Trustees appointed at tech tycoon's foundation aimed at boosting computer education in Sheffield schools

David Richards, chief executive of WANdisco
David Richards, chief executive of WANdisco

A foundation set up by a Sheffield-born tech firm boss to boost computer education in the city's schools has appointed its first trustees.

David Richards is donating £1.1m through The David and Jane Richards Family Foundation to empower and improve the lives of children.

Lord Bob Kerslake in Millennium Square outside the Winter Garden. Picture by Marie Caley

Lord Bob Kerslake in Millennium Square outside the Winter Garden. Picture by Marie Caley

His old school, Tapton in Crosspool, will be the first to benefit, with a hands-on course which will teach pupils how to use apps to manipulate and analyse huge amounts of data.

Leading figures have been appointed as trustees of the foundation from the fields of management science, public service and technology.

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They are Chris Brady, professor of management studies and director off the Centre for Sports Business at Salford University and an award-winning author, Lord Bob Kerslake, a former chief executive of Sheffield Council and former head of the civil service and Herb Kim, the founding chair of Tech North.

Mr Richards, who lives in Silicon Valley, said: "The appointment of Professor Chris Brady, Lord Kerslake and Herb Kim as trustees underlines the ambition of our new foundation.

“Each has a special set of skills, experiences and networks that will be invaluable to our purpose of educating, empowering and improving the lives of children."

Prof Brady, who has written a number of award-winning books and co-written with three-times Champions League winner Carlo Ancelloti, was delighted to join the foundation.

He said: “I was very pleased to be asked to join the foundation because it played into two of my learning hobby-horses - employability and pedagogical innovation.

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“I think that David Richards has caught the beginnings of a wave that will change the way we think about how best to learn about the utilisation of technology for years to come.”

Lord Kerslake served as permanent secretary of the Department for Communities and Local Government from 2010 until he stepped down in 2015 and was head of the civil service from 2012 to 2014.

He said: “I delighted to be joining the foundation to further the excellent work that is already going on in Sheffield.

“There is the potential here to transform the way information technology is taught and developed in schools.”

Mr Kim played a key role in setting up Tech North, a government-backed initiative charged with accelerating the growth of the digital business sector in the north of England.

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He said: “As the founding chair, I had the great fortune of meeting with a huge number of 'tech northerners'.

“Having seen David operate I know this exciting new foundation will be a big success and do great things for education in the UK and beyond.”

The foundation has also hired Liz Drayton, the former head of information and communications technology at Tapton School, as its first employee.

WANdisco has offices in the Electric Works in Sheffield, California and China, Japan, Belfast, Australia and India.