Folkestone Academy Directors:

Professor Carl Lygo

Chair of Board of Directors

Carl qualified as a Barrister and, in addition to private practice, is a former lecturer in law at Leeds and London universities.  Carl is the founding Vice Chancellor of the UK’s leading private University for the Professions, BPP University and is a Professor of English Law, having been included in the “Hot 100 Lawyers” in the UK rankings. Carl spent 20 years at the multi-national BPP Professional Education Group retiring from the Chief Executive role in 2017.

Carl is a board member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Chairman of the Association of Cost Lawyers Training and a non-executive director of the football higher education provider UCFB based at Wembley and Etihad Stadium (Manchester City).   Carl has contributed evidence on standards and accountability in education at university level to the parliamentary Education Select Committee and is currently a Higher Education Commissioner.  Carl has also contributed to policy advising David Willetts, as well as governments in other jurisdictions on their education standards and offer. Carl has been included in the top 50 Most Influential People in UK Higher Education list and is a winner of the prestigious Gold Award from the Association of Colleges.

Carl is passionate about transforming outcomes for children growing up in deprivation through doing things differently, inspired by the motto of his own school in Doncaster.  Carl has been a school Governor at Highworth Girls’ Grammar School in Ashford, Kent.  He has experience of leading Post 16 education having served as a Director of Mander Portman Woodward (MPW), independent sixth form college group based in London, Birmingham and Cambridge. Carl is also the founding chair of Turner Schools.  Carl is a regular commentator on Radio 4.  Carl lives in East Kent and has five children.  


CArl lygo

Gary Cottle BSc MSc

Chair of Audit Committee

Member of Finance & GP Committee

Gary Cottle attended the Wyndgate School (predecessor school to the Folkestone Academy) and went on to obtain a BSc in Mathematics and a MSc in Computational Statistics before embarking on a PhD programme at City University. Gary worked for companies such as Chase Manhattan, Barclays Capital and Morgan Stanley before joining RBS in 2007. Gary eventually became their Global Head of Corporate Risk Solutions and sat on the CEO Board Operating Committee and GBM Corporate and Social Responsibility Management and Graduate Hiring Boards.

In 2012 Gary joined Nomura and in 2013 was appointed Managing Director and Head of Fixed Income Europe, Middle East and Africa, Nomura International.

Gary has 20 years’ experience in recruiting, training and mentoring graduate and MBA students and has a close involvement with a South West Universities campaign to introduce more students to mathematics courses.


Gary Cottle

Tracy Luke

Member of Standards Committee

After University, Tracy started her career as a teacher progressing through to Head of Department, Head of Year, Assistant Head, Deputy Head, and onto Head and Executive Principal.   Tracy is a National Leader of Education and a serving Ofsted Inspector and last year served on the 'Sub Regional Forum' for the South East, which is a group of Heads advising and acting as a sounding board for the Regional Schools' Commissioner.

Tracy arrived at Folkestone School for Girls in 2001 as Deputy Head responsible for target setting, data, teaching, curriculum, KS4 pastoral care and the Specialism (Mathematics and Computing).  Approximately 2 years later she was promoted to Head teacher.  In 2007 Tracy was appointed Principal of The Marsh Academy. 

From January 2008 to December 2012 Tracy was Executive Principal of The Folkestone School for Girls and The Marsh Academy.   She is extremely proud of the progress The Marsh Academy made during this time, including the re-building of the school. The Folkestone School for Girls also moved from Good to Outstanding during this period.  From January 2013 to the present, Tracy has been Principal of The Folkestone School for Girls.

Tracy has experience as a Governor at Tonbridge School (part of The Marsh Academy link), NewLine Learning Academy and also at The Kent Health Needs Service.


Tracy Luke

Michael Pearce Dip Val Surv MRICS

Member of Standards Committee

Safeguarding Linked Governor

Michael Pearce has been a school governor since 2004 and was the Chair of Governors of Park Farm Primary School at the time it was merged with the Folkestone Academy to create the All Age Academy, whereupon he joined the Board of Trustees. Although he has a particular interest in the primary phase, Michael is a member of the full Governing Body and sits on the Standards Committee and the Governors’ Discipline Committee.

Michael is a Chartered Surveyor and works as Head of Litigation & Procedures Policy for the Valuation Office Agency.


Michael Pearce

Peter Roberts MA

Chairman of Standards Committee

Peter Roberts was educated at Tiffin School, Kingston Upon Thames and then read Modern History at Merton College, Oxford where he received a first class honours degree. He worked at Winchester College, first as Head of History then also as Master in College. In 2003 he was appointed Headmaster of Bradfield College. In his time at Bradfield he was awarded "Tatler's Headmaster of the year". Peter is now Headmaster at The King's School, Canterbury, Kent.


Peter Roberts

Mark Taylor FRSA

Chairman of Finance & GP Committee

Following 8 years’ service in the Army, Mark began his career as a Bursar first at Cranbrook School and then Dulwich Prep School. In January 2003 he was appointed as Bursar and Clerk to the Governors at Bedales Schools. In 2010 Mark was appointed as Bursar and Clerk to the Governors of the King’s School Canterbury. Mark has served as Director of the Boarding Schools Association and was appointed in 2010 a Director of the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) where he sits on their Executive Board and Finance committee.

Mark also sits on the Executive committee of the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association (ISBA) and chairs their General Purposes Committee and is a Fellow of the RSA. Mark sits on the Building Council for the School Environment.


Mark Taylor

Alexia Zimbler BSc, MA (Law), Dip Law

Alexia qualified as a Barrister in 1993 and has been practising full time since 1995. She has worked in Hampshire, London and the South-East and the North-East, moving to Kent in 2011. In the area of Criminal Law she acts for both the defence and prosecution.  She has a particular interest in child safeguarding issues and has been instructed to act in countless family court cases where the Local Authority have been required to investigate.  Due to this background of a specialism dealing with children she has recently become involved in Child and Vulnerable Witness training being rolled out to all Barristers throughout the country.

Alexia became interested in education early in her career when she began teaching advocacy to students and trainee barristers. This led her to becoming an external examiner covering the Bar Professional Training Course, where her role involves her monitoring the quality and content of teaching of the BPTC at numerous providers around the country. In 2016 she was appointed as Co-Ordinating External Examiner by the Bar Standards Board, covering all BPTC providers.  She has previously supported local schools in the North-East to become involved in Mock-Trial Competitions and hopes to do the same in Kent. She has also run lectures at schools for 14-18 year olds to increase awareness of sexual offences and the law, with particular reference to social media. She is an advocate for non-selective/comprehensive education, having come through the system herself, is actively engaged in encouraging students from all backgrounds to consider a career at the Bar.


Alexia Zimbler