Meet our Central Team

Matthew Crawford – Trust Leader 


Matthew is chief executive of Embark Federation which is a trust of 15 schools across Derbyshire. He was designated a National Leader of Education in 2017 for the work he has done as a system leader. Matthew supported over a dozen schools across Derbyshire who are now all judged to be good or better by Ofsted.

He believes that schools are ‘stronger together’ and enjoys sharing practice whilst also learning from others and helping to improve the federation. He also believes that schools should be at the heart of their communities whilst providing their children with the best possible education.

All schools in the federation have an exciting curriculum which is accompanied by a rich diet of wider opportunities in Music, Sport, Science and the Arts. The trust has used sponsorship opportunities and grants to fund aspirational events for the children.

A keen sportsman, Matthew now enjoys a game of golf at weekends and supporting the Welsh rugby team! Family is very important to Matthew. He is father to Sophie and Daniel who are the most precious things in his life.

Anna Upton - Deputy Trust Leader 


Anna is the Deputy Trust Leader of the Embark Federation since November 2020.  She is dedicated to improving the life of each individual child, nurturing their strengths, personalities and interests to bring out the best in them.   

Anna is responsible for the implementation of the digital strategy, data, safeguarding, risk and quality assurance strategies across the trust.  She plays an integral role within the Trust leading, both strategically and operationally, the support, advice and guidance that enable the academies to succeed and ensures the consistent delivery of Embarks Vision & Core Beliefs.

Anna started her teaching career in Nottingham City.  This is where her first leadership role was secured and from here she moved to teach at Chaucer Junior School in Ilkeston.  She then moved to work as an Advanced Skills Teacher where she supported schools and teachers across Derbyshire.  She has also worked in various roles as an Associate School Improvement Adviser for Derbyshire County Council supporting schools and their leaders in a wide variety of school improvement activities. All these schools are now judged good or better. 

 Anna is a member of the Chartered College of Teaching and is currently completing her NPQEL after working as an executive leader across Derbyshire.  

She feels privileged to be able to use her role within Embark to impact on so many children’s lives. 


 Philip Searson - Director of School Improvement


Philip is the School Improvement Leader of the Embark Federation.  He is passionate about to improving learning for each individual child and believes in the power of schools working together to share practice and learn together.

Philip is responsible for leading the bespoke school improvement package across the trust as well as leading the trusts collaborative learning groups to work on various projects from curriculum design, formative assessment, subject leadership etc…  

Philip started his teaching career in Nottinghamshire.  This is where his first leadership role was secured leading Key Stage 1 in a large primary school and from here he moved on to a further leadership role in Nottingham City to lead both Key Stage 1 and  SEND provision. During this time he worked as an Advanced Skills Teacher supporting schools and teachers across Nottinghamshire.  Following this he spent 13 years as a Headteacher in two different primary schools in Derbyshire.  

He has worked as an Associate School Improvement Adviser for Derbyshire County Council supporting a total of 13 schools and their leaders in a wide variety of school improvement activities. All these schools are now judged good or better. 

For five years he has worked for the DFE as a National Leader of Education and supporting four schools and their leaders with school improvement.

He feels privileged to be able to use his school improvement role within Embark to impact on so many children’s learning across the trust as well as the professional development of all staff. 


Rebecca Keeling - Teaching and Learning Lead 


Rebecca has 13 years of teaching and leadership experience across a range of contexts in Derby City and Derbyshire. She has taught all year groups across the Primary Phase. Rebecca has a real passion for teaching and learning and has been asked by senior advisers to share her practice over the last 8 years. She has worked alongside teachers and leaders who were required support to develop their practice and worked with them to great effect. She achieved success in a number of ways including; modelling, team teaching, joint planning, observations and leading CPD.

Rebecca has held a number of leadership roles including Assistant Head and Head of School and has achieved her NPQSL. Rebecca has a real interest in research led practice and has worked with Embark Federation in a consultancy role since January 2021. She works for Embark as a Teaching and Learning consultant and has led work on the teaching and learning policy, the writing assessment framework and moderation across the schools. She has also led work on the covid catch-up strategy alongside the Deputy Trust Leader.

Outside of school Rebecca enjoys spending time with family and friends and is fully aligned with Embarks Core Beliefs.

Paul Scaife - Finance & Operation Lead 


Paul has a wealth of financial experience in Multi-Academy Trusts, Local Authority, Education Charity and Schools financial management systems and processes. He is a qualified accountant with a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of financial management and reporting. Paul is driven to make financial information accessible for all rather than a highly complex set of information that few can understand. He is professional and easy going by nature, with an ability to build relationships with work colleagues, directors and customers.

Catherine Stuart- Jervis - Governance Lead


Catherine was appointed as Governance Lead for Embark in June 2021.

Catherine qualified as a social worker then went on to work within the Third Sector. She has been CEO for regional and national charities.

Catherine was Non-Executive Vice Chair and Complaints Convenor at East Midlands Ambulance Service for 3 terms of office followed by a term of office as Chair of Governance at North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group. She also served for 5 years as an Ambassador for NHS Equality in Appointments for the Cabinet Office.

Most recently Catherine has worked with the University of Derby project managing several high-profile national research projects funded through the Office for Students. The last two projects she led were within the Student Wellbeing department working with national Higher Education partners as part of collaborative, co-creation led online resource development.

Catherine believes that good governance is fundamental to a charity’s success. It enables and supports a charity’s compliance with the law and relevant regulations. It also promotes a culture in which everything works towards fulfilling the charity’s vision.

Catherine is a keen gardener, dog walker and Rugby Union supporter having played for Buxton Ladies RUFC for ten years as Fly Half.

The Richardson Express Launch

08 Jun 2022

Richardson Endowed Primary had a day to remember last week when they held the grand opening of the Richardson Express. It was launched as Sir David Carter cut the ribbon and there was a brilliant turn...

Governance Networking

08 Jun 2022

  Embark Federation held their first governance networking event which was a great success. It was a chance for our local governors to network with each other and have some excellent input fro...

Library launch at Horsley Woodhouse Primary

29 Apr 2022

Our Trust Leader Matthew Crawford has paid a special visit to Horsley Woodhouse Primary School today to open their brand-new Library space. The launch of the new library has a primary focus of &lsquo...

Richardson Endowed Primary Singing Spectacular!

29 Apr 2022

Richardson Endowed Singing Spectacular!!   On Wednesday evening Richardson Endowed Primary School put on an incredible concert for our families, staff and children. The Richardson Choir had put...

Think Ocean

29 Apr 2022

Embark Federation have hosted a very important meeting this evening at our offices. Hugo Valdes-Vera was here to present on a topic that we very much support. Think Ocean is a company who are strivin...

Optimus Summit and the Bett Show

26 Apr 2022

Our Trust Leader Matthew Crawford was representing Embark Federation as a guest Keynote Speaker at the Optimus Conference on Growing and Developing a Trust. Mr Crawford was sharing context from our tr...

Embark Awards 2021

26 Apr 2022

Embark Awards 2021 Embark Federation celebrated 108 of our children’s achievements during lockdown with our first ever Embark Awards evening. This brought together children and their families f...

Celebration of Culture 2022

26 Apr 2022

Thursday 24th March Embark and 30 of our children from Richardson Endowed Primary School took a trip to Leicester Tigers Rugby Club to perform at the East Midlands Chambers Celebration of Culture even...

Reading with Rosie!

22 Apr 2021

Embark’s Fundraising and Events Manager Rosie Mclaughlin started recording a daily story to keep pupils entertained during the second lockdown. Rosie wanted to do something that would help her t...

Christmas isn't cancelled at Embark!

22 Apr 2021

Embark arranged a special treat for all our schools called ‘Christmas isn't cancelled for Embark schools!’ As part of that we arranged licences for all our children to...