Meet the Members & Trustees

The Trustees of Aspire Learning Partnership are responsible for conducting the affairs of the Trust to achieve its objectives, shaping the success of the Trust.

The Members are subscribers to the Trust’s memorandum of association. Members ensure that the Trust’s activities are properly directed to achieving its objectives and are responsible for appointing the Board of Trustees.




Dr Ed Thompson


Mel Berry

Sue Welford

Vice Chair

Indy Panesar

Denise Newsome


David Snashall

Dr Julia Pointon


Dr Ed Thompson

Allison Tripney



Narendra Waghela





Dr Edward Thompson – Chair of Trustees

Ed Thompson moved to Leicester to attend university in 2006 and has been a Governor of Leicester Schools since 2012. He has been Chair of Governors for Leicester schools which have been judged to be outstanding, and those in need of significant improvement.

He is currently an Associate Professor and Director of Apprenticeships at Leicester Castle Business School and co-author of The Business Environment textbook published by Pearson.  

Ed’s education and experience centres on management and teaching; he holds a degree in Business, a masters degree in Management, and a doctorate in Organizational Behaviour – as well as teaching qualifications in Higher Education. Ed is a Chartered Management and Business Educator, a Chartered Manager, a member of the Chartered Management Association, and a fellow of both the Higher Education Academy and the Royal Society of the Arts.


Sue Welford

Sue has worked in education for the past 38 years, initially teaching mathematics in middle and secondary schools then as a primary teacher and senior leader.  She has worked in the school improvement arena in Leicester City Council for over 26 years, latterly as Principal Education Officer (PEO). 

During her time in the City she has built strong partnerships with schools and a range of professional and voluntary partners to connect and improve education in the city. This has included close working with the primary, secondary and special school partnerships as well as with the DfE and Ofsted.  Sue has led the development of assessment and data, mathematics, primary and early years learning and chairs the Readiness for School partnership group.  As PEO she also sat on Schools Forum and chaired the teaching and support union forums.   During the pandemic she worked closely with public health colleagues to ensure that schools received the support they needed. 

In a voluntary capacity Sue has been a governor of a number of primary schools and currently is Chair of Governors.   She also was honorary secretary of the Association of Teachers of Mathematics for 5 years. 

She is committed to improving the lives and education of children in the city of Leicester and beyond.


Denise Newsome

Denise was a teacher for more than 35 years and almost all her career was spent working within Leicester City. She was the Headteacher of Keyham Lodge Special School for over 8 years and the Principal of Babington Community College for more than 9 years.

She oversaw Babington’s conversion to academy status and established the Learning Without Limits Academy Trust at the request of the DfE. When she was Principal at Babington, Denise was a designated National Leader of Education and also worked on behalf of Ofsted as a Lead Inspector. She is now retired and is a Magistrate in both Crime and Family jurisdictions.



Dr Julia Pointon

Julia was born in Leicestershire where her family have farmed since 1960.  She attended local schools in the county.  Julia first graduated with a higher degree in Human Resource Development and, given her commitment to lifelong learning has continued to study, gaining her doctorate in 2009 and still undertaking academic study today.

Julia is a National Teacher Fellow, Senior Fellow of Advance HE, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development,  and a Chartered Management Business Educator. Julia is able to offer significant relevant experience combined with a wealth of skills and expertise.



Allison Tripney


Alli is a former teacher who has worked within the football-related charitable sector for over twenty years now.  She is currently Head of Community at Leicester City Football Club (LCFC); leading Leicester City in the Community to deliver high impacting projects and programmes utilising the brand LCFC. 

Alli has a passion for creating opportunities for young people and their families in areas of high need. 



Narendra Vaghela 

 Narendra has been living and working in Leicester for over 45 years. The two things that make him feel truly fulfilled are when he is with his family, and when he is doing something to help make real a difference in his community and city, something he continues to do in a variety of ways.

Narendra has gained a wealth of experience and knowledge on social, political and economic issues through being a key member of various organisations, including:

  • Public Relations Officer and management team member of B.A.P.S. Shree Swaminarayan Mandir (Temple), an International socio-spiritual organisation (since 1988)

  • A member of the Faith Leaders Forum led by the Bishop of Leicester (since 2004)

  • A member of City Mayor’s Faith & Community Forum led by the City Mayor (since 2013)

  • Member of the interview panel for the Police force for recruitment and promotions.

  • Trust Board member and Vice Chair of the Voluntary Action Leicestershire.

  • Trust Board member and co-chair of the Inter Faith Network UK (Since 2015)

  • Trustee (since 1993) and the Vice Chair (since 2022) of Leicester Council of Faiths

  • Trust Board Member – Citizen Advice Bureau (Since March 2009)

  • Radio presenter for SABRAS 1260 and Treasurer SANSKAR/ DAB digital radio.

Narendra has been able to bring his vast experience, gained in working for over 30 years as a Project Manager, Business Co-ordinator and Scheduling Manager with an International company, to each of the organisations with which he is linked.

Through the work that Narendra does in the community, he feels a real sense of satisfaction, making an ongoing contribution towards the betterment of our society.


Julie Robinson -Chief Executive Officer

Julie has worked in city schools for all of her career, starting out as a maths teacher initially. She has been Principal of Soar Valley College since 2014, having been a part of the school’s improvement journey since 2005.

Other relevant experiences include representing secondary schools on Schools Forum, Chair of the Leicester Education Improvement Partnership, serving as an Ofsted inspector for a while, and being the Local Representative for ASCL, the Association for School and College Leaders.

Julie has been instrumental in establishing the Trust, having a real desire to offer something different for schools, both locally and further afield. She feels strongly that every school is unique and that it is important for each to retain a sense of identity, whilst working collaboratively to bring about improvements for all.