Education Team

Tim Elbourne

Director of Education

The Revd Tim Elbourne came to Chelmsford as Director of Education (DDE) in Jan 2013 and leads the Education Team. 

Tim Chairs the Chaplaincy Council at Anglia Ruskin University and the Grove Education editorial group. He is a Director of Sparrows

Tim was Director of Education and an honorary Canon of Ely 1998-2012.  Previous posts after ordination in 1986 have included University Chaplaincy, Clergy training and Parish roles in rural Yorkshire and inner London. His PGCE was in Secondary English.

Tim is a Mancunian (though he chose to stand on the Liverpool Kop as a teenager in an early act of local nonconformity) and often travels north to spend time among Yorkshire hills and with his delightful small granddaughter and family. However, his summer allegiance remains firmly with Lancashire County Cricket club.

Publications include ‘Church schools: A Mission-Shaped Vision’ (Grove, 2009) ‘Understanding Church Schools’ (Grove 2012) and papers in ‘Anglican Church School Education’ (Bloomsbury, 2013) and ‘Faith Matters’ (Mayhew, 2013).

07813 082071

Administration Team

Bryan Lester

Schools Officer

Bryan's part in the education team is to manage capital finance and land matters for schools. His role requires liaising with the eight Local Authorities within the Diocese on the allocation of funds, most specifically for VA schools who are the direct responsibility of the Diocese, but also having some input into decisions affecting VC and foundation schools.

He is also involved with our multi academy trusts as the company secretary and a director.

Bryan joined the team in 2007 and enjoy working in what is a very changeable and varied role as part of a very supportive and friendly team.

He is a chemistry graduate with a background in IT and education having worked for several years in the Education Department in Essex.

01245 294439

Catherine Forsyth

Education Projects Officer

Catherine is the Education Projects Officer. She previously worked at the CDBF as Project Manager in the Development and Property Department.

Catherine works on school improvement projects, assisting with capital finance and liaising with schools and Local Authorities. She enjoys working as part of a dynamic team and building strong relationships with schools and Trusts.

Catherine has a degree in Business Administration and enjoys exploring new places, looking after animals and spending time with her husband and son.

01245 294440

Jill Smylie

Education Support Officer

Jill joined the Education Department in 2015 and enjoys working as part of a very friendly team. She maintains records of the Foundation Governors appointed by the Diocesan Board of Education and can offer advice relating to the Governing Bodies. She also provides administrative support to the Education Team.

Jill's interests include being involved with her local church as a member of the PCC and helping with Riding For The Disabled and also enjoy a range of sports including ski-ing, pilates and keeping fit.

Jill is multi lingual with a BA Honours in Spanish Studies.

01245 294441

Michelle Cottis

Education Support Officer

Michelle joined the team in 2020, and works part-time Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday's. Alongside supporting the Education Team, Michelle is responsible for our E-Bulletin newsletter and the CDBE website.

Prior to joining the team Michelle worked in the Communications Department at the Bank of England in London. She worked on the Web Team maintaining the site and taking a lead on accessibility. She also has experience in managing Social Media, and has a background in IT.

01245 294441

Children and Early Years Team

Ann Sharp

Ann is the Early Years Advisor for the Diocese and her work involves supporting church pre-school or churches in the Diocese that has under-fives. This may mean working with a new or existing toddler group, a pre-school that has a strong Christian ethos or any other group that may need new ideas to support young children.

Ann finds that working with under-fives is a rewarding career, and one that should be recognised as so very important.  Our youngest children are inquisitive and eager to learn - how great is that!  They soak up information like sponges and these early years groups and activities can define their social and independence skills for later life.

She is eager to visit many groups to offer any support that she can and to nurture our children in God's love and Jesus' compassion, so if you know of anyone who needs help please get in touch.

As Ann says, 'There is one main thing to remember - Always have fun!'

Her working days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.    

07548 586572

School Advisers

Carrie Prior

Schools Adviser

Carrie joined the Education Team in September 2018 as an Adviser.

She has worked in Church of England schools for 15 years, spending over 10 years of those years in Senior Leadership as an Assistant Head, Deputy Head and Headteacher. Most recently this has involved 6 years as head of an Essex Primary School. Carrie joined the school when it had been placed in Special Measures, and within a year, under her leadership, the school reclaimed its good rating and has maintained it ever since.

Alongside Headship Carrie has been busy raising her family. She is married to Damian and has two young children, Bella aged 6 and Theo aged 3. Running a family and a school in tandem has kept her very busy! She enjoys cooking, reading, being in the countryside and living in her village community in rural Essex.

07583 032694

Heather Tetchner

Schools Adviser – School Improvement

Heather joined the team, working on a part-time basis of three days a week (Wednesday - Friday), September 2017 after working for Essex County Council for 39 years in total, during which time she was a headteacher for 27 years.

She can offier advice and support on both a practical and strategic level.  She has led a range of schools rural, town and coastal ranging from a three class primary school, an infant school, a junior school up to a 14 class primary school.

Heather's interests are travel, swimming, gardening, dancing, films, the theatre, reading and is a member of the Wickford Rock Choir.  She is actively involved in her local church being in the church choir and on the PCC.


Helen Craig

Schools Adviser & Collective Worship Lead

Helen joined our Education Team in September 2018 and leads on Collective Worship.

She has been a Headteacher for seventeen years.  She has led two schools and is proud that all her teaching experience has been in Church schools.

She was the first co-headship for the Diocese.  She has led her schools to outstanding SIAMS inspection judgements.  Helen has enjoyed collaborating with other local schools and supporting initial teacher training.

Helen is married to Ian.  She has two sons, Sam and William who are currently at university.  In her free time she likes to exercise, travel and enjoy good food with friends and family.

07972 108483

Richard Hopkins

Schools Adviser

Richard joined the education team in September 2020 after ten years in two consecutive headships in Church of England primary schools in the Diocese of Chelmsford. Richard has also served as a member of the Diocesan Board of Education and a lead inspector for Ofsted in the East of England.

Richard lives in the north of the diocese where he has served in his local parish church as a PCC member, church warden and authorised local preacher.

Richard is married with four children. He enjoys spending time with his greyhound and is a season ticket holder at Colchester United Football Club.

Before becoming a teacher, Richard studied and worked in economics and finance where he developed an interest in the causes of economic disadvantage and their solutions. Richard chose to work in schools in the most economically deprived parts of the diocese in order to develop his understanding of the distinctive role that Church of England schools can play in reducing disadvantage and promoting opportunity and justice. He hopes to continue to promote this agenda in his diocesan adviser role.

Ruth Everett

Schools Adviser – RE Lead

Ruth is a School Adviser and RE Lead.  She has worked in Education since 1984 with the majority of time spent teaching in Essex Primary Schools in a variety of roles, leading a wide range of subjects including English and RE and Senior Leadership.

She has also spent time as a Primary Literacy Consultant involved in local and regional work on phonics and most recently involved in leading a school from special measures to good.  Ruth is a qualified SENCO an area of interest that continues to be explored through the teaching of RE and working with Governors.  Her experience of working with Governing bodies includes being a staff member, LA Governor and more recently a Chair of Governors on a Local Governing Body.

Ruth has served on Governing bodies as a staff member, LA governor and recently taken up the position of Chair in a local school.

Education for Ruth has always been an ongoing learning journey and in Autumn 2017 she began a research based Masters in Religion, Society and Christian Education.

Ruth particularly enjoys participating in variety of forms of worship including singing, playing a selection of musical instruments. She spends what little time she has left with family, friends, walking, reading and cross stitch.

07972 113640

Schools Consultants

Graham Lancaster

SIAMS manager

Graham was a headteacher in Barnet and Hertfordshire prior to spending ten years as a senior adviser for Essex Local Authority. He has a particular interest in school leadership and has worked alongside many headteachers and governors to secure improvement in their overall school effectiveness. Whilst working for Essex he was an active member of SACRE and the Diocesan Board of Education.

He now works in a part-time capacity as an Education Consultant. As SIAMS manager he oversees out church school inspection programme.

Mike Simmonds

Governance Consultant 

Mike Simmonds has 30 years' experience in school leadership / governance across three counties.  He is currently chair of the Directors of a MAT (4 schools).  Mike is also Chair of an IEB for a Church School in the Chelmsford Diocese/ECC and two Local Hubs for the Vine Schools Trust.  

Much of Mike's work is as governance consultant for the Diocese of Chelmsford as well as St Albans as well as both the Vine Schools Trust and the St Albans MAT.  He is part of a team developing Church School governor training for Liverpool Hope University. These roles include delivering training, providing support for schools and governing bodies and creating resources.  More recently Grove Books have published this book 'Church School Governance'. Alongside this he is a conference speaker on governance and the teaching and learning project, What if Learning.  

Married with 11 grandchildren, Mike lives in Hadleigh, Essex and is a member of a sausage club (ask him why!) and loves reading, watching films and preaching in a diversity of churches.