The Leadership Team at Mark Rutherford


Kelli Foster - Acting Headteacher

I grew up near the beautiful cathedral city of Lichfield and having completed my A Levels I embarked on an Industrial Design and Technology degree at Loughborough University. I graduated in 1999 with qualified teacher status and started my teaching career at a school in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.

Over the years I have been teaching I have had a number of roles including assessment co-ordinator, assistant examinations officer and Head of Department; a role I held for five years. In 2008 I took over the running of the Sixth Form, working hard to improve retention rates and outcomes for the students. This was a very rewarding role and one I felt very privileged to have held.

I joined Mark Rutherford School in January 2012 as the newest member of the Leadership Team focusing on the strategic development of the Sixth Form.

I have a range of interests outside of school including cycling. I have completed the London to Brighton ride for a local breast cancer charity and the London Nightrider event cycling 100km overnight for cancer research. Another highlight was taking a group of students to Borneo for a month in the summer of 2014.


Anna Vallance - Assistant Headteacher

I joined Mark Rutherford School in September 2010 as Assistant Headteacher and Head of English.  I worked previously at a school in very challenging circumstances, taking English results from 7% A*-C in 2007 to 55% A*-C by the time I left the school.  This desire to drive improvement has stood me in good stead to embrace a changing educational environment while maintaining my student-focused approach to education.

As a life-long Bedford resident, I am committed to raising aspirations and outcomes in my hometown and have found that working locally is extremely satisfying (I started my teaching career in Milton Keynes) and I find that my understanding of students’ contexts supports my ability to communicate effectively with the young people we work with.

I studied for my BA (Hons) in English Literature and Communication Studies at the University of Liverpool, where I then went on to study for a Masters’ in Popular Music Studies, working with the Institute of Popular Music in the City.  As music vied with Literature for my pole position passion, I worked for a number of years in the entertainment retail industry and it was when the Internet heralded the death knell for CDs that I returned to my first love of English and Literature and did what I always intended to do at some point – train to be a teacher!

I love seeing students develop their ability to use language flexibly as they begin to process the world around them and I am fortunate to be able to teach a subject about which I am passionate.

I also enjoy various activities when not too busy reading or talking.  I enjoy swimming and walking and cycling; I practise yoga regularly, I enjoy experimenting with cooking weird and wonderful (vegetarian) food, I attend live music events when I can and having recently moved house, I spend a lot of time covered in magnolia paint.  


Jackie Samosa - Assistant Headteacher & Head of ICT

In 1997 I started working at The Royal Latin Grammar School in Buckinghamshire having moved from Liverpool.  My first role was as a Business, Economics and ICT teacher.  During my time there I took on a number of responsibilities including Head of House, Link Teacher for Young Enterprise and Key Skills Co-ordinator for ICT.

I joined Mark Rutherford Upper in 2001 where I took on the Head of ICT role.  I was promoted to Assistant Headteacher 2 years ago with responsibility for strategic ICT. 

As I am passionate about learning, I am committed to developing my own skills and knowledge.  I have studied at a number of further and higher education establishments which include the University of Northumbria, École supérieure de commerce de La Rochelle, France, Edge Hill College, Bedford College and De Montfort University.  I have gained a range of qualifications which include BA (Hons), PGCE, HNC and numerous professional Computing and professional development qualifications.

I discovered running several years ago and since then I have completed numerous half marathons, 5k and 10k races. However, my best running achievement so far was completing the Rome Marathon in March 2010.  It was an amazing experience and has inspired me to keep on running!  Moreover I managed to raise almost £1,000 for various charities.


Joanne Harrison - Assistant Headteacher

After graduating from Chester University with a joint honours degree in Physical Education and Art I spent some ‘gap time’ in the French Alps working for an outdoor pursuits company. This experience confirmed my desire to teach which started at Mark Rutherford as a PE teacher. Now I teach Sport and Exercise Science and am continually impressed by the hard work and dedication of the students who bring so many of their own experiences into my classroom. No matter if it’s Sport Psychology, Nutrition, or Health and Fitness; we are always able to make links with golf, rugby, basketball, athletics, or whatever their preferred sport.

Having responsibility for the whole school curriculum, in my role as Assistant Headteacher, brings many challenges. As a large secondary school we have to adapt to the demands and needs of each new academic year and, importantly, every student, which means the curriculum never remains static. Society, the economy, and the nature of education itself are continually changing and Mark Rutherford’s curriculum must respond to these. Our philosophy is to offer choices which provide a good grounding of knowledge, are aspirational and challenge our young people so that they become successful, confident and responsible citizens. To help with this we hold an annual Options-Choices-Careers 4 U event where students are able to meet with local and national employers and organisations. They can see the pathways available to them in education, training and employment and, with our help, their aspirations can be achieved.

Outside of work I have a keen interest in art, stained glass and I play golf. It is the most infuriating sport I have ever attempted but it also provides escapism, relaxation and sometimes even success. In 2010 and 2012 I won the Bucks County Handicap Championships and am currently working towards a single-figure handicap… I could be a while!!


Joanne Strong - Assistant Headteacher

After leaving school I was keen to follow a career in the travel industry, where I worked for a local travel agent and Airline, fulling me dream of travel.  After having children I felt a desire to retrain and began a journey of study.   After graduating with a degree in psychology, my plan was to complete teacher training and then train to become an educational psychologist.  However, after teaching at Sandy Upper School and then joining Mark Rutherford School, I soon realised it was teaching I loved. 
I joined in 2004 as a psychology and health & social care teacher, soon progressing to Head of Department.   After a period of time I decided that I enjoyed the pastoral side of school life and became Head of Woolf House, I really enjoyed all aspects of this role especially supporting our young people and their families.  Since then I have helped to shape and develop the Raising Achievement Centre supporting students to feel they can achieve in school.  A natural progression with my skill set and interest in the psychology of learning; I am excited by the new challenge of my new position of SENDCo and Assistant Head inclusion coordinator. 
Outside of school I enjoy house renovating with my husband and getting stuck into numerous projects and learning new skills.  Although I am pleased to say our most recent renovation is coming to an end.


Mark Briggs - Assistant Headteacher and Head of Turner House

Having completed my degree in Fine Art painting, printmaking and photography I went on to work within the photography and design industry for 3 years before deciding to return to education and trained to become a teacher at Manchester University.

Upon completing my PGCE I started at Mark Rutherford in 1994 as a teacher of art and design, moving on to become Head of Art in 1997. In the following years I led the department through a number of new initiatives and introduced vocational GCSE and A level photography to the art curriculum and am currently looking forward to the opportunities and challenges of introducing the new arts diploma. I have always been passionate about art and have always been impressed with the creativity and commitment many of our students show for their work, whether it is in their art work, drama productions, music performances or dance displays.

I have been the school improvement coordinator within the school and with the schools designation as a specialist arts college last year I have taken on the responsibility of developing this very dynamic and exciting aspect of the school. 

Having 2 young children gives little time for me to continue with my own art work and have a few paintings ‘on the go’ which I work on whenever possible; but it gives me plenty of opportunities to continue to develop my photography skills.


Robbie Garner - Business Manager

I completed my education in 1984 at Windsor and Maidenhead College, Berkshire and then embarked on my career in Finance at Barclays Bank. Due to my inspiring passion for everything relating to the pound and pence I was fast-tracked into financial management at a very young age. I stayed in banking until 2003 managing 26 branches after which I diversified my financial skills into Educational Financial Management.

I joined Mark Rutherford in 2007 and have applied my 32 years of experience to the benefit of the school community. I am a strong strategic leader of finance and resources and have managed the finances through some challenging changes. I am at my best when under extreme pressure and I always aim to deliver results of the highest standard. My loyalty, integrity and commitment have given me the successes achieved in my career to date.

I have a keen interest in Formula One but I am very much a family person at heart and dedicate all my spare time to my family.


Sulemana Iddrisu- Assistant Headteacher

I joined Mark Rutherford School in April 2016 as the Head of the Mathematics department and have been promoted to the position of an Assistant Head teacher this year. I am very proud to achieve this position in a forward thinking and aspirational school like Mark Rutherford. I am currently responsible for the strategic leadership and management of Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) and trainees in Initial Teacher Education (ITE).
I firmly believe that with the right support and environment all students can achieve their dreams and aspirations.  The drive to succeed and be the best you can be is what I instill in all my students and this motivates them to achieve their highest potential.
Having worked in Essex and North London areas for many years in many different teaching roles, I relocated to Bedford looking for a new challenge. I have enjoyed working in Bedford looking forward to enjoy my years ahead in Bedford.

The two important things in my life are my family and my job, hence my passion and drive for all my students to succeed.


Bob Barker - Assistant Headteacher

On graduating from Durham University with a BSc in chemistry, I completed a PGCE at Cambridge University and have worked in schools in both teaching and support staff roles with a particular focus on using data to drive school improvement.

In-between working in schools, I’ve also worked in business for an educational software company where I supported schools to use data for school improvement. During this time I also completed an MSc in leadership and management.

I joined Mark Rutherford School in 2016 in the Raising Achievement Centre to work with disadvantaged students to ensure they are encouraged, motivated and inspired to do their best.  I’m keen to use my range of knowledge, skills and experience to be an effective member of the leadership team to ensure successful outcomes for all our pupils.

Outside of school I have a busy family life, enjoy the outdoors and have an interest in photography.



Mark Rutherford School
Wentworth Drive, Bedford, Bedfordshire Mk41 8PX
Telephone 01234 290200 : Fax 01234 290236 : Email: