Meet the Executive Team

The Forward Education Trust is a Multi-Academy Trust, a company without Share Capital. The Board of Trustees (known as Directors) oversees the day to day running of the company and provides strategic management and leadership of the Forward Education Trust.

For more information on the role and work of the Directors, see FET Directors

The Forward Education Trust Executive Team work together to ensure the day to day running of all FET schools, at an individual level and across the family of schools.  Working alongside the Board of Trustees, Central Support Team, Local Academy Councils, school leaders and staff teams to serve their school communities, their focus is to maintain rigorous standards and lead further improvement to make our schools better than they have ever been. 

Our experienced Executive Team bring a wealth of quality, expertise and talent from across the education and other sectors, and share a joint goal to raise standards, continually improve performance and ensure the very best possible education and life chances for the children and young people in our schools. 

Simon Dilkes

Chief Executive Officer

Simon joined Forward Education Trust in September 2021 as Director of Operations and moved up to his current role from January 2022.

Following an early career in finance & banking and owning his own business for over a decade, Simon came into education (school business management) in 2014, joining a Solihull primary school to take them through an academy conversion.  He then joined The Polesworth School, Tamworth (part of Community Academies Trust) as School Business Manager, during that time taking on responsibility for The Wilnecote School which joined the Trust.  Simon moved to Academies Enterprise Trust (one of the largest multi-academy trusts in England) in 2017 as part of their centralisation of functions into clusters of school, looking after schools in Leicestershire, Derbyshire & Staffordshire.  He then joined Equitas Academies Trust, Birmingham as Chief Operations Officer in December 2019.

Simon joined FET to bring his breadth of experience to make a difference for the children and our staff and tremendously enjoys the variety and challenge of his role.

Simon is married, with two grown-up children and loves to play tennis in his spare time.  


Sarah Kelly 

Acting Deputy CEO/Director of Education

Sarah is Acting CEO at Forward Education Trust. Sarah qualified as a teacher in 1999 and has experience of working within a range of provision types: mainstream, resource base and special schools spanning 22 years. For the last 9 years Sarah has held executive and leadership positions in schools across the Trust.

Sarah continues to work with Birmingham Local Authority at a strategic level, serving on the Primary Forum Group as well as the Technical Funding Group. Sarah chairs the Banded Funding working group.

Sarah also works with The University of Wolverhampton as a guest lecturer developing inclusion and specific SEND modules within initial teacher training.

She is also a keen adventurer and enjoys the outdoors; surfing, climbing, walking and swimming.  She enjoys experiencing these adventures with her family and friends.

Sarah firmly believes in our children and young people, regardless of their need, and in ensuring they become more independent and confident in their own abilities. Every day is a chance to do something different and make a difference!


Claire Pooni 

Finance Director

Claire was appointed as Finance Director for Forward Education Trust in 2019 with the brief to develop a centralised finance team and develop the finance systems. She works with staff across the Trust to support financial reporting, procurement and the introduction of new schools. She has a mix of audit, investment banking, commercial and public sector experience at senior level. Coming from a family of teachers she feels very at home in education.


Emma Arnott

Director of Quality Assurance and Development

Emma has been involved in education in Birmingham throughout her career to date.  After coming to the city to study English at the University of Birmingham, she went on to train to be a Secondary English teacher, and taught and held leadership roles in English in three Secondary Schools across the city.  She then moved to Birmingham Local Authority, initially as a Secondary English Consultant then later a School Improvement Advisor across both the Primary and Secondary phases.   

Emma next went into Teaching School Management and School Improvement roles: in the first Primary Teaching School in Birmingham and a cohort 1 Secondary Teaching School, prior to the role of Manager of City-Wide School Improvement Projects at Birmingham Education Partnership.   

In September 2020, she joined Forward Education Trust as the Director of Quality Assurance and Development.  She enjoys the wide-ranging nature of the role, and the opportunities it provides to learn more about and get to know the Special Educational Needs sector more generally and the Forward Education Trust family of schools more specifically.   


Stuart Hough

Interim Director of Operations

Stuart has a private sector background and has over twenty years experience within the facilities management sector. He has spent the last eight years providing services to the education sector before joining Forward Education Trust in February 2022. Prior to Forward Education Trust he held senior management positions at both Sodexo and Rentokil Initial. Stuart also has a broad spectrum of experience within leadership and operational business disciplines. His career started with the Royal Air Force, before moving to business development roles with Reebok and Citibank. In his spare time, he is a keen amateur artist and author as well as being a season ticket holder at Wolverhampton Wanderers. 


Our Headteachers

Kelly Kulyk
High Point Academy

Paul Donkersloot
Hallmoor School

Melanie Keating
Lea Hall Academy

Sarah Kelly
Leycroft Academy

Nova Harvey
Brays School

Michelle Goundry
The Bridge School

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