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Dartford Cooperative Learning Trust

Dr Ajay Sharman Chair of Trustees

Dr Sharman is Regional Lead for STEM Learning Ltd across London & South East. Dr Sharman manages the key operations for STEM Learning across the region, including; managing the STEM Ambassadors programme, volunteers from a wide range of STEM related jobs and disciplines across the UK, offering their time and enthusiasm to help bring STEM subjects to life and demonstrate the value of them in life and careers; managing nine Science Learning Partnerships, supporting continuing professional development for teaching staff and the STEM Clubs programme. The organization ensures all young people have a positive attitude to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), so that they are more likely to choose STEM careers in the future.

Previously Dr Sharman was Technical Director of Viridian, commercialising solutions for treatment of contaminated air, land and water, winning Kent Business Innovation and Environmental Awards. Dr Sharman then joined an FMCG, Reckitt Benckiser, as Global Technology Manager, in Household Cleaning and Healthcare, specialising in Biologics. This was followed, by a Commercial Technology role at Oxford, before supporting and leading on SEEDA’s STEM skills agenda before moving to STEMNET. Dr Sharman has been Chair of Governors at Parkside Community School in Canterbury for over 4 years, overseeing two Ofsted inspections. He remains a Governor at the Whitstable School, in addition to his role as Chair of Trustees at the Dartford Science & Technology College. He is a passionate sportsman, playing squash, golf and football in his spare time, often seen cheering on his beloved Chelsea at the Bridge!

Joanne Sangster

Joanne Sangster is the Principal of Dartford Science and Technology College. Joanne spent most of her career in Inner London schools in Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and Newham, before moving to Bexley. Joanne has had a range of leadership roles in the schools she has worked in including Head of Department, Head of Year, Assistant Headteacher and two very diverse Deputy Headship roles.

Joanne has taught in coeducation and single education schools and led on behaviour and attitudes, personal development and quality of education leading to a holistic understanding of leadership and management. Joanne is passionate about girls' education and committed to closing the gender gap at every level and in every industry, especially in the world of STEM. Joanne joined DSTC as Principal in September 2023.

Geoff Prout

Geoff was educated at Dartford Grammar School, the London School of Economics and the University Of Exeter. Geoff taught History and International Politics for 37 years at a local secondary school and held various pastoral positions. Previously Geoff was a school Governor at both primary and secondary school level.

Geoff  has been a Local Authority Governor at DSTC since 2016, serving as Safeguarding Governor and now Chair of Governors. Geoff also served as a Local Authority Councillor for 20 years in Dartford. Geoff has a  wide range of sporting and cultural interests.


Tony Smith

Tony Smith is an educational consultant, supporting school improvement, curriculum development and the raising of achievement.  Before retiring from full-time employment, he was Headteacher of Dartford Grammar School for 23 years.

 Previously, he had worked in Essex, starting his career as a teacher in a coastal high school and going on to be Head of English in two comprehensive schools and Deputy Head in a third.  


Susan Pearson

Susan Pearson is a CIPD qualified HR professional, having completed the PGDip in 2007 with the
University of London. She also graduated with a BSc degree in Russian with International Business and Economics from the University of Surrey. In 2012, Susan founded her own HR Consultancy company, supporting small to medium sized companies with their HR requirements. Focussing on both the strategic planning of HR as well as the inevitable reactive HR challenges that businesses encounter.

Susan has worked with The Education People since 2018 as an Enterprise Adviser, and has been
working alongside DSTC in this capacity since January 2019. Susan is also Vice Chairperson on the Board of the London Chapter for the British & Irish TradingAlliance (BITA), a non-profit making organisation.

Lorraine Smith

University of Greenwich, Programme Leader for Secondary and Lifelong Learning Teacher Education.

After completing my PGCE at Durham University, I worked in Toyohashi, Japan for a couple of years teaching English to a wide age range of learners and in different contexts. After returning to the UK I completed my induction as a secondary science teacher in Buckinghamshire. At this time I progressed to subject leader and head of department roles. Since completing my EdD I moved into higher education at the University of Greenwich as the science subject leader then the programme leader for secondary and lifelong learning teacher education where my experience of secondary education and working with other age ranges in other contexts have been beneficial.

David Knox

David has worked for The Education People and Kent County Council for the last eighteen years and has worked previously with different training providers. He has worked in the apprenticeship arena for the last 20 years, David has a wealth of experience, knowledge and since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy has been working with schools to understand how they can best use the levy.

David has gained a range of experience in the welfare to work arena, managing a variety of different back to work programmes from work experience, work tasters to apprenticeships across the county. David’s been working on employer engagement across the county and developing the apprenticeship offer to promote the benefits of apprenticeships to schools, young people, parents and businesses. His role is to create and develop county wide opportunities for apprenticeships and work experience through employer engagement, partnership working, within KCC and other local authorities for the benefit of the local community.

He has worked on different trailblazer groups in the development of new apprenticeship standards. He is a director of KATO (Kent Association of Training Organisations) working with the local training providers in Kent, to help support the development of the training available across the county. Working to provide strategic overview and facilitating collaborative activities between education providers, training providers and employers to support the progression into the world of work.

Lee Philips

Lee Phillips is the National Director of Coop Schools, the national membership organisation for all schools that are cooperative.

The purpose of Coop Schools is to strengthen how schools work together, support schools and Trusts in their development, and be the voice for all cooperative schools nationally, representing all members. Prior to joining Coop Schools in 2020, Lee had spent 26 years in education as a secondary English teacher, school leader and collaborative school improver. He still works on school improvement, indirectly with Coop Schools and more intentionally with groups of alternative provision schools.

Jonathan Dix

Jonathan Dix trained initially as a chef and worked in a hotel in central London and a variety
of restaurants and outside catering companies. After a change of heart he did a degree in
Theology at Sheffield University and then onto training as a teacher.

After working in Los Angeles for 6 months he returned to begin as an RE teacher in
Orpington. After a few years he started work at the Business Academy Bexley which was the
UK’s first academy and was head of hospitality and catering and also established the RE

Jonathan has now been at DSTC for 16 years and has been instrumental in many new initiatives
in school such as community day and other aspects of community work.
Interests include cooking, eating out, classic 70’s comedy and spending time with his 5