The Trustees of UTC South Durham are passionate about technical education and they strive for our students to be life and career ready.

Staff Profiles

UTC Governor David Land

David Land - Chair

David has been a driving force behind the establishment of the UTC and is fully committed to creating an outstanding education establishment which will provide a steady stream of young professionals for local and regional businesses.

David has gained his experience by working with large organisations in the manufacturing and automotive industry. During his time at Tallent Engineering (now Gestamp Tallent) David held roles as Business Development Director, Plant Director of the Aycliffe site, before taking on the role as UK Engineering Director. David is now putting his extensive experience to use through his own consultancy as well as thought his involvement with many business groups to help promote and support the growth of manufacturing in the North East.

David is currently involved in the following voluntary roles:
- NELEP - Business Board Member and Chair of the North East Investment Panel.
- Governor at the University of Sunderland
- Business Durham - Associate Board member
- Chair of Trustees at the South Durham UTC
- Chair of County Durham Manufacturing and Engineering Network (CDEMN)

The Chair can be contactable by:

c/o UTC South Durham
Long Tens Way
Gary Holmes - UTC Governor

Gary Holmes - Vice Chair

Gary taught Modern Languages in Hertfordshire before becoming an academic. He worked in four different UK Universities teaching and writing on School Leadership & Management. He finally retired as Pro Vice-Chancellor at Sunderland in 2017. Along the way he was visiting Professor at the University of Victoria, Canada, a Foreign Office Know-How Fund and British Council consultant in Eastern Europe and was active in the early development of the National Headteacher training programmes and accreditations.

He has been a school Governor since 1988 in, variously, Oxford City (Middle and High schools), Harrogate (CofE Primary), Ponteland (High School) and latterly UTC South Durham. He is on the Board of a second UTC to open in Newcastle in 2018. He is also a corporation board member of Tyne Coast College of FE and a Company Member of the Pele Multi Academy Trust. He is a fervent advocate of the UTC model as a successful and dynamic component of a healthy School landscape.

Gary sees good School Governance as a delicately balanced and finely tuned business where formal and moral accountabilities and responsibilities are in creative tension with professional ethics and best educational practices –all for the benefit of young peoples’ life-chances and well-being.

UTC Governor Ian Neal

Ian Neal - University Trustee

Ian is Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society and Professor at the University of Sunderland. He has over 35 years' experience of teaching in schools and higher education.

After graduating from the University of Keele in 1979, Ian took a "gap year" during which he was a bus driver in Stoke on Trent. His academic career started as a research psychologist in Staffordshire and then he trained as a teacher and gained his PGCE. Ian began teaching in a large Merseyside comprehensive school, moving to a comprehensive school in Cambridgeshire later. Initially, he taught biology and science to O-level and biology to A-level and he later taught maths, computing and IT, becoming Head of Computer Science in the mid-eighties. He rose to Senior Teacher, in charge of the Curriculum and Pastoral arrangements for Years 9-11. Later, Ian worked at the University of Cambridge, teaching on their PGCE and researching schemes of Achievement Recording. He developed the UK's first International Student Centred Review scheme which he launched around the world to operate in Europe, Asia and South America.

Ian moved to the School of Education at the University of Sunderland in 1993 as Senior Lecturer and was promoted to Principal Lecturer in Education. He later became Subject Area Leader for Education, before being promoted to Associate Director of the School of Education, to Associate Dean of the Faculty and then to Dean of Faculty.

In his professional life, Ian has travelled widely, providing educational consultancy in South America, Egypt and Saudi Arabia as well as most countries in Europe for governments and other agencies such as the United Nations and the British Council.
jon tim

Jon Timmis - Deputy Vice-Chancellor - University Trustee

Jon is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Commercial) at the University of Sunderland. Jon is responsible for University recruitment, marketing and communications, knowledge transfer and exchange, regional development, work-based learning, partnerships, philanthropy and alumni relations, and international activity. He is Professor of Intelligent and Adaptive Systems, and maintains an active research group in the area of swarm and evolutionary robotics, and computational biology.

After a career in catering, Jon studied Computer Science as a mature student at Aberystwyth University, staying on to study for a PhD in the area of artificial intelligence. In 2000 Jon moved to the University of Kent, becoming Senior Lecturer at the School of Computing. In 2005 he joined York, initially as Reader between the Computer Science and Electronic Engineering departments. He became a professor in 2008, then moved full-time to the Department of Electronic Engineering. He served as Head of the Electronic Engineering Department and then Pro Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Knowledge Exchange.
Jon is a previous recipient of a Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award and a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship. Jon co-founded Simomics Ltd in 2015 to commercialise his research.
Tom Dower - UTC Principal

Tom Dower - Principal

Tom graduated from Cambridge University in 1995 with a degree in Engineering and a postgraduate diploma in Computer Science. He started his career at ICI on Teesside and spent 5 years as a chartered mechanical engineer, project manager and manufacturing consultant. He then joined London-based Gemini Consulting, leading organisational change projects for 4 years in industry, telecoms and retail for multinational companies.

In 2002 he trained to be a teacher with a PGCE at Goldsmith’s College in London and worked at an outstanding school in south London as Head of Design and Technology. He moved home to the North East in 2005 and developed his teaching and leadership career in Northumberland before taking up the role as Principal of the UTC.

Tom has acted as a leadership consultant with other schools, presented at national conferences and developed materials for the National College of School Leadership. With a background as an engineer, business consultant and school leader, the opportunity to lead the UTC combines all of his professional interests and his passions for the development of young people and supporting businesses in the North East.
Stephen Brain

Stephen Brain - Head of Science - Staff Trustee

Stephen completed a BSC (Hons) in Chemistry in 1999 from Nottingham Trent University and worked as a retail manager for a variety of companies including WHSmith and Borders and Books Etc. where he learned valuable management and leadership skills. He undertook a PGCE in Secondary Science in 2006 at Kingston University and worked in Quintin Kynaston Community School in inner London.

In 2012 he moved to Dubai to work in a school overseas and became Head of Chemistry, overseeing management and leadership of the Chemistry department. During this time he completed an MA in Educational Leadership and Management at Warwick University.

On returning to the UK in 2016, he has worked at Outwood Acklam and Dene Community School before becoming Head of Science at the UTC.

Since joining the UTC Stephen has been hugely impressed with the direction and ethos of the school and is keen to be a part of the wider strategic planning of its next steps. Giving the students links into apprenticeships and employment is a vital part of education and something that a lot of schools are missing and is key to the success of the UTC.
Jane Corney

Jane Conroy - Parent Trustee

Jane is a hard-working Mum and Step-Mum of five children with a son at UTC South Durham. She is a Registered Midwife by background with a First-Class Honours Degree, now working within the senior leadership team of a local NHS Trust as the Head of Quality and Patient Experience. This role involves managing governance and reporting compliance to the healthcare regulator the CQC. She is also a Visiting Lecturer at a University and nearing completion of a PhD in quality improvement.

Jonathan Phillips - Plant Director at Gestamp Newton Aycliffe - Founding Member Trustee

Jonathan began his career at Nissan as an Industrial Engineer, before moving into the Tier1 automotive supply chain.

After several years of experience, Jonathan changed his career path to become a consultant working in several global organisations such as Bombardier Rail and Airbus. Jonathan experienced working in diverse industries from Cobham’s Defence and Mirror Group Newspapers to specialist lighting module suppliers to public transport systems.

Jonathan returned to the automotive industry in 2006 with ThyssenKrupp (now Gestamp), setting up a new manufacturing operation inside Nissan’s Sunderland plant. Jonathan has held several positions within Gestamp, notably as Plant Director for its Washington facility and then as Plant Director launching Gestamps new West Midlands facility in 2018, before taking up his current role as Plant Director at Newton Aycliffe in February in 2020.

Jonathan has previous experience in Governance, having held a position as Governor for Sunderland College. He was also an Enterprise Advisor for Joseph Swann Academy in Gateshead.

Jonathan is married to Claire with 3 children and 2 dogs. He is a keen follower of Newcastle United and enjoys to spend time with his family at their caravan near the Lake District.

Kirsty Babister

Kirsty has spent 25 years in operations and procurement & supply chain leadership roles within construction. Those have been within oil, gas and aero settings in the North East of England and Scotland. She has spent time with CEMEX (UK Ltd), Wood Group BTS and Turbine services before joining the manufacturing team at NAY in 2018. Kirsty's career has developed with Hitachi where she is now responsible for UK based procurement & supply chain operations, a critical support function to the manufacturing and delivering team.

Governance Structure

Declaration of interests

Board of Trustees Meeting Attendance

Certificate of Incorporation