Our Board

We currently have nine Directors on our Board. Each bringing a wealth of education knowledge and experience to help shape THE Partnership.

Aziz Choudhury

Aziz is Chair of the Spitalfields Small Business Association, with whom he has worked for over 30 years. In the 1980s and 1990s he was Finance Director at Spitalfields Housing Association.

He formed the Spitalfelds Business Club, ran the local business newspaper, East End Enterprise, and has been involved in the governance of many local community projects: East London Small Business Centre; ELBA; Bangla Housing Association and Consortium of Bengali Associations.

He was a Director of the Montefiore Centre until August 2016. Aziz also founded Jalalpur Degree College in Sylhet, and is General Secretary of the ROSAE Trust, which helps hospitals in Bangladesh.

Christine Gilbert

Christine, a former teacher and secondary school headteacher, spent 18 years in secondary schools. She was Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector at Ofsted from 2006 to 2011, and before that worked as Chief Executive of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Corporate Director of Education in Tower Hamlets and Director of Education in the London Borough of Harrow.

Christine is currently Visiting Professor at the UCL Institute of Education, and is involved in a number of local and national education projects. She is the Executive Chair of the charity, Future First.

Debbie Jones

Debbie brings a wealth of experience to the Tower Hamlets Education Partnership and has had an extensive and varied career. Debbie has previously held the post of Regional Director, London and National Director, Social Care with Ofsted and prior to that role she was Executive Director Children and Young People’s Services in Lambeth.

Debbie started her professional career in South London as a practitioner majoring nationally and locally in fostering and adoption, as well as services for disabled children. She has worked across a number of Local Authorities in both unitary and Shire Counties, as well as a spell in Further Education. With a Masters in Public Sector Management, Debbie has held a variety of senior leadership roles including: Assistant Director in Slough, Corporate Director Children and Learning at Luton Council, Interim Director of Children’s services at Stoke on Trent City Council and Acting Director of Social Care and Health for Durham County Council.

Debbie served as President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) from 2012-2013.

Michael Keating

Michael first became a school governor in 1986, serving several local schools and Tower Hamlets College. From 1994 to 2002 he was a councillor and served as Chair of the Education Committee and Lead Member for Education.

He later worked as a senior council officer with responsibilities including scrutiny, equality, cohesion and partnerships.

Michael is currently supporting the development of integrated health and social care in Tower Hamlets and has been chairing the Advisory Council of THE Partnership.

Robert Crothers


Rob has served as a school governor in Tower Hamlets for over ten years, including as a member of the Interim Executive Board of a school in special measures.

He is also a partner at Clifford Chance LLP and was a member of THE Partnership Steering Group , which was key in the development of THE Partnership from its earliest beginnings.

Shahanaz Begum

Between 2010 and 2012 Shahanaz worked for Tower Hamlets Council as the Diversity and Equality Coordinator and as a Strategy and Performance Officer. Prior to this, she managed the Prevent strategy roll out across all London boroughs and contributed to the development of national policy on Prevent as the Regional Prevent Manager for the Government Office for London.

She has recently aided in the delivery of a symposium on a comparative look at Muslim and Christian seminary education.

Shahanaz is now a part of the only co-educational training programme for Muslim scholars at Ebrahim College in Whitechapel. She is a member of the Camden Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education and a Trustee of Rashidun supplementary school in Camden.

Sir Alasdair Macdonald

Alasdair was Headteacher of Morpeth School for 21 years until 2013, a school which was one of 12 schools nationally recognised by Ofsted as ‘Achieving against the odds’.

Alasdair has also worked in Malawi and Papua New Guinea, was a member of the DfE’s Headteacher Reference Group and led a national review of PSHE. He is currently working for the Welsh Government on their Schools Challenge programme and as Advocate for their Pupil Premium initiative.

Sir Kevan Collins

Kevan has worked in public service for over 30 years and became the first Chief Executive of the Educational Endowment Foundation in 2011, having previously been Chief Executive of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Having started off as a primary school teacher, he went on to be National Director of the Primary Literacy Strategy and then Director of Children’s Services in Tower Hamlets.

Kevan is a visiting professor at the IOE University College London, he was knighted for services to education in 2015.

Stephen Purse

Stephen has recently retired from his post as Chief Financial Officer for Clifford Chance LLP, a post which he had held since 2005. Here, he has been responsible for all aspects of financial management within the Firm, and a member of the Executive Leadership Group. Prior to that, Stephen held a number of senior posts: Finance Director of Management Consulting Group PLC; Finance Director of Westminster Healthcare Holdings; and some 24 years with KPMG, the last 12 years as a partner.

Currently, Stephen is also a Governor and Chair of the Finance & Resources Committee for Harbinger School. He has also served as Treasurer of Book Trust and Chair of Rail Settlement Plan and was a Numbers Partner for Shapla School.

Board non-voting observers

Tracy Smith

Executive Director of Tower Hamlets Education Partnership

Christine McInnes

LBTH Divisional Director Education & Partnerships