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Learn@ MAT

Learn@ MAT


Margaret Simmons-Bird

Chair, Board of Trustees

A former Director of Education BANES with extensive experience working in local government, schools, and other education settings to improve the education outcomes for children and young people, Margaret has led and managed a diverse range of education support services including school improvement, Virtual School, Schools Finance, Admissions and Place Planning.

She has  also been an accredited Ofsted inspector. Margaret is  an experienced governor, trustee, and the current Chair of the Gatehouse Green Learning Trust. (GGLT).

Margaret is co-chair of the Bristol Education Race Equality Steering Group and vice chair of Bristol Mayor’s Commission on Race Equality (CoRE).

As an Independent Education Adviser, Margaret works with schools and other education settings on aspects of school improvement including strengthening leadership, improving equality, diversity and inclusion with a specific focus on representation and narrowing the attainment gap for disadvantaged learners.

John Blayney

Originally an engineer by training, and in a career spanning almost 40 years in the aerospace industry with Rolls-Royce, John has held senior leadership roles in a variety of business disciplines including Programme Management, Finance, Commercial and Customer Services, many of which have been in global positions on collaborative programmes. He has extensive experience of managing complex organisations, often through periods of significant transformation.

John has also served as a Non-Exec Director on the Boards of a number of collaborative ventures and overseas subsidiaries, is an experienced Business Continuity Commander and trained High Performance Culture Coach.

He has a Bachelors Degree in Mathematical Engineering, a Masters Degree in Business Administration, and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

John is married with two daughters aged 24 and 21, and has just become a proud grandparent. Having recently retired from corporate life, he has taken the opportunity to establish his own management consultancy venture, undertake a number of voluntary roles and spend valuable time with his newly expanded family.

With a firm belief in an approach based on trust and collaboration, he has a passion for inspiring people to be at their best and to realise the positive impact they can have in life.

Amanda Loran

Amanda is an ACCA Accountant with over 25 years of Board level experience within the legal sector.

Her current firm, Stone King specialises in supporting Education providers alongside charities, social enterprises and other public benefit organisations.

Amanda considers herself a dynamic, Innovative and Commercial Finance Director who works collaboratively with stakeholders to marry the commercial needs of an organisation without compromising its culture and values. 

Amanda previously volunteered as trustee/treasurer of Julian House , a local homeless charity.  


Fiona Williams

Fiona Williams has a wealth of experience in HR, having worked in the industry for 15 years. Working in various, complex matrixed organisations she often puts her organisational design skills to use and has had experience in mergers and acquisitions as well as leading the HR function to drive company strategy, sitting at board level.

She is passionate about diversity, equality, inclusion and wellbeing, and ensures that it is front and centre in enabling a happy, healthy and  productive workforce. In her spare time she enjoys keeping fit and spending time with her husband and two young children.

As a Trustee Fiona is passionate about helping to make a difference to the lives of children and their carers and doing all she can to be a positive driving force in this space. 


Key Roles


Key Role

Margaret Simmons-Bird

Chair of Trustees

Chair of Quality and Standards Committee

Link Trustee for Safeguarding

John Blayney

Vice Chair of Trustees

Member of Finance, Audit & Resource Committee

Amanda Loran

Chair of Finance, Audit & Resource Committee

Fiona Williams

Chair of Student & Staff Wellbeing Committee

Link Trustee for Whistleblowing