Executive Team

Ben Slade – Chief Executive

Ben Slade, Chief Executive, SkillForce

Ben is a highly experienced school leader with an impressive track record of school improvement in some of the UK’s most demanding secondary schools.

Prior to joining SkillForce as Chief Executive in 2015, Ben was an Executive Headteacher with Cognita, the UK’s largest independent school provider (backed by KKR and Bregal) having been head hunted by former HMCI, Sir Chris Woodhead. He worked across a wide range of senior and all-through schools in the group on all aspects of school improvement.

Prior to this Ben was Principal of a challenging former special measures secondary school in Cambridgeshire. At the time he was the youngest secondary school Headteacher in the UK. During his tenure, headline GCSE attainment almost quadrupled and the student roll increased by over a third. 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.

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 teacher and then as a Head of Drama and Media in South Wales. 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 and, in 1998, he was awarded a first class honours degree and the Aneurin Davies Memorial Award for “Outstanding Academic Achievement”. Ben holds the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and is a fellow of both the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), the College of Teachers (FCollT). Indeed he is credited as having the original idea for the Royal College of Teachers which is currently being established.

In his spare time, Ben enjoys playing the piano, acting, and writing. He is also Chair of Governors at Kings Hedges School in Cambridgeshire.

Paul Maddox – Director of Finance, Planning and Risk


Paul is a UK qualified ACA chartered accountant and is highly accomplished in all areas of financial control, governance, financial analysis and reporting.

Prior to joining SkillForce, Paul worked as a Financial Controller for BT IT Services, providing businesses with access to one of the most comprehensive IT services portfolios in the market – supplying compelling and differentiated IT solutions. Paul has over five years experience in industry from private-equity backed SMEs to FTSE100 Group companies, with a strong track record in implementing improved financial management and operations.

Elizabeth Manning – Director of Philanthropy and Events


Elizabeth gained 17 years’ experience working with Crimestoppers before joining SkillForce. 

She is the first contact point for new relationships as well as for the many fundraising events. Elizabeth also looks after SkillForce’s supportive Patrons and Ambassadors.

For six years, Elizabeth has served as a volunteer in a Secure Training Centre where she inspires young people to succeed. She is an avid reader of biographies and loves cooking for her family.


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