The St Laurence Education Trust (SLET) was established in 1997 as the governing body for Ampleforth College.

The Trust is made up of volunteer trustees from a variety of backgrounds who, amongst other things, oversee the financial, educational and strategic management of the school. They have overall responsibility for the school to meet all of the requirements set by external statutory bodies such as The Department for Education and Skills, the Independent Schools Inspectorate and the Charity Commission.

Trustees meet formally every term as a full trustee board and for sub committees but communicate frequently between these meetings. They are regular visitors to the school, meeting staff and students and attending school events. To learn more about the individual trustees, please see the biographies below. To find out more, please contact Liam Kelly, Company Secretary, on

Ampleforth College is undergoing a full review of governance. In October 2018 a framework agreement was signed between the St Laurence Education Trust and the Ampleforth Abbey Trust which ensures that the trusts operate as independent charities with clarity of responsibilities and boundaries.  The agreement places the highest priority on the safeguarding of students.

At the same time, SLET trustees are working with the Director of Governance to enhance governance practice and ensure the highest standards of accountability.  A recruitment programme for SLET has recently yielded a number of new Trustees and Advisers whose skills and experience complement that of our existing Trustees.  This programme is ongoing and we are committed to adding further high calibre individuals to our Board so as to ensure the best strategic leadership and oversight for the future of the College.

Mrs Claire Smith
Chair of the St Laurence Education Trust

Mrs Claire Smith, Chair of the St Laurence Education Trust, worked in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1979-2006 in a variety of roles, including secondments to the private sector.  She has been an adviser to the St Laurence Education Trust since 2010, and became a trustee in September 2012. She was also Chair of a school governing body in the London Borough of Newham from 2008-2013; a Visiting Lecturer and Professor at several universities in the UK, and has worked on a number of international professional development programmes.  She has been a non-executive director of an international engineering consultancy and sat on a Cabinet Office appeals panel. She is a member of the St Laurence Education Trust Planning and Finance Committee, the Ampleforth Abbey Trust Finance and General Purposes Committee, and is the Chair of its Nominations Committee.

  • Mr James O'Neill

    Mr James O'Neill, is a member of the St Laurence Education Trust and member of its Education Committee, has been involved in education for more than forty years. He has taught in state schools in Sheffield, Chelsea, and Bexleyheath, and from 1987-1993 was Deputy Headteacher at All Saints' RC Comprehensive School in Mansfield. From there he became Principal of Carmel College, Darlington, a post he held until 2009. He was a National Leader of Education: in this role he supported other schools facing difficulties with performance outcomes. Current educational roles also include Director of Leadership Links Ltd., Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Education Village Multi-Academy Trust, Former Chair of the Sponsors' Monitoring Group for the St Aidan's CofE Academy, Darlington, and Regional Director and Leadership Development Adviser for the North-East for The Future Leaders Trust. He is a trustee of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough.

  • Mr Matthew Craston

    Mr Matthew Craston was a student at Ampleforth College and a graduate from Oxford University and has worked in London's financial sector for more than 30 years. He began in banking at Chase Manhattan where he spent the 1980s. Through the 1990s he worked in the corporate finance department of SBC and SBC Warburg, and then as a managing director in the leveraged finance group when the bank became UBS Investment Bank. In 2004 he switched to the fund management business, managing credit funds at at European Credit Management Limited for ten years. He has recently set up his own company, Finance Map, to provide students and others with an understanding of the financial world through one-to-one tutorials. Matthew is Chair of the St Laurence Education Trust Planning and Finance Committee and a member of the Ampleforth Abbey Trust Investment Committee.

  • Mrs Elizabeth Berner

    Mrs Elizabeth Berner's professional life has been spent in teaching, particularly working for the Girls' Day School Trust over the course of thirty years.  In some of the Trust's SW London schools roles have included Head of a History Dept, Sixth Form Careers Adviser as well as undertaking subject and general Oxbridge preparation. She has also been a tutor in higher education in HM Prison Wandsworth.  Additionally she has held non-executive directorships in the NHS in the 1990s and currently sits on the boards of various voluntary sector organisations.  Her connection with Ampleforth arises from both her husband and son having been educated at the College, the latter also at the prep school at Gilling Castle, as well as from participation in some of the Lourdes pilgrimages and various retreats at the Abbey.

  • Mr Christopher Adams

    Mr Christopher Adams studied Mathematics at Cambridge University and trained as an accountant, eventually becoming a Partner at Armitage & Norton Chartered Accountants. From there he moved to KPMG, where he became Head of Charities in the North of England, before joining Saffery Champness in 2003. He remained a Partner there until 2012. He is now a self-employed Chartered Accountant, acting in a personal capacity as a trustee and board member for a small number of commercial companies, family trusts and charities. He is a member of the St Laurence Education Trust Planning and Finance Committee and Chair of the Ampleforth Abbey Trust Audit and Risk Management Committee.

  • Rachel Fletcher

    Rachel Fletcher worked at Ampleforth College for 23 years, initially as a Teacher of English. She later joined the Senior Leadership Team as Director of Professional Development before taking up the post of Director of Admissions until her retirement in 2014.  She has served as a Governor at St Benedict's RC Primary, Ampleforth, St Martin's Prep School, Nawton and St Mary's Girls' School, Baldersby.  She was also previously a Trustee of St Martin's Ampleforth Prep School.


  • Peter Leppard

    Peter Leppard's career has been in public transport, both the private and public sector, from Clerk to Operations & Safety Director. Most of his roles had a focus on people-management. He is now busy as a part-time consultant for the rail industry. Peter was previously a governor at Longley Park Sixth Form College in Sheffield and he is a keen amateur singer.

  • Robin Burdell

    Robin Burdell was a student at Ampleforth and went on to careers in Nat West Bank and Fisons Pharmaceuticals before moving in to the education sector in senior management appointments. A qualified management accountant, Robin has been a school Bursar for 18 years at three independent schools, Nottingham High School, Truro School and Worth School during which time he was elected to the executive committee of the Independent Schools Bursars' Association. He has also spent 4 years as a management consultant, project managing the merger of two independent schools, carrying out Bursar appraisals and structural reviews, and is now a professional headhunter helping schools to recruit their Bursar and senior support executives.