Trust Board

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Cumbria Education Trust Board - Our Directors:

Lorrayne Hughes

Lorrayne Hughes, BEd (Hons),  CEO

Lorrayne is a successful and outward facing CEO of Cumbria Education Trust.  Cumbria Education Trust is one of the first school based MATs in North Cumbria.

Lorrayne passionately believes in inclusion and that all children deserve a high quality education – children are firmly at the heart of all her strategic decision making.

Lorrayne took up her first Headship at William Howard School in Cumbria in 2007. In January 2014 she was commissioned by the Local Authority to bring about rapid improvement in two special measures schools in Workington, Cumbria. One of the schools was removed from Special Measures within 20 weeks.  Ofsted commented on Lorrayne’s success in December 2014 “Your vision is clear: to build sustainable improvement across the schools for the long-term benefit of students and the Workington community”.

Following this secondment Lorrayne took up the role as CEO of the Trust.

Lorrayne believes in a school led system for school improvement based around autonomy and accountability. She is Chair of CASL (Cumbria Alliance of System Leaders) and is passionate about system leadership and what that can bring to the school improvement agenda.  She strongly believes that schools are better working together and that collaboration can make a difference to all involved.

Debbie Francis

Debbie Francis BA (Hons), FCCA, MBA, Chair of Cumbria Education Trust Board

Debbie is the Managing Director of Direct Rail Services Limited; a rail freight business which provides freight services to the nuclear industry as well as a variety of other services including intermodal freight for Tesco and several passenger services across the country. The business has a turnover of £75m and 430 employees. Debbie has 30 years of experience across a range of industries from IT to infrastructure maintenance to rail. She has also gained extensive experience throughout her career both in the UK and overseas in finance, systems, commercial, operations and business development.

Debbie has held previous positions as a governor of an independent school and an academy. She has also recently been appointed as a non-executive director of Clatterbridge Cancer Care Trust. She has a 2:1 degree in Business Studies from Liverpool Polytechnic, an MBA from Manchester Business School and is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA). She originally left school at the age of 16 with virtually no qualifications and took a rather circuitous route through education although throughout that time she continued to build steadily on her business experience and career. Debbie is passionate about business, diversity and equality, developing and promoting talent and all things ‘adventuring’.

She has a husband Paul and a son Dale.

Margaret Payne

Margaret Payne (Founding Member)

Born and brought up in Northern Ireland, Margaret read Law at Nottingham University before completing her training as a solicitor in Nottinghamshire and London. She has worked in a high street legal aid firm in London before moving to Carlisle in the 1980s. Margaret continues to work as a solicitor in private practice. She established her own practice specialising in crime and mental health law in 1998.

Margaret was a Governor of her daughter’s primary school and then became a Parent Governor when she moved to William Howard School about 16 years ago. When she left for university Margaret stayed on! She has lived through many of the changes in education with the school, and worked with 3 Headteachers in that time. In many ways, joining the Trust Board was a natural progression.

Margaret’s working life brings her into contact with young people who face a range of challenges including difficult family circumstance and mental health issues. That has given her an insight into the many pressures that young people and families face, and the context in which education takes place.

As someone who benefitted from a good state education, Margaret is committed to equality of opportunity for all, so the involvement of the Trust in raising standards and aspirations both at primary and secondary level in Cumbria is a very exciting development in which she feels she is privileged to be involved with.

Ian Burke

Ian Burke

Ian was born in Liverpool. He was secondary school educated at Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones, Amlwch, Anglesey and Morecambe Grammar. He has a maths degree from Imperial College, an MBA from London Business School and an ACMA professional accounting qualification. He is currently studying for a BA in Humanities at the OU.

Ian is a governor at Birmingham City Univeristy and previously was a Visiting Professor of leadership there. He chairs its Development Committee and sits on its Finance Committee.

Ian is a trustee at Cumbria Community Foundation. He chairs its Investment Committee and sits on its Management and Finance Committee.

Ian chairs the Rank Group plc, a FTSE 250 company now operating bingo and casinos venues and digital businesses. Ian advises 'start up' businesses. He owns the Leathes Head Hotel in Borrowdale. Previously he has spent twenty three years leading leisure businesses - hotels, gyms, restaurants, bowling and cinemas - in the UK and 50 other countries.

Ian lives in Thackthwaite, near Penrith and have been married to Jane, a now retired teacher for 37 years. They have two adult children and one grandchild.

Cliff Lewis, WHT Board Member

Cliff Lewis

Having been secondary educated at Chelmsford Technical School, Cliff lived in the Chelmsford area for most of his adult life through which he has enjoyed a long and successful career in financial services. He remains a Director of a medium sized firm of independent financial advisers.  In the past, Cliff has undertaken various voluntary roles including that of writing exam questions for the Chartered Insurance Institute’s various financial services examination papers.

In 2007 Cliff moved to Cumbria with Pat, his wife of 39 years, with a view to achieving a better quality of life and enjoying a quieter, cleaner and more attractive environment for their retirement. They spend time exploring Britain’s inland waterways on their narrowboat ‘Rainbow’s End’. Cliff is a member of Brampton Parish Council.

Having become a director of Cumbria Education Trust in 2016, Cliff is the Trust Board’s Vice Chair, safeguarding lead, and link director to Longtown Primary School. He strongly believes that a good education gives people confidence and provides them with choices.

Chris Sutcliffe, CET Board Member

Chris Sutcliffe

Chris was born and raised in Lancashire, just north of Manchester. He was educated at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School before attending Keele University, where he gained a joint honours degree in Maths and Physics. He has been married to Jo for 23 years, and lives near Cockermouth in the barn they bought and converted together.

Chris has a long history of learning and development, mostly in the education sector, but more recently in private industry. Starting his working life as a teacher, he went on to lead several innovative projects for the local authority, before becoming a School Improvement Officer with responsibility for IT. He then progressed to a national role helping the Government roll out the National Strategies. After a time as an independent consultant, he now works in industry where he has recently undertaken an MA in Strategic Development.

He is passionate to see children and young people achieve their potential and gain the skills needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Chris is keen to share this knowledge and experience to help shape the CET academies to provide exciting and relevant curriculums, delivered by dedicated and motivated teachers, giving pupils every chance of achieving success and exceeding their ambitions.

After spending time on the Workington Academy Local Advisory Board, Chris became a CET Board Director in June 2017.


Steve Holliday

Steve was born and raised in Leeds, attending Abbey Grange C of E Secondary School, which he left aged 16 due to family commitments, with virtually no qualifications.

He worked for Leeds City Council in a variety of HR roles, until he moved to Cumbria in 1987. He then worked for Allerdale Borough Council as their Personnel Manager until 1998, when having been  involved in the transfer of their housing stock and staff to local housing associations, he moved to Impact Housing Association as their HR Director and a member of the Senior Management Team.  He remained with Impact until taking early retirement in April 2017.

Steve is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development, and also has an MBA from Lancaster University.

He has a special interest in developing people to fulfil their potential, and in his spare time he enjoys working in his fellside garden, fell walking and travelling.

Kathryn Woolgar

Kathryn Woolgar



Sheila Goodliffe (Resigned 2/10/2017) (Current Founding Member)


Martin Simpson (Resigned 17/7/2017) (Current Founding Member)