Interim AIM Board

The Houlton School interim Academy Improvement Management (AIM) Board has been established to oversee the business of the school during its pre-opening phase. Once the school has opened, a substantive board will be put in place to support the work of our academy. Our Interim AIM Board’s Chair is Ms Johanne Thomas, who can be contacted by writing to with FAO AIM Board Chair as the subject line, or by writing to the school’s postal address, which is available within the footer of this website.

A copy of the full Terms of Reference can be found below:

Interim AIM Board Terms of Reference

Interim Board  and Associated Declarations of Interest


Johanne Thomas


Johanne is an experienced communications and marketing professional of over 15 years, working predominantly within housing and regeneration industry, across both the public and private sector.

With a degree in Public Relations with Law, Johanne has overseen communications on some of the Midlands' largest housing and regeneration projects when working for the government's Homes England agency, and prior to that led the communications and engagement team for the government's New Deal for Communities programme in North East Coventry, where she also set up the regions first communications social enterprise.

Now with strategic land developer Urban&Civic, Joh leads the engagement of local business partners and communities in the development of Rugby's urban extension Houlton, as well as overseeing the communications, communities and partnerships function across several of the business's portfolio of largescale sites.

Johanne is also a Director on the Houlton Multi Academy Trust, which runs the new St Gabriel's Academy in Rugby.

Stewart Jardine


Stewart is an experienced company director. He has worked in a variety of learning and skills focused organisations. Stewart has experience developing and implementing business strategy and policy, and leading the development and quality assurance of new learning programmes. Stewart’s responsibilities have included budget setting and management, recruitment, project management, managing bid processes from government funding agencies, and negotiating the resulting contracts with those agencies.

His most recent employment as Director of Operations for Pearson Education included the development, implementation and quality assurance of franchised international qualifications.

Stewart is currently a self-employed Education Management Consultant and has a range of experience working with a variety of organisations, with a focus on auditing business processes, particularly those relating to HR and CPD, and implementing process improvements to improve quality and reduce costs.

Stewart is a founding member of Transforming Lives Educational Trust.

Julie Swales

Partner (Designated Safeguarding Partner)

Julie is the Executive Principal of Guilsborough Multi-Academy Trust and a member of its Board of Directors. She has a vast amount of experience as a school leader, in a variety of middle and senior roles. After a brief career in accountancy Julie decided to train to be a secondary school mathematics teacher. Upon completing her mathematics degree, she studied for a PGCE at Leicester University. During her time in education, she has led a large, successful mathematics department, as well as setting up and leading a Mathematics and Computing Specialist School. She has been Deputy Headteacher in two different posts, one with responsibility for Child Protection and Behaviour for Learning and the other as Curriculum Lead with responsibility for writing the timetable, curriculum and appointing staff. Julie was appointed Associate Headteacher at Guilsborough in 2014, then became Principal of the Guilsborough MAT in 2016. She is now the Executive Principal and a Local Leader of Education.

Since leaving university she has continued to invest in her own professional development completing a Certificate in Primary Mathematics Education, the NPQH and is currently studying for the NPQEL. She is particularly proud that she presented a research paper on the impact of transition between schools at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement in Minsk.

Julie believes strongly that everyone is talented in their own way and that the key to confidence and success is finding those skills and developing them; she believes that everyone wants to do their best, but sometimes need support and appropriate encouragement to achieve this. On a personal note, what Julie enjoys most is spending time with her friends and family, as well as being a keen supporter of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC.

Guy French

Partner (Designated Health & Safety Partner)

Guy has extensive experience as a leader in strategy development and change delivery, especially in mergers and recovery situations across the financial services sector. Having worked at Executive and Director roles, he has developed skills including strategy development, investment appraisal, programme delivery, assessing business performance and marketing. He also has extensive experience of the design and management of governance, control and management systems, as well as operational improvement and organisation design.

Before his current role at Coventry Building Society, he was the Strategy Director at an insurance mutual, responsible for strategy, brand, communications and the society’s social impact foundation. Guy started his career at Barclays; ending his time there running global lending operations for the Wealth division. After two years at Northern Rock as part of the turnaround team, Guy undertook a range of consultant and interim roles supporting High Street banks including the Co-operative Bank and RBS.

Guy is passionate about the value of education being married to a teacher and having three grown-up children, two of whom have become secondary school teachers. Guy is also a Local Area Board member at Quest Academy in Rugby where he is the Safeguarding Governor. He has lived in the Rugby area for 25 years and is Chair of his parish council where he is working with others to encourage greater community participation.

James Higham

Ex-officio by virtue of office (TLET CEO)

James is an innovative and inspiring leader who has worked in education throughout his professional career in schools across England. He is a former Head Teacher, establishing and leading successful academies with demonstrably high impact on standards for all pupils. As a result, he has first-hand expertise of the relevant administrative, operational and leadership structures that make academies successful.

In addition to his leadership of our Trust, James is a National Leader of Education (NLE) and works across three Local Authorities to support school leadership development and school performance.

James is passionate about the transformative power of education and leads our Trust with a singular focus on providing children and young people with the very best.

Marc Goodey

Ex-officio by virtue of office (TLET CFO)

Marc is an experienced and versatile accountant and leader having worked in the private sector, the public sector and with charitable organisations. He is a Business Studies graduate and fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

In Marc’s more recent role prior to joining TLET, he focused on bringing a more structured approach to strategy development, strategic management and change. He has extensive experience in all areas of Finance, including Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Financial Accounting, Management Accounting, Budgeting, Forecasting, Payroll and Cost Management.

Having worked in the past in the Further Education sector Marc has a particular affinity to Education. As well as his extensive fiscal knowledge and skills he brings an abundance of enthusiasm to the Trust.

Michael McCulley

Ex-officio by virtue of office (Principal)

Michael is an experienced school leader and educational professional. He is a graduate of Expressive Arts and English from the University of Stirling and trained in Acting (Musical Theatre) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. When his career turned towards teaching it began at the prestigious all-through Jordanhill School in Glasgow. He has worked in a variety of high-performing urban and rural contexts, including a life-changing opportunity to work with children in Somerset West and its neighbouring township schools with the Imibala Trust near Cape Town, South Africa. To this day, he credits this humbling experience with being transformational and informing his educational philosophy of ‘equality of opportunity for all’: ‘Education was an emancipation for me; teachers unlocked possibilities and a future I never knew was possible, nor that I deserved. This underpins my aspirations for every child who joins our family at Houlton’.

Michael also spent some years at the Local Authority as a School Improvement Consultant, at QCA as a Senior National Curriculum Adviser and as a Senior Qualification Development Researcher for the UK Department for Education. An authoritative voice in arts education, he is a founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching and Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. Additionally, he has held a variety of voluntary positions of responsibility as Chair of Community and Arts organisations.

Michael is a strong advocate for the promotion of diversity in education and global citizenship; he has taken groups of students all over the world as part of their co-curricular education, including visits to the Great Wall of China, language immersion visits to Paris and French châteaux and cultural trips to a number of global destinations.

More recently, Michael has been supporting schools in a variety of challenging circumstances and has delivered the NPQSL qualification to aspiring educational leaders. His current focus is on the launch and development of the Transforming Lives Educational Trust’s brand new flagship academy – Houlton School.