Our Trustees

Becky Foxton

Chair of Trustees

Becky has worked in Blackpool education, and particularly school administration, throughout her occupational career. Whilst she is currently employed as a Business Manager in a large primary academy, she has also worked as a Business Manager in a large secondary academy which was a part of a successful multi academy trust.

Given the continually changing landscape of education and requirements of schools she has continually developed her experience, skills and knowledge to support her role. She has undertaken the CSBM, CIPFA Accounting for Academies, AAT Foundation Cert in Accounting and is currently studying AAT Advanced Diploma in Accounting – Level 3.

Having always worked in Blackpool education, Becky has an understanding of the social and economic challenges faced in a Blackpool schools particularly.

Over the course of her career as a Business Manager she has also gained a significant amount of knowledge relating to school governance.  Becky has been a Trustee for a number of years, becoming Chair of the board in Spring 2024.

Mark Hamblett

Chief Executive Officer, Trustee

Mark started his teaching career in 2002.  Originally from Bolton, Mark began teaching in rural Cumbria.  He has taught in schools throughout Cumbria and Lancashire, before becoming Deputy Headteacher & SENCo at Bolton-le-Sands CE School in 2009.  Mark took up post as Headteacher of Kirkland & Catterall St. Helen’s, Garstang in 2012 and remained in post for three years before moving to a two-form entry school in Bolton in 2015.  Throughout these two headships, Mark also inspected schools under Section 48 (SIAMS) on behalf of  the Church of England throughout the Blackburn Diocese.  Mark was appointed as Headteacher of Waterloo Primary Academy, Blackpool and CEO of Zest Academy Trust in 2017.  In September 2022, Mark took up the position of CEO on a full-time basis.

Mark is also the Chair of Governors (Foundation appointed) at St. Patrick’s CofE Primary School, Kendal.

Mark is an ordained Elder at Kendal United Reformed Church, where he worships and is an active member of the worship team.

Steve Farndon


Steve is a former teacher who has worked across a number of secondary schools, both in London and the North West.  He was also head of research and development at a primary-led teaching school hub which meant sustained collaboration with local primary schools.  He now works for a national education charity providing professional development to teachers and school leaders (Ambition Institute), where he designs and delivers programmes.  His work history means he has experience of the challenges facing primary school teachers and leaders and some of the evidence-informed strategies that might help.  He has also led programmes in Blackpool and Lancashire more widely, so has awareness of the demands of working in this region.  His particular interests are evidence informed teaching and school leadership and how this can be used to address inequality in educational opportunity.

Ross Knaggs


Ross is the headteacher of a primary school in Kendal, Cumbria and CEO of a primary Multi Academy Trust.

Philip Thompson

Trustee, Member

Phil joined Waterloo Primary Academy as a parent governor over nine years ago and has been involved in a number of school initiatives and improvements.  Phil was Chair of Governors for Waterloo for a number of years supporting the school through two ‘good’ OFSTED graded inspections ands Chair Zest’s board of Trustees until 2024.

Phil has a wealth of education experience, his teaching career starting in early 2000s and he has held a number of teaching and leadership positions across the education sector. Phil has experience in teaching secondary and post 16 education including Further and Higher Education.

As well as being a qualified teacher, Phil has post graduate qualifications is Engineering, Human Resource Management and has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Management specialising in SEND. Phil brings a significant amount of education experience around pastoral care, safeguarding and SEND to the board and was the Head of SEND for a local council before working internationally.

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