Dr Christopher Mansell

Chief Executive Officer

Christopher took up post as CEO of BDMAT on 01 September 2017. Prior to this, he had been Headteacher of 4 schools during a period of 17 years in Derby City, Derbyshire and Warwickshire, having commenced his first headship in 2000. All of his headships were at schools which were in ‘difficult situations’, including one that had recently been placed into Special Measures and one in an inner-city, highly deprived area. In 2013 he completed a Master of Philosophy degree at the University of Birmingham and in 2020 was awarded a doctorate from the University of Nottingham (thesis: examining the relationships that headteachers experience with their sponsor academy trusts).


Geoff Harley-Mason


Geoff brings to BDMAT experience in both the world of youth work and that of school governance. He works both as a mentor to church youth workers supporting them in their ministry to young people and as a learning mentor to year 6 young people at two schools in Birmingham.

Geoff has qualifications in both youth work and theology and has worked for several churches in the West Midlands. Currently he is a director of the Arden Multi Academy Trust having until recently been a governor of Arden Academy and for four years the chair of the governing board. As part of these roles, he has sat on the Solihull LEA Schools Forum. He is also a governor at a CofE primary school in Birmingham and at an LEA maintained primary school in Solihull.

Geoff is part of the church community at Knowle Parish Church. In the school environment Geoff is particularly interested in Mental Health education for young people and in pastoral care in schools.

Heidi Leung


Heidi currently works as a Senior Education Advisor for FFT Education Ltd, a leading non-profit independent provider of education data for schools in the UK.  In this nationwide role, she supports local authorities, Dioceses and Multi-Academy Trusts in the use of insightful data and analysis to improve outcomes for children and young people.  A key part of her advisor role is to ensure she keeps abreast of changes in the national education landscape and their impact on school improvement strategies.

Prior to her role at FFT Education, Heidi gained a wealth of education experience working for a local authority and schools in Nottingham and surrounding areas.  She also completed a secondment at the Department for Education, supporting the training and business requirements of a national school data system.  In addition, Heidi also held a Chair role for a national education data consortium where she provided strategic direction and leadership.

Having worked with the Diocese of Birmingham for several years, Heidi is looking forward to applying her professional skills and knowledge in a trustee capacity.

Laura Hackett


Laura is currently working as a HR Business Partner at Definitely HR Ltd where she provides specialist employee relations advice to schools and academies mainly across Birmingham and the surrounding areas. As part of her role, Laura provides support and advice to Headteachers, Senior Leaders, School Business Managers and Governors on all aspect of employee relations issues ranging from sickness absence management through to TUPE and organisational change processes.

Over the past 15 years, Laura has worked in various HR roles, including local government, gaining extensive experience in dealing with complex employment matters and providing pragmatic solutions for her clients. Through her work, Laura has also established excellent working relationships with various other service providers, professional bodies and agencies linked to schools, building a useful network of contacts.

Laura is delighted to be able to share with BDMAT the specialist HR skills and knowledge that she has developed while working in the education sector.

Nick Pilditch


Nick joined the BDMAT director team in June 2017 and comes from a business background; his expertise in that world is in business transformation and culture change. Nick is commercial trained and gained his MBA from Edinburgh Napier University in 2016.

He also has extensive experience in strategic decision making, continuous improvement, problem solving, HR, company restructuring, corporate finance and mergers and acquisition.

Nick is a chartered manager and has managed teams right up to board level while setting and exceeding KPIs across a number of disciplines with a  focus on international growth. Nick works across a number of industrial sectors including defence, UK civil and defence nuclear, oil & gas and government sectors.

Nick lends us his skills from an ‘outside perspective’ and offers a contrasting and complimentary approach to the Board.

Nigel Oram


Nigel is happily married and father of two young children. He is currently the head teacher of Harper Bell Seventh day-Adventist Primary, a unique one form entry school, serving children and the community in the heart on Birmingham. He was previously the Head of School at Heathfield, part of the Prince Albert Academy Trust.  He has also been asked and served on a number of school Governing Boards throughout the City.

Nigel has worked in education for 19 years and has a continued desire to ensure all children are given the guidance, love and inspiration leading them to a fulfilled and purposeful life.

Nigel is a long-standing member of the New Testament Church of God, a Pentecostal Church with a number of branches throughout England and internationally.

Olivia Jenkins


Olivia is a solicitor in the dispute and resolution team (DART) at Trowers and Hamlins LLP currently specialising in litigious construction matters. She is well versed in providing advice to corporate bodies / exec boards on the commercial running of their business.

Prior to joining Trowers, Olivia specialised in four distinct areas, fraud, child abuse, human rights and personal injury.  Particularly in the latter three practice areas, safeguarding children and their future was an integral part of that work.  During that time, she represented both vulnerable children and local authorities in relation to allegations of abuse of positions of trust against schoolteachers.  She also assisted local authorities in their involvement in the government led Inquiry into child sexual exploitation.

In a volunteer capacity Olivia provides regular support to children in care and is also a mentor to young law graduates.  Safeguarding young children is obviously important to her and she would be happy to offer her support to BDMAT on a non-charge basis as a member of the board.

Revd Canon Barrie Scott

Director, Chair of School Effectiveness Committee

Barrie is the Deputy Director of Education for the Diocese of Birmingham.  He was previously Vicar of St John the Evangelist, Perry Barr between January 2015 and January 2023 (during which he had a part time secondment for two years to the Diocesan Education Team) and Honorary Assistant Priest (SSM) at St Michael’s Handsworth for sixteen years prior to that.

Between 2004 and 2015, Barrie was Headteacher of two different schools in the Midlands, having previously served as Deputy Headteacher, Head of Modern Languages and Advisory Teacher for Languages in schools across the Midlands. Barrie was headteacher of Granville Community School in Swadlincote, an 11-16 comprehensive school, which moved over 3 years from Serious Weaknesses to becoming the best school in the area, the rise in KS3 SATS and GCSE results making it one of the top ten most improved schools in the country. Following this, Barrie became Headteacher of Cannock Chase High School, a large 11-19 comprehensive school in Staffordshire and oversaw its successful conversion to a free-standing academy and a rise in results of 18% on GCSE headline measures and a comparable increase in A Level/sixth form results. The school also saw a rise from 4% to over 20% of sixth-formers obtaining places at Russell Group universities, and was a founding Stonewall School Champion.

Barrie was elected to the Association of School and College Leaders National Council in 2011 and was a member of the Ofsted monitoring and the Curriculum and Standards committees and the Academies and Direct Employers Group until 2014.  He was also involved in writing the successful bid to the DfE for Christ Church C of E Secondary Academy, which opened in Yardley Wood in 2021.

Sarah Smith

Director, Chair of the Board

Sarah came to the Diocese in February 2015 from her post as Executive Headteacher of St John’s CE Primary School in Sparkbrook, rated ‘outstanding‘ by Ofsted, which she led successfully for eleven years.

A National Leader of Education, she has been involved in supporting schools on their journey of school improvement and has served as Chair of Birmingham Local Authority Primary Forum.

Sarah’s focus currently includes developing the Birmingham Diocesan Academies Trust, of which she is now Chair of the Board, and working on growing new church schools through the Department of Education’s Free Schools Programme. Following a recent successful bid, Sarah is currently involved in setting up a new secondary Free School in the Diocese and in the bidding process for further Free School options for the Diocese.

Sharon Bell


Sharon Bell joined Birmingham-based education and training charity Services For Education as Chief Executive in October 2019. Employing circa 220 staff, each year they teach music and provide performance opportunities to 32,000 children across Birmingham. In addition to music tuition, the training and consultancy division delivers open and bespoke courses, alongside tailored advice to school leaders and teachers across the City and beyond.

Previously for four years, she was Group Vice-Principal (Commercial and International) at WCG (Warwickshire College Group) which comprises seven further education colleges in Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Prior to this, she was Associate Director for the Careers and Employability Service at the University of Nottingham. Her career originally started training as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG and then Sharon worked in aviation and airports for eight years before transferring into education.

Sharon is Chair of Trustees of the Christian mental health charity Renew Wellbeing, on the Council of the Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, and a Board member of Miss Macaroon, a leading Birmingham based social enterprise. She is an active member of Knowle Parish Church.

Stuart Sewell

Director, Chair of Finance & Resources Committee and Chair of Governance, Risk and Audit Committee

Stuart is a Chartered Accountant by training and a senior M&A adviser at one of the “Big 4” global accountancy firms.  He has an eMBA from Ecole Nationale de Ponts Et Chausees. He typically works with shareholders and corporate boards on strategy and transactions.

He has previously been a school governor at a small CofE Primary school and sat on the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP finance committee for a number of years.