Meet our Central Team

Matthew Crawford – Trust Leader 


Matthew is chief executive of Embark Federation which is a trust of 19 schools across Derbyshire. He was designated a National Leader of Education in 2017 for the work he has done as a system leader. Matthew supported over a dozen schools across Derbyshire who are now all judged to be good or better by Ofsted.

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 whilst providing their children with the best possible education.

All 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 trust has used sponsorship opportunities and grants to fund aspirational events for the children.

A keen sportsman, Matthew now enjoys a game of golf at weekends and supporting the Welsh rugby team! Family is very important to Matthew. He is father to Sophie and Daniel who are the most precious things in his life.

Anna Upton - Deputy Trust Leader 


Anna is the Deputy Trust Leader of the Embark Federation.  She is dedicated to improving the life of each individual child, nurturing their strengths, personalities and interests to bring out the best in them.   

Anna is responsible for the implementation of the digital strategy, data, safeguarding, risk and quality assurance strategies across the trust.  She plays an integral role within the Trust leading, both strategically and operationally, the support, advice and guidance that enable the schools to succeed and ensures the consistent delivery of Embark's Vision & Core Beliefs.

Anna started her teaching career in Nottingham City.  This is where her first leadership role was secured and from here she moved to teach at Chaucer Junior School in Ilkeston.  She then moved to work as an Advanced Skills Teacher where she supported schools and teachers across Derbyshire.  She has also worked in various roles as an Associate School Improvement Adviser for Derbyshire County Council supporting schools and their leaders in a wide variety of school improvement activities. All these schools are now judged good or better. 

Anna is a member of the Chartered College of Teaching and has completed her NPQEL after working as an executive leader across Derbyshire.  

She feels privileged to be able to use her role within Embark to impact on so many children’s lives. 


 Philip Searson - Primary School Improvement Lead 


Philip is the Primary School Improvement Leader of the Embark Federation.  He is passionate about improving learning for each individual child and believes in the power of schools working together to share practice and learn together.

Philip is responsible for leading the bespoke primary school improvement package across the trust as well as leading the trust's collaborative learning groups to work on various projects including curriculum design, formative assessment and subject leadership.

Philip started his teaching career in Nottinghamshire.  This is where his first leadership role was secured leading Key Stage 1 in a large primary school and from here he moved on to a further leadership role in Nottingham City to lead both Key Stage 1 and SEND provision. During this time he worked as an Advanced Skills Teacher supporting schools and teachers across Nottinghamshire.  Following this he spent 13 years as a Headteacher in two different primary schools in Derbyshire.  

He has worked as an Associate School Improvement Adviser for Derbyshire County Council supporting a total of 13 schools and their leaders in a wide variety of school improvement activities. All these schools are now judged good or better. 

For five years he has worked for the DFE as a National Leader of Education and supporting four schools and their leaders with school improvement.

He feels privileged to be able to use his school improvement role within Embark to impact on so many children’s learning across the trust as well as the professional development of all staff. 


Rebecca Keeling - Teaching and Learning Lead 


Rebecca has 13 years of teaching and leadership experience across a range of contexts in Derby City and Derbyshire. She has taught all year groups across the Primary Phase. Rebecca has a real passion for teaching and learning, she has worked with senior advisors and has worked alongside teachers and leaders who required support to develop their practice and worked with them to great effect. She achieved success in a number of ways including; modelling, team teaching, joint planning, observations and leading CPD.

Rebecca has held a number of leadership roles including Assistant Head and Head of School and has achieved her NPQSL. Rebecca has a real interest in research led practice and has worked with Embark Federation since January 2021. She works for Embark as a Teaching and Learning consultant and has led work on the teaching and learning policy, the writing assessment framework and moderation across the schools. She has also led work on the covid catch-up strategy alongside the Deputy Trust Leader.

Outside of school Rebecca enjoys spending time with family and friends and is fully aligned with Embark's Core Beliefs.

Paul Scaife - Finance & Operations Lead 


Paul has a wealth of financial experience in Multi-Academy Trusts, Local Authority, Education Charity and Schools financial management systems and processes. He is a qualified accountant with a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of financial management and reporting. Paul is driven to make financial information accessible for all rather than a highly complex set of information that few can understand. He is professional and easy going by nature, with an ability to build relationships with work colleagues, directors and customers.

Craig Yates - Secondary School Improvement Lead 


Craig is the school improvement leader for the secondary schools within the Embark Federation. He cares deeply about providing opportunities for schools, colleagues and children across the trust to develop as educators and learners through collaborative support and challenge.

Craig is responsible for leading the development and implementation of the secondary school improvement package. The schools work together to grow and develop the strategic aims and develop the supporting mechanisms to secure the highest quality delivery.

Craig started teaching in Rochdale and quickly becoming involved in leading a large science team, whole school assessment, adult education and school to school support as part of the Manchester Challenge.

Craig then moved to North Manchester, and then into senior leadership in Stockport, before moving to Buxton as the Headteacher of a large 11-18 secondary school. Throughout this time, Craig has focused on developing his experience, knowledge and skills through a range of professional development opportunities. Craig has worked as an accredited trainer for the developing and outstanding teacher programme, he has been trained as an NPQ deliverer, and has supported improvement with teams and colleagues across a number of schools. Craig played a key role in several collaborative organisations across Derbyshire at local and area wide level.

Craig has also successfully completed the NPQH and NPQEL programs as part of his own professional development and worked as an active Ofsted inspector for several years.

Craig is proud to provide supportive challenge and professional growth for colleagues across the trust. He is excited by the breadth of opportunities trust wide working offers for students and staff.

Ben Riggott - Trust Development Lead 


Ben is the Trust Development Leader of the Embark Federation. He believes strongly in the inherent strengths within all people, schools and communities.  Ben is passionate about our collective potential to inspire children to thrive and to make the most of the opportunities available to them.

Ben started teaching in Derby City, where he became a curriculum leader and developed a successful Duke of Edinburgh's Award programme. He then moved on to middle and senior leadership roles at a very large 11-18 school in Nottinghamshire.  Ben was privileged to be involved in leading innovative academic and vocational provision and significant improvement at the school, completing a PGCIE with the University of Warwick.  Ben then moved to a large 11-18 school in Derbyshire, initially as Deputy and then Co-Headteacher.  2018 Ben was asked to support Parkside Community School as interim Headteacher, before becoming the permanent Headteacher later that year.

Ben has supported other schools from primary through to post-16.  He has successfully completed the NPQH and NPQEL programmes as part of his own professional development, has been trained as an NPQ deliverer, and has supported the MA in Educational Leadership at the National Institute for Teaching and Education.

Ben is responsible for a number of aspects of trust development, including the wider family membership offer and the trust's sustainability and apprenticeships strategies.

Ben loves to get involved in things that can make a positive difference. He is the lead Safeguarding Officer at a large local cricket club, and is a leader of Derby Kids' Camp.  Ben is delighted that some of the children from Embark primary and junior schools will benefit from a week on camp every summer.

Lisa Marriott - People and Culture Lead


Lisa is the People and Culture Lead for the Embark Federation. She is passionate about employee experience and creating the best places to work; where people want to be, will be supported and developed, are clear on what needs delivered, and have the tools to succeed.  She believes in the power of capability, compassion and community to achieve collective goals.

Lisa is responsible for the leadership of a comprehensive people and culture offer that will ensure Embark's ongoing success to Dream Big for Derbyshire by putting our people at the front and centre of ‘how we do things’.

Lisa has extensive strategic HR and OD experience working across the charity, civil service and NHS sectors. She is experienced in all aspects on HR and OD including leadership, employee experience, enhancing personal agency, inclusion, organisation change and building capacity and capability through people and team development.

Outside work Lisa enjoys time with friends and family, playing football, long country walks and a good book.

Laura Baddiley - Governance & Data Lead


Laura is the Governance and Data Lead for the Embark Federation. She is responsible for supporting effective governance across the organisation and ensuring compliance with statutory requirements and good practice guidelines.

Laura has held a leadership role in a maintained school for 12 years.  This has required her to lead several strategic and operational disciplines including the management of projects, facilities, governance, policies and procedures and management information systems.

Laura is a driven individual who thrives on a challenge and believes a secure governance system is a key part to drive school improvement and ensure positive outcomes for children. Laura is very passionate about driving forward governance to make all of our Embark family of schools 'stand out' at the heart of their communities.

Laura is professional, friendly and easy going with the ability to build strong relationships and trust with all stakeholders for the good of all our schools.

Helen Jefferson - Safeguarding Lead


Helen is the Safeguarding Lead for the Embark Federation. She is dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable children, enabling them to have safe and happy lives.

Helen is responsible for leading the development and implementation of a strategic approach to safeguarding. She is committed to fostering a culture that builds capacity and empowers teams to own proactive strategies that are preventive and embedded in all schools to ensure all our children are kept safe and free from harm. She works closely with headteachers and safeguarding leads to build a trusted safeguarding provision that puts children’s wellbeing at the heart of everything we do.

Prior to joining Embark Helen has had extensive leadership experience. She was a member of the Senior Leadership Team at Derby College Group with responsibility for the strategic direction and operational delivery of all student support services. She was also Head of the Derby College Ilkeston Campus, had Leadership and Ofsted Nominee responsibility for the Early Years Nursery provision and acted as the Designated Safeguarding Lead, Mental Health Lead and Prevent Lead contact.

Helen has led successful partnership work in Derbyshire with a range of agencies and learning providers in order to support the needs of vulnerable children.  She has had considerable experience of working with a wide range of local and national agencies and membership of several advisory boards. For example, the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Board, Derby City Children and Families Board, and Derby and Derbyshire Prevent Steering Group.  Helen is currently the Deputy Chair of the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Education Hub.

Earlier in her career, Helen has had extensive experience in Connexions and Careers Service Management in Derbyshire. Helen worked as a leading expert in the region in careers education, information advice and guidance offering independent consultancy, research, training and support in the school, FE and HE sector.

Helen is proud to be part of the Embark Family and to be able to support schools build and maintain strong safeguarding cultures.

Richard Mansfield - Estates Lead


Richard is the Estates Lead for Embark Federation and looks after all aspects of health and safety as well as helping schools develop their buildings and grounds to create exciting environments in which teachers can teach and children can learn. He also takes overall responsibility for the purchase and management of utilities

Prior to joining the trust Richard was Headteacher for 15 years in South Derbyshire and brings to the trust a wide ranging of knowledge of education as well as school facilities which, he believes, helps meet the educational needs of the pupils and staff as well as the practical aspects of facilities management and building design.

Outside of his work for the trust he enjoys all sports, especially golf and spending time with his family.




Congratulations Sarah Armitage MBE

01 Feb 2024

Embark Federation are delighted to inform you that our fabulous Chair of Trustees Sarah Armitage has been recognised in the New Years Honours...

Ladywood Visit

07 Sep 2023

Our Trust Leader Matthew Crawford paid a visit to Ladywood Primary School to take a look around their wonderful Art Exhibition. There were so...

Waingroves Primary visit

07 Sep 2023

Matthew Crawford our Trust Leader paid a visit to Waingroves Primary School to present the children with their Embark Awards in a special assembly.

Riddings Junior School

07 Sep 2023

Riddings Junior School had their very own Tough Mudder this year and it was a huge success!
Pupils, staff and families all took part...

Year 6 Performances

07 Sep 2023

Our Trust Leader Matthew Crawford visited the Embark Schools over the last few weeks of term and managed to watch a range of different performances...

Embark Conference 2023

07 Sep 2023

The Embark Conference was held at the Derby Arena this year and focused on our core purpose of Love Learning, Love Life. We had over 700 staff...

Derby Kids Camp Embark Week

07 Sep 2023

Some of our pupils embarked on a new adventure in the summer holidays.  They spent 6 nights on a remote location in the Derbyshire countryside....

Embark Football Tournament

06 Sep 2023

Our four secondary schools came together to take part in our first secondary football tournament which was organised and delivered by EFD Sport...

25 year anniversary celebrations!

06 Sep 2023

It was lovely to celebrate the work of some very special staff members with a beautiful afternoon tea at Horsley Lodge Golf Club.
Embark staff...

Embark Holiday

06 Sep 2023

A group of children from Kilburn Juniors, Chaucer Juniors and Ladywood Primary School all had the chance to experience a holiday in rural Derbyshire...