, and community Development Project.One of four governors who raised money to build Valley Road Community Primary School monitoring its building and financial development . Recruited staff with colleague Governors. He is also a parent.

Neil's motivation for being part of the learning trust is to encourage children and families to seek opportunities and life beyond the seeming limitations that exist in the school catchment area. This is crucial at primary level as the foundations for learning are established during this time in a child’s life. There is no reason to assume children in poorer areas are less able than those in more affluent areas.


Wes English


Wes is Development Manager at Esh Developments

Wes specialises in the following:

  • Business Development
  • Sales & Marketing
  • Project/Commercial Management
  • Land Acquisition

Before being approached by the Learning Trust Wes had always wanted to get involved with something of this nature but until now the right opportunity had never came along. He felt that a different insight and responsibility within another sector would broaden his knowledge and experience which will benefit him both professionally and personally. As someone who has worked hard and benefited from the education system Wes is keen to give something back and hopefully make a difference. He knows that it is an exciting time for the Learning Trust and his main motivation would be to ensure that working as team we deliver annual successful whilst maintaining a sustainable future.

As well as His time, commitment and dedication to the role Wes would like to think that his 17 years within the private sector can positively add to the dynamics and diversity of the Learning Trust. 

His working environment and experience has always revolved around a profit making, results driven industry where continuous improvement and efficiency are always high up on the agenda. Wes believes is business development, sales and marketing knowledge can be utilised to help towards the Learning Trust’s student intake targets by looking at things from a private sector angle. His project/commercial management experience will also be useful as the Learning Trust goes through elements of change both operationally and commercially.  

As well as his professional knowledge and experience Wes can also offer insight as a parent with two young children, one of which is currently in primary education. His wife is also a primary school teacher and Head of Key Stage 1 so he has a good understanding of the challenges and responsibility of the teaching staff. His ability to relate to both types of pressures surrounding the sustainability of the Learning Trust as well as the current demands of staff will be very beneficial.  


James Nicol


James specialises in the Day to day finance management, particularly in the third sector. Financial accounting and taxation work for sole traders and small limited companies. Also charity accounts using SORP. Good working knowledge of accounting and payroll software, relational databases, spreadsheets and business software.

James is the treasurer of Sunderland Lions Club and is heavily involved with the annual Boxing Day Dip, a substantial fund raising event with many hundreds of entrants; a large administrative task for the club.

After he gained his degree James was self-employed doing accountancy work and then moved into, mainly, the third sector as a finance manager or finance officer.

James also worked for NECC in Durham to oversee the closure of the META ERDF/UKTI funded programme to encourage and assist SME’s to enter the export market. This involved dealing with GONE, UKTI and ONE and finally DCLG when the project was audited by the UK government.

He has often been connected with young peoples’ projects and has been a school governor for many years. James reasons for this involvement is a strong belief that education in whatever form it takes is the primary means to develop the maximum potential in children and young people. Helping this process is a means of breaking the continuing cycle of deprivation which blights our society and perpetuates many of the social issues, which never seem to be solved using existing processes.


Anthony Conlin

Current role (if working)

Director of The School Data Company  

Governor at Bankfields Primary, Caedmon Primary & St Patrick’s RC Primary 

Education Qualifications

B A(hons) in Business Information Systems  

Advanced skills in programming, excel and other software systems 


Data Analysis Programming System Creation Education Performance Data 


Tony Kemp

Current role (if working) 


Education Qualifications 

Licentiate of the College of Preceptors (Degree standard) – ‘The Legal Bases of Education’ and ‘The Law and the Teacher’ 

Diploma in Advanced Studies in Education – ‘Leading and Managing an Educational Institution’.  

Certificate in Education, St. Mary’s College, University of London 



·  Primary Headteacher of three schools (two substantive, one interim)  

·  School Improvement Partner (Leeds and Redcar and Cleveland) 

·  Ofsted Inspector o Principal Inspector with Dubai School Inspection Bureau. Additional experiences: 

·  Teacher training programmes  

·  NPQH and Leadership development programmes in UK 

·  School improvement initiatives in Romania 

·  Leadership programmes for tutors with The Bank of India and for Directors of Education in Saudi Arabia.  

·  School inspection in Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates 

·  Dubai School Advancement Programme 


Val Cadd

Current role (if working)

I am a retired teacher and worked with children with Special Educational Needs and championed inclusion. I managed a Resource Base within a mainstream school. Pupils within the base came from a wide geographical area and were supported to be included in as many mainstream lessons and experiences as possible. 

I have been a Governor for 24 years and until very recently was a National Leader of Governance. I have experience of managing all aspects of school life but I am particularly interested in School Improvement and the impact this has on the stakeholders  

I am also a member of GIRLGUIDING UK and have been for 40 plus years. 

I was awarded a BEM in the New Year’s Honours List for my ‘services to Education and improving the life chances of children 

Education Qualifications

B Phil 


SEND     School Improvement       Mentoring and advising Governors and Governing Boards to improve their practice