Kate was born in Southend and has lived there her whole life. Kate attended Thorpe Greenways Infant and Junior Schools and then Southend High School for Girls. After college and university Kate entered the teaching profession and has taught locally and in London for over 40 years. Kate's husband is a Chartered Accountant and she has three grown up children and a granddaughter. 

Kate started as a Governor at West Leigh Schools in 1992 and has been such for 26 years. Kate's main expertise is in Teaching and Learning and Personnel. 

When Portico Academy Trust was formed in 2016 Kate was invited to become a Trustee. Her main focus is Teaching and Learning, Data, Personnel and Health and Safety. 



From 1973 Mrs Woolf taught for just over 16 years at Thorpedene Junior School in Shoebury taking a break during that time to have her family. She returned to Thorpedene  after a request from the Headteacher and stayed for a further 10 years! Mrs Woolf became a Deputy Head at West Leigh Junior School in 1994. In 1995 Mrs Woolf was appointed as Acting Head and then Headteacher from September 1996. In 2010 she began to support schools in Southend with school improvement, working at Eastwood Primary, Friars Primary School, Porters Grange Primary School and with Leigh North Street, Hamstel Schools and St Mary's Prittlewell C of E Primary School.  

Frances Gretton

Frances is a retired Registered Nurse with 35 years experience of working in the NHS.  She has worked on the wards and reached the level of Ward Manager before changing roles.


Frances changed direction and began teaching the Health Care Assistants – setting up and running the Trust’s National Vocational Qualifications Centre.

Whilst running the Centre she also collaborated with others in creating a Competency scheme for nurses and health care assistants.

In the last 3 years within the Trust Frances worked as part of the Change Management team, they used the Toyota LEAN methodology.

Frances has an extensive experience in working within an ever changing service with all the challenges this brings.

She became a School Governor at Hamstel Junior School in December 2013, and then became a Trustee of Portico Trust in September 2016. 

Frances stood down from Hamstel Junior School Governors in August 2017.

Frances has lived in Southend her whole life, she is married with one grown up son.



Practising solicitor in his own firm.



Born and educated in Hackney, East London,but now living in Billericay since marriage in 1969. Graduate of Kings  (BSc Hons) & Chelsea (MA(Ed)) in London.

Teaching career of 37 years, including 17 years as Headteacher of Cecil Jones High School, followed by 10 years working as Education Consultant predominantly for Southend LEA.

Chair of Trustees and Members of Portico MAT since formulation of MAT

My work in my schools and the Trust is driven by passion  to give every child  the opportunities , support and quality of learning to achieve their best.

In my retirement I spend my time with our 5 grandchildren, playing golf , gym  & swimming & taking holidays in France with our touring  caravan.



Alan is a director of a large London based firm of electrical engineers. He lives in Shoebury with his family and has been a long serving Governor of Friars Primary School, in the last three years as Chair. 



Graham is a retired Chartered Accountant and, prior to retirement he was a partner in a top 30 firm of Chartered Accountants in the City of London.  Graham managed a portfolio of clients as well as overseeing running the office of 230 people and the firm’s IT systems. As a result he has a wide experience of project management, procurement, managing people and finance.

Graham has lived in Southend all of his life and been a school governor for over twenty-five years at local schools. As well as being a Trustee of Portico Graham is a Trustee of another local Multi Academy Trust and of two national Maritime Charities.  From these activities he has gained a good understanding of most areas of school/academy management.

Graham's experience allows him to bring a common-sense and business approach to education and has taught him to be challenging in a constructive way.  The only reason for his activities in education is to help provide the best for the pupils and students to ensure they have a sound education to support them for the rest of their lives.



Garry has worked in two major Government departments – Defence and the Department for Education (DfE). He also has experience of Local Government at a senior level.

In Defence, Garry was in a number of operational posts in the UK and Overseas and ended his Defence career in the management training division, project managed the introduction of Performance Management across the department and providing Leadership and management training to military and civilian staff.

In the DfE, he was a policy official in the School Workforce Unit. He worked with key stakeholders across the country, including ministers, to bring Performance Management in to English and Welsh Schools. Garry designed and managed the national roll out of performance management training for Headteachers, LA officials and Governors. 

In the Children services dept of Southend, Garry was the Leadership Management Adviser providing advice and training to headteachers, governors, teaching and non-teaching staff. Garry was instrumental in establishing the Graduate Teaching Programme and established the first Interim Executive Board in the country. Garry also secured Investors in People status for the Department. 

Garry joined the Eastern Leadership Centre a not for profit charity as Deputy Chief Executive responsible for the strategic management of the back office function in the company and  National college and TDA programmes across the Eastern region. Garry also worked with a number of local authorities to develop and deliver online training for Governors. 

Garry left ELC to establish his own management and development consultancy company and has worked and continues to works for a number of clients in Education and Social Care.  Garry is a governor and Vice Chair of Futures Community College in Southend.

Portico Academy Trust   59 Ronald Hill Grove   Leigh-on-Sea   Essex   SS9 2JB
Tel: 01702 987890  Email: