Senior Leadership Team
Paul James - Chief Executive
Paul James is a qualified teacher with over 20 years of experience in schools, including in senior leadership roles in a range of secondary education settings, and as a primary school governor and IEB member. Until recently he was a Headteacher of a comprehensive school of over 1800 students, which is a National Teaching School. He is currently a National Leader of Education and an Ofsted inspector alongside being Chief Executive of the River Learning Trust.
Lisa Hughes - Chief Operating Officer
Lisa has worked at Executive and Non- Executive
levels in the not for profit sector for 18 years, 16 of which have been in
housing. Lisa has spent the last decade specialising in change and
transformation, governance and strategy, working particularly with
organisations undergoing a significant programme of change and growth. She is a
qualified accountant with over 20 years post qualification experience, and
holds a post grad cert in Organisational Development from Roffey Park
Institute. She is also a Board member of Chipping Norton Theatre, Oxfordshire
Credit Union and the Hastoe Group.
Claire Handyside - HR Director
Claire has had an extensive career in HR through a range of educational HR settings including the University of Oxford and academic publishing. Previous roles have required her to lead on acquisitions and mergers, strategic HR planning, supporting and leading organisational change, operational HR as well as HR process management and administration. She has been a Chartered member of the CIPD since 2007.
Malv Bhomra - Operations Director
Malv has significant experience in a range of operational, financial and administrative roles gained through a career in banking and education. These roles have given him exposure to a variety of aspects including financial management and budgeting, premises management, project management and leadership rolls. A former registered Prince2 Practitioner, Certificate of School Business Management qualified and a Fellow of the Institute of Administrative Management. Malv also has experience of process and policy design and a reasonable understanding of IT systems and infrastructures.
Fadiya Rassel - Head of Finance
Fadiya is the Head of Finance at River Learning Trust. Before joining River Learning trust, Fadiya was Senior Accountant at Oxford Brookes University. She held a range of roles in Finance at Oxford Brookes University, including Strategic Planning, Systems Accounting and financial reporting. Fadiya is a graduate of Oxford Brookes University, has a master’s degree from Grenoble Graduate School of Business and is an ACCA Qualified Accountant. Her early career was spent working in private sector and the NHS.
Kate Curtis - Secondary Education Quality Associate
Kate is a teacher and leader with over 30 years experience, most recently serving for 12 years as Headteacher of Wheatley Park School, a large 11-18 school on the outskirts of Oxford. Kate oversaw rising standards, leading the school from 'special measures' to Good and was praised by Ofsted in 2016 for her 'focused and purposeful' leadership. Kate was designated an LLE in 2015. She is a board member of Oxford's Pegasus Youth Theatre.
Sue Grundy - Primary Education Quality Associate
During her time in education Sue Grundy has worked in all sectors from primary through to higher education. She joins the Trust following a period of ten years as the Headteacher of St Michael’s CE Primary School. During this period, successes included year-on-year improvements in standards, government awards for work with disadvantaged pupils, an outstanding judgement in a SIAMS inspection and opportunities to celebrate the wider curriculum through Arts Mark, Eco Schools status and sports awards.
Steph Lovett - Primary Education Quality Associate
Steph Lovett is an accomplished and successful Headteacher with 25 years of experience in primary education including as a Literacy and School Improvement Consultant. As Headteacher of Sandhills Primary, Oxford, she established the school in the UK’s ‘Top 100 Most Improved Schools’. The school received recognition from the Government with regards to the performance of disadvantaged pupils and has, for the past several years, been in the top 15% of Oxfordshire schools for the overall attainment of its pupils and the top 6% for the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.