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Our Trust Team

Supporting the Leadership Group and the Board of Directors is the central Trust team.

The Central Trust Team, comprising of the Chief Executive Officer, Trust HR Manager, Trust Administration and Governance Manager, School Improvement Lead, Trust Officer and Chief Finance Officer supports each member school in meeting their statutory and regulatory requirements while aiding and managing operational services outside of teaching and learning across the Trust.

Central services procured by Equals Trust;

  • Finance
  • Payroll
  • Human resource management
  • Governance, training and support for local governing bodies
  • Premises, health and safety
  • Information technology
  • Administrative support
  • Staff absence insurance
  • Legal services
  • Website management and support
  • Trust wide educational subscriptions

Philip Palmer
Chief Executive Officer


I have worked in a wide variety of schools and roles for Nottingham City and County Councils as a Headteacher and school leader, working on behalf of the LA to improve standards in schools. This has enabled me to continually develop my skills and knowledge. Enabling children, staff and all stakeholders to be successful, grow and develop is something I take great pride and satisfaction in.

In 1996 I was appointed as the deputy head of Brooksby Primary School in Clifton and helped the school to emerge from ‘special measures’ in record time! I then supported other schools in Nottingham City in ‘special measures’ and lectured at Nottingham Trent University, before I was appointed as Headteacher of Cropwell Bishop Primary School. We became an ‘outstanding’ school in 2005 and again in 2008; a status we retain and something of which we are very proud. Seconded for two days a week to the Inspectorate, I analysed the performance of schools, supported schools in improving through self-evaluation as well as supporting governors with their Headteachers’ performance management. During this time Cropwell Bishop Primary School became a Local Leader of Education school and then a National Leader of Education school. As a Rushcliffe school we were helped to create the Rushcliffe Learning Alliance with the majority of primary schools in the Rushcliffe area. This led to a wide range of support and collaborative learning.

In November 2012, Nottinghamshire County Council asked me and my staff to support Burton Joyce Primary School through a period of difficulty. The school was placed in ‘special measures’ with an Interim Executive Board. We brought about rapid improvement, resulting in the school being rated as ‘good’, with ‘outstanding’ leadership and management in less than 13 months. The school continues to grow from strength to strength.

Cropwell Bishop Primary School and Burton Joyce Primary School formed The Acorn Federation in 2015, which again led to improved standards for both schools and wider benefits, eg, professional development of all staff, shared learning, resources and services.

I am married with children; my daughter studying to become a midwife at university and my twin sons studying A levels. We have numerous pets, including Elsa our golden retriever. I have a passion for rugby, music and travel. I have a broad taste in music and can play the clarinet, however Led Zeppelin provide the inspiration for me and the many bands I listen to. As well as personal travel I have developed links and exchanges with a school in Japan we have visited with children, and hosting their children in return. I have travelled extensively in India and developed close links with a school in Goa. We are now creating a link with a school in Nepal and, as part of our work using technology as a learning tool, we have links all over the world including Australia, Africa and an exchange project with Brazil. Our children even tweeted a song to Tim Peaks in space!

In 2016 we formed the Equals Trust with five other primary schools and are looking forward to a very bright future in education.

Tara Cook
Trust HR Manager 



I have worked in the HR arena since I completed my degree in 2000 with my first role being in a large hotel chain based in Edinburgh. 

I moved from my home country of Scotland to Nottingham in 2002 and worked for 5 years with the Charity Age UK.  My HR path then led me to 11 years with the Local Authority where I began working with schools and gained the specialist knowledge and skills required of this sector.   

I was delighted to be appointed as Equals Trust HR Manager and I started this role in February 2019.  My role is to lead on the HR strategy of the Trust and to co-ordinate HR matter across the Trust group whilst ensuring we remain legislatively compliant and maintain best practice. 

I am Vice Chair of Governors at Gunthorpe C of E Primary School as well as Chair of the Pupils, Personnel and Curriculum Development Committee.  I enjoy community events and am active PTA committee member as well a village hall committee member. 

Outside of work and voluntary activities I enjoy spending family time with my husband and two primary school aged children who keep us very busy with their various sports and hobbies!

Catherine Cox
Trust Compliance Manager 


I trained as a teacher but have followed an unconventional career path in education.  I was an Education Adviser for the RSPCA for 11 years, with responsibility for delivery of lessons to pupils, advising and training teachers, planning schemes of work for schools and resource writing.  In 2010, I began working for Nottinghamshire County Council Governor Services as a Clerk to Governors, advising 16 schools and academies, ensuring their governors were compliant with their statutory duties and their meetings were recorded accurately.  In addition, I have provided extensive support to Interim Executive Boards and am trained to complete External Reviews of Governance.  Alongside that position, I continued to teach in a charity pre-school until July 2017.

My role as Trust Compliance Manager with Equals Trust builds on my experience, ensuring all the schools in the Trust have consistent governance support and planning.  I am clerk to the Members, Trust Board and Local Governing Bodies as well as fulfilling the Company Secretary role.  I also provide administrative support to the CEO and Leadership Group.  I am fortunate to work with Headteachers and senior leaders who share my ethos of fairness, equality and opportunity for all and their reputations, and presence leading the Trust, was fundamental in my decision to apply for this position.

I am lucky that my role is very diverse and I have lots of variety within it. I also oversee admissions, including first admissions to the schools in the Trust and this includes planning for the future.  

I was a governor for almost 10 years prior to working for Equals Trust, holding link responsibilities for SEND, Pupil Premium and Equality.

Outside work, I am a trustee of the Fetal Anti Convulsant Syndrome Association, providing support and advice to families and schools involved with children diagnosed with this complex condition.  I am married to Darren, an IT manager, and we have two children. Our children both attended one of the primary schools in the Trust. We love spending our holidays on the islands off the west coast of Scotland, and aim to visit St Kilda one day.

Stuart Edmonds
School Improvement Lead


Stuart has ten years of headship experience in good and outstanding schools. When working as both a National and Local Leader of Education he supported schools in moving from a category to good. He was a National College Professional Partner who provided support for new headteachers. In his previous trust-wide school improvement role he led the School Improvement Strategy for a trust with 14 primary schools. In his time with this trust academic outcomes rose by over 20% to become typical to national and all schools were rated good or better at inspection from a position of a number being in a category of concern. Stuart undertakes inspections and this further supports him in sharing effective practice.

Stuart’s role is to support schools in: evaluating their effectiveness, creating and implementing improvement plans and developing the quality of education. The sharing of effective practice across trust schools is a core element of Stuart’s work and one that has resulted in school to school support between trust schools and partnership work with organisations such as local Research Schools. School based activity with leaders at all levels is a key element of Stuart’s work and acts as a key strand of the trust’s CPD provision.  Stuart leads the trust’s ongoing School Improvement processes and has created the wide range of school improvement systems that the trust provides to its schools.

Elizabeth Gregory
Trust Business Manager


After completing my Business Studies degree I worked in HR for a number of years where I was latterly a Regional HR manager within the leisure sector - at one point my region was from Brighton to Aberdeen!  I made the decision not to return to work after starting a family.

In 2012 I joined the office team at Heymann Primary & Nursery School where I was Data & Admissions Manager and joined the Trust team in 2019.  As Trust Business Manager I lead on areas of Trust business such as strategic coordination of central data systems, HR, engagement, Trust brand identity and school admissions.

I am married and have 2 daughters both of which attended one of the trust primary schools.  My favourite things to do in my spare time are shopping, spending time with friends and family and reading.

Chris Willimsky
Chief Finance Officer 


I am very happy to have been appointed as Chief Finance Officer for Equals Trust and I am looking forward to using my 15 years accounting and audit experience to support our schools in getting the most out of their budgets.

I have worked in a mix of accounting and audit roles since completing my degree in Mathematics in 2004 and I am a chartered accountant through the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). I am also a governor at Lantern Lane Primary, where I am Chair of the Finance, Pupils and Resources Committee and a member of the Pay Committee.

Before joining Equals Trust, I was working for the Local Authority in the School Finance Team where I gained a wealth of experience helping a wide variety of schools and learned just how different and unique each school’s circumstances can be.

Outside of work and my governor role, the rest of my time is spent with my wife and our two young boys. My hobbies these days seem to be taking the pushchair for a walk and running after the boys at the park although I also enjoy cycling when I get the opportunity.