Who we are

The OA programme is overseen by the partnership board, bringing together senior leaders from schools, communities, business and central and local government. These individuals bring experience, insight, and ambition for West Somerset and its young people.


Fiona McMillan RAW edited

Dr Fiona McMillan OBE – Independent Chair

Dr Fiona McMillan is a former English teacher and has taught in schools across London and Dorset. Between 1995 and 2012, she was the principal of Bridgwater College. Under her leadership, the college was judged as outstanding by Ofsted in both 2003 and 2007 and has won numerous awards. Fiona was awarded an OBE in 2003 for her service to further education.

Fiona retired in 2012 and since then, has been appointed a non-executive director of EDF Energy’s New Build Generating Company. More recently, (since 2016), she has been chairing Somerset County Council’s Employment and Skills Steering Group, and is a member of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership board (LEP). She brings extensive experience as an educational leader and played a critical role in the
early West Somerset Opportunity Areas stakeholder events.

“I am delighted to have been asked to Chair the West Somerset Opportunity Area Partnership Board. Our vision is to create a culture where all children in West Somerset have the best opportunities to learn, achieve and gain worthwhile and progressive employment.”                                         

Dr. Fiona McMillan

Partnership board members

  • Andrew Hanson: Somerset Education Business Partnership
  • Alison Bell: Public Health Somerset
  • Brendan Cleere: West Somerset and Taunton District Council
  • David Ralph: Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Frances Nicholson: Somerset County Council
  • Jim Whittaker: Channel Group
  • Julian Wooster: Somerset County Council
  • Mandy Chilcott: West Somerset District Council
  • Mark Nettle: Bridgwater and Taunton College 
  • Mel Roberts: Somerset County Council
  • Naomi Griffith: Onion Collective Community Development
  • Naomi Philp: Moorland Federation
  • Paul Rushforth: West Somerset Academy Trust
  • Peter Elliott: Bridgwater College Academy Trust
  • Richard Dorney-Savage: Careers and Enterprise Company
  • Tom Thayer: EDF Energy

The meetings are also attended by the Regional Schools Commissioner and by the Department for Education Head of Delivery and Area Lead, who provide advice and support to the partnership board.