Our Board

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

The Board meet bi-monthly and there is an annual meeting (AGM), where the company formally shares it’s 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; Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College; and Bennu, a charity providing art and drama therapy for children in primary school.  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 including doctors, nurses, therapists, psychologists, and accountants.  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 Head of Pupil Based Commissioning at the London Borough of Sutton. Working closely with the Assistant Director for Education and SEND, he leads on strategic place planning at the Council, schools capital, Schools Forum and is currently working with the Education Leadership group on a review of the Local Area’s High Needs Block (SEND). Prior to taking up post in Sutton, Kieran was an area lead on school commissioning and school organisation at Surrey County Council, and prior to that as a programme manager for the Surrey’s preparations for the Building Schools for the Future programme. Kieran has over 15 years experience of working in education roles both in the public and private sector.

Ian Geary (Non-Executive Director)

Ian Geary is Head of Financial Reporting and Control for Sutton Council, overseeing the financial reporting activities and the exercise of strong financial governance across two London boroughs. Ian has previously supported the board of a charity in south London, and worked closely with local authority-owned companies.

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.

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 from 2001 – 2017, leading it through three very successful Ofsted inspections.  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 also chaired the Local Authority’s Vulnerable Pupils’ Panel and Sutton Secondary Headteachers’ Group as well as a range of cross-school working groups.  With regard to governance experience beyond the Trust, she has been on the Management Committee of the local behavioural PRU, chairing the teaching and learning committee for many years, as well chairing the Performance Committee at primary school level.

Rebecca holds the schools’ inspection qualification (PQSI) required for Ofsted inspectors and continues to take part in Ofsted inspections and relevant training.  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 for over 30 years, starting her career as a secondary school teacher in West Sussex and working her way through various school leadership positions, before moving into other education-related roles including: founder/director of a teacher training company; senior examiner for AQA exam board; published author of a variety of education resources; South East Director for Skillset; senior leader within the Department for Education and education leadership roles across a number of local authority areas including Powys, Surrey and Buckinghamshire.