Academies are schools funded by the government with the freedom to govern independently – but all are accountable to the Secretary of State for Education. To share resources and best practice, many are part of multi-academy trusts – a network of schools under one legal body.

Ark Atwood Primary Academy is part of Ark - a leading education charity and one of the country’s top-performing academy operators. Ark is non-denominational and does not make any profit from running its schools.

The Ark Schools Articles of Association, Master Funding Agreement and Accountabilities Framework can be found on the Ark Schools website. Ark’s relationship with the Secretary of State is set out in the master funding agreement. There are also supplemental funding agreements for each individual school in the network, including Ark Atwood.

PDF iconArk Atwood Supplemental Funding Agreement 2011

Every school in the Ark network is the legal responsibility of the Ark Schools board. This board focuses on statutory duties and delegates most day-to-day responsibilities to each school’s individual Local Governing Body (LGB). This means that, unlike in most non-academy governing bodies, Ark Atwood's governors are able to concentrate on the things that really matter – educational strategy, school outcomes and aspiration.

Our local governing body

Ark Atwood Primary Academy’s LGB is made up as follows:

Six-10 members appointed by Ark, to include the Chair – usually people with a local connection or interest who are committed to supporting educational opportunity in the area:

  • Ark Atwood Primary Academy Principal
  • One elected parent governor
  • One elected teaching staff governor
  • One elected non-teaching staff governor
  • One Local Authority representative from Westminster

Governors are appointed/elected for three year terms. 

Ark Schools aims to create a balanced group that will have the right skills, connections and dynamic for the LGB to work well and support the school in achieving exceptional performance:

  • Good insight into the specific challenges at the school and the general challenges of operating top-quality schools
  • Excellent community links
  • Specific skills as needed by/relevant to the school
  • A link to the senior executive team of Ark Schools

Contacting the governors

The LGB meets four times a year.

The current Clerk to Governors is Cathi Hughes ( 

Governors can be contacted through the Clerk and the Parent Governor can be contacted through the school office.

If you are interested in becoming a governor or have any governance-related queries, please visit the Ark website or contact

Current governors

Daniel Upfield (Executive Principal)

James Evelyn (Head of School)

Sophie Taylor (Chair)

Sophie is a Civil Servant, and currently works as Head of the Permanent Secretary’s office and Board Secretariat at the Department for Education. She has worked in government since 2006, including roles on finance, Academies policy and delivery, and as Private Secretary to successive Secretaries of State. Sophie is passionate about education and the transformative effect it can have on children’s lives. She lives in North West London, and is interested in current affairs, sports and the arts. She is bilingual in English and Spanish, and fluent in French.

Vipul Bhargava (Fundraising Governor)

Vipul Bhargava is the founder and CEO of GILT Education, an education focussed consulting and advisory firm based in London, United Kingdom. Vipul also serves as a specialist advisor to UK’s Department for International Trade leading on Education Technology, International Schools and Early Years. He works with many education businesses working on projects as diverse as international growth, capital raising, mergers and acquisitions and strategic advisory. 

Vipul has more than 10 years’ experience in the global education industry. Prior to founding GILT Education, Vipul served as Global Vice President at Education First (EF) where he helped grow an online language learning business across Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Asia. 

Vipul holds an MBA from London Business School and undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science. 

Vipul has been a parent of the school for the last 5 years with 2 children currently at Ark Atwood Primary Academy.

Jose Diaz (Ark Link Governor & Data Link Governor)

Jose is the Head of Systems at Ark Schools. He has strategic oversight over information systems and has provided operational leadership for systems management across Ark Schools. He works with the internal education team, Principals, assessment leads and other key stakeholders to continuously improve internal data systems. He also leads the design and development of other various in-house developed systems.

Alisa Hall (Parent Governor)

Alisa relocated from Australia to the United Kingdom with her family in early 2018. Her daughter Lucy began school at Ark Atwood Primary Academy in September 2018 in Reception. Lucy and the family have settled well in the Maida Vale area and the UK, and are happy to report have got through their first winter! 

Professionally Alisa has 25 years experience working in the health, aged, education and community support industries in a variety of roles. She has qualifications in social work, management, governance and international public health. Her most recent role was that of CEO of a Community Based Organisation providing social care services and education programs to local areas. 

Alisa has sat on local community boards previously and is interested in contributing to the school community by working collaboratively with others, through the role of Parent Governor from the perspective of a parent and a local community member.

Amin Hashemi (Finance Link Governor)

Amin Hashemi works at J.P. Morgan Private Bank as the Senior Investment Advisor who oversees the Middle East Investment Desk in London. Prior to J.P. Morgan, Amin worked at Barclays in London and New York. At Barclays, Amin co-headed a banking team and held the position of Senior Investment Advisor. He also worked at Lehman Brothers as a portfolio manager and at Morgan Stanley analysing large cap companies. Amin began his career in Investment Banking in Salomon Smith Barney’s healthcare group in New York. Since moving to the UK, Amin has taken a keen interest in the UK education system and has a strong passion and belief that everyone should have access to the highest level of education, regardless of background. Amin graduated from McGill University with academic distinction and is both a CFA charterholder and a CFP professional. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.

Clair Ponte (Safeguarding Link Governor)

Clair is a barrister, mother of three and was formerly the Parent Governor for Ark Atwood. She strongly believes that education has the power to transform the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable children and wants to contribute something to a school which was trying to achieve that goal. For the past two years, she has been Counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (specialising in its work on children living in residential care). This has provided her with further insight into how some children are critically limited (from the outset of life) through the absence of stable, family life or other care.

Ella Robertson (Local Authority Representative & SEND Link Governor)

Ella Robertson is a London-based charity director, passionate about ensuring that education enables children to achieve their potential and gain equal access to opportunities. Ella is the Managing Director of One Young World, a global charity developing young leaders in 196 countries. Responsible for International Affairs, Ella organises One Young World's annual Summit which takes place in a different city every year ensuring that it creates maximum impact: over 15 million people have been impacted by One Young World since 2010. Ella read English at Oxford where she was on the Standing Committee of the Oxford Union. Ella represented Scotland at the World Debating Championships and loves teaching debating in schools in order to help children develop confidence and communication skills. 

Jane Noonan-Chatham (Teaching Staff Governor)

Year 3 teacher at Ark Atwood and current Literacy Lead for the school. Having trained as a speech and language therapist, I am passionate about securing success for all groups of learners. I feel strongly that Literacy should be available for all and view the skill of reading as a pathway to success for children. As a teacher, I relentlessly pursue excellence for all children in my class, and strive to disseminate this across the teaching cohort. As a reflective practitioner, I am always on the 'look out' to improve my own practice.

Eleanor Vidal (Non-Teaching Staff Governor)

Eleanor is the Lead Teaching Assistant at Ark Atwood Primary Academy.


All appointments are made by the Governance Manager for Ark Schools. The term of a governor is three years, except for the Principal, who remains a governor for the duration of his or her time in post. Governors may be reappointed for further terms.

The register of interests and attendance information for governors can be found here: PDF iconArk Atwood - Governor Attendance & Register of Interests 2017-18.pdf