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About Us

Executive Team

Dean Ashton

Chief Executive Officer


Dean Ashton is Chief Executive and Accounting Officer for Reach South Academy Trust. Dean has over 30 years’ experience working in education and children’s services. Prior to his role as Chief Executive, Dean was Operations Director for REAch2, the largest primary MAT in the country.

He was the Corporate Director for Children, Schools and Families in Cornwall, leading a system with 31 secondary schools, 235 primary schools and 4 special schools.

He has significant successful experience of working across all phases of education. In addition to this, Dean has led several multi-agency partnerships, including The Cornwall Children’s Trust, Youth Justice Board and Disabled Young People’s Transition Board.

Christopher Toye

Deputy CEO


Christopher Toye is the Deputy CEO and has previously worked as Executive Headteacher of Millbay Academy. He is an experienced educator, having been a teacher, Head teacher and Executive Headteacher in South London for thirty years. He has led a number of schools that have been recognised as outstanding by Ofsted. The majority of his experience has been with primary schools, including those with SEN resource bases (for children with speech and language impairment and autism).

He was appointed a National Leader of Education by the Department for Education in 2013 and has carried out many primary and secondary school improvement deployments throughout England. He is a Trustee of a designated free school (promoted by the Portuguese Embassy), governor of an outstanding secondary school in London and has led a Teaching School. He is a board member of the Lambeth Schools Forum. He has previously been an Additional Inspector for The Tribal Group (commissioned by Ofsted)

  Kevin Wilson

  Director of Finance


Kevin is the Director of Finance. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (FCPFA) and has over 30 years’ experience of financial management in the public sector. He has been a statutory Chief Finance Officer for over 16 years with responsibility for over £350m a year in his previous role.

He has significant and varied experience of working at a strategic level in 3 local authorities, a Fire and Rescue Service and for a Police and Crime Commissioner. He has expertise in leading finance as a key enabler, developing strong teams, commercial solutions and delivering strong inspection results for financial management.


Ian Carnwell

Director of Operations


Ian is Director of Operations. The operations function of the Trust includes estate management, IT, project management, legal services, health and safety, GDPR, communications and public relations. Ian has over 20 years’ experience in architecture and is a Chartered Architect with the RIBA and is a registered Architect with the ARB. He is highly experienced in all aspects of school buildings, from initial design to completion.

He has been responsible for a significant number of new school build projects and major additions to existing schools.

Mark Elms         

Director of Education


Mark is the Director of Education. Mark Elms has 30 years of Headship and Executive headship experience in London Schools; he led the first federation of England Primary Schools. Mark was a National Leader of Education and took a lead role in the team that developed the London Challenge Primary Programme. He led Tidemill School in London from special measures to outstanding.

Under Mark’s leadership, Tidemill became a National Teaching School, making a significant contribution to the development of London Schools. Mark was a founding Director of REAch2 Academy Trust.

Michael Peters

Specialist Educational Consultant


Mike is a Specialist Education Consultant. He has over 30 years' experience working in education. He is a former Director of Education for the City of York and Lambeth local authorities. He has significant experience in education and children services across the country and has supported areas to achieve strong Ofsted outcomes.

He has led many education functions, including School Improvement, SEND and Inclusion, Equalities, Resources, Education Capital Development, Admissions, Exclusions, and a range of education support services.  In the southwest, he was the Strategic Leader for Cornwall Council, leading SEND and Inclusion and equalities services, and has worked in a similar range of services in Somerset and Bristol.

Olivia Frings

Director of People


Olivia is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel Development as well as a trained Mediator and Coach. She has two Postgraduate Diplomas in HR and Management and a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

She has 27 years’ experience working in HR and Business across the public sector, of which 17 years she has been in senior leadership roles, which have involved the establishment of several organisations.

Polly Lovell

Head of Inclusion


Polly is a member of the Executive Team and is Head of Inclusion. Polly is also a STORM trainer and delivers suicide prevention and safety planning across the Trust.

Polly brings extensive expertise in employer engagement, apprenticeships and vocational education in KS4 and KS5 and is also a trained SENCo and has extensive experience of safeguarding.

    Contact Us

    Reach South Academy Trust, c/o UTC Plymouth, Park Avenue, Devonport, Plymouth, PL1 4RL

    T: 01752 987060