Meet the Directors

Jeremy Turner

I attended a secondary school in Gloucestershire before completing a music degree at Bristol University and PGCE at Reading. Throughout my teaching career which spans nearly 3 decades I have had the privilege of working in a diverse range of secondary schools in Inner and Outer London and Hertfordshire and over 18 years’ experience of school leadership at a senior level. This has involved me working with all aspects of school governance and Trusts; I have been a Lead Strategic Partner in four teaching and learning partnerships and consortiums, served on the Barnet School Forum and at a regional level on various Educational Management Committees. I have participated in Local Authority Strategic Reviews and have worked at a National Level on the Strategic Board of Partners in Excellence (PiXL) since 2008. Supporting the work of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and the National Leadership College, I have had the opportunity to speak at many conferences and have been involved in developing the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and Senior Leadership Development programmes.

In my previous school where I was the Headteacher for 8 years, Governance in 2011 was rated as Outstanding and, under the re-inspection in 2014, Leadership and Management was rated as Good with Outstanding features and Governance as a ‘real strength of the school’. My work with the Bushey St James Trust, highlighted by Ofsted and the Local Authority, has included a formal review of Governance at Little Reddings Primary School which played a key part of their journey to Good. I work collaboratively across a number of schools in Hertfordshire and also Chair the Management and School Improvement Committees of Chessbrook, the PRU in Watford.

Richard Backhouse

I have been Principal of Berkhamsted Schools Group since January 2016, after ten years as Principal of an all-through independent school in Bath. I read Economics at Cambridge, expecting to go on to be a journalist, but aimed to teach for a couple of years before doing a PhD – and somehow I never went back to university. I have variously taught Economics, coached rowing to GB junior level, been a Head of Year, Head of Department, boarding Housemaster, and Assistant Head. I have also been a governor and Chair of Education Committee at an academy in Birmingham, a member of my local PCC (while working near Reading), am currently a trustee of two charities, and I blog at

Jacqui Christian 

I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved once again in the life of Wren Academy: my children were students here and I was part of the team responsible for setting up the school.

I began my career as a primary school teacher in Southampton, before changing tack, moving to London and working in communications for a range of organisations across the not for profit, public and private sectors. 

I mentor a number of young people, supporting them, as they seek to find their place in the world of work. I believe that in addition to creating a learning environment where our students can achieve their personal best academically, we must support the development of their character, confidence and social skills. 

There is an extraordinary range of expertise amongst the Directors and a tremendous commitment to the Academy.  As Chair to the Governors at Finchley,  I will endeavour to harness the strength of this team for the benefit of our staff and students across the Trust. 

The Revd Stephen Coleman

Born and educated in the North East of England,  I read Theology as an undergraduate and graduate at the University of Oxford, before training and practising as a corporate and financing solicitor at Slaughter and May and latterly Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, in the City of London.  

In 2014 I was ordained in the Church of England and served for nine and a half years in parishes in Winchmore Hill and Grange Park.  In 2023 I moved to Central London and became Priest in Charge of the Grosvenor Chapel in Mayfair.

I am passionate about the opportunities Church of England schools offer, and I believe strongly in the relationship between such schools and their local churches and also the wider community.  I am a trustee of the London Diocesan Board for Schools where I serve as Chair of the Governance Committee.  During my time in North London I was a Governor of St Paul’s School in Winchmore Hill, and I am now on the clergy team at St George’s School, Hanover Square.

I have a particular interest in ecclesiastical law: I am a member of the academic staff in the Cardiff University School of Law and Politics, where I am reading for a part time PhD.  I am also a trustee of the Ecclesiastical Law Society and practice as a part time ecclesiastical solicitor at Birketts LLP  

Since 2020 I have been a director of the Wren Academies Trust and chair of the Local Governing Body at Wren Enfield.

Craig Huth

I grew up and was educated in Walthamstow, East London, where I developed my interest and passion for Economics. With more perspiration than finesse I graduated from Coventry University with an Economics degree, returning to London to work for a Merchant Bank.  Realising the world of banking did not suit, I moved across London to work in advertising, before building an international fresh food business to £65m revenue, before selling in 2009.

A passion for environmental economics provoked me to help set up a US based Venture Capital fund focused specifically on businesses that have a positive environmental impact.

Before joining my partners at Bean Corporate Finance I took the opportunity to work for a leading international peace keeping charity for 12 months.

Outside of work I enjoy Trekking, Rock Climbing, Mountaineering, Skiing and anything that allows me to explore the great outdoors.   

Chris Kiernan

I started my career as a further education lecturer in 1981 at Waltham Forest College, and then taught at Tottenham College before becoming an education officer at Newham council, in east London.  I was the further education officer between 1989 and 1993, before being promoted to run all education client services.  In 1991 I became deputy director, with responsibility for special educational needs and early years services added to my portfolio.

I was appointed as director of education for the London borough of Waltham Forest in 2004, becoming director of children services there in 2006.  Although I retired in 2011 I have continued to work in the area of education in interim management roles.  I was interim education director for the London borough of Barnet in 2013, and am currently interim director of education for Essex county council.

Married with a grown-up daughter, I have lived in Hackney, east London, since 1993.  My main interest outside work is sport. I play cricket, compete in triathlons as a member of tri London, and watch football, cricket and motor racing when I can.

Peter Nicholls

I have been the Chief Operating Officer of Rugby School since 2018, where I look after the non-teaching functions of Finance, IT, Catering, HR and Estates. Prior to that I did the same role for Berkhamsted School for nine years, and just occasionally enjoyed getting into the classroom to teach a mini-MBA, or help out on Duke of Edinburgh trips and training. I read Economics at Cambridge, before joining Coopers and Lybrand’s management consultancy practice, where I qualified as a chartered accountant.  I spent 20 years in telecoms, mostly at British Telecom in a variety of Finance Director and Commercial Director roles in the UK and overseas, including living in Italy.  I am married with three (nearly) grown up children, and believe in the importance and value of an all-round education. Outside work I love being in the mountains and have a passion for cricket.

Charlotte Penn

I grew up and went to school in Saffron Walden, Essex.  A love of languages at school led me to study French and Politics at the University of Bristol, before moving to London.  I joined the executive search firm Saxton Bampfylde in 2015.  Saxton Bampfylde are a values driven and employee owned firm, founded on Christian values with the mission of changing the world by changing leaders in important and interesting organisations.  I worked as Head of the Research Team, appointing senior leaders across the private, public and non-profit sectors, before specialising in education.  State school educated myself, I am committed to the idea that children and young people should be able to access an inspiring and life-changing education for free, regardless of where they live or their background.  This has driven me to work extensively with multi-academy trusts to appoint leaders that will in turn influence the opportunities provided to children and young people.  As Co-Head of the Schools Practice, I work across the education ecosystem with MATs, maintained schools, independent schools, special schools, alternative provision, charities that support children and young people, further education colleges and education regulators.

I am a Non-Executive Director of Strength and Stem Flowers Limited, a social enterprise which supports survivors of human trafficking through a series of workshops and floristry training.  I am a mentor with On Board, an organisation which aims to appoint ambitious individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to boards.  I am a volunteer telephone friend with Age UK.  I enjoy being outdoors, whether it is running, walking, cycling or swimming and am currently training for my first marathon.  I love exploring new countries and have spent time living and working in Paris, Geneva and Vancouver.

Gavin Smith

I attended secondary schools in Stockport and Poole before completing a degree in Geography at UCL. My teaching career started in Croydon and I worked in contrasting schools in the borough.  During that time, I held positions as a pastoral leader and Head of Geography.  Before joining Wren as Vice Principal in 2008 I was an Assistant Headteacher at East Barnet School for six years.

I have been at Wren since we opened our first school in 2008 and have been fully involved in the growth of Wren Finchley the setting up of Wren Academy Enfield and more recently the continued development of Saint Mary’s and Saint John’s (SMSJ) school in Hendon. My current focus is on growing the Trust and ensuring that effective collaboration between the schools leads to the very best outcomes for all children who attend Wren Academies Trust schools.


Click here to view a list of our previous Directors



  • 12 July Prize giving 2024 underway.— Wren Academy () July 12, 2024
  • 9 July Activities Week 2024 Day 27 Piccadilly, Holborn and Bow enjoying and the nearby castle— Wren Academy () July 9, 2024
  • 9 July Activities Week 2024 Day 2More fun for yr 8 building teamwork.— Wren Academy () July 9, 2024
  • 9 July Year 9 Battlefields Trip: Our students continue to explore Ypres and the Battlefields including the Menin Gate ceremony.— Wren Academy () July 9, 2024
  • 9 July Great to see our yr 12 and 10 students doing so well on the silver award expedition Read more— Wren Academy () July 9, 2024
  • 8 July Year 9 Battlefields Trip: So far we have paid a pilgrimage to the grave of a students' relative, and were honoured to meet veterans of the Canadian legion.— Wren Academy () July 8, 2024
  • 8 July Silver update: Teams having lunch and taking in the views at the Monument (minus the scaffolding). Read more— Wren Academy Finchley DofE () July 8, 2024
  • 8 July Silver update: More action shots as the groups are remotely supervised by assessors at checkpoints. Read more— Wren Academy Finchley DofE () July 8, 2024
  • 8 July Activities Week 2024 7 Ludgate and 7 Walbrook enjoy grounds— Wren Academy () July 8, 2024
  • 8 July Activities Week 2024Y8 quick rope— Wren Academy () July 8, 2024
  • 8 July Silver update: more progress. Read more— Wren Academy Finchley DofE () July 8, 2024
  • 8 July Activities Week 2024Humanities Teams trying to save their island— Wren Academy () July 8, 2024