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Senior Leadership Team

Justin Smith

Chief Executive Officer

Before joining The Primary First Trust, Mr Smith was the Executive Head Teacher of a Federation of Schools in South London. One of the schools has gone from Special Measures to Outstanding and another reversed a three year falling trend to become the highest performing school in its borough and was also graded Outstanding by Ofsted. Mr Smith has a history of managing change in difficult circumstances both in new schools and schools in challenging circumstances. In 2010 he led the Most Improved School in the Country, a school in an area of high social deprivation. He is a published author in the field of Behaviour Management and currently works very closely with the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Department for Education on MAT development.  He is a mentor for MAT CEO's and is part of the pilot project on evaluating the effectiveness of Multi Academy Trusts.  He is currently undertaking a doctoral study in educational leadership.



Katherine Powell

Director of Education

Before joining The Primary First Trust Katherine was the Executive Head Teacher of The Barnehurst Federation. She has a history of managing successful change in different contexts and is an Inspector with Ofsted under the current framework (September 2015) and leads on the four functions of The Primary First Trust; Children’s Outcomes, Leadership Development, Teacher Development and Curriculum Enrichment. Katherine was the school leader that led Barnehurst Infant School through its Outstanding Ofsted. She has significant experience working with schools in a number of different contexts and has enabled and secured the improvements in outcomes for children across the Trust.  Katherine is also a National Leader of Education.





Richard Cox

Chief Finance Officer

Richard brings significant experience in the field of managing multi academy trusts from a business perspective. He is driven by the opportunities that The Primary First Trust gives to impact significantly on children’s lives in the community in which they live. Although a relatively recent appointment he has already identified significant savings across the Trust and individual schools. 






Leading Head Teachers


Penny Jones

Leading Head Teacher

Penny joined the Trust following successful headships in a range of schools and has a history of working with schools to improve the quality of their offer to children. Penny leads on the four functions of the Trust in specific schools which are Children’s Outcomes, Leadership Development, Teacher Development and Curriculum Enrichment.  Penny is a Local Leader of Education.








Claire Eskelson

Leading Head Teacher

Claire has a successful history of school improvement as a Head Teacher of schools within London.  She is passionate about improving outcomes and the life chances of all children within primary schools. Claire is also a former IEB member and now governor of a school in challenging circumstances.  Claire is a Local Leader of Education.


Business Support and Administration



Sarah Thompson - PA to the CEO


Sarah supports the work of the Trust by her highly professional and tenacious approach to problem solving. Her huge range of skills allow the Trust's work to flow seamlessly.










Jane Hingston - Senior Clerk to the Governing Bodies


Jane provides hugely respected support to Governing Bodies in all of the schools. She has brought an increased level of professionalism to the governance processes within the Trust.










Hardeep Hullait - HR Lead


Hardeep has enabled the Primary First Trust to have a far more professional and employee focused approach to HR.  Schools value her accurate and rapid response.






Victoria Harrington - Finance Assistant









Sarah Bates - PA to the Director of Education









Jennie Edwards - Clerk to the Governing Bodies