Meet our Trustees

Sarah Armitage (Chair of Trustees and HR Committee)

Sarah has been a school governor for 12 years, a chair for 6 years and a National Leader of Governance for 3 years. She also has held the position of NLG Coordinator for Derby and Derbyshire since September 2017.  This involves supporting the work of the (currently) 11 NLGs across the county and liaising with commissioners of this work, including Teaching School Alliances, MATs and Local Authorities.

Professionally she specialises in leadership, team and cultural development and is dedicated to helping people work more effectively and collaboratively together.  She feels this is crucial for excellent governance and a productive, high-trust working relationship between school leaders, staff and governors.

Sarah has worked with over 20 schools and colleges in her capacity as an NLG and as a professional facilitator/development consultant and carried out many external reviews of governance. Her mission is to help schools/MATs/federations develop a high-performance culture and organisation built on a clear shared vision, values and a team-driven approach.

She has a degree in Educational Psychology and has worked at a senior level in Human Resources in the chemical industry (originally Courtaulds), contributing to significant organisational and cultural change.

Having established Work Vitality in 2007, Sarah now has a wide range of clients including Tarmac, the Vaillant Group, the University of Derby, Lafarge, Vinci Energies and the Volvo Group.

With a background in Human Resources, coaching qualifications and extensive experience of coaching senior leaders, Sarah brings a sharp understanding of how to develop an engaged and performing workplace to her governance system-leadership role.

Sarah’s two daughters both attended Richardson Endowed Primary school in Smalley (now within Embark Federation) and being Derby born and bred, Sarah is passionate about improving the education and life-chances for all children and young people in her home county.


Ian Paxton

Ian has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry, picking up and utilising technical, project, operational management and sales skills. Ian worked previously for IBM and Hewlett Packard and now for DXC Technology. His current job role is that of a Solution Architect working in the defence sector. 

Ian has over 7 years of experience working within School Governing Bodies, ranging from being a Parent Governor, chairing Finance Committees and assisting schools in delivering a Good Ofsted report. He has also participated in the Embark Strategy Group, effectively steering the direction the Embark Federation. 

On a personal level, Ian is married, with two children and lives locally to schools in the Embark Federation. He enjoys keeping fit, by running, playing competitive tennis, golf and in the warmer weather, water-skiing!

Alix Round

Alix has worked for 17 years at a large FTSE 100 company, working within the Public Sector Team providing a wealth of data, information and analysis to Public Sector departments. Alix is now a Senior Account Manager working within the Strategic Team and looking after 2 major banks. She manages a portfolio of £15million revenue and fosters excellent relationships with these key clients.

Alix has been a school governor for 7 years, she is currently a governor of three schools, including an Infant and Nursery School, a Junior School and she is Chair of Governors at a High School. The Infant school is an outstanding school and Alix was part of the interview process with Ofsted when the school was awarded their outstanding status. She lives with her husband and 2 children and spends her spare time supporting her son playing for his local football team and also her daughter who is a keen gymnast and ice skater.

Dr Deborah Outhwaite (Chair of Educational Standards and Performance Committee)

Deb Outhwaite runs the MA in Professional Education at the Centre for Teacher Education, University of Warwick. A qualified 11-18 teacher, Deb taught Social Sciences in secondary education for 12 years prior to coming in to university teaching and was an A-Level Government and Politics examiner for European Politics.

Deb’s Education Doctorate was on Educational Leadership in the International Baccalaureate and was awarded in 2017. Deb co-convenes the Leadership Preparation and Development Research Interest Group (RIG) for the British Educational Leadership and Management Administration Society (BELMAS), and she is an elected member and trustee of their Council. Deb is also an elected member of the International Professional Development Association (IPDA)’s International Committee.

She is also a parent governor and trustee in an 11-18 Derbyshire comprehensive school rated outstanding by Ofsted, where she is also a chair, and a trustee, of their school Foundation. Deb has authored book chapters and papers in the areas of contemporary issues in education policy; pupil premium; the deployment of Specialist Leaders in Education (SLEs); and the International Baccalaureate’s Diploma Programme in England.

Eleanor Headley

As a leader, Eleanor strongly believes in the fundamental core purpose of education and the importance in the collaboration of a shared vision to the benefit of children. She offers a variety of skills and experience to the Embark trust board providing balance and passion to support school objectives and those of the community.

Originally from Canada, Eleanor offers a diverse background in a career spanning over 25 years across three business sectors in the areas of product and programme development, business administration and operations, training, customer service, safeguarding, performance management and human resources. She has been fortunate to be able to practice her knowledge across the community at local and regional level.

Eleanor holds degrees in Law and Sociology and International Management, certification in multidisciplinary rehabilitation and qualifications in education and training. Trained with the National College and as an experienced integrated centre leader she has have demonstrated practice in Early Years to post 16 and beyond. Eleanor is currently a tutor in family learning and has been a coach to many professionals. 


Baby J

Baby J has worked in education and the arts for the past 17 years. Founding and running Baby People, a music and arts based vocational training provider, he specialises in working with young people not in mainstream education, using music and the arts to help them rediscover a passion for learning. He has had a focus on diversity and equality particularly focussing on the rights of young people to access quality education, including new communities and young people from economically challenged backgrounds. Baby J is also a Church School Governor. 

Baby J’s background as a music producer and artist manager has allowed him to pass on his experience to young people. He is an award winning music producer who has worked for Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson and Plan B. Baby People is an Arts Council national portfolio organisation and Baby J is a leading figure in the cultural sector in Derby and Nottingham.


Alix Round (Chair of Finance Committee)

Alix is a senior account manager at Experian. A more detailed bio will follow…


Matthew Crawford

Matthew has six and a half years of headship experience and several years of working as a leader in schools. He is currently Executive Head of Embark Federation in Derbyshire which consists of Richardson Endowed Primary in Smalley and Kilburn Junior School. The Federation launched in January 2017 and he has been headteacher at Richardson Endowed since September 2011.

 Matthew has been designated a National Leader of Education in February 2017 as a result of his work as a system leader and Richardson Endowed Primary became a National Support School. 

Matthew has worked as an Associate School Improvement Adviser for Derbyshire County Council over the last three and a half years supporting nine schools and their leaders in a wide variety of school improvement activities. All nine schools now have good or better Ofsted judgements. 

Matthew has also recently enjoyed working with a ‘coasting’ school in his role as NLE which was assigned by the RSC team. 

He believes that schools are ‘stronger together’ and enjoys sharing practice whilst also learning from others and helping to improve the federation. He also believes that schools should be at the heart of their communities and give their children the best possible education. 

Both schools in the federation have an exciting curriculum which is accompanied by a rich diet of wider opportunities in Music, Sport, Science and the Arts. The federation has excellent leadership in both schools and very good capacity to support others. 

Prior to his work in Smalley, Matthew taught for nine years in two Derby City schools and then for four years as a Deputy Head in Nottinghamshire.

Matthew enjoys playing sports in his spare time and is also a member of the Parish Council Committee of All Saints Church in Breadsall Village, Derbyshire.

To create 'stand out' schools at the heart of their community.

The Ultimate West End Day Trip!

03 Dec 2019

On Wednesday 13th November, Embark Federation ‘embarked’ on a trip of a lifetime for 42 of our children across 7 of our schools. After an early start of 6:30am from Derby, we travelled to...

Hot House Jazz Day!

03 Dec 2019

Please see below a press release following our day with Hot House: Over 100 children from Bondholder Embark Federation, came together earlier this month to work with the inspirational Jon Eno and his...

Embark Art Day 2019

08 Jul 2019

70 children from across our Embark schools came together this week for a fabulous Art Day.   They were so excited by the opportunity to work with the brilliant artist Sophie Edwards and the amaz...

Leigh Timmis' Tales Inspire Kilburn Junior

03 Jun 2019

Round the World cyclist, World Record holder, Adventurer and friend of Kilburn Junior School, Leigh Timmis, visited us today, captivating pupils, parents and staff with tales of his accomplishments an...

EMBARK Pupils Make History

13 May 2019

Pupils from four of our Academy Schools, Kilburn Junior, Horsley Woodhouse Primary, Howitt  Primary and Smalley Richardson Primary made history today when they planted the first of 250,000 trees...

West End Stars Visit

13 Apr 2019

Tuesday 9th April is a day that will live long in the memory for 70 children from Embark Federation, a trust of 7 schools across Derbyshire. Two stars from the West End, Victoria Farley and Sophie Isa...

Heath Dance Tour Of Embark Schools

20 Mar 2019

It was a real privilege today to accompany 11 children from Heath Primary visiting 5 of our schools. They performed a stunning dance with an anti-bullying theme which finished with the key message of...

Messy Play Fun at Aldercar!

11 Mar 2019

Children attending the Nursery at Aldercar have been having great fun in recent weeks doing 'Messy Play.' Enjoy the pictures below:

Internet Safety at Howitt

05 Mar 2019

We are proud to say that we took part in Safer Internet Day at Howitt again this year. All classes got involved by sharing their ideas on how to work together for a better internet. Our Digital Leader...

Lego Robotics at Horsley Woodhouse!

04 Mar 2019

Class 4 have had 2 exciting events recently. In January, we had a visit from Junior STEM who delivered a Lego Robotics workshop. The children learned how to programme Lego models and wrote algorithms...

MP Nigel Mills visits Kilburn Juniors

01 Mar 2019

The local Member of Parliament for Amber Valley, Nigel Mills, visited Kilburn Junior School this morning to spend time with children in the Nurture room. He was really complimentary of the support giv...

Embark Conference 2018

17 Dec 2018

We were delighted to host our inaugral conference for staff earlier this month. 150 staff from the 7 schools came together at Pride Park stadium which was the first time we had all been together as a...

Arts Week 2019 at Heath Primary

The children at Heath Primary School have had a great time participating in our annual Arts Week this year. They have taken part in five different workshops; Lantern Making, Poetry, Music, Dance and P...

UK National Competition Winner at Howitt

Well done to Ebony, in Year 5 at Howitt Primary Community School, for becoming the winner of the Collins Big Cat Books writing competition for the whole of the United Kingdom. We are so proud of her a...

Kilburn Girls Victorious

Kilburn Junior's Year 3 and 4 girls were victorious in today's Derby County Ladies Football Tournament, lifting the trophy for the second year running. The team scored 30 goals in total and only conce...