Abbey College Manchester is governed by our proprietors, the Alpha Plus Group.

The Chair of Governors, Sir John Ritblat, can be contacted at the Alphas Plus Group, 50 Queen Anne Street, London W1G 8HJ. Tel: +44(0)20 7487 6000. Email:

Sir John Ritblat, Chairman

Sir John Ritblat DLD College GovernorSir John is Honorary President of The British Land Company PLC and Chairman of Delancey’s Real Estate Advisory Board. He is a philanthropist with a keen interest in education, young people and the arts. His experience as a school governor includes the Deputy Chairmanship of The Hall School in Hampstead and as a governor of Dulwich College where he remains as a Special Advisor to the Governors and a founding member of the College’s Development Strategy Committee.

Sir John stood down as Chairman of the Board of Governors of London Business School in April 2014 after 25 years on the Board and 10 years in the Chair. He remains as a member of their Estates Committee and is an Honorary Fellow. He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Wallace Collection Foundation and an Honorary Fellow and Honorary Trustee of the Royal Academy of Music. He is Vice President of International Students’ House, and an Honorary Fellow and Vice President of the Council of The Royal Institution.

Sir John sat on the Board of the British Library 1995 – 2003 and was reappointed in 2015. He is the sponsor of The Sir John Ritblat Gallery, Treasures of The British Library.

Sir John is also the President of British Ski & Snowboard and has been the principal sponsor of The British Alpine National Ski Championships for the last 36 years and, with Delancey, the main sponsor of all four Ski and Snowboard disciplines until 2018. He is also Vice President of the Tennis & Racquets Association,

He holds Honorary Doctorate of Literature at both London Metropolitan University and the University of Buckingham and an Honorary Doctorate of Science (Economics) from London Business School.

Graham Able, Deputy Chairman

Graham Able DLD College London Governor

Graham was Chief Executive Officer of Alpha Plus from 2009-2014. Prior to that, he spent 40 years teaching in independent schools, the last 21 as a Headmaster in London. He retired from the Mastership of Dulwich College in August 2009. He is a former Chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference and was President of the International Boys’ Schools’ Coalition for 3 years. A keen sportsman, he is a member of MCC.

Mark Hanley-Browne, CEO

Mark Hanley-Browne DLD College London GovernorMark graduated with a degree in Natural Sciences from Oxford University before going to Cambridge University to study for his PGCE. He is an educationalist, having taught at Sevenoaks School in Kent, Charterhouse School in Surrey and Highgate School in North London before becoming Head of Emanuel School in South London. He held this post for thirteen years, leading the school through a period of very successful development and making it one of the most popular schools in the capital. Mark has created partnerships with schools in the USA and in China, and worked with the United Westminster Schools Foundation.

Mark is married to Rachael, who is Head of Leadership Consulting at Harvey Nash. Mark’s interests include wine, travel and Arsenal football club.

Paul Brereton, Director of HR

Paul Brereton DLD College London Governor

Paul joined Alpha Plus Group from his previous role as Head of HR and Safeguarding at Ark Schools Group. He holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Kingston University and is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors. Paul has over twenty years human resources, change management and commercial experience across many sectors. This includes as HR Director for both The Natural History Museum and BBC Resources Ltd. He has a proven track record for successfully introducing innovative and lateral approaches to business opportunities and ensuring that the HR function supports and leads the vision.

Paul is married with three children and has varied interests including music, the sciences and the odd game of tennis.

Liz Francis, Director of Governance and Standards

Liz Francis DLD College London Governor

Liz started her career in education as a teacher. She has also worked for a number of government agencies, including the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the Training and Development Agency for schools, where she was Deputy Director for Strategy, Standards and Qualifications. She has also been a senior education adviser for Suffolk County Council and an Ofsted inspector. Prior to joining Alpha Plus Group Liz worked at the Department for Education where she was a policy adviser on school leadership and departmental performance reporting. She holds a PGCE and Masters degree in Education. Liz lives in Suffolk and is married with two grown up children. Her interests include keeping fit, reading (she is a member of a book club) and walking.

Tim Haynes, Director of Senior Schools

Tim Haynes DLD College London Governor

Tim Haynes was the Headmaster of Tonbridge School from 2005 to 2018. During his time there he oversaw £40m of development, including a new Library, Science facilities and Sports facilities. He helped to raise the academic standing (often 30-40 Oxbridge places each year and 90%+ A*, A and B grades at A level) and made many improvements to the systems of pastoral care. Prior to being Head of Tonbridge he was Headmaster of Monmouth school for 10 years.

Tim has also spent many years teaching in London. He started his teaching career at Hampton School before moving to St Paul’s School in Barnes, where he taught History for 13 years and was promoted to be the Surmaster (Deputy Head).

He is an Old Boy of Shrewsbury School and is now the Chair of Governors there.

He studied for his BA at Reading University and for his PGCE at Cambridge.

Tim has wide interests ranging from classic cars to sailing. He is governor of several schools including Academies and senior and junior independent schools.  He is a member of the Skinners Company and the Haberdashers’ Education Committee.

Richard Jones, Director of Property

Richard Jones DLD College London Governor

Richard, a chartered surveyor, has over 25 years’ experience in the field of specialist asset, development and estate management. Having worked for a private practice he then joined the Board of several private property companies and also spent time with a firm of chartered accountants running a banking workout unit.
Richard joined Alpha Plus Group as a consultant in 2008 and the Board as Director of Property in 2010. As well as overseeing the real estate portfolio he supports new acquisitions and brings a breadth of expertise. In his spare time Richard is a keen sportsman, although this is now limited to golf, running, and touchline support at his children’s schools.

Rossella Proscia, Director of Marketing & International Sales

Rossella Proscia DLD College London Governor

Rossella joined the Alpha Plus Group in July 2016, assuming responsibility for the strategic marketing direction and development of schools and colleges, nationally and internationally. Rossella has 14 years’ experience as a Marketing Director in the global education sector, her latest role with McGraw-Hill Education. Here she created the EMEA marketing hub, led customer insight and demand generation programmes and managed a team of 18 people.

Prior to this she was EMEA Marketing Director for Cengage Learning, a provider of education solutions for higher education, schools and libraries worldwide. She set the marketing strategy for the EMEA region, led many successful product launches and achieved consistent improvement in marketing Return on Investment. Rossella graduated from University of Trieste with a BA Hons in International Relations and is fluent in both English and Italian. Married with three children, her ambition is to find time to restart her triathlon training. Other interests include history and music.

Jim Bowden, CFO

Jim Bowden read Mathematical Sciences at Oxford University and holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Warwick Business School. Jim qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young where as senior manager, he led the audits of large businesses and was involved in mergers and acquisitions in the property and hospitality sectors. Subsequently Jim held roles with multinational listed businesses as Group Financial Controller, Finance Director and CFO. Prior to joining Alpha Plus Group, Jim was Hong Kong CFO for ISS (a leading global workplace experience and facility management company). Jim is married with two children and enjoys cycling, travel and wine.

Russell Seaman, Director of IT

Russell Seaman DLD College London Governor

Russell joined the Alpha Plus Group as Director of IT in December 2016 to lead the strategic alignment of technology, ensuring that the IT department fully supports the vision of the schools and colleges. Russell brings a wealth of experience of managing IT operations, projects and strategy from his previous role as contract manager for an international IT managed service provider and more recently as Head of IT for the Defence sector at Carillion Plc.

Russell met his wife whilst studying Computer Science at the University of Exeter and they now live in Haslemere, Surrey with their son. When not testing out the latest IT innovations, Russell is a keen photographer and avid motorsport fan.

John Withers, Safeguarding Governor

John was the Head of Hilden Grange, Tonbridge for 29 years before joining the Head Office team in September 2019 in the role of Governance Support Officer. As Head of Hilden Grange John led on all aspects of running the school, from admissions, marketing and finance through to strategic development planning in liaison with the Governors of Alpha Plus. He is vastly experienced in academic, pastoral and co-curricular matters. He was also the Designated Safeguarding Lead.

At various stages of his career John taught Geography, History and Sport to all age groups from Year 3 to Year 8, including Geography to scholarship level. In recent years the team at Hilden Grange has been working to raise academic standards by making full use of data to track pupil progress and direct timely interventions. This means that John is very familiar with the use of PIPS, MidYis, NFER and CATs as diagnostic tools to identify key strengths and areas for development and to provide information on “value added” and he will be able to share this experience within the Group.