Board of Trustees Profiles

Joan Binder

Joan has been associated with Plume for many years and with Paul Nagle is Co-Chair of the Board of Trustees. Her professional background is in education; she is a qualified teacher of Home Economics and has a BA English degree and taught for three years at Plume in the 1970s.

Joan was involved at a national level with FASNA (Freedom and Autonomy for Schools National Association) and has had a guide to Effective Governance published. She regularly gives presentations at national conferences and events about the role of trustees or governors and about the conversion process to change status to an academy and also sits on a number of Department for Education advisory groups.

She attended Maldon Grammar School, the precursor of Plume, and her daughter is a Plume alumnus. She feels very strongly that Plume should be an integral part of the Maldon community with a vision to ensure that all local young people are equipped with the skills, aptitudes and knowledge to succeed in the 21st century.

Joan’s interests include sport (now mainly confined to spectating), swimming, theatre visits and socialising with friends - particularly in one of the many local coffee shops.

Mike Chaplin

Mike has been a teacher since 1975, he started in the East End (Tower Hamlets) and over the years has held various posts of responsibility in education in different parts of the country. He also spent a short while working for a Global IT Company.

Mike has retired from teaching but occasionally provides supply cover for schools. Mike wants to see the Plume further develop for the wider community for students of all abilities. His interests include fishing and he is a water bailiff for two local fishing clubs and works closely with the Environmental Agency. He combines bailiff duties with long walks with his dogs. His other interests include gardening and model railways.

John Everard

John is a qualified Engineer who has worked in the manufacturing industry from apprenticeship into Senior Management positions. He now runs his own Engineering Consultancy business. He has been a trustee at Plume for over 20 years and is Vice-Chair of Trustees. John is also a member of the Audit and Personnel Committees and is Chair of the Pay Committee. He is the trustee link for Student Voice and monitors a range of Key Performance areas, including leadership and management and students’ personal development, behaviour and welfare. John has had two sons attend the school, both of whom now work in London; he still has several nephews and nieces at the school. John’s other local interests include playing golf, his home and garden. His vision for the future is to see Plume become the school of choice for those living in the local area.

Mark Howell

Mark is an IT professional with 40 years’ experience. He has worked in many industry sectors including Automotive, Banking, Stock Broking, Pharmaceuticals, Oil, local government and charity. He has been a school trustee since 1997, and is currently a trustee both at both Plume and Maldon Primary. Mark is the link trustee for Health and Safety, Chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Strategic Development Committee. Mark has a daughter and niece at the school; another niece left recently to attend the University of Sussex. Mark moved to Maldon in 2004 and his local interest is focused on the Chelmer & Blackwater canal where he has a boat moored. His many interests include improving the local environment. Mark’s vision for the Plume is that is the first choice for Maldon parents - he expects the school to play a key part in ensuring that its students have the key skills required to lead a rewarding life.

Elliot Judge

Elliott has lived in the Maldon District for 15 years and as of September 2018, his daughter started in year 7 at the academy. As a serving Police Officer with Essex Police he holds the position of Detective Superintendent within the Crime and Public Protection Command. This role provides him with the opportunity to lead on key areas that are important to him including safeguarding, mental health and domestic abuse. He hopes to use his 27 years of working with and serving the community of Essex to ensure that our children are safe and receive the best opportunity to maximise their potential.

Jill McKinnell

Jill is a Business Manager in a Chelmsford primary school and prior to this was an Operations Manager for Lloyds Bank.  Jill is currently Chair of the Personnel Committee and a member of the Admissions, Finance & Estates and Pay Committees. Jill also helps to monitor several Key Performance areas. Her interest in the Plume began as a parent with sons who had a love of performing arts and languages, two areas of the academy that have produced and encouraged many talented students over the years. After attending the Sixth Form, both Jill’s sons went on to study at Russell Group universities. Now her interest as a trustee is with the leadership and management of the school and its on-going improvement to ensure its place as the first school of choice for families in Maldon.

Paul Nagle

Paul has worked within a wide variety of Public Sector organisations over 26 years as an Accountant, Audit and Risk Management specialist and more recently in Change Management. He has also served as a Treasurer and Trustee for SWANS, the local disability support charity. Paul has been a trustee at Plume since September 2014 and is now Co-Chair of Trustees alongside Joan Binder.  Paul has been actively involved with the Pay Committee, was formerly Chair of the Finance and Estates Committee and is also a member of the Strategic Development Committee. His other interests have been the quality of teaching and sustaining the excellent facilities the academy is able to offer its students. He has lived in Maldon for the past 17 years and has three teenagers all whom have benefited immensely from a Plume education. He feels passionate about the Plume continuing to thrive and providing a first class education and development opportunities for students of all abilities, so making it the first choice for parents in the Maldon area.

Adrian Stead

Adrian has an MBA from Warwick Business School and is currently a UK Finance Manager within the Automotive Industry. His most recent professional experience includes management positions in Finance, Business Strategy and Corporate Transactions. Adrian has lived in Maldon for more than 20 years, he has a son at Plume Academy and joined the Board of Trustees in September 2016, becoming Chair of the Finance and Estates Committee in September 2018. Adrian has a particular interest in the advancement of excellence at Plume and the ability to attract and develop young people who are determined to achieve their full potential. In his leisure time, Adrian is a triathlete and keen spectator of many other sports, Rugby Union in particular.

Debbie Thomas

Debbie is a qualified Management Consultant who has worked in the property, consultancy and legal sectors for over 25 years and currently runs her own consultancy business covering legal training services for solicitors and barristers,while also being a business development manager for a local museum. Debbie is Chair of the Strategic Development Committee and is also a member of the Audit, Personnel and Finance & Estate Committees and monitors a range of key performance areas, including overall effectiveness, leadership and management and Plume College. Debbie’s daughter attended Plume and is now undertaking a Law degree. Her vision for the future is to see Plume provide outstanding teaching in an environment which ensures students are motivated, stimulated to learn and achieve their best, provide the best opportunities to move into higher education or employment, ensure the academy is the first choice for those living in the local area and be an important part of the local community.

Clare Whitaker

Clare graduated from Exeter University with a degree in French and Spanish before joining City Insurance Brokers Willis Ltd as a graduate trainee. She worked in this sector for 15 years, joining Heath Lambert in 2001 where she specialised in PFI projects, gaining a great deal of experience in risk and insurance requirements of banks and government bodies in major school, healthcare and prison construction projects.  She is currently working as the Agency Manager of a Lloyd’s underwriting agency.


 Clare has a son and a daughter at the academy and is keen to help forge stronger links between the academy, its students and their Parents/Carers.  She has frequently attended Parent Voice meetings and is particularly interested in helping the academy to ensure the wellbeing of all its students so that they may best achieve their aims – academically as well as in sport or any other area.  She is committed to helping the team of Trustees to achieve the aim of making Plume the academy of choice for Maldon and surrounding villages.  Her interests include tennis, walking her dogs on the stunning sea wall in and around Tollesbury and helping with the local sailing club.

Steven Watterston

Steven has worked in education for 25 years. He has held many positions including teacher of Physical Education, Head of Department in the Secondary sector and Director of Teaching & Learning and most recently Associate Director of Quality improvement in the Further Education sector.

Key strengths to bring to the role centre around data analysis and teaching and learning.

Originating from Dundee on the East coast of Scotland, he has lived happily in Maldon for 17 years.

He has two children at Plume Academy and is confident that that they will be successful at the academy and hopes as a Trustee, he can help to ensure all students at the academy are successful and are ready to move to the next steps of their lives.

His interests include sport (armchair fan) but participates in walking, cycling and golf. Other interests include music particularly Scottish music and classical music.

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Fambridge Road, Maldon,

Essex, CM9 6AB

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