Our Board of Directors

BFfC is an alternative deliver model. We are a company limited by guarantee, wholly owned by Reading Borough Council, but run by an independent Board of Directors. The Chair of the Board and its Non-Executive Directors were recruited to bring senior-level skills and experience from different sectors.

A representative of RBC sits on the Board along with Executive Directors responsible for the day-to-day operation of the company. The Board is responsible for setting the strategy of the company, ensuring that the contract objectives are met, and safeguarding the children and young people of Reading.

Di SmithChair

Di has been Chair of the Board of Brighter Futures for Children since April 2020. She has spent her career in education and children’s services and has extensive leadership experience across schools and local authorities. She has been a Director of Children’s Services in four different areas and has been a head teacher, Ofsted inspector and chair of governors.

She has been a member of the children’s workforce for over forty years and is passionate about improving the outcomes and life chances of children and young people, particularly those who are most vulnerable.

Di has developed a portfolio career providing consultancy and improvement support to a number of local authorities. She has been independent chair of a local safeguarding children’s board and scrutineer of safeguarding partnership arrangements. She was a Trustee at the Children’s Society for nine years and is currently Independent Chair of the Safeguarding Advisory Committee for the Diocese in Europe.

Di chairs the Board and the Quality Assurance and Improvement Committee.

Darren CarterExecutive Director of Finance

Darren has been Finance Director at Reading Borough Council since April 2021.

He has been involved in a number of major projects in his career, including the role of Finance Lead for the construction of the Aquatic Centre for the 2022 Commonwealth Games; helping to set up Sandwell Children’s Trust and working on the creation of the West Midlands combined authority and its £8bn investment programme. But Darren is passionate about education, schools and children’s services.

Darren started his career at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, in the West Midlands, where he achieved an accountancy qualification and continued to work for more than 30 years. During that time he progressed to the position of Director of Finance and then Executive Director for Resources.

He left Sandwell to build the finance team at RBC and help the borough pursue its big plans and ambitions for the future. Darren will continue in his role at RBC while acting as BFfC’s interim Executive Director of Finance for one day a week.

Deborah GlassbrookExecutive Director of Children’s Services

Deborah, who was appointed as DCS in November 2019, describes herself as ‘a social worker through and through’ and has a deep and thorough understanding of the issues we face.

She joins BFfC from Achieving for Children, where she was Director of Improvement. Deborah’s wealth of experience in children’s social care and specifically in improving quality and performance, will be instrumental in the journey ahead.

Deborah is looking forward to building on the company’s recently improved Ofsted rating and helping to drive up standards by embedding new ways of working, improving practice and keeping up the positive momentum as we work towards ‘outstanding’.

Picture of non-executive board member Tony Byrne

Antony ByrneNon-Executive Director

Tony is currently the CEO for DEBRA UK, a national charity that supports individuals and families affected by Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). He also holds Non-Executive Director positions for Cumbria County Holdings Ltd, Orian Solutions Ltd and Cumbria Waste Management Ltd, commercial companies wholly owned by Cumbria County Council involved in catering, cleaning and waste management.

Tony has held numerous senior management positions in various industries including catering, facilities management, hotels and retail. He has worked in the UK and Internationally.

His previous non-executive positions have been for the School Food Trust (Department of Education), Springboard, The Inspire and Achieve Foundation and finally as a Governor for Salesian College (Farnborough) Ltd where he was Chair of Governors for four years and served on the Board for a total of nine years. He has been a Governor for a primary school as well.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Certified Member of the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management.

Nicola GilhamNon-Executive Director

Nicola is a portfolio NED focused on the health and social care sector. As a qualified chartered accountant, she has experience of sitting on both operating and executive boards within the UK and Australia.

In addition to executive roles at Arthur Andersen and Michael Page, she was latterly Chief Executive at a leading HR recruitment consultancy. Nicola is currently NED for Turning Point ( a social enterprise, providing specialist and integrated services which focus on improving lives and communities across mental health, learning disability, substance misuse). She is also a NED for both Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and the Vale of Aylesbury Housing Trust, and Vice Chair of Child Bereavement UK.

At BFfC, Nicola is Chair of both the Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) Committee and Finance Committee. She also sits on the Audit and Risk Committee.

Paul SnellNon-Executive Director

Paul is currently a Co-Opted Member on the Service Delivery Committee for the NSPCC, a position he has held since December and since 2010 he has been Chair of WDI – a small niche consulting and coaching company focused on organisation, team and individual development. He has also been a Board Member since 2012 with Care Visions, a children’s and adult’s social care provider, delivering high quality residential care and fostering in Scotland and care at home in England.

Formerly, Paul was a Board Member with Ofsted from 2011 until January this year, with a specific lead role in relation to Ofsted’s social care responsibilities and safeguarding. Until recently he was also National Trustee, Council Member and Chair of Audit for Action for Children. In 2012 Paul spent a year as a Development Consultant for the Health Information and Quality Authority – the health and social care regulator for the Republic of Ireland. He led the development and implementation of a new methodology to undertake the first ever inspection programme of child protection in Ireland.

Paul currently works as an Independent Executive Coach and Mentor. Before this he had a 33-year career in Social Care. Starting as a qualified Social Worker, he worked for Coventry City Council and then moved on to be Assistant Director of Social Services for Birmingham City Council, Chief Social Services Officer for the London Borough of Bexley and Corporate Director of Social Services and Acting Chief Executive for Nottingham City Council. In 2004 he joined the Commission for Social Care Inspection as Director of Inspection Regulation & Review, then becoming Chief Inspector and Chief Executive in 2006 for 3 years. Paul spent 6 months in 2009 as Interim Chief Executive of the General Social Care Council. He has strong social care and regulatory understanding with extensive board experience.

Seona DouglasNon-Executive Director

Seona is Director of Adult Care and Health Services for Reading Borough Council. She represents the Council on the board. She has worked in social care for over 40 years and joined Reading in 2017 from Oxfordshire County Council, where she held the post of Deputy Director of Adult Social Care for more than three years.

She has previous experience of working across Berkshire, in both Children and Adult services both as a front-line social worker and manager, and also has experience of managing across health and social care services.

Seona is passionate about practice and has kept up to date with her own development and is a member of the Research in Practice Board and is Chair of the National Safeguarding Policy Network for ADASS.

Dr Calvin PikeNon-Executive Director

Calvin has enjoyed more than four decades in education, propelled by a passion to address inequality and improve the opportunities and outcomes of all learners.

He is Chair of London Learning Consortium, a community interest company that provides accredited training, learning and education programmes for 6,000+ adult learners. He has recently been appointed Chair of Circles UK, a charity building safer communities through local volunteers to prevent sexual re-offending.

Calvin’s former board experiences include being a Trustee of Graeae Theatre which champions diversity across the sector and places deaf and disabled artists centre stage and, in the education sector, chair of an Interim Executive Board.

Calvin taught in primary, secondary and special schools before becoming Head of a curriculum development centre and a local authority inspector responsible for curriculum and staff development. He subsequently established and grew a successful company supporting school improvement nationally and internationally. From Ofsted’s start, Calvin led secondary and primary inspections; he was Director of Inspections for South East England from 2005-9. In 2019, Calvin completed 10 years as a consultant advisor under contract to the Department for Education. In this time, he acted as link advisor to several local authorities, supported open academies and free schools and was a member of the London Challenge team.

Calvin is part of the Challenge Partner consultant team, leading reviews and consultancies for special, primary and secondary schools. He, concurrently, supports schools and academy trusts nationally as a school improvement partner or by providing focused mentoring or commissioned investigation services.