South East Essex Academy Trust

Our Trustees

Neal Misell (Chair)

Neal is a qualified accountant and has held a variety of senior leadership roles in the government services industry covering emergency services, defence and education. Consequently he has experience of working with several UK Government departments as well as with national and regional governments across Europe. Neal was born in Rochford and currently lives in Leigh on Sea. He is married with three adult sons.

Sandra Johnson (Vice Chair)

Sandra has over 40 years experience in education having retired as an Independent School Consultant where she supported schools preparing for Ofsted in addition to training and reviewing governance. Prior to this Sandra was Quadrant Commissioner for Essex County Council and held advisory roles in School Improvement and Curriculum Development.  Sandra stepped down as Director of Board at Benfleet Schools Trust in July 2022 and is a Board member of N-Act and an Ambassador for the David Randall Foundation. 

Julie Hardy

Julie is a CIPD qualified Senior Human Resources professional with over 20 years’ experience working with senior leaders in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Her current assignment is with a Local Authority on the south coast as their Strategic HR Lead.

Julie has held a number of HR roles in the education sector, most recently with Anglia Ruskin University in Essex. She was also a Parent Governor at a local Primary School in Shoebury.

She is passionate about giving young people every opportunity to achieve their full potential and has taken part in a number of careers and interview days for students at local High Schools to support this. She also participates in the CIPD Steps Ahead mentoring scheme which provides advice and support to young people taking their first steps into the workplace.

Hassan Shami

Hassan has worked in the public sector for most of his career in various roles in education, the civil service, and local authority.  He began his career in Further Education (FE) where he managed Student Support Services and Marketing for a number of years.  Subsequent to that, he worked as a Partnership Director for the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) as well as the local FE College and various national apprenticeship providers.  He is currently a Commissioner for Skills and Employment at Essex County Council where he works with partner organisations to promote, commission and manage Skills, Employment and Economic Growth in the County. Hassan is also a Governor of a Pupil Referral Unit in Suffolk.

Amanda Solomons

Amanda is a former senior retail banking leader, with over twenty years’ experience of school governance, as both a governor and trustee across primary and secondary phases. She was chair of governors for four years at Westcliff High School for Girls, stepping down in September 2022. A company secretary and director, Amanda also consults with businesses, supporting them with finance and project delivery. 

While raising her two children, now grown, she was active in the charity sector, supporting families and working alongside education settings. She also wrote and delivered workshops for working parents within corporate organisations in the City.

Dale Spiby

Dale is currently the Chief Executive Officer at Southend United Community and Educational Trust, prior to which he was Head of Community at Rotherham United Community Sports Trust. Dale is the Chairman of both Southend Diving and Southend United Ladies and is passionate about using sport to address community development issues. Over a 28-year career, Dale has lead organisations to acquire, and deliver community initiatives across areas such as education, community cohesion, equality, discrimination, inclusion, sport and health. 

Sonia Worthington 

After graduating Sonia worked at the BBC for 12 years in International Relations and in the BBC Secretariat where she worked on governance matters. She then managed the Thurrock Family Services Unit providing a range of therapeutic counselling services to families and, for the past 20 years has worked at Rochford District Council managing Democratic & Corporate Services. 

Should you wish to view copies of minutes from Trust Board meetings, please email