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Executive Team

Ben Slade - Chief Executive

Ben is a highly experienced and versatile education professional with an impressive track record of significant and substantial improvement in schools and in the third sector.

Prior to joining SkillForce as Chief Executive in 2015, Ben spent three years as an Education Executive (Executive Headteacher) with Cognita, the UK’s largest independent school provider. He was head hunted for the post by former HM Chief Inspector of Schools, Professor Sir Chris Woodhead. He was responsible for eight senior and all-through schools in the group and worked with the headteachers and leadership teams on all aspects of school improvement. During this period he also acted as Headteacher of Quinton House School where GCSE results improved significantly and the pupil roll grew substantially. The Late Sir Chris described Ben as “a courageous leader” and “an immense talent”.

Before this Ben was Principal of a challenging former special measures and National Challenge secondary school in Cambridgeshire. On appointment he was the youngest state secondary school Headteacher in the United Kingdom. During his tenure, headline GCSE attainment tripled and the student roll increased by over a third despite over 30 years of entrenched negative perceptions. Ofsted described the school’s turnaround as “remarkable” and “exceptional” and capacity for improvement under his leadership as “outstanding” prompting a number of high profile visits including TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2012.

Following an early career with the BBC as a children’s television presenter (some 40 hours of television for network BBC 1), Ben’s educational career began in the Arts, first as a Drama and Theatre Arts teacher and then as a Head of Drama and Media Studies. He subsequently became the Head of Creative and Performing Arts in a 1750-pupil, 11-18 secondary school in Kent, before gaining the Vice-Principal position in the school at just 26.

Ben trained in Drama and Education at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and Cardiff Metropolitan University (joint course) and, in 1998, he was awarded first class honours and the Aneurin Davies Memorial Award for “outstanding academic achievement”. Ben was one of the youngest people in the UK to gain the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) in 2006. Furthermore he is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and The College of Teachers (FCollT). He is also credited (in 2012) as conceiving the original idea for the brand new Chartered College of Teaching which has just come to fruition. In late 2016 Ben also gained the Certificate in Company Direction from the Institute of Directors.

Ben is currently enjoying coordinating the development and implementation of the Prince William Award programme, an idea he conceived in 2015 brought to fruition by colleagues at SkillForce, specialist writers, Headteachers from England, Scotland and Wales, our academic partners the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at Birmingham University, Standard Life plc and of course Kensington Palace. A real team effort!

Rosalind Vahey - Director of Operations and Compliance

BSc (Hons) PGCE MSc MSc Ed Man AFBPsS HCPC - Reg

Ros joined SkillForce from Cognita Schools in October 2016, where she had been Head of Education Compliance (Europe) for four years. Ros has spent all of her career to date in school improvement. She is an Ofsted inspector, an educational psychologist and a primary school teacher with a specialism in the Early Years and SEN.

Ros has extensive experience in leadership and management in education in the public sector where she worked largely in shire authorities such as Worcestershire, Essex, Bucks and Norfolk for more than twenty five years. Her achievements include holding the role of a Local Authority Director of Children’s Services.

Ros specialises in ensuring high quality service delivery, working in partnership with teachers and parents and supporting children and young people with additional and special educational needs and disabilities. Ros developed strategy and policy for children in care, those at risk of exclusion from school, and all other vulnerable children and young people including commissioning and the provision of services.

She successfully led a national award winning team for Building Schools for the Future in her role as Deputy Chief Executive in Leeds, transforming the learning environments including via a brilliant and innovative public-private sector partnership.

Ros lives in York with her son and enjoys driving around in her beloved Morgan when not on SkillForce business!

Elizabeth Manning - Director of Philanthropy and Events


Elizabeth is a highly successful Fundraising Director with extensive experience within the not-for-profit and charity sectors.

As London Manager of Crimestoppers for 17 years, she established significant strategic partnerships through first class networking skills and formulated and executed event programmes to complement the marketing and communication functions.

Working for SkillForce for the last 5 years, her experience in fundraising and knowledge of relationship management has enabled the charity to expand its Ambassador programme and major donor support hitherto in its infancy.

Elizabeth’s recent successes include organising our first ever Gala Dinner (2014) in the presence of our Royal Patron, raising £230,000 and developing a major donor strategy that has culminated in 2 donors jointly giving £650,000 over 3 years.

Working closely with the co-operation of our Royal Patron’s office, Elizabeth invited HRH The Duke of Cambridge to ‘trade’ for SkillForce at both BGC and ICAP Charity Trading Days that benefitted the charity by £125,000 and £150,000 respectively.

Her responsibilities include project managing Charity of the Year relationships (currently 100 Women in Hedge Fund Foundation for the second time in 5 years), identifying those individuals who would be appropriate and active Ambassadors and inviting them to join us and creating an event portfolio that supports the Ambassador programme and introduces new donors for long term support.

For ten years, Elizabeth has been associated with a Secure Training Centre serving as a volunteer for young people on remand or sentenced, age 13-17 years.

She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an avid reader of biographies, gardening and cooking for her family which remain high on her personal priorities.

Lucinda Foulkes-Arnold - Director of Learning


Following her graduation from the University of Hull, Lucinda Foulkes-Arnold completed her PGCE at the University of Leicester. She began her career in education as a teacher of modern foreign languages in schools in Leicester.

Lucinda has worked as both departmental and pastoral head and became Vice Principal in one of Leicester’s most challenging schools as part of a newly appointed senior leadership team, gaining her NPQH within her first year in post. A change of career followed when she left teaching to join SkillForce as the Regional Director for SkillForce in the Midlands, leading a team of forty ex-military personnel and growing the charity’s footprint across the region. Lucinda’s experience in education made her uniquely placed to assume the role of Head of Education for the charity, which led ultimately to her most recent appointment as Director of Learning. A personal commitment to continued learning resulted in her gaining an MBA from De Montfort University in 2013.