Skip to content ↓
Westcountry Schools Trust

Westcountry Schools Trust

Westcountry Schools Trust

Find out more about our Leadership Team

Rob Haring CEO  

Rob commenced his teaching career in 1988 as a Maths teacher in Watford and then followed a fairly traditional career path including roles in four different local authorities.

Rob’s first headship was of a Secondary School in Worcestershire, then secondly of Ivybridge Community College in Devon.

During this time, Rob was privileged to chair the National Headteachers Strategy group for the Youth Sports Trust (YST) and became a Director of Leading Schools South West.

April 2011 saw Rob become responsible for more than one school when a local primary school joined an embryonic Multi Academy Trust of two schools. Today Rob is the CEO of Westcountry Schools Trust, a vibrant family of 26 schools in the SW.

In addition to his core role Rob is delighted to have previously worked as an External Expert for the DfE and support the improvement journey of schools across the SW region.

Jocelyn Davis - Director of People 

Jocelyn is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), has accumulated 20+ years of service to human resources and holds an MA in Management.

Her career as a HR generalist began in 2001, supporting Local Authority departments and providing the full breadth of HR services to Secondary and Primary Schools throughout Devon, predominantly across South Hams and Tavistock. The Development of specialist expertise and knowledge lead into policy development and project work culminating in an 18-month secondment to the Devon School Remodelling Team. She progressed to a Senior HR role in higher education at the University of Plymouth in 2010 and latterly took on the role of HR Business Partner providing solutions focused guidance and advice cross a range of talent management strategies e.g. organisation design, recruitment/retention, workforce/succession planning, performance management and reward and recognition. Working with a portfolio of senior/executive leaders across the University, supporting the Faculties of Science and Engineering, Health and Peninsula Medical School, she also led on the development of University-wide HR policy and practice.

In October 2018 Jocelyn returned to Primary/Secondary Education taking up the post of HR Director at Westcountry Schools Trust. Jocelyn also retains an active interest in primary and secondary education as a local School Governor, currently Chair of Community Committee, but previously as Vice Chair and Acting Chair.

Mark Bullard - Estates Director 

In 1990 as a 15-year-old Mark started his career as a Plant Maintenance Craftsman Apprentice at Derriford Hospital whilst undertaking an ONC and on to a HNC qualification as part of the colleges training and development. After successfully completing his apprenticeship, Mark relocated (both within the UK and working aboard) to broadened his experience working in both maintenance and construction which helped to develop and grow his knowledge. 

Mark became a supervisor and later moved to Bristol to work as a Maintenance Manager at the University of Bristol. 

Mark had a passion for Facilities Management (FM) and found maintenance a little restrictive. He undertook a Master's Degree in FM and moved to specific FM roles again broadening his experience and knowledge by working for different organisations in different industries such as Pharmaceutical, Food retail, Social Housing and Defence. 

Mark moved to Westcountry Schools Trust as the Estates Director. This role uses all the experience he has gained over his career as well as gaining more experience. 

Nat Parnell - Deputy Chief Executive Officer  

Nat started his career as a Maths teacher at Eggbuckland, then worked at South Dartmoor and Camborne Academies. He later became Principal of Northampton Academy with United Learning and progressed to Executive Principal and Regional Director roles. As Regional Director, Nat supervised 17 Secondary Academies, guiding Principals and teams across Manchester, Yorkshire, the Midlands, and Bournemouth.

In September 2023, Nat joined WeST as Deputy CEO. He's dedicated to unlocking potential and removing barriers for disadvantaged students. Nat also champions simplicity in education, advocating a 'Keep It Simple' approach.

Peter Gregory - Chief Finance Officer 

Peter graduated from Durham University with an English Literature degree, Peter joined the John Lewis Partnership in 1987 as a graduate trainee. Peter then joined the firm Ernst & Young in 1989 with whom he qualified as a Chartered Accountant 3 years later.  He joined their nascent Corporate Advisory team in Exeter and spent two years working on mergers and acquisitions, business reconstructions, funding raising and due diligence projects. In 1994 he was approached by Westcountry Television Limited to help realise an exit strategy for shareholders that would maximise their investment. Peter stayed with the company for the next 10 years first as Finance Director for Westcountry and then for ITV West (in Bristol) during which he helped drive both businesses through periods of considerable change and cost saving exercises. Peter joined the ITV central finance function undertaking business rationalisation projects including a far reaching process change management exercise. 

In 2006 Peter took a position at a local independent television production company Denham Productions Limited where he spent the next four years as Managing Director. Peter became increasingly involved in the governance of his children’s local primary school and its financial management. So when an opportunity was advertised by the University of Plymouth for a Finance Director at its newly sponsored academy Marine Academy Plymouth, Peter applied and was appointed in July 2010.  

In May 2013 he joined the Ivybridge Academy Trust as its Director of Finance, and as Chief Financial Officer has since played an integral role in the growth of Westcountry Schools Trust into the existing 22 schools organisation.

Phil Banks - Director of Partnerships 

Phil began his career in the South West teaching in Newquay and St Teath before moving quickly into a headship role in Liskeard.

He has held four headship roles and, in 2014, was invited to Downing Street to celebrate excellence in State Education. Phil founded a large, primary Multi-Academy Trust and has also worked as an Ofsted Inspector in the South West. As part of his role as a Director of the Trust, Phil took on executive headship roles, preparing schools for Ofsted and developing curriculum and extra curricular provision.

Phil left this role to take up a Lead Inspector post with the Ministry of Education in Dubai, where he lived and worked for two years. Here he worked exclusively in secondary education right across the UAE, developing an advanced international curriculum within government schools, preparing students to sit the American Advanced Science Programme examinations.

Phil holds an MBA and is currently completing a PhD with Coventry University looking at the impact of 'Belonging.'

In 2020 Phil returned to Cornwall to take up a school improvement role and subsequently the role of CEO for the North Cornwall Learning Trust. In 2024, NCLT merged to become part of Westcountry Schools Trust. 

Richard Woodland - Director of Safeguarding 

Having studied Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter, Richard spent three years as a voluntary youthworker before completing his PGCE. Alongside developing his teaching of science he completed a Masters degree in Educational Research and took on pastoral, and outdoor education responsibilities before being appointed to a senior leadership team in 2010.

Following ten years in senior leadership, five of them as Headteacher, he was delighted to have the opportunity to join the WeST central team as the Director of Inclusion.

A strong sense of social justice and a desire to create a more inclusive and compassion-focussed education system motivates him on a daily basis as he leads the Trust’s work in safeguarding, attendance, behaviour and inclusion. 

Sue Costello - Director of Education  

Sue commenced her teaching career in 1990 as a further education lecturer and leader in County Durham. Sue enjoyed eleven years in this role whilst also having her three sons. In 2001, Sue decided to retrain as a primary school teacher. Whilst studying for a bachelor’s degree, Sue worked as a specialist teaching assistant in two County Durham primary schools, supporting pupils, often with special needs or those with English as an additional language. Sue graduated with an English degree and went on to achieve QTS in 2006.

A varied career in primary school teaching and leadership followed. During this time, Sue was accredited as an Advanced Skills Teacher and supported primary schools, as a member of the local authority school improvement team, to raise standards in English. As Assistant Vice Principal of a hard federation of three schools: a mainstream primary, mainstream secondary and 2-19 through special school, Sue had a wide portfolio of leadership responsibilities, including leading assessment and specialist provision. During this time, Sue completed two Masters’ degrees. The first, an MSc in leadership and organisational change and the second, an MA in education improvement journey of schools across the SW region.

Sue relocated to the southwest in 2012 and took up post as headteacher of a primary school. In addition to this core role, she inspected schools for Ofsted. After several years, Sue joined a large academy trust as Director of Inclusion. This role involved leading a multi-agency inclusion team. During this time, Sue was privileged to become a local leader of education (LLE) and supported the Department for Education, as an inclusion expert, in the 2014 revisions to key stage 1 and 2 statutory assessment tests.

In 2019, Sue was appointed as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors by Ofsted. Sue spent three happy years in this role before joining Westcountry Schools Trust in September 2022 as Director of Education. She also completed a post-graduate diploma in education policy. In addition to her role at WeST, Sue continues her role as a school inspector and undertakes commissioned work for academy trusts locally and nationally. She is also completing a PhD with research into social justice through the University of Plymouth.