Meet the Team
Here you will find information about our staff, their backgrounds and the main areas of work they are involved in, as well as our team structures and key responsibilities.
For further information, please contact the members of staff using the email addresses provided or if you have any general queries regarding the work of the Central South Consortium, please let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clara Seery - Managing Director
Clara is the Managing Director of the Central South Consortium, joining the Consortium in March 2020. Clara started her career as a Science teacher and worked in a range of roles in Secondary Schools in North London and Essex. Prior to joining the Consortium she was Head of School and Early Years Improvement in the London Borough of Enfield. She has also spent eight years as a foundation governor in a highly successful Catholic Boys school and has been the vice chair of Governors. She recognises the key role that governors play in developing schools and is keen to develop the role of governors across CSC.
She is an experienced School Improvement Partner who has worked with primary, secondary and special schools supporting schools to implement a range of curriculum and leadership changes. She has worked to support schools to meet inspection requirements and to raise standards across all Key Stages.
Clara has also worked at a local and regional level to develop provision for learners from Ethnic Minority backgrounds and Special Educational Needs and is committed to the Consortium's vision to empower schools to improve outcomes for all pupils.
Louise Blatchford - Deputy Managing Director
Louise is the Deputy Managing Director of the Central South Consortium, and has been in this role since April 2019. Previously, she has undertaken a number of roles within the consortium since its inception in September 2012, including Acting Managing Director, Senior Lead for Business and Operations, as well as specific school improvement roles. Prior to this, as an Associate Adviser for ICT and Business for over 5 years, she developed and facilitated a wide variety of professional development activities to share effective practice and provide opportunities for networking, and supported many schools within the region to achieve the ICT Mark.
Louise began her teaching career in the Central South Wales region at Fitzalan High School in Cardiff where she taught ICT, business/economics and mathematics, before moving to Aberdare Girls’ School in Rhondda Cynon Taf as the Head of Business Studies.
Andrew Williams - Assistant Director for Partnerships and Improvement
Andrew Williams is the Assistant Director for Partnerships and Improvement in the Central South Consortium with responsibility for standards and improvement in schools across the region. Andrew leads a large team overseeing the work of Improvement Partners, Curriculum Advisers, Leadership, Governor development, Welsh, data and research and enquiry along with Equity and Well Being.
Prior to Andrew taking up this role he was the Senior Lead for School Improvement where he had the responsibility for the work of the Improvement Partner Team ensuring performance of schools within the region.
Andrew has worked in a wide range of Educational settings, including Special schools, in England and Wales as well as on secondments in Welsh Government and Local Authority and as a peer inspector with Estyn. Before joining the EAS as Principal Challenge Adviser he was a headteacher of a highly successful school in Newport.
Andrew is skilled at school improvement and educational leadership.
In his spare time Andrew enjoys gardening, theatre and painting. Andrew has recently taken up running.
Natalie Gould - Assistant Director for Curriculum
Natalie is the Assistant Director for Curriculum at Central South Consortium. She joined the Consortium in April 2019 from St. Cadoc’s Catholic Primary School, Cardiff, where she had been Headteacher since 2016. Prior to this Natalie was Executive Headteacher of a 3-18 international school in the UAE and for eight years she was the headteacher of a successful primary school in Newport.
Previously, Natalie acted as a consultant headteacher for Central South Consortium, providing leadership training and support to school leaders. She was a delegate headteacher for the region and the Cardiff headteacher representative on the CSC Budget Advisory Group. She was also a member of the Cardiff Education Development Board.
Natalie has responsibility for curriculum reform and the professional learning offer to schools across the region. She ensures coherence across the teams within the Central South Consortium.
Andy Rothwell - Principal Improvement Partner for Bridgend Schools
Andy leads a team of Improvement Partners working with Bridgend Schools in close partnership with the Local Authority. He is also a Peer Inspector for Estyn.
Andy is passionate about using IT to support learners and has worked as an IT adviser as well as a senior leader in an outstanding primary school. Andy has shared his successful practice in national forums.
Andy has pioneered new approaches to self evaluation and improvement planning working with a range of school leaders to improve practice.
Andy enjoys sport, both playing and coaching.
Kate Rowlands - Principal Improvement Partner for Cardiff Primary Schools
Kate Rowlands is the Principal Improvement Partner in the Central South Consortium with strategic responsibility for SACRE and school to school collaboration which aims to increase leadership capacity. Kate leads a team of Improvement Partners working with Cardiff Primary and Special Schools as well as working in close partnership with all schools, the Local Authority, the Cardiff Secondary Schools Improvement Partner Team and Estyn.
Prior to Kate taking up this role she worked for Bristol Local Authority as the Senior Education Lead for Early Years and Primary Schools. She was directly responsible for the commissioning of support and challenge for all settings.
Kate has worked and supported in a wide range of Educational contexts, including Special schools, in England and Wales as well as a secondment to a Local Authority as a mathematics consultant. Before joining Bristol Local Authority Kate was an effective Headteacher at two schools. She successfully led both schools through Special Measures to Good and Outstanding.
Kate enjoys all aspects of school improvement in particular supporting leadership to effect positive outcomes for learners.
In her spare time Kate enjoys spending time with her family and cooking.
Geraint Lewis - Principal Improvement Partner for Cardiff Secondary Schools
Geraint Lewis is the Principal Improvement Partner in the Central South Consortium with strategic responsibility for developing a regional approach to peer engagement and evaluation of school to school collaboration models aimed at increasing leadership capacity. Geraint leads a team of Challenge Advisers working with Cardiff Secondary and Special Schools as well as working in close partnership with schools, the Local Authority, the Cardiff Primary Schools Improvement Partner Team, Welsh Government’s Evaluation and Improvement Board and Estyn as an Additional Inspector.
Prior to Geraint taking up this role he lead on the raising of standards in two Welsh medium Comprehensive Schools and his drive is to ensure that the support and challenge provided by improvement partners adds value to school improvement and contributes to the raising of standards within Cardiff and thereby across the region as a whole.
Former positions of leadership include Deputy Headteacher (Curriculum and Raising Standards) at Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg, Assistant Headteacher at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Plasmawr and Head of Mathematics at both Plasmawr and Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Rhydywaun.
Geraint enjoys planning and implementing change and collaborating with others for the benefit of all.
Current favourite phrase: “Start with Why”. Favourite book: “Legacy” by James Kerr.
Emma Willmott - Principal Improvement Partner for Merthyr Tydfil Schools
Emma is a Principal Improvement Partner for the Central South Consortium, leading the work of Improvement Partners within Merthyr Tydfil Local Authority and also working in collaboration with LA officers to support schools.
Emma, a Chemistry graduate started her teaching career in 1994 and has held a variety of positions in secondary schools across South Wales. She was awarded a Plato in 2002 for being Science Teacher of the Year in the National Teaching Awards. Emma worked for Cornwall Local Authority as Science Consultant for the Secondary National Strategies and also as an adviser for National Challenge Schools. She moved back to Wales to become a School Improvement and Science Adviser for Newport LA. She is an experienced Challenge Adviser who has successfully supported primary, secondary and special schools in improving standards of teaching, learning and leadership across two consortia. Emma is particularly passionate about raising standards of teaching and learning for vulnerable pupils and developing effective leadership in schools. Emma is also an Estyn Additional Inspector.
Steve Davies - Principal Improvement Partner for Rhondda Cynon Taf Primary Schools
Steve leads a team of Improvement Partners working with RCT Primary Schools in close partnership with the Local Authority and the RCT Secondary School's Principal Improvement Partner. He is also CSC's Strategic Lead for Governance which involves supporting Governing Bodies in carrying out their roles effectively.
Steve is a Peer Inspector for Estyn and his former positions of school leadership serving as Headteacher of Willowbrook Primary School, Cardiff for a decade. Prior to that he was Deputy Headteacher in Torfaen and an Assistant Headteacher in North London.
He has experience of wider curriculum delivery having visited schools in northern Pakistan and lived and taught in Australia. He has also had the opportunity and privilege to support the development of many newly qualified teachers and teachers into senior leadership positions throughout his career.
Steve loves sport, especially rugby and anything relating to the great outdoors.
Andy Hurley - Principal Improvement Partner for Rhondda Cynon Taf Secondary Schools
Andy leads a team of Improvement Partners working with RCT Secondary, PRU and Special Schools, working in close partnership with schools, the Local Authority and the RCT Primary Schools Improvement Partner. He has previously worked for Estyn as an HMI.
Andy's former positions of leadership include Deputy Headteacher at Whitchurch High, Cardiff. He held a number of roles at Y Pant School, RCT, including Head of English, Assistant and Deputy Headteacher. Prior to this he worked as Head of English at Cantonian High, Cardiff and at Ebbw Vale Comprehensive School, Blaenau Gwent.
Carys Pritchard - Principal Improvement Partner for Vale of Glamorgan Schools
Carys is a Principal Improvement Partner for the Central South Consortium. Carys leads a team of Improvement Partners working with all schools in the Vale of Glamorgan. She also works in close collaboration with local authority officers to support schools in the Vale. Carys is an experienced Estyn inspector, inspecting in the primary and secondary sectors.
Carys has worked in the Central South Consortium since its inception in September 2012. She is an experienced Challenge Adviser who has successfully supported primary, secondary and 3 – 19 schools in improving standards, teaching and leadership. Carys has worked closely with governing bodies in her role as Challenge Adviser and now as Principal Improvement Partner, and she is involved in delivering the regional training programme for governors. Prior to working in the consortium, Carys was the Associate Advisor for religious education, providing advice and support to schools and various Standing Advisory Councils for Religious Education (SACREs).
Carys has been actively involved in the development and delivery of a thinking skills training package to schools and has been a consultant in a programme aimed at reducing the impact of poverty on attainment. She was the mentor for schools in Wales who were involved in the REsilience project, developing teachers’ competence in dealing with contentious issues in the classroom, particularly those linked with violent extremism.
Chris Newcombe - Senior Strategic Lead for Welsh Policy, Standards & Improvement
Chris Newcombe is a Senior Strategic Lead at Central South Consortium with responsibility for Welsh policy, standards and improvement across the region. Chris is seconded from his substantive post as Headteacher at Ysgol Gymraeg Pwll Coch, a large Welsh Medium Primary School in Cardiff. He was previously Deputy Headteacher at the city’s Whitchurch Primary School.
Chris has led his school through a significant improvement journey and a successful Estyn inspection which highlighted robust leadership as a strength of the school. He is most proud of establishing a Specialist Resource Base onsite, Yr Hafan, for pupils with severe and complex needs along with a new Cylch Meithrin Welsh Medium Wrap Around Nursery to further develop the Welsh language skills of the community’s youngest children.
During his career he has taught at five different primary schools across Wales and has experienced each level of senior leadership in both Welsh and English Medium settings.
Chris was previously involved in the Pioneer Schools Network developing Curriculum for Wales and has represented the Central South Consortium at regional and national events.
He is passionate about the Welsh language and culture and aims to engage proactively with all stakeholders, especially schools, to further develop and support the leadership, ethos, curriculum and provision for Welsh across the region.
In his spare time he enjoys DIY, gardening, shopping and all things car related!
Emma Coates - Strategic Lead for Leadership
Emma Coates is the Strategic Lead for Leadership at CSC. She is responsible for the coordination and delivery of all the leadership programmes in our region including NPQH. The national programmes she coordinates support leaders at all levels - from middle leaders to experienced head teachers; and are national programmes delivered regionally. Emma works closely with our partners in other regions to ensure we have the highest quality programmes here in CSC.
Emma is also an associate with The National Academy for Education Leadership and one of the first cohort of associates in the Leadership Academy, joining in March 2018. She has been in the privileged position of being part of its development and its lead on many national projects, as well as a range of fantastic professional development opportunities.
Emma has been headteacher at Llanhari Primary School since 2012 and continues to maintain a strategic role in the school as her secondment to CSC is only 80%. This helps her keep up to date with current curriculum developments and the real challenges our leaders face in this period of change.
She has 27 years of teaching experience and 8 years as a head teacher. Emma has taught in a range of settings and year groups, including SEN – teaching an MLD class for three years. She also spent two years teaching in Nigeria, West Africa and three years seconded to RCT as their Literacy and Numeracy basic skills coordinator.
John Welch - Strategic Lead for Equity and Wellbeing
John is the Strategic Lead for Equity and Wellbeing. He came to CSC from St Joseph’s RC High School in Newport where he was previously Head of Inclusion, a pastoral lead and senior lead with the responsibility for key stage 4. John now has responsibility for key vulnerable learner groups including free school meals and more able and talented pupils. John is hugely passionate about making a difference to vulnerable pupils and is father of 3 boys and gets involved in coaching of the boy’s sport which keeps them all busy.
Louise Muteham - Senior Strategic Adviser for Professional Learning
Louise Muteham the Senior Strategic Adviser for Professional Learning at CSC. Prior to this, she was seconded to CSC as Senior Lead for Professional Learning from her role as Assistant Headteacher of Whitchurch Primary School. Louise works closely with the delegate headteacher panel and leads work on professional learning and the Central South Wales Challenge as the main mechanism for providing regional professional learning in a self-improving system.
Louise has worked with the Central South Consortium since 2014 in various roles to support the design, development, implementation and evaluation of the Central South Wales Challenge. She has remained close to practice through leading pioneer work in her school.
In her spare time Louise enjoys running and spending time with her family.
Mandy Esseen - Strategic Adviser for Early Professional Development
Mandy has been the strategic lead for the Teaching Assistant Learning Pathway (TALP), Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and the Appropriate Body for newly qualified teacher (NQT) induction since 2018. Previously, she has undertaken a number of roles within the consortium since joining in 2015, including Strategic Adviser for Learning and Teaching and Senior Leader in Education.
Latterly she was an Assistant Headteacher responsible for learning and teaching and formerly she led three departments in a range of schools in Wales and England, as Head of English, Media Studies and Drama over more years than she cares to remember!
In her role at CSC, Mandy works in ‘deliberate collaboration’ (Fullan) with others, to create innovative opportunities for all assisting, student and newly qualified teachers to have access to the support and professional learning they need to refine and enhance their practice. A proponent of ‘walking the talk’ she is currently undertaking her own PhD research into the relationship between system intervention and professional development.
Mandy loves using technology as a tool both for reflection and for celebrating great practice and has five ISBN numbers to her name!
Richard George - Senior Strategic Adviser for Curriculum, Assessment and Qualifications
As Senior Strategic Adviser at the Central South Consortium, Richard has responsibility for curriculum, qualifications and assessment. Leading the work of the strategic team since November 2017, he works closely with Principal Improvement Partners to coordinate curriculum support for schools across the region. Richard also oversees the school-led curriculum professional learning offer as part of the Central South Wales Challenge. Working in partnership with Welsh Government the regional consortia and other middle tier organisations, Richard leads the strategic development of post-16; PISA and WJEC professional learning priorities.
Prior to this, as Strategic Adviser for Digital Learning for over 2 years, Richard led the school-led strategy for digital education, focusing on the use of the Hwb platform, the development of digital competence and the development of extra-curricular code clubs across the region. Richard supported Welsh Government to establish the network of Digital Pioneer schools and the work of Pioneer schools’ during the development of the Curriculum for Wales.
Richard began his teaching career at Stanwell School in the Vale of Glamorgan, before moving to Brynteg School, Bridgend. He was Head of ICT & Business at Aberdare Girls’ School in Rhondda Cynon Taf and returned to Brynteg School as Learning Director and Head of ICT & Computer Science before joining the Consortium in 2015.
Glen Gilchrist - Strategic Lead for STEM
Glen jointly trained as an applied physicist and teacher before starting his career as a research scientist working on development of polymer products including F1 tyres. He worked for 3 years as technical director of an online semiconductor and technology start-up before returning to his first passion, teaching.
Glen was a teacher of physics, key stage 3 coordinator and head of science during his time working in Newport LA. He worked on a one-year iNet fellowship on the impact of collaboration and networking in teaching which prepared him for a two year secondment to Welsh Government as a secondary subject adviser.
Glen was the inaugural chair of the Science and Technology AOLE, working with schools across Wales to develop the Curriculum for Wales.
Glen works in CSC as the strategic lead for STEM subjects, responsible for developing standards of teaching and learning across all STEM subjects within the CSC region.
Cathryn Billington-Richards - Strategic Lead for LLC
Cathryn is the Strategic Lead for LLC, with responsibility for developing standards in these areas across the region. She has over 20 years teaching experience across the secondary and all-through phase in a range of school settings.
Prior to joining the Consortium in 2013, Cathryn held a number of leadership roles and was the LLC in a bilingual, all through school whilst also undertaking support work for the local authority.
As a CSC adviser, Cathryn has developed and facilitated a wide variety of professional development activities to share effective practice and provide opportunities for networking, and supported many schools within the region. Additionally, as an Estyn inspector, Cathryn has also undertaken several inspections across Wales. Outside of work, Cathryn enjoys visiting the theatre, reading and live music events.
Matthew Humphreys - Strategic Lead for Digital Education
Matthew is the Strategic Lead for Digital Education at the Central South Consortium and has been in this role since April 2019. He oversees the strategic planning and delivery of digital professional learning for the region. Matthew is a member of the ADEW digital group, working alongside colleagues from other consortia. He also works in collaboration with Welsh Government to promote the Hwb platform, digital competence and wider aspects of digital learning. Previously, he has supported digital learning with the Education Achievement Service as part of their Learning Network Schools programme.
Matthew has worked in a wide range of schools in Caerphilly, Wrexham and Monmouthshire. He has undertaken a variety of leadership roles over the course of his career.
Kathryn Lewis - Strategic Lead for Curriculum Reform and Expressive Arts
Kathryn joined the Central South Consortium in April 2019 as Strategic Lead for Expressive Arts, Humanities and Health and Wellbeing. She is currently seconded as Lead for Curriculum Reform, whilst also maintaining regional leadership of the school-led strategy for Expressive Arts. Prior to joining the Central South Consortium, Kathryn taught for 16 years within her specialist area - music and expressive arts - across two secondary schools and one 3-16 School. Having been fortunate herself to forge a career out of her passion and talent for music and the arts, Kathryn is committed to ensuring all children in Wales have access to a creative education, learning through the arts across the curriculum, as well as learning about the arts.
Since 2017 Kathryn has supported Welsh Government, and the region, in the development of Curriculum for Wales through her work as a Pioneer Lead for the Expressive Arts Area of Learning and Experience. As Strategic Lead for Curriculum Reform, Kathryn continues to work closely with the region’s Quality Improvement Pioneer Leads and Innovation Schools, whilst overseeing the strategic planning and delivery of Curricula Reform professional learning within the region’s self-improving, school-to-school working model.
Kathryn is a fluent Welsh speaker.
Sonja Barnard - Strategic Adviser for Humanities, Health and Wellbeing
Prior to joining Central South Consortium in November 2019 as strategic adviser for Humanities, Health and Wellbeing, Sonja worked as a primary school teacher for 18 years within Cardiff. Throughout her teaching career, she has taken on various leadership roles and worked in a diverse range of school settings, teaching children with a wealth of differing skills, needs and interests.
She completed her Masters in Education: Professional Practice, in 2008 and during this study, developed a special interest in curriculum design and innovation. She is passionate about developing independent learning and thinking skills.
Since 2015, Sonja has been involved in the Pioneer network, working alongside the Welsh Government as a curriculum pioneer, helping to shape and develop the Area of Learning and Experience for Humanities.
Outside of work, Sonja has a keen interest in travel and enjoys exploring new places and cultures.
Ruth Best - Strategic Adviser for the Foundation Phase and Primary Literacy
Ruth is the Strategic Adviser for the Foundation Phase and Primary Literacy, with responsibility for developing standards in these areas across the region. She has over 20 years teaching experience across the primary phase in a diverse range of school settings.
Throughout her career, Ruth has led many areas of learning including music, RE, literacy, foundation phase and ALN, with ten years’ experience as a SENCo. She has previously been co- opted as a member of SACRE, written a national RE agreed- syllabus and been part of a number of working parties for the Welsh Government. Currently she is part of the foundation phase group that is considering ‘enabling steps’ for 3-4 year olds as part of the Curriculum for Wales.
Prior to joining the Consortium in 2013, Ruth was the Early Literacy Co-ordinator for the Cardiff Literacy Strategy, which enabled her to combine her two passions of literacy and early years’ development.
Ruth is particularly passionate about developing children’s oracy skills and encourages schools to develop a culture of oracy to enable every child to communicate confidently and competently.
Outside of work, Ruth enjoys spending time with her two grandchildren. She is a keen reader and is a frequent visitor to the theatre.
Emma Dermody - Welsh in Education Team Manager
Emma is a Welsh in Education Officer supporting English medium primary schools across the region.
Before joining the Consortium, Emma worked with Welsh in Education teams in Gwent and the Vale of Glamorgan. During her career, she has been part of the national WJEC Welsh in Education working party and steering groups to create Welsh teaching materials for the English medium sector.
Currently, Emma is seconded as the CSC Welsh in Education Team Manager. She coordinates its work in the region’s English and Welsh medium schools and facilitates a range of professional development offered by the team.
Emma is very proud to play a part in the national strategy to achieve a million Welsh speakers by 2050.
Alyson Price - Business Manager
Alyson is the Business Manager for the Central South Consortium. Her main responsibilities are to manage the corporate and business operational functioning of the Consortium while ensuring organisational efficiency and effectiveness. Alyson manages the Business Support Team and works closely with the Senior Leadership Team to ensure collaborative working in order to secure the successful implementation of the business plan.
Alyson was previously a Group Accountant for the Host Authority Rhondda Cynon Taff CBC and was instrumental in setting up and supporting the financial framework and reporting structure for Central South Consortium when it began in 2002. Further to supporting the Consortium in that role Alyson then joined Central South Consortium full time in 2005 in the role of Senior Accountant. Alyson was successful in creating the new EIG formula for the Consortium when Welsh Government merged 11 former Education grants into one.
Alyson is a Community Governor in a school within our region and plays an active part in supporting school improvement. In her spare time Alyson enjoys running and spending time with her children.
Caryl Stokes - Data, Quality and Intelligence Unit Manager
Caryl Stokes is the Head of the Data, Quality and Intelligence Unit in the Central South Consortium with responsibility for the strategic development of data and intelligence across the region. The intelligence of the unit ensures that the Consortium can be proactive in its assessment of the strength of the region and all its’ stakeholders and enable partners to design strategic responses to meet needs.
Prior to working for Central South Consortium, Caryl was the Statistics and Information Officer at the Education and School Improvement Service (ESIS) and had sole responsibility for collecting and analysing data across the four Local Authorities of Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf. Caryl’s role at ESIS included the establishment of a data analysis service across all schools in the 4 LAs that provided consistent information for all these schools.
Caryl represents the Consortium on various groups both within and across the regions and liaises with other external organisations in relation to school data developments and has also worked on secondment to Welsh Government on two separate occasions.
Craig Flynn - Senior Accountant
Craig was appointed Senior Accountant within the Central South during June 2017. Craig holds strategic and operational responsibility for all aspects of Finance within the Consortium along with the development and deployment / allocation of all external funding models. Ensuring that financial accounting, reporting and planning requirements of the Consortium are effectively delivered is a key area of responsibility.
Prior to working for Central South Consortium Craig began in his career in local government back in 1992 - working in various financial roles across local government departments before moving into education finance during the summer of 2005.
Mari Waddington - Communications Manager
Mari Waddington is the Communications Manager for Central South Consortium and has been in the role since February 2019. She is a fluent Welsh speaker and award-wining communications specialist with more than a decade of experience in PR and brand marketing communications and she has distinguished herself in a variety of PR consultancy and in-house roles in Wales and at UK levels, delivering dynamic and creative campaigns for both public and private sectors.
She has led effective integrated communication campaigns for several clients within the education sector including Agored Cymru, the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills (DCELLS) Anelu’n Uwch / Aim Higher campaign, WDA, the Welsh Language Board’s Taith Iaith Gwaith campaign, Welsh for Adults, Cardiff Design Festival, Skills Cymru, the General Teaching Council for Wales (GTCW), Basic Skills Cymru, S4C Digital switchover campaign and City & Guilds.
Mari has also worked as the Welsh language communications specialist on behalf of several clients including the National Grid, Sainsbury’s and Wind Turbine companies during their public consultation planning processes held across Wales.