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Meet the Governors

Led by Mrs Ali Brabner as Chair of Governors and Mr David Penfold as Vice Chair; the governing body of Cranfield Church of England Academy are a group of parents, staff and members of the community. The governing body of Cranfield Academy promote the highest standards of educational achievement for our children.

Ali Brabner - Chair - Community Governor

Finance, Curriculum and Standards, HR and Buildings and Infrastructure Committee Member

I have lived in Cranfield for over 20 years and both my children have attended the Academy in recent years.  I have been Chair of Governors since 2015 and served as Vice Chair prior to that. I have developed a real passion for ensuring the best possible education for our young children and love being involved in helping the Academy to continue to flourish, and so support all the children in achieving their potential. Whilst working with the school I have also been involved in supporting our Local Education Authority deliver educational excellence in the wider community. I strongly believe that early education is vitally important in helping children to prosper and grow - early years education really matters!

My commercial background has been working within the Food Industry. I have spent around 15 years in senior sales roles and currently utilise my influencing skills on my children!


David Penfold - Vice Chair

Finance Committee - HR Committee - Buildings & Infrastructure Committee

I live in Cranfield with my wife son Charlie who is really loving his time at our superb Cranfield C of E Academy. I am proud to be involved in helping our fantastic leadership team provide outstanding education to the children of Cranfield and surrounding villages. I'm also honoured to have been asked to take on the role of Vice Chair of Governors which I have been doing for the past two years. In my work my life I identify ways to save energy and energy costs for a large multiple retailer so during my time on the Governing body I have been able to apply some of my knowledge to the Academy's benefit which I will continue doing. In my spare time I help run our villages' very successful Cranfield Colts Football Club where I am Vice Chair of the Governing Committee and run the Cranfield Colts website. 

Sarah Brown - Founding Member

EYFS Governor - Curriculum and Standards Committee - HR Committee - Headteacher Performance Management Committee

I joined the governing body in 2010 as a Parent Governor, when I had two children in the Academy. I have served in a variety of roles since then including Chair, Vice Chair and I am currently EYFS Governor which has been an exciting area as we establish Little Cranes Pre-School. I became a Founding Member following the conversion from Lower School to Academy status. Over the years I have also been involved in a number of working parties as needed, most notably to appoint the Headteacher and to take forward the expansion of the Academy in 2016. In my working life I work in Higher Education, supporting Open University students and tutors within the School of Education. Previously roles in business and IT consulting have given me several years of experience in managing projects and change within many organisations, and working with a diverse range of people from both the UK and overseas.


Ip Shing Fan - Foundation Governor

Chair of Finance Committee - Curriculum and Standards Committee

I have served as a governor of the school since 2011, and was part of the board that oversaw the transition to an Academy. After two years, I have managed to learn 80% of the acronyms in the UK education system and am beginning to get to grips with the new rules of being an academy!

My current project in the school is to improve our long term financial risk management.

I was born and educated in Hong Kong and came to attend Cranfield University (Institute of Technology at that time) for my PhD study in 1985, and subsequently joined the University as an academic staff. I have been living in Cranfield village since 1995.

 I am also a Deacon of the Cranfield Baptist Church, Chairman of the BCS Bedford Branch and Secretary of the Cranfield Astronomical Society.


Ken Matthews - Community Governor

Chair of the Human Resources Committee - Finance Committee Member

I have been a Governor at Cranfield Academy since 2009, originally appointed as a Local Authority Governor but reverted to Community Governor at the time of the school’s conversion to Academy status.

I represent Cranfield & Marston Ward (including Lidlington, Ridgmont, Brogborough, Millbrook and Hulcote & Salford) on Central Bedfordshire Council where I am currently Chair of the Development Management Committee and a member of the Sustainable Communities Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

I take a keen interest in supporting the local community and have previously been Chair of Governors at Holywell School (many years ago!). I am particularly keen to ensure that the necessary expansion of the school proceeds with as little disruption as humanly possible and the end result will see the continuation of the high standards of which we are all justifiably proud.


Gareth Massey - Parent Governor

Special Educational Needs Governor - Chair of the Curriculum & Standards Committee

I have lived in Cranfield since 2007 and have made many lifelong friendships. I enjoy the sense of community that exists in the village. My daughter is currently in Year 2 and loving the broad and rich experience of life at Cranfield Church of England Academy. My son will be starting his journey through the school in September and he cannot wait. I am the Chair of the Curriculum and Standards Committee and the SEND Governor. My experience as a teacher and manager of 15 years allows me to be that critical friend, striving to achieve and provide the continued success that all the staff, pupils and parents involved with Cranfield Church of England Academy deserve. Occasionally you will see me at the gates waiting to pick up my daughter. Please feel free to introduce yourself and I look forward to meeting you. Together we can make a huge difference to young people’s lives.

Joseph Piatczanyn - Teaching Staff Governor

Curriculum & Standards Committee Member

Currently in my eighth year at Cranfield Academy, I have been the Teaching Staff Governor since July 2013.  I am also the Deputy Headteacher based at Saint Paul's Site, the establishment of which I have had the pleasure of leading. Other responsibilities within school include assessment, worship, values and Pupil Premium. I take great pride in maintaining the Website and Academy Newsletters, aiming to enhance communication and celebrate life at Cranfield Academy. It is with great pride that I am able to look at the Academy from both a Governor perspective and as a teacher; seeing all parties strive for "exceptional" in all aspects of the Academy is a vision I am most proud to be apart of!


Richard Ranger - Parent Governor

E-Safety Governor - Curriculum and Standards - Finance Committee

I am a Parent Governor, with all three of my children having attended Cranfield Church of England Academy. I have lived in the village for around 15 years, having moved here shortly after marrying my wife, Helen. I currently chair the Buildings and Infrastructure Committee and am a member of the Finance Committee, having joined the Governing Body in December 2013. 

I work as a Manager for a large retail organisation, having worked in several roles in Financial Services since 2001. Prior to that I was a Secondary School Maths Teacher in Milton Keynes.


Reverend Hugh Symes-Thompson - Foundation Governor - Admissions Governor

Human Resources Committee

Since 1995 I have been Rector of St Peter and St Paul's Church, opposite the school. I have therefore served as a Foundation Governor (ex-officio) at both Cranfield Academy and Holywell since before the turn of the millennium!    Currently I am on the HR sub-committee and take a particular interest in admissions.

I live in Cranfield and visit the Academy to lead assemblies about once a month.    I am also pleased to welcome staff and pupils over to church for special services such as Christmas, Easter and Harvest.


Liz Turner - Parent Governor

Child Protection/LAC Governor

I joined the governing body in 2017 as a Parent Governor and am thrilled to be part of a team working toward a shared vision of educational excellence for all. I’ve seen this first hand, as both my children attend the school.

I have lived in Cranfield since 2007 and am also involved in the community through the local churches’ Holiday Club.

Professionally, I am a solicitor and work in the public sector for a regulator – so am well versed in governance and risk management, as well as having a keen eye for detail!

Michelle Gedny - Foundation Governor

I have lived in the village now for 19 years, with my husband and two children. I have been involved in the school since my children started, which considering they are now sitting GCSE and at university, means I have seen lots of changes to both the school and the community.

Starting as a parent helper and working my way up to becoming a cover supervisor, specialising in Physical Education, has been a journey of immense pleasure.  Watching children growing in confidence and learning new skills still makes me smile.  I remember a time, when as a parent helper, having for many weeks listened to a particular child in Year 1 sounding out his words and struggling to blend, read me a whole sentence without hesitation.  That was the day I realised the impact of teachers on our children.  I still get that feeling helping the children today.

I have always felt the desire to help in any capacity through committees at playgroups to running PTFA, offering after school activities and cricket weeks, I hope that in my role as support staff governor I can offer my time, passion and commitment to the continued development, our school offers, to the education and rounded enrichment to the children in our community.


Please click here to view our Governor's pecuniary interests.