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.

Previously, Tim was Director of Education and an honorary Canon of Ely 1998-2012. 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.

His 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).

Tim is a Mancunian and often travels north to spend time among Yorkshire hills and with his family.

07813 082071

Administration Team

Jill Smylie

Education Support Officer

Working days: Wed, Thu, Fri

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

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.

01245 294441

Michelle Cottis

Education Support Officer

Working days: Mon, Tue, Wed

Michelle joined the team in 2020, supporting the Education Team. Michelle is responsible for our communications, managing the E-Bulletin newsletter, our CDBE website and social media.

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.

In her spare time, Michelle leads the worship team at her local church and is currently taking the Course in Christian Studies. She enjoys taking the family dog on long countryside walks, whatever the weather!

01245 294441

Children and Early Years Team

Ann Sharp

Early Years Adviser

Working days: Mon, Wed, Fri

Anns 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!'    

07548 586572

School Advisers

Carrie Prior

Schools Team Leader & Schools Adviser

Working days: Full time

Carrie joined the Education Team in September 2018.

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.

Carrie enjoys cooking, reading, being in the countryside and living in her village community in rural Essex with her family.

07583 032694

Heather Tetchner

Schools Adviser – School Improvement

Working days: Wed, Thu, Fri

Heather joined the team in 2017 after working for Essex County Council for 39 years, during which time she was a headteacher for 27 years.

She offers 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

Working days: Mon, Tues (term time only)

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

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

In her free time she likes to exercise, travel and enjoy good food with friends and family.

07972 108483

Richard Hopkins

Schools Adviser

Working days: Tues, Wed, Thu

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.

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.

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

07976 208498

Ruth Everett

Schools Adviser – RE Lead

Working days: Full time

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

As SIAMS Manager, Graham oversees our church school inspection programme. He works in a part-time capacity as an Education Consultant. 

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.

Mike Simmonds

Governance Consultant 

Mike's works as governance consultant for the Diocese of Chelmsford as well as St Albans and 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.  

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.  

Mike loves reading, watching films and preaching in a diversity of churches.