Navigate Academies Trust is to introduce a new framework for the governance of its primary academies, to be chaired by former Ofsted regional director, Louise Soden.

Two Local Improvement Boards (LIBs) have been set up covering Navigate’s Barnsley and Tees Valley Hubs, following research and recommendations by the Department for Education, the CBI and leading education thinkers.

The boards bring together a number of highly-qualified professionals from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines with proven analytical and management skills intended to support, challenge and scrutinise the way academies are run, in order to improve outcomes across a range of performance areas.

Members were chosen, says Navigate’s deputy chief executive, Rachel Singer, for their commitment to furthering education and their “drive and creativity to inspire even greater things.”

Rachel said: “We have completed an exhaustive recruitment campaign for members of the LIBs and feel we have a team of exceptional members to work with, under the Chair’s direction, to deliver improvements for the benefit of children across Barnsley and the Tees Valley.”

“We were delighted with the phenomenal response, with 70 applicants, nearly half of which we invited for interview. The process enabled us to identify and appoint the very best and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of new a governance model which we believe can achieve great things through a new and creative way of working.”

“We see this as the next logical step in the evolution of professional governance.” – Rachel Singer, Navigate deputy chief executive.

Unlike traditional governors, LIB membership is a paid role “We see this as the next logical step in the evolution of professional governance. We believe the LIB is the right mechanism to take the best of what we’ve already got and apply it across all our academies in order to consistently deliver outstanding education.”

Navigate Academies Trust believes a professional team, chosen for their respective skills, knowledge and experience is also more likely to provide effective challenge and support to academy leaders than a potentially less effective volunteer group.

“This move toward the LIB model is a reflection of national inspection findings and what experience tells us that academies and schools fail when governance is weak. Providing support to senior leaders is a key part of the LIB member’s role, as is being able to support and challenge improved performance from all members of the academy community,” said Rachel. “Bringing a new approach to academy governance is long overdue and we now have the chance to use the freedoms and flexibilities afforded to academies in a new and highly innovative way.”

Local stakeholder groups are also being developed to ensure continuity with existing community members and to support the work of each academy. Navigate Academies Trust’s Principals have been consulted and fully involved in the development of the LIB.

“Our principals have been fully engaged with the process from inception of the idea through to interview and appointment,” said Rachel.

The Barnsley Hub comprises of six academies, which in total serve around 2,000 pupils. Benefiting from the new structure are Carrfield Primary Academy, Gooseacre Primary Academy (judged good by Ofsted in July 2014), Highgate Primary Academy, The Hill Primary Academy, The Darfield Primary Academy and Littleworth Grange Primary Academy.

The Tees Valley Hub comprises of three academies, two of which were judged to be outstanding by Ofsted in the summer of 2014, Middlesbrough’s Brambles Primary Academy, which became part of Navigate Academies Trust in September 2012, alongside Pennyman Primary Academy. Dormanstown Primary Academy in Redcar joined the Trust in September 2013.

LIB Chair, Louise Soden, is a highly respected education professional and brings with her a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise which, it is envisaged, will provide a strong, positive impact on the way academies are governed at local, regional and Trust wide levels.

Said Louise: “I am delighted to have been appointed as the Chair of Navigate’s Local Improvement Boards. It is a great opportunity to look afresh at governance; to create governing bodies with the capacity to bring both challenge and support to our academies. These roles are vital in ensuring that all our pupils benefit from the best possible education. This is a chance to do things differently; an exciting and important development.”

The boards meet for the first time in their new capacity throughout February 2015 and will continue to meet every half term.

Hi-res images here: Flickr Photoset

About the LIB Members:

Louise Soden, LIB Chair

Louise Soden was a regional director at Ofsted. Previous roles include education adviser for the Department for Education, working with the Academies Group and in the Office of the Schools Commissioner, and assistant director (head of schools) for a London borough with a central role in the leadership of the Children’s Services Directive.  Louise has also held several teaching posts and been a lecturer at Sussex University.

Paul Aber, LIB Member

Paul’s most recent role is that of director at the University of Law in York. His role included strategic planning and quality assurance to ensure consistent, innovative and high quality delivery of undergraduate and postgraduate education to meet changing student demands across all eight study centres. A former solicitor at Lewis Silkin, Chancery Lane London, he has also held Course Director roles at the University of Westminster and City University and Course Assessor roles for The Law Society and has many years of teaching experience and programme and module design. He is currently chair of governors at a school in North Yorkshire. A varied career also included a stint as self-employed fishmonger from Battersea fish market.”

Denis Bird, LIB Member

Denis is a former Chief Executive of one of the country’s top Education and Skills providers with responsibility for over 11,500 fully employed status learners in some 3,500 businesses within the Building Engineering Services sector. He has also been closely involved in a number of trusts and charitable organisations including Managing Director of CAPITB Trust the Government approved National Training Organisation for the British fashion and clothing sector. Denis is also a previous Chairman and Board Director of Bradford Foyer a voluntary organisation for the provision of secure accommodation, education and training with care for disadvantaged young people.  He has also held positions as Director of Training at the Confederation of British Wool Textiles and Head of Training for British Coal.

Between 2004 and 2014 Denis sat on the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s Education and Skills Policy Panel which influenced national policy via regular meetings with Government Ministers. The panel actively supported a number of STEM projects in schools throughout the country. He was also a Board Director of EAL Awards.

Denis was born in Barnsley and still remains a local resident. He is a highly regarded and respected figure in the local community.

Maria Rock, LIB Member

Maria Rock is currently the headteacher of a successful and over-subscribed 11-18 school in Doncaster.  During her period as Headteacher the Hayfield School has celebrated the highest GCSE results in the school’s history as well as securing a highly positive Ofsted Inspection. Maria has also played a leading role in securing 1.8m external funding wich has been used to significantly enhance the learning environment through the delivery of four capital projects.

Prior to her current post Maria held a senior role as Associate Headteacher at St Bernard’s Catholic High School in Rotherham where her leadership was identified as a key factor in moving the school from Good to Ourstanding. She was also seconded to work across seven other secondary schools in Rotherham to improve the effectiveness of the 1:1 funding in raising standards in literacy and numeracy.

John Ziltener, LIB Member

Principal of the Farnley Academy, John has taught in inner city schools in Leeds, and has been instrumental to their rapid improvement.  In 2010, as part of the government’s sponsored academies programme, John was appointed as the Principal of a failing school, Farnley Park Maths and Computing College. ‘At that time, with only 32% of young people securing five or more GCSEs at grades A* – C including English and mathematics, the school received a Notice to Improve. John’s work transformed outcomes so that 73% secured five or more GCSEs at grades A* -C including English and mathematics, placing the school well above national averages in all key measures and resulting in an Outstanding judgment from Ofsted in December 2013. Inspectors noted that „teaching across the academy in all subjects and in all years is outstanding and that “the Principal ensures leaders at all levels constantly strive to make things even better.”

Dr Frances Toynbee, LIB Member

Frances is an independent consultant and trainer in schools with a particular interest in SEND and mental health and emotional well-being.

As a former head, governor for Welburn Hall School, Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire and chair of the local Parish Council, as well as a former SENCo and Senior Leader in a large secondary school, and head teacher of a PRU, and a school for students with emotional and behavioural difficulties, Frances offers a wealth of experience.  An associate lecturer for Creative Education, she has delivered courses on Promoting Reading and the School Library, Managing Bereavement in Schools, Re-engaging Disaffected Learners, Effective Support for Literacy, and How to Support Learners with SEND Effectively.

She is currently writing a book for professionals and parents about teenagers, based on her own PhD research.

Dan Hennessey, LIB Member

Dan has vast experience in the private & public sector working delivering major project and procuring PFI and PPP contracts in different service sectors. As managing director of MD Consultants (UK) Ltd, he oversees an education-focused consultancy which combines the strength of pure project management disciplines with a real life common sense approach to problem solving and managing outcomes. As part of the Senior Management Team during his time at Barnsley MBC, he worked on Building Schools for the Future and 14 School PFI Deals, as well as introducing the first integrated education procurement brokerage service, available to all Barnsley schools.  A large proportion of his career has been in procurement; supporting schools in all aspects of procurement and also developing supply chain management and controls. His work led Dan to become a key consultant working with the Department of Children Schools and Families (DFE) on improving support services for schools and has worked on the Sharing Services programme.

Sister Anita Smith, LIB Member

For the past ten years Sister Anita Smith has been a member of the Church of England’s General Synod providing insights into administrative procedures and canon law. A member of  the Order of the Holy Paraclete, her  principal work has been in education with various roles in the UK and Africa.

A Botany & Zoology with Biochemistry graduate from Nottingham University, she taught Biology and Chemistry at St Hilda’s School in Whitby for almost ten years, before becoming Head of Science at St Monica’s in Mampong, Ghana and later in Swaziland. In Swaziland she worked at the University in projects supporting science teachers in schools as well as an involvement with initial teacher training and lastly serving as Assistant Registrar.

Upon returning to the UK she adopted a number of administrative posts, becoming a parish assistant in Middlesbrough while retaining some of her community responsibilities.  Living in the parish which forms part of the catchment area for both Brambles and Pennyman Academies, Sister Anita became a governor at Brambles and has supported the huge development of that school in recent years.

Simon White, LIB Member

Headteacher at Egglescliffe School, Stockton-On-Tees, Simon White has been a Headteacher since June 2004, in three large 11-18 comprehensive schools. With proven experience and a track record of success in raising standards and promoting engagement for all stakeholders, Simon is passionate about inspiring governors, staff, students, parents and the wider community to work together for the benefit of students. As head at Lawnswood School in Leeds he has seen significantly improvement validated by the October 2013 Ofsted which judged the school as “good” in every category.  His ambition and commitment was praised by Ofsted for raising “the expectations of students and staff… this has resulted in significant improvements in the quality of teaching so that the school and inspectors judge more than three quarters of teaching is now good or better”.

Xanthe Craddock, LIB Member

Xanthe Craddock studied Law at Trinity College, Oxford prior to becoming a barrister, first in London, and then at Trinity Chambers in Newcastle. During her career she has specialised in both criminal and family law, most recently concentrating on child protection work. In August 2014 she chose to take a career break to devote more time to the care of her three young children; she was recently elected as a parent governor at her children’s school. Xanthe remains a fully qualified barrister and member of Trinity Chambers.