Membership of CCEA Council

CCEA's Council consists of a Chairperson and 13 other members appointed by the Department of Education (DE) and includes representatives from education, industry and commerce as well as having government assessors. The Council was re-constituted in February 2021 with a new Chair and 6 new members being appointed.

The newly reconstituted Council membership is as follows:

Chairperson

Mr Thomas (Tommy) O’Reilly was previously a senior civil servant, holding positions in several departments including CEO of the Social Security Agency and Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Department of Education where he was responsible for education policy and children services.  He is currently Vice Chair of the Ashton Community Trust, Belfast and he brings to the Council significant experience in governance, strategic decision making and leadership.  During his time in Education he worked closely with CCEA on a wide range of issues impacting on the curriculum and examinations.  Mr O’Reilly has declared that he has not undertaken any political activity during the past five years and does not hold any other public appointments.

Council Members

Dr Leslie Caul OBEDr Leslie Caul OBE

Dr Leslie Caul OBE is from Newtownabbey and has held senior positions in Stranmillis University College and over a period of 30 years has written books and academic articles on education. He has held the position of Chair of the Irish Football Association (IFA) since 2007.

Dr Caul brings to the Council experience in governance and strategic leadership and a knowledge and experience of education within the Further Education/Higher Education sector. Dr Caul does not hold any other public appointments and he has not undertaken any political activity during the past five years.

Mrs Carol Fitzsimons MBEMrs Carol Fitzsimons MBE

Mrs Carol Fitzsimons MBE is currently Chief Executive Officer of Young Enterprise NI. She is an Associate Lecturer in the Open University within the Faculty of Business and Law and volunteers as a Scout Leader. Mrs Fitzsimons brings to the Council experience of managing staff, operational delivery, strategic planning and financial and risk management. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, holds the Diploma in Company Direction from the IoD, and is a Fellow of the RSA. Mrs Fitzsimons is a member of the Department for Economy & Department of Education Careers Advisory Forum. She does not serve on any other public Boards and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Mrs Kathleen O'HareMrs Kathleen O'Hare

Mrs Kathleen O’Hare is from Newry and from 2002-2018 was the Principal of two post-primary schools in Northern Ireland. – St Cecilia’s College in Derry and Hazelwood Integrated College in North Belfast. Mrs O’Hare is Chair of CCEA’s Education Committee and brings to the Council experience in governance including strategic planning and a knowledge and experience of education in both the post primary and Higher Education sectors. Mrs O’Hare is on the Board of Belfast Metropolitan College where she chairs the Curriculum, Quality and Engagement Committee. She does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activity during the past five years.

Mr Brian WilsonMr Brian Wilson

Brian is currently employed by the British Council as a Skills Advisor providing technical advice on thematic programming on skills and employability in the Middle East North Africa and Americas regions. Mr Wilson is Chair of CCEA’s Finance Committee and brings to the Council experience of promoting good governance, holding teams to account, financial and risk management and influencing opinion and developing networks. Mr Wilson is also a member of the Governing Body of the Belfast Metropolitan College for which he receives a sitting fee for each meeting attended. He does not hold any other public appointments and has not undertaken any political activities during the past five years.

Ms Patricia SlevinMs Patricia Slevin

Ms Patricia Slevin is a former Principal of Victoria College, Belfast and is currently a member of the Senate at Queen’s University Belfast and of the CCEA Education Committee.  She brings to the Board experience of governance, making an impact with others and strategic thinking.

She does not serve on any other public Boards and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Mrs Paula LeitchMrs Paula Leitch

Mrs Paula Leitch is a former Assistant Principal of the Belfast Model School for Girls and former member of the Belfast Education and Library Board. She is currently a professional associate with the Controlled Schools’ Support Council and CCEA. She brings to the Board experience of governance as a school governor and leadership as a previous Board member.
She does not serve on any other public Boards and has not undertaken any political activity in the last five years.

Mrs Donna Marie O'ConnorMrs Donna Marie O’Connor

Currently the Interim Director of HR with the NI Fire and Rescue Service responsible for building organisational capability, organisational design and development and driving business performance. She brings to the Council experience in governance including staffing and financial and risk management, strategic decision making and making an impact with others. She holds a number of academic, coaching and leadership qualifications and is a Chartered Member of CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. Mrs O’Connor currently holds one other non-remunerated public appointment as a school governor of St Patrick’s Grammar School, Downpatrick. She has declared that she has not undertaken any political activity during the past five years.

Ms Majella CorriganMs Majella Corrigan

Currently employed as Director of Planning and School Provision in the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools and prior to this was employed in a number of roles within CCEA for 12 years. Having begun her career as a post-primary teacher she also worked for four years in the Northern Ireland Assembly. She brings to the Council experience in governance, strategic decision making and making an impact with others. Ms Corrigan currently holds two other public appointments: as a member of the Governing Body of Stranmillis University College which is non-remunerated; and, as a member of Board of Governors of the South Eastern Regional College which is remunerated at £250 for a governing body meeting and £150 for a committee meeting or event sanctioned by the Chairperson. She has declared that she has not undertaken any political activity during the past five years.

Mr Robert (Rob) SmythMr Robert (Rob) Smyth

A Director of Delivery and Risk Management for Allstate NI, including Executive Sponsor for Allstate’s Schools Engagement Strategy and Future of Work for NI. Rob is Chair of CCEA’s Audit & Risk Assurance Committee, and brings to the Council experience in governance, strategic decision making and making an impact with others. Mr Smyth has declared that he has not undertaken any political activity during the past five years and does not hold any other public appointments.

Mrs Teresa Anne KingsleyMrs Teresa Anne Kingsley

A professional support lawyer (a solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales) specialising in local government law including Education, Judicial Review, Local Authority governance and other Public law issues. She works for Lexis Nexis UK. Mrs Kingsley is Chair of CCEA’s Regulation Committee and brings to the Council experience in governance through having served as the Chair of Governors of a primary school; on the governance committee of a local youth football club and on employee strategic review forums. She has experience of strategic decision making and making an impact with others in both in a professional and voluntary capacity. She has trained as a business coach providing coaching and mentoring for colleagues. Mrs Kingsley has declared that she has not undertaken any political activity during the past five years and does not currently hold any other public appointments.

Professor Philip (Phil) HannaProfessor Philip (Phil) Hanna

A senior academic at Queen’s University Belfast (Dean of Education for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences). He brings to the Council experience in governance through his work as a member of the Education Implementation Strategy Group, strategic decision making and making an impact with others. He led work in developing assessment arrangements during the current pandemic. Professor Hanna has declared that he has not undertaken any political activity during the past five years and does not hold any other public appointments.

Mrs Sarah SellarsMrs Sarah Sellars

A freelance communications consultant, working primarily with professional training organisations including Extratax Training (international tax) & Inspire MediLaw (medical and legal). She is a Trustee of Parenting NI and is an active Parent member of the Ballycarrickmaddy Primary School PTFA. She completed the Boardroom Apprentice programme in 2019-20 with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service. She brings to the Council experience in governance, strategic decision making and making an impact with others. Mrs Sellars has declared that she has not undertaken any political activity during the past five years and does not hold any other public appointments.

Mr Hugh Edward McCarthyMr Hugh Edward McCarthy

Currently a Director of the Controlled Schools’ Support Council and was Principal of Killicomaine Junior High School for 23 years until his recent retirement. He is a former Chief Examiner, writing the first GCSE paper in Science. He established a school Community Service group whilst teaching in North Belfast which addressed disability and continued community activities throughout his career. He brings to the Council experience in governance, strategic decision making and making an impact with others. Mr McCarthy currently holds two other public appointments as an Appeals panel member of CEA which is non-remunerated and an Appeals panel member of the Education Authority for which he receives a sitting fee for each meeting attended. He has declared that he has not undertaken any political activity during the past five years.

CCEA Officers

Margaret Farragher
Interim Chief Executive

Miss Noleen Kennedy
Manager, Council Secretariat, Chief Executive's Office