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 Learning Trust. 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 Francic has a respected successful track record in school improvement. He know well this field and has over 36 years’ experience, including advisory work in different and contrasting local authority settings.

Anton led school improvement 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 instituted a dashboard approach to intelligence gathering and risk assessment. This ensured that service areas knew well their schools and that they could analyse and diagnose needs. This allowed high quality support to be accessed. The partnerships, trusting relationships, advice and professional challenge from this period led to rapid school improvement, transforming Hackney into one the highest performing authorities in the UK.

In leading the secondary team, Anton is driving work on improving outcomes for Young Black Men, as part of a ten year programme. Last year’s conference on this theme was attended by schools from 13 different local authorities and reported as outstanding and inspirational. He is currently working on a mentoring-coaching framework and training aimed at developing urban leadership.

Portrait photo of Jason Marantz

Jason Marantz

Senior Primary Adviser

Jason is a senior primary adviser and an experienced school improvement partner 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 assessment.

Jason has worked as a senior leader for 15 years, including headship of two primary schools. During this time, 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. The focus of his research was on methods for improving writing.

His areas of expertise are:

  • Using coaching to improve teaching
  • Primary assessment including assessment for learning and data analysis
  • Coaching and training for middle leaders, senior leaders and governors
  • Literacy learning including reading and writing at the primary level
  • Systems to improve teaching and learning
  • School review and self-evaluation
  • Facilitating headteacher performance management
Portrait photo of Hilary Ryan

Hilary Ryan

Primary Leadership & Management Adviser

Hilary is a part-time Leadership and Management Adviser at Hackney Learning Trust. Her teaching and leadership experience culminated in twelve successful years as headteacher of a large urban primary school.

During her time as head of this school there were major changes including two moves of building and a doubling of the pupil roll. During the last inspection, Ofsted judged the leadership of the school as outstanding. The school was invited by the National Education Trust to be an Advocacy School to ‘facilitate and promote the sharing of best practice.’

Whilst a headteacher Hilary worked as a School Improvement Partner and a Local Leader of Education. During this time Hilary was also seconded for a year to work full-time as a consultant with Focus Education when she gained experience of supporting schools across England in all aspects of school improvement.

Hilary has worked at Hackney Learning Trust since September 2012 and has had the privilege of working with a wide variety of schools in Hackney, London and beyond. Hilary has also worked as an Ofsted inspector in both the Midlands and London Regions.

Portrait photo of Rachel Thomson

Rachel Thomson

Primary Leadership & Management Adviser

Rachel has worked in primary education for 30 years. For the last 20 years she has worked in Hackney, both within schools and the Hackney Local Education Authority. She has a range of experience of working in both mainstream and special schools. This includes a Headship in a Pupil Referral Unit, where her leadership was judged to be outstanding.

Local authority roles have included: Head of Primary Behaviour and Social, Emotional Learning, Head of Standards for Looked After Children, Leadership and Management Adviser and School Improvement Partner. Within these roles Rachel has led teams to develop and implement new initiatives across primary schools. She has also written a number of programmes to support emotional intelligence within the classroom.

Rachel is currently a Primary Leadership and Management Adviser. This involves working alongside leaders and teachers to improve schools and disseminate best practice. She also works as an external consultant in Suffolk schools. Other current responsibilities include: behaviour and reducing exclusions, wellbeing and personal development and working alongside the virtual school for LAC. Rachel is an experienced trainer and is currently leading the primary leadership training programme.

Portrait photo of Helena Burke

Helena Burke

Secondary Leadership and Management Advisor

Helena Burke has taught and led in London Schools for over 20 years, most recently as Vice Principal in a Hackney academy. Her areas of interest have been in wellbeing and personal development and in working for equality for all students. She has written and presented at conferences in both of those areas.

She is presently working at Hackney Learning Trust as a Leadership and Management Adviser where she is leads the CAHMS workers in schools project. In addition she is engaged in work on reducing exclusions, improving transition to secondary school and the Young Black Men’s Initiative.

Portrait photo of Tom Panagiotopoulos

Tom Panagiotopoulos

School Improvement Partner

Tom received his Honours Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics and Education and went on to receive his MA Degree in Literature. Tom has been an educator for over 25 years with leadership experience as a teacher in developing Literacy in schools. He was a Head Teacher of a Hackney school for 10 years and led his school to achieve Outstanding status. He has also worked as an Ofsted inspector and currently works as a school improvement partner. Tom has extensive experience in leading teams and coaching them to their best outcomes. He also currently runs workshops for organisations to help staff deal with work-life balance through mindfulness strategies.

Portrait photo of Sue Roberts

Sue Roberts

Leadership and Management Adviser

Sue is an experienced secondary headteacher with a track record of school improvement and outstanding results. She gained an outstanding Ofsted grade and a range of national awards during her time as head. Since joining HLT in September 2016 as a Leadership and Management advisor Sue has undertaken a wide range of roles including being a School Improvement Partner for differing schools, which encompass all settings from a 6th form college, secondary schools both academies and maintained, to a special school. She leads on number of leadership training courses to support staff in their career development. She is a trusted but challenging adviser and because of this has been asked by a number of heads to undertake headteacher performance management reviews. She has successfully mentored new heads form a range of schools. Sue is particularly knowledgeable about Send and undertakes school whole send reviews. She is also a governor of a school and chair of governors of a virtual school in another borough.

Portrait photo of Gillian Brady

Gillian Brady

Leadership and Management Adviser

I joined the teaching profession in 1975 as a primary school teacher in the LB Waltham Forest. Since this time, I have worked in a wide range of schools and settings, teaching all age groups. Appointed as headteacher at Coppermill School, Walthamstow, in 2000, I led the school through two successful Ofsted inspections. During the last two years of my headship, I was seconded on a part time to the local authority as a school improvement adviser.

School Improvement Experience

  • Since 2009, I have worked as a member of the school improvement team at Hackney Learning Trust. During this time I have worked with, and supported twenty five schools as a leadership and management adviser.
  • From 2011- 2014, I acted as the Head of Primary Schools, Hackney. This role involved maintaining the strategic oversight of all schools, including those in challenging circumstances, to ensure improving school standards and positive outcomes for pupils.
  • Following my retirement in August 2014, I continued to work as a member of the school improvement team. Currently, I support ten schools in Hackney and Suffolk. Governance Experience.
  • As a headteacher, and as leadership and management adviser, I have gained good experience of working with a range of governing boards. I continue to work with governors as the external adviser for Headteacher Performance Management reviews in Hackney and Suffolk.
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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