Trust Board

PFMAT logo small.pngPope Francis Multi Academy Trust

The Pope Francis Multi Academy Trust has been established by the Archbishop of Liverpool to provide the very best Catholic education for the young people in its schools.


Address: LACE
                Croxteth Drive
                L17 1AA


 Telephone: 0151 522 1000



Vision and Ethos

Openness, transparency and accountability in fulfilling the mission of the Catholic Church,

keeping Christ at the Centre, 

Children at the Heart of all that we do



Episcopal Vicar for Education: Rev Canon Michael Fitzsimons

Episcopal Vicar for Finance: Rev Mgr John Devine OBE



Ann Colette Connor OBE                                           Appointed: 16 February 2021

Ann worked for 27 years in a range of schools as a teacher and leader before becoming an Education Adviser in the DfE, focusing on the national school improvement agenda in the Academies and Free Schools Group.

In 2014 she was seconded to the Due Diligence and Counter Extremism Group to investigate during the Trojan Horse enquiry.  She went on to lead a highly trained EA group which undertook serious investigations for the DfE across the country.

After 17 years she retired from DfE in 2018.  She was made an OBE for Services to Education in 2019.


Rev Canon Michael Stephen Fitzsimons                  Appointed: 1 December 2020

Canon Michael is Chair of the Trust Board

Canon Michael Fitzsimons is a priest of the Archdiocese of Liverpool.  He is a trustee of the Archdiocese, a member of the Archbishop’s Council and is the Episcopal Vicar for Education.

He has served in numerous parishes across the archdiocese and is a trustee (past chair) at Nugent, a leading Catholic social action agency in the northwest.

Prior to ordination he worked in previous roles as a volunteer, worker, senior manager, and board member in a variety of organisations in the voluntary and statutory sectors for over 20 years.  He has specific and direct experience of working with people who are homeless, youth and community development work, addictions and mental health, and in prisons.

He has held numerous board/director appointments including as a member and chair of Independent Monitoring Boards (prisons), and trusteeship and advisory roles with charities, credit unions and in schools and education.  Experience at board level includes key oversight of strategic planning, finance and fundraising, the facilitation of organisational development and change, and innovation and service development.


Helen Caroline McKie                                                   Appointed: 27 January 2020

Helen is a practising solicitor with experience of working in the local government sector, advising upon education and employment matters.


Catherine Margaret O'Leary                                         Appointed: 27 January 2020

Cath has, for the last sixteen years, been working as a Diocesan Schools Officer for the Archdiocese of Liverpool with responsibility for the 35 Secondary Schools and 2 6th Form Colleges across eight Local Authorities. This is a wide-ranging role supporting Headteachers and Governors in all aspects of their work relating to their school. Prior to this her experience included nineteen years as an Ofsted Inspector; a local authority inspector in two different authorities with responsibilities for National Curriculum Assessment, Peripatetic Music Service and Sensory Impairment Services.

Cath has undertaken a wide range of school leadership roles culminating as headteacher.  She is a long-standing governor at two of our Secondary Schools and a trustee for Liverpool Archdiocese Secondary Schools Improvement Trust.


Anne Pontifex                                                                 Appointed: 27 January 2020

Anne has experience of working across a range of schools in a variety of contexts within the secondary sector.

She became a National Leader of Education which led to her working with and supporting a variety of schools across the North of England on a range of projects.

Her headship of a Liverpool high school saw her lead on three school inspections, the first graded “Good” and the following two graded “Outstanding “.  For three years she took over the role of Executive Headship for a Multi Academy Trust.

Anne is now the school improvement officer for Liverpool Archdiocese.


William Skiliki                                                               Appointed: 19 February 2021

After practicing architecture for a number of years Bill moved into property development and investment, attaining returns on equity high in the top quartile for their sectors.

After divesting in this business, he has worked at chief executive and director level in commercial and residential property development in the private, public and voluntary sectors.

In the private sector he has been Managing Director of a major residential developer and Chief Executive of a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

In the public sector Bill was Chief Executive of The Housing Partnership, a joint venture between English Partnerships and The Housing Corporation, Acting Chief Executive of Salford Urban Regeneration Company and latterly Director of Commercial Ventures and Special Projects at English Partnerships.

Bill has also been a Development Director at a Housing Association.  He has held a number of non-executive positions again in the private, public and voluntary sectors.  He was a Trustee of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and was a member of the Investment Committee.


Rev John Mervyn Williams SDB                                 Appointed: 12 February 2021

Fr Williams had twenty-eight years’ experience as a secondary school teacher up to 2001 including four years as Head of Department, five years as Head of Sixth Form and over seventeen years as Headteacher of a 1,550 pupil comprehensive school, Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton.

From 2002 to 2020 he was a Trustee and the Provincial Economer (bursar/treasurer) of the Salesians of Don Bosco British Province managing the business of the registered charity over nine locations.

He is also a Trustee of another Religious Order and a Foundation Governor and Trustee at St John Bosco College (voluntary aided comprehensive school) in Battersea, London.  For 12 years until 2020 he was a governor of a Girls Catholic independent school.

He also serves as Safeguarding Lead for the Salesians of Don Bosco.


Executive Team

Paul Halliwell: Chief Executive Officer

Paul has been appointed as the interim CEO during the launch of the new Multi Academy Trust and is responsible for the conversion of the first schools into academies in the Trust.

Paul started his career in education in 1988, as a Science teacher and has worked in schools in Knowsley, Liverpool and the London Borough of Newham. He has worked in Catholic education since 2004.  In 2009 he was the Deputy Headteacher when his school was judged as Outstanding during a successful Ofsted visit.

Paul has been a Headteacher since 2010, firstly as a Headteacher of a large, successful and Outstanding boys' Catholic school in East London and latterly in a boys' Catholic school in Liverpool.

He has worked as a School Improvement Partner for both Primary and Secondary schools.  He has worked closely with local authorities most especially an inner London authority representing VA Maintained schools on Schools' Forum, representing schools on a council Overview & Scrutiny Committee and being a member of the Children & Young Person's Trust.

As a Headteacher he applied for and was successful in gaining Teaching School status for his school and developed an alliance of Catholic schools across North East London, South London and Essex.

He was involved with St Mary's University in Twickenham, in developing a suite of National Professional Qualifications that were implemented across Catholic schools in the South East Catholic dioceses.

In 2017 he was involved in developing Formatio, an organisation commissioned by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales to develop Catholic leadership at Headteacher and Governor level. He attended the first course organised by Formatio for Executive Leaders in 2018.

He is a National Leader of Education and has been involved with supporting school improvement in London, Essex and the North West of England.


Chris Williams: Chief Financial Officer

Chris has worked in education for over 20 years in a further education college, a local authority, and a large diocese. 

His experience and responsibility have particularly focused on capital, admissions, school finance, pupil place planning, and external funding. 

Most recently he has worked as a senior officer in a diocesan education department working with over 200 schools across eight local authorities, providing support to church schools and working with local and national agencies. 

Chris is a Chair of Governors and has previously served on two governing bodies as the Chair of Resources Committee



Attendance at PFMAT Board meetings










Fr Michael Fitzsimons



Ann Connor



Helen McKie




Catherine O’Leary



Anne Pontifex



William Skilki



Fr Mervyn Williams




Please refer to PFMAT website for

-       Information regarding the full structure and board remit

-       Memorandum & Articles, Articles of Association and Funding Agreement