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Member Profiles


Catherine Hester

In my professional life I have 10 years’ experience of working with children in different settings, including influencing national education policy. For the past 25 years I have worked in the charity sector, principally focussing on international development and holding several senior director level positions. I currently work across the charity sector in a consultancy capacity, leveraging my experience of working with complex UK and globally focussed programme teams to support strategic planning, learning, strengthening governance and accountability, organisational development, recruitment, change and programme management.

As a former primary teacher and previous Chair of Governors at a local primary school, I have an excellent grounding in and passion for, building and sustaining the effective governance structures that support excellent educational experiences for all pupils. I was a governor at Purley Primary for 6 years, including chair for 3 years. I have two children, both of whom are current pupils in Denefield School.

Matt Barber

Matt has been supporting local schools in various governance roles for the last 9 years. 

His professional experience is in the strategic leadership of critical UK infrastructure projects. He is accountable for budgets in excess of £2Bn. 

He has extensive experience in Project and Programme Management; Contract administration coupled with operating the relevant audit, oversight and governance procedures applicable to government spending. 

Matt lives locally and has 2 children of school age, he believes in helping and supporting the education system for the benefit of all.

Harvey Smith

I am now retired, but my career was in different aspects of education. I started as a secondary school teacher in Liverpool, then taught in Europe, followed by 40 years supporting developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. My roles included teacher training and curriculum development, later moving into advising governments and institutions on education system development.

I have a PhD from Reading University and have lived in Reading since 1997. Before becoming a Member, I was a Trustee at Denefield School for eight years.

Hazel Archer

I am currently self-employed, working as Clerk to Governors for a local Nursery & Infant School, a Primary Federation and as Clerk to the Executive Board of Reading Governance Association.

Prior to this I worked as Governor Services Manager for Reading Borough Council. In this role I provided support, training and advice for all Governing Bodies and Boards in schools across Reading, and sometimes neighbouring boroughs. Part of that role was to train and support Clerks in their work, helping them to understand legislation and statutory guidance, and to work with their respective Chairs and Governing Bodies.

I have carried out governance reviews, and had responsibility for supporting GBs in difficulty.

I have lived in Reading for over 30 years, and my younger son attended Denefield.

Chris Robinson (from 20 May 2024)

Chris has served on four school boards in the last 10 years and is currently chair of governors at a federation of Reading primary schools and another separate primary school.  Chris is also an executive member of the Reading Governance Association, serves on the Reading Education Partnership Board, and acts as an independent governor for governor panels when required.    With a professional background in change management, largely in financial services, Chris has worked in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Asia in various leadership roles in both private and public companies and is now thankfully retired.

 Chris is married, has three children, and lives in central Reading.