Key Staff

River Academy is being established by the Maiden Erlegh Trust and is a natural extension of the Trust’s commitment to aiming high, being inclusive and working together, and prioritising the education, well-being and personal development of every student.

A well-known provider of high-quality education for local communities, the Trust opened Maiden Erlegh School in Reading in September 2015, which has been oversubscribed ever since and was graded ‘Good’ in all categories by Ofsted in June 2018 and November 2023.


Andy Hartley, BA (Hons), PGCE - Principal Designate

Before Andy Hartley was appointed Headteacher of River Academy, he was Headteacher at Maiden Erlegh Chiltern Edge.  Since January 2024, Andy has been working full time on the River Academy project.

Andy began teaching in the 1990s at Little Heath School in Reading before enjoying a few years teaching in Kuwait. On his return, he worked at Edgbarrow School in Crowthorne as Head of History, followed by a spell as Head of Year and four years as Head of Sixth Form. Then followed a move to the Downs School in Compton where, as Assistant Head, Andy oversaw the Sixth Form in particular. Whilst here, the school achieved some phenomenal exam results which led to some national recognition and speaking engagements at large conferences.

From here, Andy was appointed Deputy Headteacher at Brakenhale School in Bracknell. Working as part of a team, the school was transformed in a matter of four years, leading to the first student successfully gaining a place at Oxford University in the school's 50 year history, to a very successful OFSTED inspection and to a hugely oversubscribed school after many years of decline and underperformance.

Out of school, Andy spends most weekends on the touchline or courtside watching his children play sport. When time permits, he still plays a bit of football, a bit of golf and goes for the odd run.

Establishing a new school is a team effort and the project team responsible for establishing River Academy draws on a wide range of skills and expertise that exists within Maiden Erlegh Trust. Overseeing this project is a Steering Group made up of trustees and the Trust executive team. 

Laura Billingham - Deputy Headteacher

Laura began teaching in 2007 at Altwood School in Maidenhead. Specialising in English, she very quickly took on responsibility within the department. During her time there, she held pastoral responsibilities for transition as well as the role of Director of Studies for Key Stage 3. Laura made the move to The Hurst School in 2012 to be Head of English. This was then followed by promotion to the Senior Leadership Team, first as Assistant Headteacher and then most recently, in 2021, as Deputy Headteacher. Laura oversees the Quality of Education - all things curriculum, teaching and learning, and the continuing professional development of staff.

Away from school, Laura enjoys nothing more than a friendly (but competitive!) game of netball, a good book, and the company of friends and family. 

Becky Clarke - Assistant Headteacher (SENCo)

Becky began teaching French and Italian at Headlands School in Swindon in 1991, then moved to Meadway School in Tilehurst in 1992 for 3 years. After time at home as a full-time mum to 3 young sons, Becky resumed teaching as a supply teacher in local Reading Borough Primary schools, and then in 2004 started teaching on a supply basis at Maiden Erlegh School in Earley, gradually building up to full-time work there - teaching both French, and Purple Pathway English classes. When the Maiden Erlegh Trust opened Maiden Erlegh School in Reading in 2015, Becky moved to serve on the team setting up the new school, leading the French department and the Purple Pathway course. 

Since she was appointed SENCO at Maiden Erlegh School in Reading in 2016, Becky has successfully built up the SEN department and developed the SEN offer as the new school grew year by year. She also had the opportunity to serve at Maiden Erlegh Chiltern Edge as part-time SENCO to cover a maternity leave in 2021, further broadening her experience. 

In her spare time, Becky enjoys cooking and hosting, walking with friends, and spending time with family. She is a Deacon at her Church and an honorary life member of her local cricket club. 

Becky is very much looking forward to being part of the leadership team to set up and establish River Academy.