Meet the team

Portrait photo of Stephen Hall

Stephen Hall

Assistant Director (School Standards & Improvement)

Stephen Hall is the Assistant Director for School Standards and Improvement at Hackney Education. He has worked in inner city schools for over 20 years and was previously a National Leader of Education and an Advanced Skills Teacher specialising in Primary Mathematics.

Stephen has extensive experience in school leadership, particularly in schools in challenging circumstances. He has been the Headteacher and Executive Headteacher of several high performing inner city primary schools and has led schools both out of Special Measures and to Outstanding judgements. Most recently he was the Executive Headteacher of a hard federation of three Hackney Schools. He has worked as an Ofsted Inspector of both Primary and Secondary Schools since 2012.

Portrait photo of Anton Francic

Anton Francic

Principal Secondary Adviser, School Performance & Improvement

Anton has a respected, successful track record in school improvement with over 37 years’ experience in the field. He previously led the school improvement service in Haringey and Kent to drive up standards and inspection outcomes in all phases. In Hackney, between 2005 and 2013, he designed an adviser programme and a dashboard approach to intelligence gathering and risk assessment. This ensured that service areas knew the schools they worked with well and could analyse and diagnose their needs to provide tailored support. The partnerships and trusting relationships from this led to rapid and sustained school improvement, transforming Hackney into one the UK's highest performing authorities.

Currently, Anton leads the secondary team and Hackney Education's work on improving outcomes for Young Black Men, as part of Council's ten year programme. He has developed a partnership programme, now approaching its second year, aimed at supporting and developing leaders at senior levels in schools by pairing them with experienced and successful leaders from outside the world of education, who provide bespoke mentoring and coaching and a stimulus for growing personal capacity.

Jason Marantz, Senior Primary Leadership and Management Adviser

Jason Marantz

Senior Primary Adviser

Jason is an experienced school improvement partner in Hackney who has helped schools develop strategies to improve teaching, learning and leadership. He is the strategic lead on primary assessment and has established an assessment network of primary schools which considers research and develops and shares good practice in curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Jason has worked as a senior leader for 15 years, including as a Headteacher of two primary schools, where he developed teacher training programmes in partnership with universities. He has trained emerging and established school leaders and governors to be effective and evaluative. 

Jason has an MA in Literacy Learning and Literacy Difficulties and his areas of expertise include using coaching to improve teaching and leadership; literacy learning, including reading and writing at the primary level; school review and self evaluation; and facilitating headteacher performance management. 

Portrait photo of Hilary Ryan

Hilary Ryan

Primary Leadership & Management Adviser

Hilary has worked with Hackney Education for 10 years and has extensive leadership experience culminated working as a Headteacher of a large urban primary school for 12 years, leading the school through major changes including moving buildings twice and a doubling of the pupil roll.

During her time as Headteacher, Ofsted judged the leadership of the school as Outstanding, and the National Education Trust appointed it an Advocacy School to ‘facilitate and promote the sharing of best practice.’

Hilary also worked as an Ofsted inspector in the Midlands and London Regions and as School Improvement Partner and a Local Leader of Education, where she was seconded to work full-time as a consultant with Focus Education for one year to support school improvement in schools across England. 

Portrait photo of Rachel Thomson

Rachel Thomson

Primary Leadership & Management Adviser

Rachel has worked in primary education for 30 years, the last 20 of which have been spent in Hackney. She has a wealth of experience working with mainstream and special schools, including a Headship in a Pupil Referral Unit where her leadership was judged to be outstanding. In her current role, she works alongside leaders and teachers to improve and disseminate best practice, reduce exclusions, support wellbeing and personal development, and contributes to the virtual school for Looked After Children. 

Prior to this, Rachel had a number of roles within Hackney, leading teams to develop and implement new initiatives across primary school, including as Head of Primary Behaviour and Social, Emotional Learning, Head of Standards for Looked After Children, Leadership and Management Adviser and School Improvement Partner. She has also written a number of programmes to support emotional intelligence within the classroom and is an experienced trainer, currently leading the primary leadership training programme.

Portrait photo of Helena Burke

Helena Burke

Secondary Leadership and Management Advisor

Helena has taught and led in London schools for over 20 years, most recently, working as Vice Principal in a Hackney academy. Her areas of particular interest and expertise are wellbeing and personal development and equality for all students, strands of work which she has presented at conferences.

Currently, Helena works as a Leadership and Management Adviser in Hackney Education where she leads the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) staff in school projects. In addition, she is engaged in working to reduce exclusions, improving the transition to secondary school, and the Young Black Men’s Initiative.

Portrait photo of Tom Panagiotopoulos

Tom Panagiotopoulos

School Improvement Partner

Tom has a bachelor's degree in Linguistics and Education, a master's degree in Literature, and over 25 years experience as an educator, including working as a teacher leader to develop Literacy in schools. He currently works as a school improvement partner in Hackney Education. 

Tom was the Headteacher of a Hackney school for 10 years, leading the school to achieve an Outstanding Ofsted rating, and also worked as an Ofsted inspector. He has extensive experience in leading and coaching teams to achieve their best outcomes. He also runs workshops for organisations to help staff deal with work-life balance through mindfulness strategies.

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Orlene Badu

System Lead - Young Black Men Project

Orlene has been a senior leader for 12 years in Hackney, including the headship of a challenging primary school in Hackney until very recently. She also completed a Head of Primary secondment at a Hackney Pupil Referral unit as she is passionate about a high quality education for all, including the most disadvantaged. Orlene is a School Improvement Partner in Hackney and supports Primary schools, supporting and challenging governors, leaders and teaching staff to ensure the best possible outcomes for their pupils.

Orlene is the System Lead for the Young Black Men Project in Hackney and works with all primary and secondary schools in Hackney to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable.

Orlene provides training for Head teachers, senior and middle leaders, governors and teaching staff in Hackney and surrounding boroughs on how to lead culturally competent organisations, how to challenge unconscious bias and the impact this can have on ever- improving organisations that meet the needs of their users.

Her areas of expertise are:

  • Current up to date knowledge of School leadership
  • School review and self- evaluation
  • Current research and practice to reduce Exclusion
Portrait photo of Jo Tupman

Jo Tupman

Leadership and Management Adviser

Jo has over 20 years' experience working in inner London primary and secondary schools, most recently as Headteacher in a twelve-form entry secondary school in Barking and Dagenham. She currently works as a Leadership and Management Adviser in Hackney Education across both primary and secondary age phases. 

Jo’s areas of expertise include SEND, Inclusion, Primary and Secondary curriculum links and leadership coaching and training.

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Debra Robinson

System Leader for Parental/Carer Engagement

Debra has taught across North and East London for over 20 years in secondary schools, most recently at a Hackney academy rated Outstanding by Ofsted. She has a range of experience in curriculum and parental engagement, both at whole school and community level. Debra also led a successful English department and as an Advanced Skills Teacher in North London where she implemented a range of literacy initiatives, and has been instrumental in leading teaching and learning strategies across schools and developing teachers to move from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ . 

Debra’s experience and understanding of the lived and professional experience in Hackney has been extremely valuable for her role in Hackney Education. Here she works with a broad range of stakeholders and as a professional advisor to schools and parent groups to foster positive relationships.