Leadership & Governance

Senior Leadership Team

Mr James Nichols - Head

Having achieved a First Class Honours in Modern History and Politics at the University of Southampton, I knew that I wanted to either be a politician or a teacher of these fantastic subjects. Obviously, the latter won out and I completed a PGCE at the University of Warwick. I subsequently did a MA Education alongside my emerging teaching career. I have been incredibly fortunate to hold several leadership positions in the four schools in which I have worked since 2008; three of which have been all-girls’ schools. I also established and managed my own commercial enterprise in political education services and have worked with over 250 schools in developing their political education provision. The combination of commerce and education is something that I find particularly exciting. I joined St. Francis’ College as Deputy Head in April 2021 and have not looked back once. The College is such a warm, welcoming and well-established community and I was delighted to be appointed as its first male Head from September 2022. The College’s ability to secure outstanding academic outcomes and produce well-rounded, respectful and global young people is extremely special. Outside of school, I am a political junkie, foodie and lover of reading and writing. Although I adore Hertfordshire, I also regularly return home to Oxford, which I fervently maintain is the best city in the world.

Mrs J Spence - Deputy Head

By experiencing a childhood dominated by sport, there was only one career path I was going to take. I knew from an early age that I wanted to teach PE and achieved my dream by attending university where I achieved a 2:1 degree in Sport and Exercise Science, and later my Post Graduate Certificate in Education with Qualified Teacher Status. As a newly qualified teacher I quickly realised my passion for developing the character of young people and in my first year of teaching I took on the responsibility of developing whole school PSHE. From that point on, I continued to develop my career by taking on the Assistant Head of Department role in PE. In 2012 I started a family having given birth to our first son. My career continued on the back burner through a part-time PE role while I had two very young sons – the second to arrive in 2015. At the start of 2016 I decided I would branch out and took on the role of Head of Year. This was a hugely rewarding job as I developed a culture of success among a group of students who I guided through to their GCSEs. During this time, I simultaneously took on an Associate Assistant Head position responsible for timetabling and managing the complex project of migrating the whole school management information system. Following this success, I felt it was time to progress my career further and I took on the role of Assistant Head at a brand-new academy free school – with only a year 7 cohort on roll – as Safeguarding and Pastoral Lead. Developing this school from the beginning has been both a rich learning experience and a joy to oversee as it now stands full today with a cohort of Years 7-11 (1200 pupils). While in this role, I subsequently began a two-year master’s degree and apprenticeship in Educational Leadership and Management, which I completed in July 2022. I joined St. Francis’ College as Deputy Head in September 2022 and have been touched by the warm community feel of the College. The staff and students alike are a pleasure to work with and I am very excited for what the future will bring, not only for me personally but for the College and its students and staff. Outside of College life I continue to be extremely passionate about all sport and I am an ardent Manchester United fan. I continue to play netball competitively and am an avid gym goer and runner. My husband, two sons and I are the very proud owners of our Golden Doodle, Molly who we enjoy spending lots of time with in the outdoors.

Mr Robbie Di Rubbo - Deputy Head (Operations)

Having completed my degree in Business Management, I found myself working within the education and leisure sectors across Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. Over the years, I have had many different roles across these industries including coaching at Luton Town Football Club Academy, Commercial and Operations Manager for a secondary school and multi-site General Manager for leisure centres.

I joined St. Francis’ as I believe in the commitment and development the College has towards its students and staff. I am excited to be part of the school’s journey and am keen to help it develop even further.

Outside of the work, I am a keen football fan and I enjoy watching Arsenal or my local team at weekends. I also enjoy spending time with my family.

Mr Dan Carr – Assistant Head, Director of Studies

Having completed my undergraduate degree in French and Spanish (Language and Linguistics) at the University of Southampton, I completed my PGCE at the University of Cambridge. Having started my career teaching Modern Languages at a co-ed school, I have since moved into the private sector and have developed my career working across a range of girls’ independent schools. Here, I have been fortunate to gain a vast range of experience in supporting pupils academically and pastorally, holding roles of Assistant Housemaster and Head of French along the way to becoming Head of Sixth Form here at the College in 2016, prior to recently moving into my current role as Director of Studies. My true passion is holistic pupil development, and the role which extra-curricular activities play in this. I have coached rugby and badminton, led more DofE expeditions than I can remember, and have led school trips across a range of countries and continents as diverse as Mongolia, Tanzania, and Costa Rica, and have seen the unique benefits these opportunities bring to young people. As I grow older, so does my passion for History and visits both personally and with schools to the World War I Battlefields, The Normandy Landings, and Colditz Castle have fuelled this interest, together with taking part in the Lessons from Auschwitz programme alongside 6th Form students. Away from school I am a sports fanatic, both watching and playing several sports. At the weekend I will often be found refereeing rugby union matches anywhere across Hertfordshire.

Mrs Janey Foster - Assistant Head, Pastoral

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that theatre is my first love. As a child, I always performed in plays both in and out of school. It was no surprise when I chose to study Theatre and Performance at the University of Warwick, which was a challenging but hugely rewarding course. Next, I completed my PGCE in Drama with English and began teaching at a co-ed independent school. I was lucky enough to direct a number of large-scale productions, including Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and A Servant to Two Masters. It was here that my interest in pastoral care began. I loved teaching drama, but also found great joy in developing pupils holistically, preparing them for adult life and making them positive and resilient. During this time, I became increasingly interested fitness and the role it plays in boosting our mental health. I became an avid runner and competed in running races, triathlons and duathlons. In 2016 I became housemistress, which involved monitoring and championing the wellbeing and academic progress of over 100 pupils. This experience has prepared me for my position as assistant head pastoral at St Francis, a role I am thrilled to take on. Outside of my professional life, I enjoy spending time with my daughter, performing with my local theatre group and improving my fitness at the gym.

Mrs Ruth Scott - Head of Sixth Form

My childhood was filled with Music. I developed my tenacity and musicianship with a range of inspirational teachers and performing or teaching were always my goals. After setting up and leading choirs, musical ensembles and a Performing Arts Company that visited local schools, I knew that teaching was my passion. It has always been an incredible thrill to see a child develop in confidence and skill. It can make the heart burst with pride when a pupil discovers that they can really fulfil their dreams with hard work and determination. I have had a range of leadership experiences and these have included leading Music departments, Performing Arts Faculties, More Able strategies and Services & Assemblies. Outside of College, I am a Mum to two boys and my husband and I enjoy taking our family away for adventures in Tom the Camper Van. Having visited 39 countries, travel is my passion and I am looking forward to discovering foreign places once again. Having worked with Sixth Form students for many years, I am excited to be leading this important part of the College into a new phase. I am looking forward to watching them blossom as independent learners, role models and leaders.

Mr Michael Gray - Assistant Head (Acting) Preparatory Department

Having completed a degree in History, I decided that I would like to pursue a career in primary teaching. I spent a year working as a Teaching Assistant in an outstanding primary school before completing my PGCE. Since then, I have taught in three primary schools, teaching all subjects and year groups across the primary age range as well as holding several leadership positions including English Lead, Assistant Headteacher and Diversity Lead across an academy trust.
I have also spent time working for Herts for Learning as an English adviser and during this time I developed a real passion for championing diversity to allow children to see themselves reflected as much as possible in the curriculum we provide them with to ensure they feel valued as part of society. I have delivered many training sessions to different schools and written articles around this subject.
In September 2023, I took on the role of Deputy Head of Prep at St. Francis’ College, and it’s the community at the School that stands out to me. It is such a fantastic and supportive environment which truly brings out the best in each pupil.

The leadership and pastoral support at the college is both responsive and supportive.
Current parent.

Role of the College Board


The College Board comprises those with educational and wider experience both from within the ILG team and those with connections to the College. Its role and responsibilities are like those of any Board of Governors and can be summarised as follows:

  • Ensure clarity of vision, ethos, and strategic direction.
  • Set and review policies, plans and procedures.
  • Hold those in leadership positions to account for the management and educational provision of the College.
  • Ensure compliance with legal and Department of Education requirements.
  • Contribute to and attend ISI/Ofsted inspections as and when required.
  • Raise standards through monitoring and evaluating performance.
  • Ensure the welfare and pastoral care of the children.
  • Act as a critical friend to those in leadership positions
  • Make recommendations to the Proprietor concerning these functions.
  • Act with integrity, objectivity and honesty in the best interests of the College.

The College’s Senior Leadership Team is responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the College at all times, and reports to the College Board on a termly basis in formal meetings and through frequent regular contact with the Chair of the College Board and other members of the ILG executive team. Governance is conducted through two committees (Education and Compliance) as well as a Full Board.

Any matters to be raised with the College Board should be addressed to the Chair as follows:

Mr Vernon Hales
St. Francis’ College
Letchworth Garden City
Hertfordshire, SG6 3PJ
Telephone: 01462 670 511
The Chair can be contacted via this email.

Governing Committees

Education Committee

David Tidmarsh, ILG, Chair
Vernon Hales, ILG, Chair
James Nichols, Head
Julia Spence, Senior Deputy Head (Education)
Ruth Scott, Senior Assistant Head (Head of Sixth Form and Development)
Dan Carr, Assistant Head (Academic)
Janey Foster, Assistant Head (Pastoral)
Michael Gray, Assistant Head (Acting), Preparatory Department

Compliance Committee

Vernon Hales, ILG, Chair
David Tidmarsh, ILG, Chair of Advisory Group
Carrie Askew, ILG, Head of Operations
James Nichols, Head
Robbie Di Rubbo, Deputy Head (Operations)
Julia Spence, Senior Deputy Head (Education)
Michael Gray, Assistant Head (Acting), Preparatory Department

Full Board

Vernon Hales, ILG, Chair
Amit Mehta, ILG, CEO
David Tidmarsh, ILG, Chair of Advisory Group
Carrie Askew, ILG, Head of Operations
Wrichik Majumder, ILG, Head of Finance
James Nichols, Head
Julia Spence, Senior Deputy Head (Education)
Ruth Scott, Senior Assistant Head (Head of Sixth Form and Development)
Dan Carr, Assistant Head (Academic)
Janey Foster, Assistant Head (Pastoral)
Michael Gray, Assistant Head (Acting), Preparatory Department

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