Meet the MEMBERS


Ian Coker

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Kevin Dean

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Peter Hamer

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Bernadette Hunter

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Mark Emly

I am the Chair of the Esteem MAT Trust Board .As Chair of the Trust Board I have, along with the other trustees, the legal responsibility for conducting the business of the academy trust. Academy trustees are both charity trustees and corporate directors and we must ensure that we adhere to our statutory duties under charity and company law. I have had a career in special education initially as a teacher in special schools in three local authorities and then in senior leadership positions including headship of two special schools. My roles over the next 16 years were with a Local Authority and included being a school improvement adviser, senior adviser and latterly, up until August 2019  a strategic role as Assistant Director for Learning, Access and Inclusion. I now work as an independent education consultant. I have a good understanding of the Ofsted inspection framework and how inspections are undertaken.


I am committed to young people with special educational needs and trying to help them achieve the best possible outcomes and therefore maximise their life chances. By effectively governing and successfully driving the development of a strong and effective trust, I am confident that we can positively influence the evolving educational landscape and the learning journey of our children and young adults.

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Kevin Dean

Vice Chair of Trustees

I have two key governance roles within the Esteem Multi-Academy Trust being both a Member of the Trust and the Vice Chair of the Trust Board. Members are similar to a company's shareholders and we sit above the board. We are responsible for appointing trustees and holding them to account for the successful governance of the trust. As Vice Chair of the Trust Board I have, along with the other trustees, the legal responsibility for conducting the business of the academy trust and we oversee the management and administration of the trust and the academies within it.


Having worked in senior education positions for 16 years and being a Governor at a Derbyshire Special School, I understand the challenges that the Esteem MAT academies and teaching staff face on a daily basis. I have also been a representative to the Federation of Derbyshire Special Schools and I am used to championing young people with special educational needs, leading and challenging others and driving improvements to improve learning outcomes . I am recently retired, and this enables me to take a more active role as a trustee helping to develop Esteem and the academies within it. I believe that with a collective focus and drive we can continue to raise standards and positively impact the lives of students and their families and carers. I am proud to be part of Esteem and strongly believe that our achievements and success as a trust, will help raise the quality of education in special schools. 

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Sheran Fernie

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Dawn Butler

I am a member of the Trust Board and sit on four committees, which meet on a regular basis to make decisions and provide a governing steer to the organisation.  I am passionate about the performance of the Esteem MAT and the success of the students within it. My son attended Holbrook School of Autism from the age of 5 to 19 years and I saw first-hand the impact that such a child-focused school and team of specialist teaching staff had on my son’s personal achievements and learning. Prior to being a trustee, I sat on the governing body at Holbrook and worked closely with the team there.


I bring along to my role over 30 years’ experience of working in the private sector, 25 of them within HR. I work for a successful global company and have partnered with business leaders in a wide variety of HR roles.  I currently lead HR Operations teams across Europe, working on people, process, systems and service transformation.  I am committed to the effective governance of the trust and in continuing to actively support the Leadership Team at Esteem in achieving positive outcomes. Being part a new MAT is exciting and supporting others in realising the opportunities that are presented helps ensure we continue to make a difference to the lives of the children and young adults that attend our academies.

Chair of Trustees

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Christopher Griffin

As an experienced performing arts teacher, Head of Year and Head of Subject I have spent 14 years successfully delivering high quality lessons and outcomes, supporting students and working effectively as a senior team member. I believe that all students irrespective of ability or background should have the ability to achieve and develop a positive growth mind-set. Within my teaching roles I have worked in some of the most deprived areas of the UK working tirelessly to improve the life chances of all students ensuring that they are all offered a curriculum that promotes learning for life.


Being a trustee at Esteem not only enables me to bring to the table a wealth of experience and skills, but also an understanding of the pressures faced by both the teaching staff and the students within the academies in the trust. I am father to five children ranging from age 9 to 15 and understand the often complex and changing needs of young people and the importance of an inspiring and engaging education. I am delighted to be part of Esteem and confident that we will achieve our core objective of outstanding education for all.

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Craig Kennady

As an autistic man and father to five children, who also have disabilities, I am dedicated to standing up for and championing individuals with special educational needs. I am proud to be a member of the Board of Trustees at Esteem and my understanding of the difficulties faced by children with disabilities, and their families and carers, inspires me to always help others and apply my experience and knowledge to the benefit of the trust.


As well as being a trustee, I undertake several voluntary roles in education including being a Parent Governor and SEN&D Governor at a local school.  I am also a Commission member of two Parliamentary groups, advising and working alongside MPs and key stakeholders, defending the rights of people with dyslexia and neurodiversity.  I passionately believe in everyone having the same chance in life and, as a person with disabilities, I understand the challenges that a school has to ensure children are well looked after and that their needs are met. This is what inspired me to become a trustee and why I proactively work across the trust to support the development of the organisation; work with the board ensuring effective governance and,most importantly, make a positive difference to the lives of our students.

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Currently recruiting

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Ian Van Arkadie

 As well as being a Trustee, a governor, and a member of the standards and achievement committee I am also employed within the trust as a teacher at Fountains High School working in a challenging special needs environment. I believe passionately in the importance of special needs work and find it incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. The knowledge and qualities that I bring to the trust have been developed in key governance roles and in senior leadership positions over 18 years within a local authority where I worked closely with politicians, elected councillors  and decision makers influencing policy and strategy.  

    As a teacher I am committed to ensuring learning is creative and innovative and that the curriculum is adapted to best suit the children and their needs. I work alongside parents and carers to ensure the best outcomes for their child  and this helps inform my work as a trustee. My financial management expertise also benefits the Board as we must work together to provide financial oversight and ensure the effective management of the Trust budget. Being a trustee, I am able to ensure that robust challenge is provided to the leaders undertaking the day to day running of the MAT and I work alongside inspirational volunteers and employees achieving results. I feel privileged to be part of  Esteem and helping secure the optimum outcomes for our students in a nurturing and stimulating environment.