Meet the team.
Meet the team.
Dr Kathryn Wright, Chief Executive
I love the novels of Ken Follett, in particular his Kingsbridge Series. I read The Pillars of the Earth many years ago, but re-read it again during the Covid Lockdown alongside the others in the series. I particularly enjoyed the prequel – The Evening and the Morning – the sense of place and authentic characters he creates are quite astonishing.
When I chatted about this with my family they all said ‘but you never make anything more than once’! It is true I do like to experiment. However, it was generally agreed that I make a rather epic macaroni cheese and awesome Christmas cake.
I’m a keen walker. I’ve completed a couple of Ultra Challenge Walks which have been great fun, and plan to do more. I also love playing the piano and listening to music, planning holidays and cooking.
Best thing about working for Culham St Gabriel’s:
Each day is different, and I love this! As Chief Executive there are two main elements to my work – overseeing the operations of the Trust and being its ambassador within and beyond the religion and worldviews community. Developing strategy, bringing people together and telling everyone about the importance of religion and worldview literacy are what I enjoy most.
Tracey Francis, Digital Manager
If you measure your favourite book by how well read it is then mine is definitely Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course: A new edition for the 1990s. It’s battered, stained and falling apart but still very much in use.
If I were to answer this I would say bread. Homemade bread is pretty much a constant in our house. My son disagrees and says that it’s my lasagne. Given a choice that’s always what he asks for.
I love being outdoors, spending time cycling, walking, gardening or just sitting reading a book.
Best thing about working for Culham St Gabriel’s:
The passion of everyone in the organisation for the work we do.
Taylor Hatch, Communications Officer
The Secret History by Donna Tartt. The story is so immersive and Tartt’s character building is brilliant, particularly because all the characters are terrible by nature but somehow strangely compelling… This book had a lasting impact on me and made me question everything I know about morality.
I cook with pasta quite a lot so I was sure that would feature in my signature dish; however, I’ve gone with my sticky sesame chicken. I enjoy Asian-inspired recipes and flavours – I saw this one on my TikTok a couple of years ago and never looked back. Getting the sauce right is half the work but it’s so worth it!
I like to keep fit and go to the gym – I make sure to go at least three times a week. I also love reading, cooking, spending time with friends and going to the cinema – I have an Odeon limitless subscription so I try to see as many new releases as possible.
Best thing about working for Culham St Gabriel’s:
I am so excited to be part of an organisation where I can combine both my communications skills and my degree level understanding of religions. I am particularly looking forward to creating a new comms strategy, as this will allow me the opportunity to take initiative and fully engage myself in the needs, mission, and priorities of Culham St Gabriel’s. Relationship building is also an integral part of my role, and I am eager to network with our trustees and stakeholders to help shape the impact of the Trust.
Liz Smith, Finance and Administration Officer
How can I choose just one book? Impossible! I’m going to say Clear Waters Rising by Nicholas Crane, only because I’ve recently treated myself to a hardback copy to replace my paperback which disintegrated after many re-readings. I first read this book more than thirty years ago and was enchanted.
I’m notorious for using up leftovers in creative ways. My family would probably say my signature dish is scary stew, scary because anything could be lurking beneath the surface! I think my signature dish is fried rice, we eat this at least once a month. It’s quick, easy, and great for using up leftovers.
I adore walking and being outside in nature. I’m a volunteer livestock checker for my local wildlife trust. I help monitor and safeguard the welfare of their wilder grazing herds on nature reserves. I spend a lot of time counting sheep! I love a citizen science project and try to do several a year. Recently I’ve helped survey nightingale populations and map sweet chestnut trees. Apart from that, I enjoy learning British Sign Language, spending time with family and friends, archaeology, pilates, and reading.
Best thing about working for Culham St Gabriel’s:
It’s difficult to choose just one thing. It is a joy to work in such a welcoming and supportive environment and to feel that I am contributing to Culham St Gabriel’s values, mission, and vision.
Justine Ball, Lead Consultant Professional Development
I have worked in primary education in both Church of England and maintained primary settings and spent many years in adult education teaching adults across a wide range of programmes.
I am part of the AREIAC executive and was recently the joint chair of AREIAC. I also co-chair the London and South East AREIAC group and have done for several years. As part of this role, I have also been on the steering group for the Culham St Gabriels’ leadership programme.
My first degree was in Theology from Oxford University and I have recently gained my Masters degree in Religious Studies from Chester University.
I provide professional support for Primary RE across Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight in my role as an Inspector and Adviser for Hampshire County Council.
I am passionate about helping all teachers teach RE with confidence, subject knowledge and enthusiasm and I look forward to sharing this with teachers nationally through my work with Culham St Gabriels Trust.
Stacey Burman, Lead Consultant Professional Development
Stacey is an enthusiastic adviser with over twenty years’ experience making a positive impact on the learning of pupils of all ages in a wide range of schools, including SEND, faith and PRUs, and across the spectrum of State, MAT and independent schools.
When working as a consultant, mentor, coach or as an Associate Deputy/Head Teacher, Stacey builds an excellent rapport with all stakeholders, from Directors of national organisations to school leaders, local councillors and LA Senior officers or faith group leaders and parents, and of course teachers and the pupils themselves.
She has written numerous materials spanning from Early Years all the way up to Postgraduate level which support the teaching and learning of teachers, trainees, students and pupils, and regularly runs popular training for primary and secondary teachers across several London Boroughs in RE, RSE and humanities.
She uses her positive relationships with peers and recognition from several organisations, institutions, charities to work collaboratively in creating effective solutions or achieving awards that demonstrate pupils’ achievements in schools reaching beyond the required Ofsted and DFE standards.
Josh Cass, Lead Consultant: Advocacy
Advocating for an education in Religion and Worldviews is central to Culham St Gabriel’s strategy. Engaging with questions of religion and belief have been central to my work for nearly twenty years. During that time, I have developed many projects intended to bring different people and communities together to explore ideas which matter to them.
I work part time for one of the UK’s leading interfaith organisations, the Faith & Belief Forum, and prior to that I have worked with organisations including Fodip (the Forum for Discussion of Israel and Palestine), the Encompass Trust and St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. I am also a founding member of the Forum for Religion and International Affairs and have provided consultative support for organisations including: the British Council, Cumberland Lodge, UNAOC and OSCE/ODIHR.
I am thrilled to be working with Culham St Gabriel’s, an organisation I have known for many years, and whose commitment to the promotion of the understanding of religion and worldviews is something which I share and am passionate about.
Dr Kate Christopher, Lead Consultant Professional Development
Kate teaches part-time in a Secondary school in East London and works as an independent RE adviser, working with teachers to develop the curriculum. Kate’s PhD is in Philosophy of Education, bringing philosophical thinking to bear on what is claimed for RE in schools. Kate’s interests are in curriculum design and the capacity of Religion and Worldviews to offer a more textured and critical understanding of the world for 21st Century pupils.
Claire Clinton, Lead Consultant for our Leadership Programme
I am passionate about teachers being able to access quality professional development and learning, as well as training up new leaders in education. I’m thrilled to chair the Leadership Programme Steering Group for Culham St Gabriel’s.
I also work with schools across Newham, Barking and Dagenham leading professional development around RE, RSHE, Collective Worship, SMSC, British Values, P4C and coaching and mentoring. As an advisory teacher I have over 20 years’ experience, working in Essex, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham and Newham with schools, LAs and on SCITTS at primary and secondary levels.
I am part of NASACRE executive, secretary of the London and SE AREIAC group and the London RE ambassador.
Dr Kevin O’Grady, Lead Consultant for Research
Research is threaded through all the Culham St Gabriel’s strategic objectives. I take a lead on these elements as well as working with our master’s and doctoral scholarship participants.
I taught and led RE in six different English secondary schools over 30 years, before moving to Andalucía and teaching in a primary school for a further two. I was also a member of the Sheffield SACRE and agreed syllabus conference. In parallel, I was a part-time graduate student, associate fellow and research fellow at the University of Warwick, contributing to various projects including the EC-funded Religion in Education: A Contribution to Dialogue or a Factor of Conflict in transforming societies of European countries? (REDCo) (2006-2009). My book Religious Education as a Dialogue with Difference was published by Routledge in 2019 and a follow-up volume, titled Conceptualising Religion and Worldviews for the Classroom, appeared in 2022. As well as Culham St Gabriel’s, I have acted as a consultant to the European Wergeland Centre, the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, the Institute for Ismaili Studies, Hodder Education and Sheffield SACRE, and as an adviser to Cohesion Sheffield. I am also Senior Visiting Fellow in the World Religions and Education Research Unit at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln.
My main interest is how research can improve Religion and Worldviews teaching, as well as the general development of the subject. We are here to support excellence in Religion and Worldviews, and that is why I am delighted to be part of the Culham St Gabriel’s team.
Our leadership programme mentors provide support, expertise and advice. Our current team are:
Dr Linda Whitworth, Chair of Trustees
After 14 years teaching Religious Education in secondary and primary settings, I lectured in initial teacher education for 25 years, preparing students for primary and secondary teaching careers. Following retirement, I am currently a Visiting Lecturer in Education at Middlesex University. My personal and research interests are the professional development of primary teachers in teaching Religion and Worldviews and the role of RW in inclusive practice in schools. In addition to being Chair of Trustees for the Culham St. Gabriel Trust, I am a member of AULRE and NATRE and co-editor of Professional Reflection, which is part of RE Today, a NATRE publication. I am also an Associate Consultant in Primary Religious Education for the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers, (NASBTT).
The Reverend Canon Peter Ballard, Chair of Finance and General Purposes Committee
I am the Chief Executive of DBE Services, the trading arm of the Dioceses of Blackburn, Carlisle, Chester, Liverpool, and Manchester. As well as being a Trustee for Culham St Gabriel’s, I am a Director of several charities including being the Honorary Treasurer of the National Society. I was Director of Education for the Blackburn Diocese and then Archdeacon of Lancaster. I am currently the Vice Chair of a large secondary MAT and a governor of a small community primary school. I was Chair of St Martin’s College and then the first Pro Chancellor of the University of Cumbria. In my spare time I am self-supporting Vicar of a country parish south of Lancaster. I chair the Culham St Gabriel’s Finance and General Purposes Committee.
Nansi Ellis, Chair of Grants and Education Committee
I am a freelance policy consultant providing advice and support on policy development, campaigns and public relations to education organisations and unions. I started my career as a primary teacher with RE as my specialism, teaching in both English and Welsh. I then moved into policy development, first at the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA) and the Qualifications and Curriculum Agency (QCA) and then in the unions. I was primary education adviser and head of policy at ATL the education union and, most recently, Assistant General Secretary for Education Policy and Research at the National Education Union. I led the development of policy on curriculum, assessment, accountability and professionalism, working with members and stakeholders, including government, to influence change.
I am a specialist employment lawyer working at a boutique firm called Bellevue Law in South West London. I advise and represent employees and employers on a wide range of employment issues and disputes. I have 15 years’ experience in private practice, most recently as a Partner and Head of Department at social justice firm Hodge Jones & Allen. Prior to becoming a lawyer, I was a marketer at Procter & Gamble in Geneva. My father, John Keast, was involved with the Trust and religious education for many years, and I strongly believe that all young people should benefit from an effective education in religion and worldviews. In my spare time I love music festivals and coaching rugby at my local club Ironsides.
As the National Education Lead for Racial Justice for the Church of England Education Office, I am passionate about bringing unique perspectives and insights into different religious and non-religious beliefs, and worldviews. I am committed to supportively challenging preconceived ideas in order to foster greater interfaith and intercultural understanding in schools. I have over 10 years’ experience in education, including senior leadership roles, across the U.K., West Africa, and South America. With my passion for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in RE, I help to create inclusive learning environments that empower leaders, teachers and students from all backgrounds to flourish. Through my work, I strive to break down barriers by promoting understanding, respect, and empathy for all, resulting in a safe and welcoming space where students can explore their own beliefs and learn about others. I am delighted to be a Trustee of Culham St Gabriel’s.
Revd Mark Bennet
I trained as a Chartered Accountant before becoming a Parish Priest, in which role I have served in large parishes with many and varied schools. I was on the Diocesan Board of Education in Chelmsford Diocese and have more recently served nine years on the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education. Locally, in my parish in Thatcham, I am a foundation governor of our local church primary school – Thatcham Park School, and have also chaired the Directors of the Kennet School Academies Trust – a MAT which has grown out of our local, non-church secondary school. I care that pupils in all our schools come to understand the faith context of the world in which they are living and also know something of how a faith component contributes to human identity, but I have become a trustee mainly to contribute from my financial background.
Professor Robert Bowie
I began my career in education as a teacher of English as a foreign language first in Istanbul and then in Japan, before training to teach RE and then working in two Catholic schools in Kent, latterly as Head of RE. While teaching I began writing textbooks and worked on a range of RE websites for the BBC, the Guardian and for RE:ONLINE. Moving to university work, I led the secondary teacher education courses for secondary RE, and completed a doctorate in Dignity and Human Rights Education. In the RE World I became Chair of AULRE, an association for tutors and lecturers in RE. I moved into primary research and now lead NICER, an educational research centre at Canterbury Christ Church University. I teach ethics and supervise doctorates in various aspects of Christian education and Church schooling. I like walking, trying to grow vegetables and also find meaning through a Christian worldview.
The Revd Canon Nigel Genders CBE
As the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer I lead the work of the Church of England Education Office which serves the church’s ministry with children and young people in churches, schools, colleges and universities. The Church of England provides 4,700 schools educating over a million children. My role in education has developed throughout 28 years of ordained ministry working in a variety of roles, including: vicar, school chaplain, governor of a university, chair of governors in primary and secondary school, Director of Education, Head of School Policy for the Church of England and I have been Chief Education Officer since 2014.
Having begun as a researcher in Theology and Religious Studies, I trained as a secondary teacher of Religious Education and Philosophy and taught in a large secondary school in North London. For the past eight years, I have worked as the Diocesan RE Adviser for the Lincoln Diocesan Board of Education, supporting infant, junior, primary, secondary and special church and community schools across the region to deliver effective RE. I have published in various RE-related books, magazines and blogs, and have a particular interest in RE curriculum design and the different types of knowledge developed through the RE curriculum. I sit as a representative of Archbishops’ Council on the RE Council of England and Wales and I am part of the RE working group for the Church of England Education Office. I have been involved in a number of projects locally and nationally that seek to address the public perception of religious and non-religious worldviews, and I have worked as a mentor for the Culham Leadership Programme. I am a school governor and a Trustee of an alternative educational setting, and I feel hugely privileged to also be a Trustee of Culham St Gabriel’s.
Canon Dr Ann Holt OBE
I have been involved in various ways with Education throughout my professional life. Most recently I was the Diocesan Director of Education for the Diocese of Chichester as well as being a trustee of three Multi Academy Trusts. I continue to be a Trustee of Oasis Community Learning as well as being vice-chair of the Diocese of Bristol Academy Trust. I spent 11 years working as Director of Programmes for the Bible Society and headed up the first national training organisation for the training of school and college governors. In 2004 I was awarded an OBE for services to Education.
I am the incumbent Head of Religious Studies and inaugural Head of Christian Ethos at an inner-city London school. With over 10 years’ experience within the field of Religious Education, I am also an RE advisor and consultant working with a wide variety of educational institutions. Furthermore, with my personal research interest in Decolonising Religious Education, I am an academic researcher, supporting schools in providing a more inclusive Religious Education bringing this to life through a particular on language, imagery, and student voice.
After a decade teaching and leading RE in secondary schools in the North East, I moved into an advisory role for the Church of England Dioceses of Durham and Newcastle supporting colleagues in primary, middle and secondary schools to provide brilliant RE for their children and young people. Alongside this I worked for Christian Aid, developing, launching and running the Global Neighbours accreditation scheme which is a global citizenship programme seeking to empower schools to develop their pupils as courageous advocates for change. As part of this role I wrote the Courageous Advocacy resource for the Church of England Education Office. More recently I have been enjoying teaching in a primary school in Northumberland where I lead RE and seek to put into practice all that I learned at Christian Aid by taking the lead on our courageous advocacy and Global Neighbours journey. I continue to work as Diocesan RE Adviser alongside teaching, serving on a number of North East SACREs as well as being adviser to Northumberland SACRE. In my spare time I am a primary school governor and enjoy playing rugby at my local club.
Deborah Weston OBE
I am an experienced teacher and trainer who worked in a large inner-city comprehensive school as Director of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development. In addition to my school role, I advise four local authorities on a regular basis; supporting their SACREs (Standing Advisory Council on RE), classroom practitioners as well as middle and senior leaders. I am a member of the national executive of NATRE (the National Association of Teachers of RE), the Company Secretary of the RE Council of England and Wales (REC) and the Chair of the RE Policy Unit for NATRE, the REC and RE Today. I was awarded an OBE in 2016 for services to religious education, inter and intra-faith dialogue. I have been a trustee since 2012.
Since 2019, I have been the Director of Education for The Diocese of Oxford overseeing 281 schools across Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. I have extensive headship experience including providing intervention for schools in challenging circumstances as well as leading a school designated as outstanding. I have also led two different schools towards good. During a four-year period, I gained international school improvement and system leadership experience from my role as Principal Education Consultant in The Kingdom of Bahrain. During this time, I had demonstrable impact in the country’s standing in relation to the PISA and PRL tests.
Outside of my formal roles, I have extensive experience as a trainer and published author of school improvement manuals and was a member of a national education think-tank. In addition, my experience as an elected member of several local authorities has imbued me with a clear grasp of the machinery of government.