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Meet the Governors

Led by Mrs Ali Brabner as Chair of Governors and Mr David Penfold as Vice Chair; the governing body of Cranfield Church of England Academy are a group of parents, staff and members of the community. The governing body of Cranfield Academy promote the highest standards of educational achievement for our children.

Ali Brabner - Chair - Member Governor

Finance, Curriculum and Standards, HR and Buildings and Infrastructure Committee Member

I have lived in Cranfield for over 20 years and both my children have attended the Academy in recent years.  I have been Chair of Governors since 2015 and served as Vice Chair prior to that. I have developed a real passion for ensuring the best possible education for our young children and love being involved in helping the Academy to continue to flourish, and so support all the children in achieving their potential. Whilst working with the school I have also been involved in supporting our Local Education Authority deliver educational excellence in the wider community. I strongly believe that early education is vitally important in helping children to prosper and grow - early years education really matters!

My commercial background has been working within the Food Industry. I have spent around 15 years in senior sales roles and currently utilise my influencing skills on my children!


David Penfold - Vice Chair

Finance Committee - HR Committee - Buildings & Infrastructure Committee

I live in Cranfield with my wife and son Charlie, who has recently moved on to Holywell, after really loving his time at our superb Cranfield C of E Academy. I am proud to be involved in helping the Academy’s fantastic leadership team provide outstanding education to the children of Cranfield and surrounding villages. I'm also honoured to have been asked to take on the role of Vice Chair of Governors, Chair of the Buildings & Infrastructure committee and to have recently been elected a member Governor. I also represent Primary/Lower Schools on Central Bedfordshire Councils Schools Forum which acts as a consultative/decision making body for funding issues. In my work life I identify ways to save energy and energy costs for large users and have recently set up my own consultancy business and have been working across the world. During my time on the Governing body I have been able to apply some of my knowledge to the Academy's benefit which I will continue doing. Oh yes, and in my spare time I help run our villages' very successful Cranfield Colts Football Club!

Joseph Piatczanyn - Headteacher

Curriculum & Standards, Buildings and Infrastructure and Finance Committee Member

I have been the Headteacher at Cranfield Church of England Academy since April 2018 and employed in the school from 1st September 2009. My roles have been that of a classroom teacher, a Key Stage 1 Leader an Assistant Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher! Headteachers occupy an influential position in society and shape the teaching profession. They are lead professionals and significant role models within the communities they serve. The values and ambitions of headteachers determine the achievements of schools. They are accountable for the education of current and future generations of children. Their leadership has a decisive impact on the quality of teaching and pupils’ achievements in the nation’s classrooms. Headteachers lead by example the professional conduct and practice of teachers in a way that minimises unnecessary teacher workload and leaves room for high quality continuous professional development for staff. They secure a climate for the exemplary behaviour of pupils. They set standards and expectations for high academic standards within and beyond their own schools, recognising differences and respecting cultural diversity within contemporary Britain. Headteachers, together with those responsible for governance, are guardians of the nation’s schools and it is my privilege to undertake this role and its responsibilities at Cranfield Church of England Academy. 

Sarah Brown - Govenor

Pupil Premium Governor  - Chair of HR Committee - Headteacher Performance Management Committee

I joined the governing body in 2010 as a Parent Governor, when I had two children in the Academy. I have served in a variety of roles since then including Chair, Vice Chair and I am currently Pupil Premium Governor. I became a Founding Member following the conversion from Lower School to Academy status. Over the years I have also been involved in a number of working parties as needed, most notably to appoint the Headteacher and to take forward the expansion of the Academy in 2016. In my working life I work in Higher Education, supporting Open University students and tutors within the School of Education. Previously roles in business and IT consulting have given me several years of experience in managing projects and change within many organisations, and working with a diverse range of people from both the UK and overseas.


Ip Shing Fan - Foundation Governor

Chair of Finance Committee - Buildings and Infrastructure Committee

I have served as a governor of the school since 2011, and was part of the board that oversaw the transition to an Academy. After two years, I have managed to learn 80% of the acronyms in the UK education system and am beginning to get to grips with the new rules of being an academy!

My current project in the school is to improve our long term financial risk management.

I was born and educated in Hong Kong and came to attend Cranfield University (Institute of Technology at that time) for my PhD study in 1985, and subsequently joined the University as an academic staff. I have been living in Cranfield village since 1995.

 I am also a Deacon of the Cranfield Baptist Church, Chairman of the BCS Bedford Branch and Secretary of the Cranfield Astronomical Society.


Lisa Padbury - Staff Governor

Curriculum and Standards Committee

I am currently in my fifth year of teaching at Cranfield Academy and have thoroughly enjoyed every second of being here. I still remember my first visit to this school and how I felt whilst visiting each classroom. The staff and children all greeted me with a smile, warmth and invited me in to explore their classrooms; I instantly felt at home. Since then Cranfield Academy has become an extension to my family and I adore being a part of this special school. Nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing those lightbulb moments, when a child has persevered to understand a concept and when they finally do, this is such a heart-warming moment and one of the reasons why I became a teacher. Since being a member of the teaching team at Cranfield Academy I have observed all staff putting their all into making Cranfield the place to be! We are committed to enhancing the whole child and we offer an environment that is welcoming and supportive for all needs. With the intention to ensure pupils flourish academically, physically, socially, emotionally and mentally. As a mother of three boys, I know what impact a teacher can have on a child’s education and school experiences, so I aspire to be the teacher and governor that all children deserve.

Martina Schirinzi - Governor

HR Committee

My husband and I have lived in Cranfield with our 2 dogs and 3 horses for just over 6 years. The peacefulness of the countryside and belonging to a community have always been important to me.

I joined the governing body in September 2021. I have many years’ experience in strategy, business analysis and finance, which I hope use to support the school and enable the children to be their best. Joining in Covid times is challenging, but I am looking forward to getting to know the school better over the next few months.

As well as enjoying the rural countryside, my other hobby is music. I play the piano and the French horn, and have recently joined the Ampthill Orchestra.

Gavin Gill  - Parent Governor

Chair of Buildings and Infrastrucure Committee

I have lived in Cranfield for over 20 years.  My partner and I have two children enjoying the fantastic experience of attending Cranfield Academy - a school that my partner attended in her early years! Having joined the team at the end of the 2019 summer term, I am still learning, but hope to be able to bring my experiences as a senior leader in a large and complex business to bear on what is already an experienced, competent and passionate team.

I think it is essential that we have parents engaged in the process, helping to govern and guide the leadership of the school.   In this regard, I aim to give assistance in areas where I can, to give the perspective of parents of attendees, and last, but by no means least, in the role of a critical friend where necessary.

Outside my roles as governor and parish councillor, I enjoy the fantastic opportunities afforded to me by living in a rural community, and coaching junior rugby and cricket take up most of the rest of the time that two small children allow me! 

Jasdeep Ghuman - Governor

HR Committee & Finance Committee

I moved to Cranfield just over six years ago with my wife and we have 2 children who both attend the Academy. This is my first role as governor, and I am looking forward to supporting the academy in creating a fantastic early years’ experience for the children of our community. I feel as though my experience over the past few years will help the Academy continue to grow.

Day to day I work as a Management Consultant and have been for the past 14 years. I studied engineering at university and spent several years working across several sectors such as Food and Drink, Pharmaceuticals and FMCG. Around 2011 I started working within Financial Services and since then I have had the opportunity to work with some of the largest banks and insurance companies in the world. This has provided me with the opportunity to understand and advise businesses on their operational strategies and lead them through implementation to deliver positive results.

Outside of work, I’m kept busy with our young family. Any spare time is usually taken up by following the Formula 1 or my favourite football team and cricket teams.

Liz Turner - Parent Governor

Child Protection/LAC Governor - Chair of Curriculum and Standards Committee - Finance Committee

I joined the governing body in 2017 as a Parent Governor and am thrilled to be part of a team working toward a shared vision of educational excellence for all. I’ve seen this first hand, as both my children attend the school.

I have lived in Cranfield since 2007 and am also involved in the community through the local churches’ Holiday Club.

Professionally, I am a solicitor and work in the public sector for a regulator – so am well versed in governance and risk management, as well as having a keen eye for detail!

Michelle Gedny - Support Staff Governor

Buildings and Infrastrucure Committee

I have lived in the village for over 20 years, with my husband and two children. I have been involved in the school since my children started, which considering they are now young adults, means I have seen lots of changes to both the school and the community.

Starting as a parent helper and working my way up to becoming a cover supervisor, specialising in Physical Education, has been a journey of immense pleasure.  Watching children growing in confidence and learning new skills still makes me smile.  I remember a time, when as a parent helper, having for many weeks listened to a particular child in Year 1 sounding out his words and struggling to blend, read me a whole sentence without hesitation.  That was the day I realised the impact of teachers on our children.  I still get that feeling helping the children today.

I have always felt the desire to help in any capacity through committees at playgroups to running PTFA, offering after school activities and cricket weeks, I hope that in my role as support staff governor I can offer my time, passion and commitment to the continued development, our school offers, to the education and rounded enrichment to the children in our community.