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 and son Charlie, who has recently moved on to Holywell, after really loving his time at our superb Cranfield C of E Academy. I am proud to be involved in helping the Academy’s 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, Chair of the Buildings & Infrastructure committee and to have recently been elected a member Governor. I also represent Primary/Lower Schools on Central Bedfordshire Councils Schools Forum which acts as a consultative/decision making body for funding issues. In my work life I identify ways to save energy and energy costs for large users and have recently set up my own consultancy business and have been working across the world. 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. Oh yes, and in my spare time I help run our villages' very successful Cranfield Colts Football Club!

Joseph Piatczanyn - Headteacher

Curriculum & Standards, Buildings and Infrastructure and Finance Committee Member

I am currently in my tenth year at Cranfield Academy, and have been the Headteacher since April 2018. Headteachers occupy an influential position in society and shape the teaching profession. They are lead professionals and significant role models within the communities they serve. The values and ambitions of headteachers determine the achievements of schools. They are accountable for the education of current and future generations of children. Their leadership has a decisive impact on the quality of teaching and pupils’ achievements in the nation’s classrooms. Headteachers lead by example the professional conduct and practice of teachers in a way that minimises unnecessary teacher workload and leaves room for high quality continuous professional development for staff. They secure a climate for the exemplary behaviour of pupils. They set standards and expectations for high academic standards within and beyond their own schools, recognising differences and respecting cultural diversity within contemporary Britain. Headteachers, together with those responsible for governance, are guardians of the nation’s schools and it is my privilege to undertake this role and its responsibilities at Cranfield Church of England Academy. 

Sarah Brown - Govenor

EYFS Governor  - 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 - Buildings and Infrastructure 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.

Lisa Padbury - Staff Governor

Curriculum and Standards Committee

I am currently in my fifth year of teaching at Cranfield Academy and have thoroughly enjoyed every second of being here. I still remember my first visit to this school and how I felt whilst visiting each classroom. The staff and children all greeted me with a smile, warmth and invited me in to explore their classrooms; I instantly felt at home. Since then Cranfield Academy has become an extension to my family and I adore being a part of this special school. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing those lightbulb moments, when a child has persevered to understand a concept and when they finally do, this is such a heart-warming moment and one of the reasons why I became a teacher. Since being a member of the teaching team at Cranfield Academy I have observed all staff putting their all into making Cranfield the place to be! We are committed to enhancing the whole child and we offer an environment that is welcoming and supportive for all needs. With the intention to ensure pupils flourish academically, physically, socially, emotionally and mentally. As a mother of three boys, I know what impact a teacher can have on a child’s education and school experiences, so I aspire to be the teacher and governor that all children deserve.

James Hood-Smith - Parent Governor

SEND Governor - Curriculum and Standards Committee - Finance Committee

My wife and I have lived in Cranfield for nine years and have two children who attend the school. I joined the governing body as a parent governor in September 2019 and look forward to using my experience in education and business to help the school to continue to flourish.

For my day job, I am a Computer Scientist who builds artificial intelligence systems for financial services. I have a PhD in Computer Science and have worked for a number of different private and public sector companies. In a previous career I spent 10 years as a secondary school maths teacher. During this time I led on teacher training, run the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and designed and implemented a number of courses to encourage children into computer programming.

Gavin Gill  - Parent Governor

Buildings and Infrastrucure Committee

I have lived in Cranfield for over 20 years.  My partner and I have two children enjoying the fantastic experience of attending Cranfield Academy - a school that my partner attended in her early years! Having joined the team at the end of the 2019 summer term, I am still learning, but hope to be able to bring my experiences as a senior leader in a large and complex business to bear on what is already an experienced, competent and passionate team.

I think it is essential that we have parents engaged in the process, helping to govern and guide the leadership of the school.   In this regard, I aim to give assistance in areas where I can, to give the perspective of parents of attendees, and last, but by no means least, in the role of a critical friend where necessary.

Outside my roles as governor and parish councillor, I enjoy the fantastic opportunities afforded to me by living in a rural community, and coaching junior rugby and cricket take up most of the rest of the time that two small children allow me! 

Liz Turner - Parent Governor

Child Protection/LAC Governor - Curriculum and Standards Committee - Finance Committee

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 - Support Staff Governor

Buildings and Infrastrucure Committee

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.