Dr John Wm Stephens CBE
CEO of Bright Futures Educational Trust
Dr John Stephens was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Bright Futures Educational Trust (BFET) in January 2017. The Trust is a partnership of schools based in the North West and is dedicated to providing a first class education for all.
Formerly a headteacher and director of children’s services, John spent five years as a senior civil servant in the Department for Education. He was responsible for teaching schools and system leadership, including National Leaders of Education and National Leaders of Governance.
Throughout his career, John has engaged in research into pedagogy, inclusion and leadership. He has undertaken post graduate study at the Universities of Leicester and Manchester and at MMU.
John has served as a school governor in primary and secondary schools for over 20 years, 10 of them as Chair. He was also a director of an academy trust.
He is a volunteer with St John Ambulance working on the regional safeguarding team and chairs a community charity in East Manchester.
In 2016 John was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours recognising his contributions to education and charity.
Edward Vitalis FCCA DipCG
Edward has an extensive background in financial management, governance and has majored in transformational change management in the education and skills sector; not-for-profit, charities, private health and social care and within the NHS. He began his career with the Inland Revenue and then worked for the Foreign and Common Wealth Office and British Council before becoming involved with the National Council of YMCAs.
Edward was appointed Finance Director of Bright Futures Educational Trust in March 2017. He is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountant having qualified back in 1999. Since qualifying as a Chartered Certified Accountant at the end of 1999, Edward was the Director of Finance and IT for YMCA Training Ltd, a well-established educational charity, for ten years before moving on to Randomlight Ltd, a private equity-backed group of Care Homes in the North of England and Wales. He joined The Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College towards the tail end of 2012 as the Deputy Chief Executive, responsible for Corporate Services up until his departure early 2017.
As well as being a qualified accountant, Edward also holds a Diploma in Corporate Governance. He has carried out organisational governance reviews in parts of West Africa, South Africa and Germany for Y Care International, The Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and Comic Relief.
Edward is currently the Deputy Chair of NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group, a multimillion-pound National Health Service commissioner of health and care services. He has been Chairman of the NHS Salford’s Audit Committee since 2009 and is a former Commissioning Board Chair. He was the Joint Chairman of Salford City Council’s Public Health and Wellbeing Board during its establishment.
Director of Primary Education
Gary Handforth BA (Hons) MA (Process Consultancy) is Executive Principal and Director or Primary Education for Bright Futures Educational Trust, a Multi-Academy Trust of 9 schools. Prior to this he was the Head teacher of two schools in central Manchester.
Gary is a Trustee of Challenge Partners, a national network of over 300 schools, and a senior partner for the organisation. He is also a Local Leader of Education for the past 5 years.
Gary also works with The Future Leaders Trust as Leadership Development Advisor, working with Senior Leaders throughout the North West. Gary has designed programmes and delivered on a variety of teaching and learning and leadership work. This has included developing consultancy methods with Local Leaders, various workshops on leadership in a changing world and on creating climates for developing clear values and vision.
Gary has recently travelled to Singapore, Australia, China and New Zealand, observing educational practices and perspectives from a wide range of schools and institutions.
His particular areas of expertise are in change leadership, organisational psychology, coaching theory and practice and in developing strong partnerships, networks and communities between schools. He also has strong links with the University of Manchester in developing research communities in and across schools.
Lisa Fathers BA (Hons) is Head of the Teaching School ‘The Alliance for Learning’ and BFET Co-Principal. The Teaching School lead school where Lisa is based is Altrincham Grammar School for Girls: the top performing school in the North West and part of the Bright Futures Educational Trust (BFET) where our vision is to create a world class education within our academies to enable every young person to realise their full potential and in particular, their full academic potential.
Lisa is a very experienced senior leader and this includes various roles including being a Deputy Headteacher and an Associate Headteacher.
Lisa and her team are striving to ensure that the Teaching School continues to be one of the most successful nationally. This includes providing professional and leadership development of the highest calibre, the development of a school-led Initial Teacher Training system through the provision of the Alliance for Learning SCITT and engaging in cutting edge research and development. Lisa particularly enjoys talent spotting and developing both leadership and teaching and learning potential through coaching. Lisa oversees our SLE team in their school to school work and is an experienced system leader herself.
Lisa has a particular passion and expertise in mental health and wellbeing, Lisa represents secondary schools on the Greater Manchester Strategic Health and Wellbeing Board and is currently a Headteacher Ambassador for the Youth Sport Trust and Co-Chairs the Strategic Headteacher Alliance in Greater Manchester for physical activity, PE and school sport. Lisa is also a Mental Health First Aid Instructor with Mental Health England. Lisa is a sought after key note speaker on all things related to health and wellbeing.
As part of Lisa’s Co-Principal role she is represents BFET on the Blackpool School Improvement Board and the Greater Manchester Learning Partnership. Lisa also enjoys established partnerships with Mindfulness in Schools Project (MISP), Ambition School Leadership, the Princes Teaching Institute (PTI) and Challenge Partners; Lisa is integral to these partnerships at a strategic level.
Head of Human Resources
Lynette began her career in human resources when she undertook a placement year whilst studying Business Studies at University. Since then she has worked in various HR roles initially in manufacturing, then at Britannia Building Society, The Cooperative Financial Services and more recently as Senior HR Manager for BDO LLP, an international accountancy firm.
Lynette is a chartered member of the institute of personnel and development (MCIPD) and has various other qualifications in project management, workplace mediation, psychometric testing and employment law. Lynette brings a wealth of commercial HR expertise to the leadership team of BFET.
Head of Facilities and Estates
Born and educated in Manchester, Ged is an experienced senior manager in the local Government sector with over 25 years of successful management of property. His particular focus was on the school estate including building project management and financial programming experience.
Ged began his career as an electrical design engineer and since 1986 worked at Manchester City Council becoming the Head of the Property Services Team within the Education Department. He was an Executive member of the nationally recognised Education Building Development Officers Group (EBDOG) and a member of the British Council for School Environments and RIBA client forum.
Ged has also worked with the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and Salford and Loughborough Universities to improve school environments and the wellbeing of pupils.