Our Board

Cognus has its own Board, comprising of a Chair and seven Non-Executive Directors (NEDs).

The Board meet bi-monthly and there is an annual meeting (AGM), where the company formally shares its accounts and business plans, and discusses items requiring shareholder sanction and approval.  A number of the NEDs act as Board Champions for priority strategic areas including customer care, finance, staffing and quality assurance.

Our Board Members are:

Ian Comfort (Chair)

Ian is an educationalist and lawyer. He started his career as a maths teacher and youth worker. He has extensive experience in the management and direction of education services gained as a local authority director of education, chief executive of a large  academy trust and an adviser, nationally and internationally, on education infrastructure and reform.  He chairs the Middlesex Learning Partnership, an academy trust in West London and  Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College.

As a lawyer, he specialises in education and regulatory law and is a member of the Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers. He currently chairs professional conduct tribunals for a range of occupations and sits as an employment judge and judge of the first tier tribunal.   Alongside his professional practice, Ian is actively involved in direct work with children, young people and communities. He chairs the multi-award winning Ebony Steelband; the Carnival Village Trust, a national portfolio organisation for the Arts Council responsible for the Tabernacle arts centre in Notting Hill; and  the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s largest street festival.

Kieran Holliday (Non-Executive Director)

Kieran Holliday is the acting Strategic Lead for Education in the Borough. He leads the education functions, with the London Borough of Sutton having overall responsibility for education funding, education policy and strategy. Prior to this, he was the Head of Pupil Based Commissioning, leading on the Borough’s school organisation and capital strategy. He has held numerous roles in Education at Sutton, Surrey, and in other education organisations over the last 15 years both in the public and private sector.

Bradley Peyton (Non-Executive Director)

Bradley Peyton is Head of Insurance and Pensions Administration for Sutton Council. Bradley is responsible for the shared pensions administration service with Kingston Council and has been pivotal to the implementation and ongoing success of the integrated insurance services provided to various Surrey boroughs and districts. The education insurance schemes Bradley’s team manage in Sutton and Kingston provide cover to over 100 maintained and academy schools in a competitive market. Bradley has developed high-performing, revenue-generating services for Sutton Council and will bring expertise in this area to the board.

Jenny Sims (Non-Executive Director)

Jenny has spent all her working life to date in education working as an English teacher in London and Milton Keynes in secondary schools as well as working in adult and further education for over 40 years as a teacher, assessor, verifier, manager, and principal. Jenny has extensive experience working as an External Examiner and Moderator for GCSE and vocational qualifications from pre-entry levels to level 5. Additional experience gained working as an Ofsted inspector highlights a key interest in quality assurance and improvement. Jenny is currently working within the education field maintaining currency and understanding which she also applies to her Governor roles being a Chair of Governors in 2 primary schools. Jenny is currently the Chair of the Schools Forum.

Other key interests in the Borough include being Chair of the Board of Trustees for Community Action Sutton

Akin Akintola (Non-Executive Director)

Akin is an experienced NED and qualified Chartered Accountant with a good mix of using CFO (strategic) and hands on FD/Programme Director skills in a career spanning 25 years covering business development, business modelling, funding for growth, acquisition and divestiture experience in commercial, NFP/Local Authority and SMEs. Akin has extensive experience of transformation and customer facing programmes, in UK Education sector; service-based businesses, retail and manufacturing operations, in the UK and Internationally, resulting in the change in organisational culture and profit improvements /value propositioning and enhancements.

Lis Broers (Non Executive Director)

Lis Broers is a trained solicitor with over 20 years experience in education at a primary level. She is currently a local Junior School Head Teacher, with experience in leading teaching and learning; school improvement; school governance; budget and finance.

Rebecca Allott (Non Executive Director)

Rebecca Allott is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cheam Academies Network, a local Trust consisting of two large secondary schools. Prior to this, she was the Headteacher of Cheam High School. Her qualifications include: 1st in Mathematics from Cambridge; PGCE in Mathematics; M Ed in Mathematics Education; NPQH; PQSI (Distinction).

Rebecca plays an active role in local education being part of the Schools’ Funding Forum since its inception and also a member of the Formulae Review Group. She has past experience of chairing a range of cross-school working groups and has experience of school governance within alternative provision and primary phase. More recently, she has worked closely with the Local Authority to develop SEND provision, processes and funding mechanisms as part of the Ambitious for SEND movement. Her particular areas of expertise include: school and systemic improvement; leadership and the management of change; budget setting and school finance systems; using data to inform future developments; teaching, learning and assessment, inclusion strategies.

Joanna Cassey (Managing Director) 

Joanna has worked in education throughout her professional career starting as a secondary school teacher in West Sussex progressing to various school leadership positions, before moving into other education-related roles including: founder/director of a nationwide teacher training company; senior examiner for AQA exam board; published author of a variety of education resources; South East Director for Skillset; South East Lead for the Teacher Development Agency, senior leader within the Department for Education and education leadership roles across a number of local authority areas including Powys, Surrey and Buckinghamshire. Joanna is an Institute of Leadership and Management Executive Coach and is the company’s Designated Safeguarding Lead. Joanna is a Director of the Sutton Music Trust (a subsidiary charity of Cognus).