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The Howard Partnership Trust (THPT) is a Surrey based Multi-Academy Trust, comprising four secondary, six primary and two special schools with two further under development. We are proud of our ethos of collaboration and inclusion, "Bringing out the best" in students of all abilities and backgrounds. Visit website

Part of The Howard Partnership Trust

Fox Grove School

Our new leadership excellence - who's who?

Rhona Barnfield - CEO

Our CEO, Rhona Barnfield CBE, with a reputation for strategic leadership and an approach to management that ensures delivery of highly effective and sustainable school improvement, has been instrumental in the development of THPT. 

Appointed Head at Howard of Effingham in 1999, she led the school to achieve Ofsted outstanding in 2006 and 2009 and, at the request of the Department for Education and the Local Authority, worked with schools in challenging circumstances to rapidly raise outcomes for pupils.

The Howard Partnership was the first federated partnership in the county, and The Howard Partnership Trust was formed in 2013 with Rhona as CEO.

Rhona is a National Leader of Education and trained Ofsted Inspector and has taken the successes from schools with which she has been involved into the wider education system.

From 2014-2017, she served as an elected member of the newly-established Headteacher Board for South East and South London (SESL), supporting the work of the Regional Schools Commissioner SESL in approving and monitoring academies and free schools in this area on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education.

Within Surrey, she has served as Chair of Schools Forum since 2007 and is a member of the Surrey County Council Strategic SEND Partnership Board.

Rhona was appointed to the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to education in the New Year’s Honours list published on 31 December 2015.

Jane Cunliffe – Chair of the Local Governance Board

Jane Cunliffe has been a THPT Trustee since 2017 and currently sits on the Audit & Risk Committee in addition to chairing the Free School Special School Project Board.

In June 2020 Jane joined Oxfam GB as Chief Financial Officer, with responsibility for the overall financial strategy, planning and reporting, governance and the legal team.

Prior to this role, having begun her career in the Department for Education in 2002, Jane spent 18 years in the Civil Service, including roles as the Director for Strategic Finance at the Department for Work and Pensions, the Director for Public Spending at HM Treasury and head of school funding policy at the Department for Education.

Jane was also Deputy Principal Private Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister from 2013 to 2015.

Vanessa Wallden - THPT Head of Special Provision and Inclusion

Vanessa Wallden has held a variety of teaching and leadership roles, with a particular emphasis on Inclusion and SEN.

In 2014 Vanessa was appointed Head of School at St Lawrence Primary School, a school within THPT.  

Further into her headship she began to lead on Inclusion across the Trust.  In September 2018, she began her role as Executive Head across two primary schools including one with a High COIN centre, whilst continuing the role of THPT Inclusion Lead.  In January 2021 Vanessa was appointed as THPT Head of Specialist and Inclusion. 

Louise Ling – SEND School Improvement & Teaching School Director at THPT and the Service Manager for Educational Effectiveness at Surrey County Council

Louise Ling has over 20 years’ experience of working with children and young people as a Headteacher of a maintained special school; Deputy Headteacher of an independent special school; Deputy Headteacher of a mainstream school, Head of Specialist Provision and Autism Outreach Service; and a Local Authority Senior Inclusion & SEND Consultant. 

Marie O’Rourke – Principal of Fox Grove School

Marie O’Rourke brings a wealth of experience to Fox Grove School, having worked at Linden Bridge School for 15 years, as Deputy Headteacher for the last 9 years and more recently as Acting Headteacher.

Her extensive knowledge and expertise in working with children with SEND will be invaluable to the development of the school. 

These strong professional relationships ensure that all school-based leaders have the advice, guidance, and resources to “bring out the best” in all the children and young people whom we serve.