Senior Leadership Team

Alex Lindley, Executive Head


After graduating from Surrey University with a BSC in Psychology whilst working with children with Autism, Alex went straight into her PGCE.  She started her teaching career in South London pursuing her passion for working with children with Special Educational Needs and inclusion.  She quickly became a SENCo and continued her academic studies to complete her Masters degree in Teaching.  Alex moved back to Hertfordshire in 2007 and took on a role as Assistant Headteacher and SENCo in St Albans and in 2015 she became the Headteacher.


Alex has been the Headteacher of a large 3-form entry Infant & Nursery School in St Albans for 7 years and she has recently taken on an Executive Headteacher role to support school improvement across the Trust.  She has recently been awarded the National Professional Qualification of Executive Leadership.


Alex is passionate about school improvement and supporting teachers and leaders to provide the best possible education for their children.

Cathy Longhurst, Headteacher


Cathy is Headteacher of Mandeville Primary School in St Albans and Executive Headteacher with responsibility for innovation, projects and outreach for the Trust.  She has worked in Hertfordshire for over twenty years and has a strong track record of school improvement and leadership development.  She leads the St Albans Primary Heads' Consortium and is a member of the Hertfordshire Primary Heads' Forum Executive Committee.  During her time working in Spiral Partnership Trust, Cathy has worked as a National Leader of Education and as a Specialist Leader of Education for Early Years and phonics.  She has successfully supported the rapid development of schools through Headteacher coaching and mentoring as well as deploying her experienced staff to work alongside colleagues in other schools through a "school to school support" model.  Cathy believes in the importance of a nurturing approach to teaching, learning and leadership in which kindness and equity is prioritised in an environment which maximises learning for all individuals - children and adults alike.  

Karen Cayford, Headteacher


Karen joined Spiral in September 2018 as Headteacher of Springmead Primary School and has extensive experience in school improvement, successfully improving two underperforming schools to be graded Good with elements of outstanding.  She believes passionately that every child should have the chance to excel and that schools can make a positive difference to very child’s life.  Karen is able to build positive relationships with all members of the school community and her strong leadership brings them together to create a culture of high expectations.


Prior to working in Hertfordshire, Karen led a school in Essex and brings the best of both to her school and Trust.  Karen is also an experienced leader in change, mergers and in creating effective teams and has used her expertise to support other schools within the Trust.


Karen loves being part of the Spiral Partnership Trust and is an advocate for its high quality and range of expertise and effective partnership working.


Previous to education, Karen ran her own successful project consultancy and event management business, working with local authorities, charities and not for profit organisations.

Jen Gardner, Headteacher


Jen enjoys working closely with families to deliver excellent care, quality provision and rich experiences for children.  She is committed to staff development and is passionate about supporting teachers, particularly in their early career stages with their professional learning.  As a long standing member of the Senior Leadership Team at Fleetville Infants, Jen has supported the development of the curriculum, which along with subject knowledge and skills, teaches children to become tolerant, caring citizens.  

Clare Whitehouse, Headteacher


Clare has worked in education for over 15 years.  She has worked across Hertfordshire in various teaching and leadership roles.  Clare was one of the first teachers to complete the National Senco Accreditation and used her knowledge and expertise of working with pupils with SEND to develop and mentor colleagues.


Clare started work as Deputy Headteacher at Fleetville Junior School in January 2021 in charge of developing a text-based curriculum.  She completed her NPQH in June 2021 and became Headteacher at Fleetville Juniors in September 2022.


Clare is passionate about creating an inclusive school where individual differences are celebrated and the curriculum reflects the diversity of school community.  She is committed to offering an inspirational, personalised, and engaging school experience to all children.  She recognises the importance of having high expectations and offering children opportunities to show their strengths and leadership skills in the wider aspects of school life.

Corinna Semon, Chief Finance Officer


Corinna is a qualified accountant (FCCA) with almost two decades of finance experience.  She joined the Trust team in May 2022 having worked in audit and most recently as the Financial Controller of a private company, in a fast-paced industry, with a remit far outreaching that of a typical Financial Controller.  Corinna has a breadth of experience in leading a company and prides herself on having strong business acumen and financial astuteness.  Her approach is asking "how can we work differently, more innovatively, more efficiently, ensuring that we get more resources to the front line and benefit our children?"  Corinna works collaboratively by listening and empathising whilst helping formulate a workable solution.  Underpinning her motivation is Corinna's enthusiasm for providing children the best start in their academic journeys.  Since joining the Trust, Corinna has implemented improved systems, making palpable differences and facilitated collaborative working, allowing the transfer of skills and knowledge.  Outside the Trust, she is a Parent Governor and the PTFA treasurer for her children's school.