Meet the OHCAT Board

Orchard Hill College Academy Trust (OHCAT) Members

Ken Coello

Richard Carter
Trust Member

Jay Mercer
Trust Member

Dr Kaf Tay
Trust Member

Orchard Hill College (representative Darren Coghlan)


OHCAT Board of Directors

Dr Caroline Allen, OBE
CEOCaroline Allen

Dr Caroline Allen OBE has been Principal of Orchard Hill College for 19 years. Orchard Hill College is a specialist college for students over 16 with complex learning difficulties/disabilities. The College was graded outstanding by Ofsted in November 2013.

Caroline is also CEO of Orchard Hill College Academy Trust which is a Multi-Academy Trust with a remit to support and sponsor Academies for children with SEN.

Caroline graduated from Central School of Speech and Drama, with a B.Ed (Hons) degree and worked in Hong Kong. She completed an MBA in 1985 and a PhD relating to organisation culture and management in 2009.

Caroline is Governor of Croydon College and St Dominic’s School, Surrey. She was previously a member of the LSC London Regional Council and Chair of London South LSC. She now sits on the EFA Advisory Board and the London Young People Education and Skills Board.


Jay Mercer
Photo of Jay MercerChair

Jay Mercer is an experienced public sector Corporate and Executive Director who has proved himself an effective change leader and manager by successfully setting up two new-start organisations and turning around two failing ones. He led for the LSC in London on 14-19 development and partnership work. As a consultant, he has delivered successful assignments for public and voluntary sector clients at local, regional and national level. He successfully intervened and turned around Thurrock’s poor JAR outcomes on 14-19 and Youth. In Barnet, he integrated Early Intervention work into the leading edge Troubled Families programme and steered very significant restructuring of children’s centres and youth support services to achieve efficiencies. Most recently he has kickstarted Bristol’s Learning City and Passport to Employment initiatives and reworked Dorset’s Challenge and Improvement Strategy. He is a skilled partnership worker with good contacts and networks, and an experienced Chair, school governor, trustee and non-executive director of charitable and not-for-profit organisations, including this Academy Trust.


Kevin Finnigan
kevin pic june 2011Vice Chair

Kevin Finnigan was a Principal for eight years and a clerk to the corporation for three years. In his last Principal role he achieved outstanding for leadership and management and gained Beacon status for the College. He began his employment as a quality manager in paper manufacturing.

He is an experienced further education professional. He writes and delivers a variety of programmes on improving leadership and management for Colleges.


Stephen Lawes
Stephen lawes photoDirector

Stephen Lawes is an experienced Chartered Accountant who has directed financial management and control in a range of public services, including transport, local government, and education. He lives in Wimbledon and is keen to bring his professional expertise to support the very best educational provision for the communities served by the Trust.


Roger Mills 

Roger has spent a lifetime in publishing, starting as a journalist and finishing three years ago as Regional Managing Director of the capital’s largest group of weekly newspapers. During that period of nearly 35 years in the newspaper industry he has always maintained the strongest possible links with the borough of Sutton, working with young people and education and training. He has previously sat on various government training and development groups and was a governor and chair of a secondary school for nearly five years. His work with the Scout Movement was rewarded by a Medal of Merit after more than 25 years’ involvement.

Since leaving the newspaper industry he has chaired one of the country’s leading mobile phone accessory companies, which was recently awarded the Queens Award for Enterprise. Having decided to concentrate his activities in the voluntary sector, he has worked closely with Carew Academy, is deputy chair of a library, advisor to the borough’s carers group and an advisor to the London Borough of Sutton on the development of new businesses from current departments, and has established a community website.


Yolande Burgess 

Yolande works for London Councils as Strategy Director, Young People’s Education and Skills. She is responsible for the development of the strategic vision for 14 to 19 provision in London. She started her professional career as a Photographic Technician and then worked for the Employment Service as the New Deal District Manager for North London which involved the development of Neighbourhood Renewal strategies in Enfield and Haringey.  Prior to London Councils, Yolande was Partnership Director at the Learning and Skills Council where she was responsible for the planning and commissioning of learning provision locally and regionally and had budget responsibility and accountability of £300m annually.  She was previously a governor of Barking and Dagenham College and is currently a governor of Ambitious College.


Barbara McIntosh                                                         


Barbara has been in the field of learning disability, mental health and children with special needs for 25 years. She is currently a Director at Healthwatch Sutton and a Board member for three organisations that provide learning disability and mental health services. Barbara has worked as a Local Authority Commissioner of Adult Learning Disability Services, as National Head of Children and Young People’s Programmes at the Mental Health Foundation and at the Kings Fund where she led a five year programme to develop education, employment, leisure and social opportunities for people with learning disabilities. She is committed to improving the life chances of children and adults with learning disabilities and is keen to work with families and other partners to achieve this. Barbara is also Chair of the Nightingale Community Academy Local Governing Body.

We’re excited to begin our partnership with Orchard Hill College Academy Trust, together working towards positive outcomes for our students

Andre Bailey, Headteacher

Latest News


A number of boys in Year 7, 8 and 9  went to the Wandle Recreation Centre to take part in the annual Para Football Competition. The boys performed extremely well throughout the tournament and ending up being the winners of the competition!  In addition the …

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Christmas Card Competition Winner!

We are so grateful to Bradley in year 8 for his fabulous work designing our Christmas card for 2017. £15 for an Amazon voucher feels like an absolute bargain for such an amazing effort! Well done Bradley and thank you. …

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A trip to Jamie’s Farm

Students from Nightingale Community Academy have spent the last few nights over at Jamie’s Farm, a provider who offer ‘farming, family and therapy’ through a short residential stay and follow up programme. Their aim is to re-engage children with educational …

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Dallaglio Rugby Works Tournament

Year 9 & 10 boys from Nightingale Community Academy went to Dulwich in South East London to take part in the annual Dallaglio Rugby Works Tournament. After a shaky start the team went on to perform really well and was …

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