Our people

Our board

An independent board oversees the Doncaster Opportunity Area. It brings together talented and committed senior leaders from schools, communities, business and central and local government. These individuals bring experience, insight, and ambition for Doncaster and its young people.

To support the board, we have established working groups to help deliver the activities set out in each of the priorities. The Partnership Board meet regularly to oversee progress, working alongside the DfE and other national organisations to ensure the programme is coherent, effective and represents good value for money.

Our chair

Chris Husbands Chair Doncaster

Professor Sir Chris Husbands

Professor Sir Chris Husbands is a university leader, academic, educationalist and public servant. His expertise in educational policy and improvement led to his appointment as CoChair of the former Doncaster Education and Skills Board. He became Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University in January 2016 and has been leading work across the region to drive improvements in education and skills – particularly through the South Yorkshire Futures programme.

Partnership Board members

Professor Samantha Twiselton

  • Professor Samantha Twiselton is the Director of Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University. In this role she uses her research and practice in the development of teacher expertise to develop a range of innovative workplace embedded approaches to Initial and Continuing Teacher development. Sam has been heavily involved in influencing Government policy on teacher education and was recently a member of the advisory panel for the Department for Education Carter Review of ITT in England and the DfE Expert Behaviour Management Panel chaired by Tom Bennett.
  • Role on the board: Vice-Chair, Teacher recruitment and retention and overarching.

Riana Nelson

  • Riana Nelson is Director of Learning, Education and Skills at Doncaster Council.
  • Role on the board: Overarching

Helen Bellinger

  • Helen Bellinger is Director of the Doncaster Research School, Director of Strategic Development & School Improvement – Partners in Learning, and an experienced headteacher
  • Role on the board: Priority 1 – Narrowing the gap at primary, and overarching

Adam Dale

  • Adam Dale is Headteacher of Campsmount Academy and CEO of Leger Education Trust.
  • Role on the board: Priority 2 – Improving teaching and learning at secondary

Dan Fell

  • Dan Fell is Chief Executive of Doncaster Chamber of Commerce
  • Role on the board: Priority 3 – No Careers Out of Bounds

Anne Tyrell

  • Anne Tyrell is Chief Executive of the DN Colleges Group, which includes Doncaster College
  • Role on the board: Priority 3 – No Careers Out of Bounds


James Thomas

  • Andy Hood is a Senior Head of Service at Doncaster Chjames-thomasildren’s Services Trust
  • Role on the board: Priority 4 – Opportunities extend to all

Beryce Nixon

  • Beryce Nixon is a Nation Leader of Education (NLE) and Chief Executive of the Exceed Learning Partnership MAT
  • Role on the board: Priority 1 – Narrowing the gap at primary




The meetings are also attended by the Regional Schools Commissioner for East Midlands and the Humber.



In addition in attendance are Department for Education members of staff, who provide advice and support to the partnership board.

Internal Team Members and Roles

Paul Roberts

  • Head of Delivery for the Doncaster Opportunity Area a the Department for Education. As Head of Delivery, Paul has the strategic oversight for all of the Doncaster Opportunity Area programme. He is responsible for the strategic direction, delivery and resources of the Doncaster Opportunity Area.
  • Contact: PaulR.Roberts@education.gov.uk

Robin MacNeill

  • Programme Manager at Doncaster Council. As Programme Manager Robin oversees the Opportunity Area’s work on Priority 2: Improving teaching and learning at secondary and Priority 3: No Careers Out of Bounds as well as having a programme wide oversight role in relation to the budget.
  • Contact: Robin.MacNeill@doncaster.gov.uk

Marie Leadbitter

  • Programme Manager at Department for Education. As well as supporting our work on Priority 1: Narrowing the gap at primary and Priority 4: Opportunities extend to all, Marie leads work with teacher recruitment and retention.
  • Contact: Marie.Leadbitter@education.gov.uk

Saul Farrell

  • Programme Manager at Doncaster Council. Saul provides programme management support for the team as well as supporting Robin with Priority 3: No Careers Out of Bounds. Saul leads on our primary aspirations work and higher education engagement.
  • Contact: Saul.Farrell@doncaster.gov.uk

Lee Douglas

  • Careers Hub Lead at Doncaster Council. Lee leads on our Careers Hub.
  • Contact: Lee.Douglas@doncaster.gov.uk