Board of Trustees

Stephen Yapp (Chair)

Stephen joined Tilian as a Trustee in 2018 and became Chair in 2020. 

Stephen is an experienced executive in identifying and implementing strategic change in both Public and Private International companies. His experience in business includes holding the positions of CFO, CEO, Executive Chairman as well as Non Executive Director.

'The Tilian Partnership Trust Board is fully committed to providing autonomy for our schools to decide how to best meet the needs of their pupils. The central team’s function is to take some pressure from headteachers by carrying out specific functions that frequently cause schools time and money e.g. HR and finance, whilst ensuring the schools remain in control.'


Sally Richards (Vice Chair)

Sally is an experienced Trustee and Governor. During the 13 years she was a governor and later, Chair of Governors for Forncett St Peter CEVA Primary, the school was recognised as Outstanding in 2013 and Excellent by SIAMS in 2020. She was part of the team who took the school successfully through Partnership and Federation and then on to acceptance to join a local MAT. She was also a governor and Vice-Chair of Governors for Long Stratton High School for 6 years. Sally has been a Trustee and Vice-Chair of the Board at Tilian since joining in 2018.

Throughout her time in governance, she has focused on safeguarding, mental health and well-being, performance, and raising aspirations. Since 2010, Sally has been working as a Homeopath, registered with the Society of Homeopaths. She educated her children at home for 5 years, which included a Grand Tour of 12 European Countries, travelling 9,000 miles in 9 weeks. She is a keen quilter and wildlife gardener, also enjoying dancing, Pilates, and training her Lab/Collie cross dog.

'I believe that encouraging autonomy and maintaining each schools unique individual identity within Tilian, is integral to their success within the MAT and the MAT in return offers opportunities for partnership and shared learning together with a thorough support package for each Head, the staff and governors. I am very pleased to be part of this positive and forward-thinking educational establishment, where the children, their happiness, safety and potential is core.'

Katie Barker (Chair of Risk, Audit and Finance Committee)

Katie started her Additional Parent Governor role with Gislingham CE Primary and Trustee role with Tilian early in 2022. Katie wanted to develop an understanding of school governance to support her Tilian Trustee role. Katie supported the SGC through a change of headship and offered challenge and support with the school's finances and risk management. Katie was also the SGC subject lead on EYFS and Early Reading.

Katie started as Vice-Chair for the Finance, Audit & Risk Committee at Tilian in April 2022, taking on the role of Chair in June 2023. For 20 years, Katie has been working for Flagship Housing Group, delivering non-profit and profit- making activities. Gaining significant experience in social housing and new-build development, specifically sales and marketing. Katie brings with her vast experience of providing exceptional customer service, change management, partnership working and enhancing performance.

Katie also supported Flagships Charity, Hopestead, as a Trustee. Hopestead believes everyone deserves a place to call home, a charity set up to end homelessness in the East of England. In February 2024, Katie moves on to her next career challenge with a private developer based in Norfolk, leading their Sales and Marketing function. 

Katie has two young children, one of whom attends a Tilian school. The Barker Family are local arable farmers who also support the education of sustainable farming and conservation with children from Gislingham school. Once the various after-school sports clubs have been fulfilled, Katie enjoys cooking, interior design, gardening and walking the family dog.

“I firmly believe that all our children are entitled to a rich, exciting, and varied curriculum that inspires and engages them. I am a real advocate for outdoor learning and the positives that can be found in such various surroundings. As a Trustee, I am committed to ensuring all children have opportunities to learn, develop and grow in a safe environment.

Living in a small rural village, I can see that village schools are essential in enabling our communities to thrive. Tilian allows these schools to keep their autonomy, uniqueness, and identity – this is actively encouraged by all involved at Tilian. I see Tilian as an enabler, teasing out the potential in schools and sharing years of experience to ensure our schools are the best they can be.”

Carolyn Tester (Named Safeguarding Trustee)

Carolyn is a recently appointed trustee, having joined The Tilian Partnership in September 2023, in her first trustee role. She has special interests in safeguarding and improvement and brings a wealth of experience in both private and public sector management roles over her 39 year career to date.

Since 2018, Carolyn’s full-time role has been leading transformation for East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust (ESNEFT); ie transforming services across Colchester and Ipswich hospitals and surrounding community. She has also previously managed A&E and medical inpatient and outpatient services at Ipswich hospital.

Carolyn’s strengths lie in true partnership working, achieved through engagement, empowerment and negotiation; listening and supporting teams to implement improvements.

She enjoys being with her family outside of work, including spending lots of time with her grandchildren. She has a black belt in karate and is the joint safeguarding lead for the EKKA karate association. She enjoys dancing and loves to travel.

“I believe that encouraging true partnership working between schools and the MAT is pivotal to the success of our local schools; through joint learning and support, sharing best practices, experience and expertise to continually improve our children’s early years’ education, ensuring they have the best start in life. It is a pleasure and privilege to be part of The Tilian Partnership”

Rebecca Driver

Rebecca is a new Trustee at Tilian, joining us in April 2024. She is a skilled communications and engagement professional with 33 years’ experience of working in the NHS. Rebecca began her career as an operational manager in the acute hospital sector before leading an NHS cancer network and working in healthcare commissioning and mental health services as a strategic communicator. 

Rebecca is a specialist in partnership working, and has led numerous public engagement exercises and public consultations. Rebecca is also a non-executive director at Active Suffolk, which promotes physical activity for all with a strong focus on children and young people.

‘I have always been committed to supporting our schools and education since our two children came along, and I loved my time as a chair of governors at Pulham primary school in Norfolk, and my voluntary role on the youth committee of Harleston Magpies Hockey Club.' 

'I am really excited about becoming part of the Tilian family. I hope I can share my knowledge of the public sector to support children and schools to flourish, with rich curriculums and access to excellent support, whilst maintaining their autonomy and independence.’

Rebecca lives in a small Suffolk village with her family, and loves nothing better than being outside in the fresh air running, swimming or climbing mountains in her native Wales.

Are you interested in School Governance?

Being a school governor or trustee is a challenging but hugely rewarding role. It will give you the chance to make a real difference to young people, give something back to your local community and use and develop your skills and understanding.

Schools and Trusts need governing boards that have a balance and diversity of knowledge, skills and experience to enable it to be effective. The roles of governors and Trustees are significantly different in that: 

There is no requirement for you to have an understanding of the education system, just the skills, character and time to contribute.  If you have specific skills in education, finance, human resources, legal, marketing and public relations, property and estates management, or organisational change, then please contact the school or MAT central office to find out more.

This video by the NGA provides information on the role of school governors.

Pecuniary Interests of Members and Trustees