Our Board of Trustees
The Board is responsible for our overall strategy, policy, educational initiatives and development, and for steering AQA to fulfil its educational and charitable objectives. Trustees are drawn from various educational and business bodies to ensure a balance of skills and experience and serve for no more than three terms of three years.
- Justin van Wijngaarden (Chair)
Justin is currently Group Chief Operating Officer at a global financial services organisation, having held other senior roles at many other prominent companies during his career.
In addition to holding an honours degree in Physics from Imperial College, London and an MBA from Durham University Business School, he qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG and is a chartered director. Justin is also a governor at a large secondary school academy in Essex.
- Philippa Hird (Vice-Chair)
Philippa is an independent director with a particular interest in governance, people strategy, recruitment, remuneration and the delivery of complex change. She is currently Chair of the NHS Pay Review Body, Senior Independent Director and Remuneration Committee Chair of Ordnance Survey and Deputy Chair and Remuneration Committee Chair of AQA.
Philippa is a non-executive director of UK Strategic Command, an independent member of the Remunerations Committee of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge and a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Cambridgeshire. As Group Human Resources Director of ITV plc until 2009, Philippa led the consolidation of the regional ITV companies. Prior to that she held general management and then human resources roles in Granada Group Plc.
She began her career in marketing with ICI and has an MA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from The Queen's College Oxford. Philippa has been a non-executive director of HMRC, a Board member of Opportunity Now and of Creative Skillset and Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). She is a Companion of the CIPD and a Fellow of the RSA.
- James Dahl
James graduated from Jesus College Cambridge in 1995 with a degree in Classics. He has taught at a number of leading independent schools and has been Head of Department, Head of Sixth Form, Housemaster, Director of Admissions and Marketing, and Deputy Head (pastoral).
He has worked at Wellington College in Berkshire since 2013, becoming the school’s first internally appointed master in 2019. James has taught GCSE, iGCSE, A-level and IB Diploma throughout his career and is a passionate advocate of holistic models of education. He sits on the Board of Governors at three other schools.
- Dr Ali Hadawi CBE
Since 2011 Ali has been Principal and Chief Executive at Central Bedfordshire College, which offers a range of courses from Level 1 to higher education - including Access courses that ensure students aren't limited by their academic background. Some 85% of its students come from 'deprived postcodes' and Ali is passionate about the college's role in helping transform their students' futures through education.
Ali is also Vice-Chair of the UK-Iraq Further Education Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Strategic Partnership – work for which he received a CBE in 2011 for the successful partnership with further education (FE) colleges in Iraq to deliver education and training.
Ali currently chairs the Central Bedfordshire Skills and Employability Board which brings business, the council and education and training providers together to help close skills gaps; and is a member of the Board of the Association for Research in Post Compulsory Education (ARPCE), a peer-reviewed journal concerned with promoting evidence-based research in post-compulsory education and training. He has also been an Ofsted inspector.
- Colin Hughes (CEO)
Before joining AQA, Colin was at HarperCollins for eight years. During his time there, he was promoted to MD of Collins Learning, merging the Education, Language and Geo divisions of HarperCollins UK, and he launched Collins India. He also chaired the Education Publishers Council from 2014 to 2018.
Find out more about Colin from his Executive team profile
- Elizabeth Kitcatt
Elizabeth joined AQA in 2017, and she is currently the Co-Chair of the Student Advisory Group, Chair of the Curriculum and Assessment Quality Committee and a member of the EDI External Expert Group. She recently stood down from the role of Trustee Sponsor of Safeguarding at AQA.
Elizabeth taught English language and literature to A-level in a range of inner London comprehensives. As Head of English, she led a review of the literary texts studied in her school and established a more diverse range.
In middle and senior leadership roles, Elizabeth developed strong school self-review systems which included data analysis of gender, ethnicity and disadvantage. This enabled the school to put measures in place to address inequalities, leading to outcomes for disadvantaged students in her school which were stronger than those of non-disadvantaged students nationally.
From 2010 to 2021 Elizabeth was Headteacher at The Camden School for Girls in north London, establishing it as one of the most successful state schools in the UK.
Elizabeth holds a degree in Classics and English from the University of Cambridge and a MA in Language and Literature in Education from the Institute of Education, University of London.
A strong supporter of improving educational opportunities and outcomes for girls and young women, Elizabeth has served as the President of the Association for State Girls’ Schools. She is a trustee of Young Enterprise, chairing the Remuneration Committee.
- Nadeem Kiyani
Nadeem is the Chief Executive Officer of Ultima Asset Management. Before that, he was a Managing Director at Credit Suisse as Global CFO. Nadeem has spent over 20 years within the financial services sector and has worked at a number of prominent investment banks during that period.
Nadeem qualified as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen and holds an honours degree in Accounting and Finance from Birmingham University.
He is Chair of the Finance Committee, a governance committee reporting to the AQA Board of Trustees.
- Lara Martini
Lara has more than two decades of experience in the IT industry and has lived and worked in the Middle East and Africa, Europe, and both North and South America.
She is a Senior Director at Salesforce, the US software firm providing customer relationship management solutions, leading sales enablement across Europe.
Before that, she worked for nearly two decades at Microsoft, in roles spanning marketing, business unit management, international strategy, customer success and channel development.
Lara is passionate about innovation and the power of technology to foster opportunity and social inclusion and has extensive experience coaching youth and young entrepreneurs.
She is also currently a non-executive director for Thomas Telford Ltd, the trading arm of the Institution for Civil Engineers, and part of the technical advisory board of Digital Divide Data, which focuses on equitable employment.
- Amina Modan
Amina Bibi Ali Modan is a passionate educationalist who has maintained a plethora of roles in the education system. She has been an Assistant Principal at Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School since 2015, a school and sixth form that delivers exceptional outcomes at GCSE and A-level.
Amina started her career in education teaching A-level Psychology in 2004, after graduating from the University of Manchester with first-class honours in Psychology. She completed her Masters in Education with the University of Cumbria in 2013, before embarking a role as a Director of Learning: Humanities in 2014. She was a Senior Examiner for AQA Psychology from 2011 to 2020 and was appointed as a Specialist Leader of Education in 2019.
She has an excellent track record both as a pastoral lead and a curriculum lead, helping improve behaviour and attendance across her schools. As a Curriculum Lead, she has raised outcomes in humanities subjects at KS4 and KS5 level. Amina is a trained Youth Mental Health First Aider, which supports her role as a Designated Safeguarding Lead.
She is currently working on a book entitled ‘Hats Off’ – exploring the lessons from Education, Leadership, Personal and Cultural hats’.
- Sue Moore
Sue has been headteacher at Queen Elizabeth II High School on the Isle of Man since 1998, having previously held deputy headships at Holland Park School and the Heathland School in London. Sue has been a member of ASCL Council since 2004.
Sue is Chair of the Curriculum and Assessment Quality Committee, an advisory committee to the AQA Board of Trustees.
- Mike Nicholson
Mike joined the University of Cambridge as Director of Recruitment, Admissions and Participation in October 2021, having previously worked as Director of Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach at the University of Bath (2014-21) and University of Oxford (2006-2014). Mike was also Head of Undergraduate Admissions and Student Recruitment at the University of Essex (1998-2006) and is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
Mike heads the team responsible for supporting undergraduate and postgraduate student admissions, recruitment and marketing (UK and international), scholarships, funding and widening access and participation. He has oversight of the team developing the University Foundation Year for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, which has the first intake in October 2022. He is also one of three deputy heads in the education services department, with a particular responsibility for admissions, access and participation.
As a trustee of the Council of International Schools, Mike sits on the Finance, Membership and Accreditation, and Inclusion, Diversity and Equality Committees. He is a trustee of the AQA Exam Board and sits on their Research Committee. He also chairs the Higher Education Advisory Group. He has recently joined the Sutton Trust’s Education Advisory Board, and the Rethinking Assessment Advisory Board. Since 2019 he has been a member of the Universities UK Fair Admissions Advisory Group, established to review the need for reform of the UK's undergraduate student recruitment and admissions process.
Mike graduated in 1990 from the University of Sheffield with a degree in English and History and attended Allegheny College, Pennsylvania for a year as an exchange student. He was the first member of his extended family to go to university, after attending comprehensive schools in Gateshead.
- Deirdre O’Donoghue
Deirdre has over 30 years marketing and brand strategy experience in large multinational companies, Nestlé and Mars. She ensured that their strategies aligned with their corporate social responsibilities, including marketing responsibly to children, ensuring the sustainability the firms’ brands, diversity and inclusion. Deidre has experience transforming business processes across large organisations and has worked in many markets, including Ireland, Switzerland and Ukraine.
Deirdre led a government/industry initiative in Ireland to give young people work experience and career advice. Between 2017 and 2020, she taught marketing strategy to students at Sheffield Hallam University, taking an apprentice degree sponsored by Nestlé, giving young people the opportunity to study whilst working. Since 2019 she has been a volunteer with The Prince’s Trust as an advisor to young people in start-up businesses, and more recently advising young people on how to progress a career in social care. Deirdre has left full-time employment in order to use her experience to help young people find their path to study and work.
- Isabel Sutcliffe
Isabel Sutcliffe is an independent consultant working in the education and skills sector.
Prior to setting up her own company in May 2015, she was Pearson's International Standards and Quality Director, based in India, and before that Pearson Education’s Regulation, Standards and Research Director, which included the role of Responsible Officer. Isabel had left her position as Chief Executive of NCFE in 2006 to join Pearson.
Isabel’s extensive career in qualifications’ development, assessment and quality assurance has covered school, college and work-place standards, and has included national, international and customised awards.
She is an independent member of the Institute for Apprenticeship and Technical Education’s Quality Assurance Committee, a member of Ofqual’s Standards Advisory Group and a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Educators. She is a trustee of VTCT, chairs the Awarding Body Board of CIPS and is a member of the C&G Quality and Standards Committee.
Isabel is passionate about assessment, accreditation and the role of awarding organisations in supporting the lifelong learning needs of individuals, employers and society at large.
- Martin Turner
Martin was appointed to the AQA Board of Trustees in July 2017 and chairs the AQA Audit and Risk Committee. An accomplished senior executive, he has 18 years’ experience operating at board level in various roles with complex FTSE 100 organisations, as well as more recent experience of working in the public sector.
He brings specific expertise in risk, governance, regulatory engagement, business transformation and organisational change, combined with broader commercial skills ranging from strategy development to customer and client engagement.
Martin has an MA in Natural Sciences from St John’s College Cambridge, and an MBA from the University of Warwick Business School. He is a qualified associate with the London Institute of Banking and Finance, and holds a Diploma in Financial Studies. He is also a member of the Association for Project Management.