Elaine Simpson

Non-Executive Governor

With over 30 years’ experience in UK education, Elaine is an influential figure who has achieved positive change in how regional and national education is delivered, managed and perceived.

Elaine’s career spans public, private and third sectors, with her last executive role being at FTSE 100 listed service company Serco, driving excellent outcomes and improved financial performance for education service providers, often in turnaround situations. She now holds a portfolio of Board roles including chairing Minerva Education, Chairing the National Children’s Bureau, being Non-Executive Director for Acorn Care and Education, Non-Executive Director of Birmingham Children’s Hospital and a Governor at Staffordshire University.

Elaine’s early roles in the public sector were at Tameside, Trafford and then Liverpool Councils, where she was heavily involved in initiatives such as the Objective 1 funding programme which has been credited with transforming Merseyside. Her commitment to achieving inclusion and revitalisation for severely disadvantaged communities has been central to her professional career.

It was at Education Walsall, a Serco contract won as part of dramatic measures to reverse failing education services, that Elaine’s ability to achieve major turnaround was first demonstrated.


In January 2003, Elaine took Walsall Education Services through a complex change management programme, to deliver nationally unprecedented performance improvement

Elaine was subsequently promoted and in her role as Managing Director, Serco Education & Children’s Services she took on the company’s Education Bradford contract in addition to Walsall, ultimately with responsibility for managing and growing Serco’s UK education portfolio. In this highly operational role, Elaine reversed losses, restored profitability and grew the business from c£70m pa to c£150m pa. Elaine has excellent analytical abilities – she has an honours degree in Mathematics from Birmingham University – and an astute business brain – she led numerous negotiations, won new contracts and secured renewal of existing arrangements worth over £100m pa, achieving diversification of the Serco education portfolio.

In her last position with Serco, Elaine took a more strategic and global role, contributing to the development of overseas and less mature markets. She has also undertaken major projects including acquisitions and successful start up and growth of Serco’s first independent Special School and Serco’s entry into the HE market. She has also worked with the present government to explore and evaluate world class practice from other markets which can benefit the UK.

Elaine has substantial Board experience from numerous other roles including as Non-Executive Director, Ashfield Young Offenders Institute, Director, Business in the Community Director, Merseyside Connexions and Chair of Education Board, Business Services Association.

Elaine is an inclusive and inspiring leader. She is able to influence and steer people outside of her ‘chain of command’ and gets results from her own teams by open communication and empowerment. She brings warmth and a good sense of humour, as well as tremendous intellectual and commercial capacity.



Members of the board