All Academy governors know what their legal responsibilities are and how these fit in with the responsibilities of the Principal, the Sponsors, the Local Authority and the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. Governors are a crucial part of how schools/academies operate. They play both a supportive role, but also one related to accountability and challenge. As Sponsors of the Academy, the City of London Corporation and City, University of London make up the vast majority of the governing body. There is, however, also representation from the community, staff, parents and the local authority. Governor’s responsibilities are listed in the Academy’s funding agreement.

The City of London Corporation offers us physical support in terms of sponsorship, but equally important are the partnerships we are forming with the schools in the City and with the business world. This Academy is a “business and enterprise” specialist. Our sponsorship allows us to make links with business, draw on the expertise of mentors, and set up work experience opportunities in the City. The links are not just to the financial world, but also through the livery companies to law and accounting. Equally important is our link to City University London which offers another source of expertise and a range of partnership activities. All this is focused on providing our students with additional opportunities and direction, and supporting the regeneration of London boroughs. City, University of London has expended tremendous amounts of time and are committed to the success of our students. We have made strong links with the University and our students benefit from having access to one of the top universities in the country.

For further information about how to become an Academy governor, then please contact us. If you would like more general information about the role of the governor, then please click on the link below.

Governors Attendance 2020 - 21

Governor Declaration of Pecuniary and Personal Interest

Governing Body Members

The Full Governing Body consists of the following:

Chair of the Full Governing Body

Mr Russell Willmer

City of London Corporation

Russell graduated from Wadham College, Oxford with a First in Chemistry in 1981. From there he has spent over 35 years in the reinsurance industry in the City of London as both a broker and an underwriter. He founded the London operations of a US reinsurance company and has also been a non-executive director of a Lloyds Managing Agency. He is keen to support COLAI’s staff in their aim of delivering the best educational outcomes for the pupils and to aid the financial management of the Academy as Deputy Chair of the Personnel, Finance and Premises Committee. Russell has lived in Islington for the past 12 years and is a keen cricketer with 2 children.

Sponsor Governors

Sanowar Khan

City, University of London

Hafiza Patel

City, University of London

Hafiza represents City University of London whilst acting as a Governor for the City of London Academy Islington, she is a lead governor for safeguarding and is also a member of the Personnel, Finance and Premises Committee.

At the University she works as Assistant Director Financial Performance where she provides leadership to optimise the financial performance and promotes a culture of financial awareness to ensure delivery of financial results. The finance team was shortlisted in the Times Higher as outstanding finance team of the year in 2016.

She is also a Global visiting lecturer in Accounting and Finance as she teaches on the MSc Maritime and Operations Management programme both in London and in Greece, a programme ranked 12th in the world and 1st in the UK in 2020.

When she is not working or teaching, her love of sports, knowing the benefits it provides physically and more importantly mentally inspired her to help set up Muslimah Sports Association (MSA), a multi award winning charity, which aims to empower women through sports. MSA provides opportunities for women through participation, volunteering and coaching.  As trustee at MSA, she leads on Strategic development and risk management. 

Reema Khan

City, University of London

Reema has spent the majority of the past 20 years working in the Arts and Heritage sector in the field of membership, communications, and fundraising. She has worked at English Heritage, Historic Royal Palaces, Royal Academy of Arts and currently is now working within Higher Education at The Business School (formally Cass), City University as Advancement Director. Reema is a trustee at The Campaign to Protect Rural England, a trustee at The Liverpool Biennial and was previously trustee of the arts publishing charity Bookworks. Reema lives in London with her young son. 

Mr Ronald W. Zeghibe

City, University of London

Ron has 25 years experience in leading management buyouts, startups and corporate turn-around situations. He joined Xenomorph Software Holdings Ltd., as Chairman, at the beginning of 2016 to assist its rapid growth and to help it maximize the opportunities presented by the rapidly changing regulations in the Global Capital Markets. Currently, he is also the Non Executive Chairman of The Money Cloud, a cloud based solution for the price comparison and execution of foreign exchange transactions as well as a member of the Investment Committee of New Model Venture Capital. In 2016, he became a member of the Governing Council of City, University of London. He joined the Governing Board of City of London Academy in September of 2017. Previously, he spent 8 years as the Chairman of the Friends of the Royal Academy of Art.


Mr Peter Colet Laurie


The Worshipful Company of Saddlers

Peter is now retired, but upon leaving school, pursued a career in shipping for 50 years. For 45 of which he was a member of the Baltic Exchange as a shipbroker. Peter became a Freeman and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers in 1970 and worked his way up through the Company until he became Master in 2011/12. Throughout his time on the Court he has sat on various of the Company’s committees,particularly their Charities committee. 
Staff Governor

Ruth Johal

Ruth Johal has worked within education for 20 years. Ruth joined the City of London Academy Islington in 2013 as Educational Welfare Officer. Since then, she has been Head of House and is now Deputy Designated Safefguarding Lead, in addition to her role as Educational Welfare Officer.

Ruth Works extensively with famlies to support good attendance which then leads to better educational outcomes.  

Community Governor

Mr Eric Sorensen


Local Authority

Vivien Cutler

Vivien’s career in education and skills spans over 40 years. Working mainly in schools in Islington and Tower Hamlets – including a middle manager role at COLAI’s predecessor school, Islington Green - she held secondary headships in both boroughs and was the first woman head of Highbury Grove. From there, she moved into senior positions in local authorities and also worked in the Civil Service with a focus on learning and skills.

She has experience both as a sixth form college and school governor. Most recently, she was the local councillor for St Peter's ward and chaired the Islington Councils Children's Services Scrutiny Committee from 2019-2021.

Parent Governors


Akbabur Rahman 

Akbabur joined COLAI as a parent governor in 2021. He is a local resident and has lived in the borough all his life.  Akbabur has worked with vulnerable communities and gangs for the past 10 years, within the local authority and various voluntary organisations. As such, Akbababur is well equipped to understand the challenges communities face and  is planning to introduce skills on how to engage and support young people

Samantha Hobbs  

Samantha joined COLAI as a parent governor in 2021. She has lived, worked and volunteered in Islington for nearly 20 years and has excellent knowledge of the local area. Samantha has gained sound knowledge of the education sector, not only as a parent, but through her volunteering experience as Treasurer of the PTA at a primary school also based in Islington. She has 20 years’ Human Resources experience gained within commercial, charity and sports sectors and she currently works at The Football Association managing learning, development and HR services.