The Executive Team

Matt Sambrook - Chief Executive Officer

Matt Sambrook joined Transforming Futures Trust in October 2023, having been Executive Principal/ CEO of another small multi-academy Trust for the last six years, which covered mainstream and specialist provision from 4-19. Prior to joining, Matt had been working in education for 21 years, across the breadth of primary, secondary, special, alternative provision and Trust leadership. This has included being a substantive headteacher for 12 years across three different schools and taking two of them from special measures to good. Over the last six years Matt has also been an Executive Principal/CEO where he has led the re-development of a Multi-Academy Trust, driven significant improvement and development in all the Trust schools and led the specialist provision to be identified as a centre of excellence within the local area.

During his time as a school and system leader Matt has undertaken a number of part-time secondments, which have included: Head of SEND and Inclusion for Wiltshire LA through the pandemic, work for Ofsted as an Associate Inspector and a wide range of school improvement work for Local Authorities, teaching schools and other Trusts. Matt has a passion for working with those who are most disadvantaged by the educational system and has been involved in both local area and DfE projects to look at system improvement and development issues in the areas of increasing access, behaviour, exclusion and inclusive systems. He also has a Masters and PhD in Education specialising in inclusion.

In his spare time Matt likes to spend time with his family, read, stay active and be involved in his local community. 

Sandra Harris - Deputy CEO: Chief Governance & Operating Officer


Sandra Harris joined Transforming Futures Trust late December 2021, initially in an interim role and since appointed to the establishment of the Trust.  She is an accomplished senior executive, qualified Chartered Secretary and Administrator and governance specialist, primarily within the public sector but also within the third sector, operating within complex environments with experience of both educational and political contexts.

Previously Centre Manager for the Wales Centre for Public Policy at Cardiff University, Sandra was responsible for the smooth operation of the Centre effectively leading and managing its governance and operations.  She is a former Chief of Staff of a major public sector shared business services company, prior to which she was Head of the CEO Office at a large Welsh local authority. In addition, she has delivered research, consultancy and evaluation projects specialising in the areas of governance, public policy and administration, and organisational development.

She has a PGDip in Public Leadership and Management from the University of Warwick, a PGCert in Higher Education Leadership and Management, and a BA (Hons) Business Studies. She is also a Certified Coach Mentor.

In her spare time, she plays an active community role which has included being a school Foundation Governor, holding extra responsibilities for additional learning needs, safeguarding and the Wales digital literacy framework. 

Nilesh Jethwa - Chief Financial Officer

Nilesh Jethwa joined Transforming Futures Trust in October 2023, having previously worked across a range of roles in local authority finance spanning over 12 years. Nilesh was formerly Assistant Director Finance for a London local authority and has extensive experience in Childrens Services finance, covering schools and high-needs funding as well as childrens social care. Nilesh has been a finance specialist for over 30 years, working across a range of business sectors including broadcasting and retail. 


Hannah Smart - Executive Headteacher, ACE Tiverton

Hannah Smart began teaching over twenty years ago and is a secondary English teacher by specialism. Over the course of Hannah's career, she has held a variety of roles across mainstream and special school settings, including Whole School Literacy Leader,  Head of Year, Assistant and Deputy Headteacher.  Hannah is a committed lifelong learner and models this approach to continually learn and develop her knowledge and skills. Hannah holds her NPQH and also further post graduate qualifications in leadership and innovation in education.

Across all my career, Hannah has held system leadership roles, including SSAT Ambassador, Peer Mentor and Chair of Governors. Currently, Hannah is a Specialist Leader of Education and have held this role across the South West region since 2017, facilitating training, mentoring and coaching in the areas of Social, Emotional and Mental Health in school, Positive Relationship Strategies and Teaching and Learning with a specific focus on supporting students with additional needs. 

Ruth Westwood - Executive Headteacher, ACE Schools

Ruth Westwood was born in Leicestershire but her family moved every couple of years so she experienced a variety of schools in the UK and abroad. Ruth qualified as a Systems Engineer at Warwick and worked in the food production and tyre manufacturing industries for several years working on quality assurance, process development and production planning and management. After a break Ruth completed a PGCE in maths and taught in a range of secondary schools in the southwest before moving into alternative education. During her time at ACE Ruth has had a variety of middle and senior leadership roles before leading the school to a Good Ofsted Judgement in February 2019 as Acting Head.

As well as her role as Head Teacher of ACE Schools, Ruth leads on safeguarding for the trust and chairs the Safeguarding in Education Reference Group for the Plymouth Safeguarding Children Partnership and is a member of the Partnership Board.

Mark Ruffett - Executive Headteacher, Courtlands School & Mount Tamar School

Mark Ruffett joined Transforming Futures Trust in April 2024 as Executive Headteacher of Courtlands and Mount Tamar Schools. He originally trained as a primary teacher and after 9 years working up to a deputy headteacher position in the primary mainstream sector he moved into the specialist sector. Mark worked as deputy headteacher, headteacher and executive headteacher in a special school for 10 years. Within this role he has also held responsibility for Inclusion across the multi-academy trust mainstream settings.

During his time working in education Mark has consistently championed collaboration between schools and has worked with Somerset special schools to establish a school-led improvement community. He also represented specialist settings in Somerset LA forums including their Covid response and the local area action plan. Mark is passionate about improving outcomes for disadvantaged students and those with additional needs.

Outside of school Mark enjoys spending time with his family who love visiting anywhere with animals. He plays golf off single figures and finds peace and relaxation in his garden. 

Helen Hawkes - Executive Officer

Helen Hawkes joined Transforming Futures Trust as the Executive Officer in May 2023 and prior to this worked for a Multi Academy Trust as the PA to CEO and Governance Professional. Helen also spent 10 years working as an Executive Assistant in the media industry and has significant finance and recruitment experience.

In her spare time she enjoys reading, films and spending time with her family and friends.