Meet the Team

Mr Colin Lofthouse

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from Sheffield University with a degree in Archaeology and Pre-History he began a career as an archaeologist before re-training as a primary teacher in 1997.

He began teaching a primary school in Gateshead before becoming a Deputy Head Teacher in a first school in Northumberland, at which he became Acting Head teacher before taking on a school of his own in Newcastle. After successfully leading the school out of special measures and on to outstanding in all areas he left to become head teacher at a larger primary school in Washington, Sunderland.

Colin is a Trustee of Schools North East a charity whose mission it is to support and champion all schools in the North East. He sits on the Healthy MindEd Commission which is researching the causes and impact of mental health issues in our young people and the excellent work our schools are doing to help.

He is an experienced school improvement partner, headteacher mentor and published author through his research into leadership coaching, curriculum development and educational blogs.

He is married to Rachel (the brains behind to operation) who is a professor of Education, he is father to 3 adopted children (now grown up) and has a lovely dog called Duke. In his spare time he is a mountaineer and rock climber, plays the piano and is an obsessive cyclist.

Colin is excited to become the new CEO for SMART and is looking forward in working with our schools to improve the opportunities and experience of all children and parents in the communities we serve.

Alison Robinson

Director of Business & Finance

An accounting graduate of the University of Abertay in Dundee, Alison joined British Gas as a Graduate Finance Trainee based in Newcastle upon Tyne and achieved membership of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) shortly after. Although being determined to head back home over the border after a year, the city is very much home now after 25+ years, despite some time spent working in London and Munich.

An experienced Finance professional who has successfully fulfilled senior and managerial roles in both the manufacturing and service sectors, across a varied array of industries in large, complex multinational organisations, in addition to smaller privately owned businesses. Alison has extensive experience in delivering high quality finance support as part of the senior leadership team of organisations.

Alison joined the Trust in September 2019 and looks forward to the journey ahead of steering our team in delivering truly excellent education, both for now and the future.

Mr Chris Haves

Data Analyst and DPO

Chris is an experienced Data Analyst, and has worked in education for 12 years. He worked with Newcastle City Council from 2005 to 2016, in a role that developed to include school performance analysis, population forecasting, school budgets and school budget planning. In 2016 Chris moved to Northern Education Trust as a Data Analyst, supporting performance analysis for the Trust's leadership and across the Trust's 20 schools. Chris was involved in the development and roll out of a new method of collecting and analysing assessment information as well as implementation of a central data warehouse. Prior to this, Chris worked for a large insurance company in a data analysis capacity, responsible for, contact centre planning and sales/call analysis.

He has an honours degree in Environmental Management, alongside an AAT Certificate in Accounting.

Chris joined SMART in May 2018 as their Data Analyst and Data Protection Officer and is looking forward to helping its schools develop.

Mr Ray Childs

Finance Manager

Ray is a big 4 qualified ACA chartered accountant. He worked for 17 years at the North of England P&I Association, a marine insurance company, where he was responsible for all financial and regulatory reporting. During his time there the company expended considerably both by organic growth and by acquisitions, and his role included assisting in the management of systems development.

Subsequently he spent 6 years as the accountant for a marine claims handling company where he was involved in all aspects of the finance function and general systems development. The company won two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise while he worked there.

Ray is looking forward to working in the education sector. In his free time Ray enjoys hiking and travelling.

Mrs Sandra Garrity

Governance Officer

Sandra has been involved with schools since 2003 both as a Local Authority employee and volunteering as a governor for 10 years and as a trustee in a local Multi Academy Trust for 2 years.

She worked with schools in Northumberland County Council providing support on Budgets and Personnel matters and delivering a clerking service, leading on School’s Finance for 5 years. For 6 years at North Tyneside Council her role related specifically to clerking and governor support for a number of schools.

Sandra has a BA (hons) in German Studies, a post graduate diploma in Financial Management and completed the NCSL Clerking programme.

Sandra joined the Trust in September 2020 and was delighted to be able to take up a new role to support the Trust in developing and improving governance across the Trust.

Mrs Jenny Spoors

Administration & Finance Support Officer

Jenny joined the team in September 2020 with a background of primary education studies and customer service. She worked as a Customer Service Manager at Tyneside Cinema for 9 years and has a strong work ethic and passion for teaching and education. Jenny supports all office functions of the Central team, and is the initial point of contact for the team, located at the front desk of the Central Office. Please come and say hello if you are passing by.

Outside of work, Jenny loves to spend time with her husband and daughter. She enjoys reading, sci-fi films, walking in the countryside, and playing board games.