Meet the Directors

Dr Christopher Walker : Chair Of The Board Of Directors

Dr Christopher Walker

Chair Of The Board Of Directors

Having trained at Selwyn College, Cambridge and St Mary's Hospital, London, Dr Walker moved to General Practice in Wolverhampton where he was a Principal for about 35 years. During that time he was also Wolverhampton Local Medical Committee Chairman between 1996-2005 and Royal College of General Practitioners Midland Faculty Board Chairman between 2005-8.

Since retiring in 2013, for the past 3 years he has been Leader of the Lay Community of St. Benedict.

All four of his children successfully attended either St Edmund's Catholic School or St Peter's Collegiate C of E School in Wolverhampton.

Dr Walker values excellence in education by growing in Christian faith and understanding together and by providing outstanding teaching and learning. By working collaboratively in a Multi Academy, he believes that skills and resources can be shared for the common good of those in the community in preparation for life in the wider society.

Mrs Ann Shorthouse : Foundation Director/ Chair Of SS Peter and Paul’s Primary Catholic Academy

Mrs Ann Shorthouse

Foundation Director/ Chair Of SS Peter and Paul’s Primary Catholic Academy

Ann Shorthouse has been a Foundation Director since the Board's formation in 2013, having previously been a Governor at St Edmund's Catholic School.

Ann's professional background started in the Engineering Sector where she worked in Calibration and Quality Assurance before moving into Railway Signalling Design with British Rail.  For the last 15 years, still in the Railway Industry, Ann and her husband, Iain, have run their own PR business, specialising in Community Relations.

Although Ann's formal education initially ended at 17, she has studied further throughout her adult life and is a member of the Institute of Directors. She firmly believes that access to excellent educational opportunities based on strong moral values common to all backgrounds is key to the full development of each young person in today's modern society.

Mrs Rosalie Watkins : Foundation Director of the Bishop Cleary Multi-Academy Company; Academy Representative at St Michael’s Catholic Primary Academy and Nursery.

Mrs Rosalie Watkins

Foundation Director of the Bishop Cleary Multi-Academy Company; Academy Representative at St Michael’s Catholic Primary Academy and Nursery.

In 1966, Mrs Watkins gained an honours degree in Botany and subsequently worked as a research assistant before marrying and raising a family.

For many years she was a Foundation Governor (and for a long time Chair) at St Michael’s Primary School prior to the formation of the MAC, gaining wide experience and contributing across the breadth of governance issues

For twelve years she was an Ofsted Lay Inspector, and in this role visited over 200 schools in wide ranging settings. This led to enhanced understanding of key governance concerns including leadership and management and increased ability to contribute effectively, as a governor, to school improvement.

For several years she also assisted from time to time on diocesan inspections of Catholic schools, adding further to breadth of experience and understanding.

A long-term member of the local group of the national charity ‘Life’. This has led to gaining qualifications in counselling skills, as well as ‘project managing’ the opening of a new charity shop.

From 2013, as a Foundation Director of the MAC, she has contributed to development and application of effective policies for monitoring and evaluation to facilitate improvement in outcomes for all the pupils and students who attend our five academies.

Mr Richard Rose : Staff Director

Mr Richard Rose

Staff Director

Mr Rose has been a dedicated member of Bishop Cleary Catholic Multi Academy since its formation in 2013 and a member of the Board of Directors from September 2016.  He has previous experience of working in a Multi-Agency Support Team, working across a number of primary schools in Wolverhampton, which helped him gain experience and knowledge around safeguarding children and young people and the impact of barriers to learning upon their attainment.

Becoming a Director of the Multi-Academy Company added a new dimension to his role as Safeguarding and Pastoral Lead for the Multi-Academy Company Primary Academies, creating further opportunities to make a difference and provide challenge to the area of safeguarding and pastoral support.

The role of MAC Safeguarding and Pastoral Lead has enabled the development of transferrable skills which support the role of an effective Director, for example attention to detail, ability to challenge, providing effective communication and evaluating the effectiveness of interventions.

Mr Rose is passionate about safeguarding children, young people and their families and the delivery of high quality education to enable every child to reach their full potential.

Mr Mark Darmody : Vice-chair Of The Board Of Directors

Mr Mark Darmody

Vice-chair Of The Board Of Directors

Mark is currently employed as Health and Safety Lead at City of Wolverhampton Council. Prior to that he was Head of Health and Safety for twelve years at Wolverhampton Homes. He has experience of strategic leadership, and Human-Resources related matters.
Mark is a volunteer at the Good Sheperd Trust in Wolverhampton and acts in an advisory capacity on health and safety matters.
Mark was a School Governor at St Michael's RC School for five years. Subsequently, he was appointed Chair at SS Mary and John’s Catholic Primary School at the same time as the current Principal. The school has been on a continuous journey of improvement to what is now a good school with outstanding features.
Mark is Vice-Chair of the Multi Academy Company and Chair of the People and Organisation Committee.

Mrs Maria Posiwnycz : Foundation Director

Mrs Maria Posiwnycz

Foundation Director

Mrs Posiwnycz became a qualified accountant  more than 20 years ago subsequently working in Practice in Birmingham City Centre, specialising in all types of Tax, Trusts, Charities and Estate Planning.  In 2015, she formed an Accountancy Practice in which she is a Business Partner.

During a career break from May 1997 to August 2004, she became involved in voluntary work, which included fundraising for the National Childbirth Trust, running parent and children groups at a local Church, in libraries and for asylum seekers.

As governor and subsequently Chair of Governors, at The Giffard Primary School, she helped lead improvement in progress to an Ofsted rating of ‘Good’.

Mrs Posiwnycz is a volunteer and supporter of local charities including The Haven and The Women and Children’s Family Resource Centre.

She is also a member of the Soroptomists International Wolverhampton Group and since the latter part of 2016, she has been Chair of The Wolverhampton Women’s Business Forum.

Mrs Maggie Hughes : Principal Director

Mrs Maggie Hughes

Principal Director

Principal of St Edmund's Catholic Academy, Director of BCCMAC and Accounting Officer.

Mrs Hughes is a graduate mathematician and specialist 11-19 teacher, with over 37 years continuous teaching experience in four Black Country secondary schools.

Subject and pastoral leadership was followed by NPQH in 2002 and for the last 17 years has been in senior leadership across two schools.

School culture and building a Catholic community identity of belonging drive her focus on school improvement, together with development of professional expertise amongst all staff, teaching and non-teaching, within a business model of accountability.

As Secondary Principal, teacher and Accounting Officer, I maintain productive relationships with local secondary schools, the Local Authority, Deanery and Diocese in order to ensure Multi Academy Company academies engage with local and national educational policy and politics.

Mrs Joanne Hanslip : Principal Director

Mrs Joanne Hanslip

Principal Director

Head Teacher/Principal of SS Mary and John’s Catholic Academy since 2008.

A primary school teaching career of 21 years, has provided Mrs Hanslip with a wide range of experience and skills.  She is able to analyse information quickly and develop strategic plans based on the information gathered. She is able to effectively articulate a clear vision and positively engage stakeholders in working together to achieve a shared ambition.

Mrs Hanslip also has significant experience of managing people, finances and resources and uses all assets to the full in order to achieve the Company aims.

Mrs Hanslip works closely with Academy Representatives, Directors and Members of the Diocesan Schools’ Commission to ensure the effective leadership and management of the Academies within Bishop Cleary Catholic Multi Academy Company.

Mr Francis Tunney : Director

Mr Francis Tunney


Francis Raymond Tunney, BSc (1st), PGCE, MEd.

For 20 years Mr Tunney was Head Teacher of Painsley Catholic College, which initially was a failing school, fighting closure, with low numbers.  Within five years the numbers increased to 1200, the College became an 11-18 years institution and one of the most successful schools in Staffordshire, achieving four outstanding Ofsted inspections. The College was listed several times in the HMCI reports and Ofsted’s Hall of Fame. Painsley was a ‘Beacon School’.

In 2010 he was awarded the Midlands Head Teacher of the Year Award and subsequently worked for the Pearson Group judging other Head Teachers for various awards.

Mr Tunney has served on admissions and exclusions appeals committees for Stafffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent and the Arch Diocese of Birmingham.

Mr Tunney is also a Governor of Newcastle-Under-Lyme Further Education College, sitting on their Standards and Education Committee. More recently this has involved work at Stafford College due to both colleges merging.  He is a Director of Bishop Cleary Catholic Multi Academy Company in Wolverhampton and All Saints Catholic Multi Academy Company in Stoke-on-Trent. He takes a leading role in the work of both Multi Academy Companies and is Chair of their School Improvement Committees.

Mrs Connie Mergen : Foundation Director

Mrs Connie Mergen

Foundation Director

Born and educated in Wisconsin, USA, Mrs. Mergen became a teacher of children with special educational needs. In 1980 she moved to New York City, where she continued teaching and became a deputy head-teacher in a specialist school.

Following achieving a master’s degree from the City University of New York, she became part of their teaching team working with master’s level students.

Life in Wolverhampton began in 1988, with her 18-month-old daughter and husband, where Mrs. Mergen continued teaching within local authority support services, ending in 2011 as SEN Strategic Lead in a West Midlands local authority.

A year was then spent working for a London local authority in SEN before finally retiring in 2013.

Mrs. Mergen’s daughter successfully attended St. Michael’s Catholic Primary School and St. Edmund’s Catholic School and then attended Manchester University.

Striving to ensure equality and high standards for all children and young people has been Mrs. Mergen’s aim throughout her career.  She believes underlining teaching with faith in an inclusive community is a positive way to ensure community cohesion and support raising standards.

Mrs Annabel Fones : Staff Director

Mrs Annabel Fones

Staff Director

Mrs Fones began her career in education as a Teaching Assistant supporting pupils in Secondary School with Special Educational Needs.  She subsequently gained Higher Level Teaching Assistant status approximately seven years ago.

Since joining St Edmund's, she has progressed to her current position of Assistant Head of Year in the Pastoral Team.  This role involves safeguarding students and necessitates strong inter-personal, listening and communication skills.

Within her role as Staff Director, she sits on two Committees, Finance and Resources/Audit and Risk People and Organisation.  She takes this responsibility very seriously and is fully aware of the need for complete transparency and confidentiality to be maintained at all times.

Mrs Fones’ background and comprehensive professional skills have given her an understanding of good business practice, balanced, strategic decision-making, reporting and problem-solving, which offer a variety of perspectives on company issues and positively contribute to the successful running of the Bishop Cleary Multi Academy Company.