Our Team

All schools within SAST are equal partners. The Headteachers, senior staff, middle leaders, teachers and non-teaching staff all make a significant contribution to their own schools and more widely. SAST has Members and Trustees who have been appointed on the basis of their skills, expertise and experience.


Nigel Rees, Chair of Trustees

The Chair of the Trustees is Nigel Rees who  has over 30 years’ experience as a Chair of Governors.

Nigel was designated as a National Leader of Governance in February 2016 and developed strong links with Dorset Local Authority, Salisbury CofE Diocese, and Bath and Wells CofE Diocese, which has enabled him to support the Governing Bodies in twelve primary and secondary schools since designation, outside SAST.


Steve Hillier, CEO

The Executive Head and CEO is Steve Hillier, who is a National Leader of Education. He has been teaching for 30 years, a senior leader for 20 years including 10 years as Headteacher.



Steve Smith, Head of School Improvement and Deputy CEO

Steve Smith joined SAST in July 2019.

Prior to joining the trust, Steve was one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors. He inspected different types of school across the primary and secondary age ranges, including independent schools. He also inspected teacher-training institutions. Before joining Ofsted, Steve was a senior leader for 14 years, five of which were as a headteacher. Steve continues to inspect for Ofsted.


Chris Vigar, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Following a 10 year career in NHS finance, Chris Vigar joined the Trust in November 2012 as Deputy Bursar for The Gryphon School.  Chris subsequently became Bursar for the school in September 2015.

On formation of Sherborne Area Schools’ Trust in June 2017, Chris was appointed as Head of Finance for the Trust.

Chris is a member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), and has completed a Diploma in School Business Management.


Catherine Watson, Head of HR

Catherine Watson is an HR practitioner and has enjoyed a varied career. She has 20 years’ experience in business-related roles in the private and charitable sectors, before a move into education in 2014 as HR Manager for The Gryphon School. She was appointed as Head of HR upon conversion to a MAT in June 2017. Catherine is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and an experienced school governor.

“Working in education really matters to me. The brilliant staff here in the trust make a real difference to the outcomes of children in our local communities. I’m proud to be part of that work.”


Neil Burroughs, Head of IT

Neil heads up the SAST IT team, which provides technical support to staff and students. Development of the Trust’s IT infrastructure is a priority to maximise the benefits of technology for teaching and learning and using creative technical solutions to support how we work.


Mick Clark, Head of Health, Safety and Estates Compliance

Mick Clark joined SAST in July 2019.

Prior to joining SAST, Mick has worked in a number of varied roles to develop his experience within Health, Safety and Compliance roles. Most recently, this included work on the Hinkley Point C – Nuclear New Build, where he was responsible for all aspects of H&S compliance within one of the project’s tier 1 contractors. Mick also brings with him experience gained in construction, adult FE, and international risk management roles.



Bella Byrne, Governance Manager & Data Protection Officer

Bella Byrne joined the SAST Central team in 2018. Prior to this she worked for ten years in technical litigation support and data management within the commercial sector. Bella has worked within education for 13 years in teaching and business support roles. A qualified Data Protection Practitioner, experienced governance trainer and Clerk, Bella advises SAST schools on academy governance, information management and policy compliance matters. Outside of the Trust, Bella is a Co-Opted Governor in a mainstream school and enjoys running and interior design.


Kirsty Heap, Head of Operations

As Head of Operations, Kirsty provides strategic and operational support for organisational development projects in SAST and supports the CEO.



Holly George, Trust PR & Marketing Manager

Holly joined The Gryphon School in 2016 and has since taken on a wider role across the Trust. With 14 years marketing and communications experience, having previously worked in IT services across Europe, and then the UK social housing sector, Holly brings a broad skill set to SAST. Her remit covers external communication, marketing campaigns, PR, photography, branding, websites and social media, as well as providing advice and support to our SAST schools.

Holly is CIM qualified with a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing, as well as a Masters Degree in International Business.



Angela Swain, HR Advisor & Executive Support

Angela has over 18 years experience in HR in both the private and public sector.  For the past 13 years Angela has worked for Dorset Council in a number of HR roles.  During this time Angela has supported schools across Dorset as well as managers within the Council on a wide range of HR related matters.  Angela has also lectured at Yeovil College on their HR Apprenticeship Programme and the Level 3 CIPD Certificate.  Angela is an Associate Member of the CIPD and in her spare time when not looking after her two young children, she is a keen runner and last year completed her first sprint triathlon.


Contact Us

For more information or to get in touch:

01935 811066
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