Our Trustees

The Arden Multi-Academy Trust is governed by a board of trustees made up of business people and educational specialists. The board of trustees is responsible for monitoring and ensuring standards and achievement across the Trust’s schools; efficiency and effectiveness of executive leadership and services; and the strategic direction of the Trust as it responds to local and national demands and policy.


Dr Celia O’Donovan (Member)

Chair of AMAT and Vice-Chair of Governors at Arden (Community Governor).  Dr O’Donovan has worked in education for over 25 years as a University lecturer, Chief Examiner (French), secondary school teacher and Nursery Inspector.  She has been a sponsor governor at Park Hall Academy since 2009.  Dr O'Donovan has been a Parent Governor at Arden, a position she also held at Knowle Primary School until 2006. Her major skills are team working, team building, leadership and management training.  She is currently Cambridge Inspector for Language-Literature, (Option International) French Baccalauréat.  Her child attended Arden in the past. 


Andrew Cole (Member Appointed Trustees)

Andrew is currently Revenue Development Director of the NEC Group. Previously Andrew was Centre Manager of Touchwood Shopping Centre and also sat on a range of other Boards including Shopmobility, the Employment and Skills Board and the Community Engagement Working Group for shopping centres nationwide. Andrew also chaired Solihull’s Crime Reduction Forum, has been Vice-President of Solihull Chamber of Commerce, President of Solihull Round Table and until recently was Chair of the Solihull Business Improvement District. In 2016 Andrew was awarded an MBE for services to retail and charity for coordinating the Solihull Fireworks display for five years and starting a ‘Blood Bike’ charity. Andrew lives in Solihull with his wife and two children, both of whom are in, or graduated from, Arden. Andrew is degree-educated from Bournemouth University and outside interests include adventure motorcycling and technology. Strategic Management, management of change and brand marketing are his specialities.


 Graeme Chaplin (Member Appointed Trustee)

Mr Chaplin was appointed as Agent for the West Midlands & Oxfordshire in November 2008. He joined the Bank in 1992 and has undertaken a variety of roles in Threadneedle Street, including banking supervision, economic analysis and financial stability monitoring. From 2001 to 2008 he was the Bank's Deputy Agent for North West England. His qualifications are: MA (Cantab) in English Literature from Trinity Hall, Cambridge and MSc in Economics from University College, London. Graeme lives in Solihull. He is married with three daughters. His outside interests include tennis and walking. Graeme’s children attend Arden.


 Geoff Harley-Mason (Member)

Vice chair of AMAT and Chair of Governors at Arden; a Community Governor and Chair of BSII, Admissions and Behaviour committees.  Mr Harley-Mason is a youth work tutor and consultant previously having worked at Knowle Parish Church. He has a degree in Economics and an MA in Theology & Youthwork. He has been running residential trips for young people both in the UK and abroad for over 20 years. His particular interest and experience is in taking young people on experiential visits to Africa. He has involvement locally with an organisation working to promote understanding among young people from different religious backgrounds. Living  in the community, he was previously an LEA governor and has three children all of whom are at, or have been, at Arden.  Music, student welfare, wellbeing and progress and curriculum enrichment are areas of particular interest.


 Wendy Jarema  (Member)

Chair of Governors at Park Hall Academy and Chair of Teaching and Learning; Arden school governor since 2006; PTA member and Primary school governor since 1996. Mrs Jarema has previously been UK sales and marketing manager; International Business Planning Manager; IPR manager for the Forensic Science Service; Senior HR, Health and Safety and also has risk management experience. Policy development, due diligence and the robust analysis of data are key strengths. Her children attended Arden in the past.


Val Thomas (Member Appointed Trustee)

Val joined the AMAT board in January 2017. She brings Corporate Banking experience to the Board, and her skill set includes Risk, Financial and Project Management. Val is currently an Education Sector Risk Specialist at Barclays Bank PLC and has a strong professional and personal interest in this sector.

An independent thinker , Val is delighted to have been invited to serve Arden Multi Academy Trust as both a resident of Knowle and a parent of two former Arden pupils.



 Alan Volkaerts (Member Appointed Trustee)

In September 2008 Alan Volkaerts took up the position of Operations Director, at JLR's Solihull plant. He is responsible for the development and deployment of c6,500 employees and for ensuring smooth relationships with suppliers and union officials. He is very active in the local business community; former President of the Solihull Chamber of Commerce, sits on the board of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and chairs the Employment and Skills board for the LEP.  Starting work for Ford in 1988 following his graduation from Manchester University, he undertook a number of manufacturing engineering roles across Ford, including a three year assignment in Detroit. He returned to the UK in 1998 as Manufacturing Manager at the Dagenham Stamping plant. A year later, Alan relocated to Halewood where he undertook a number of key roles.  Alan is married with three children and enjoys exploring the countryside with his family. His hobbies include running and cycling. Alan will have children attending Arden from September 2016.