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Business leaders step up to help academy school chains

One-hundredth business leader signs up to Academy Ambassador programme

Posted by Stephanie Broad | November 13, 2015 | People, policy, politics

The 100th business leader has signed up to support chains of schools through the Academy Ambassador programme.

Academy ambassadors play a vital role on boards of school chains across England. Using their expertise and track record of success, they play a vital role helping turn around underperforming schools and support the growth of successful schools.

Renowned business people like Nikki King, former MD and honorary Chair of Isuzu Trucks UK, are helping transform England’s schools. She became Chair of Greenacre Academy Trust last year, where her insights will help boost the life chances of students. For example, Greenacre now places greater emphasis on preparing its students for life after school via its ‘Skills for Life’ programme.

Head teachers have welcomed the opportunity to work alongside high calibre business leaders who bring a diverse mix of skills and a fresh perspective.

Andrew Reese, CEO of Greenacre Academy Trust, said: “It’s obvious that there’s a lot that the business world can bring to education. As a result of Nikki joining our board, we’ve got central services of HR, finance and data. If we do take three or four schools into our Trust we’ve got the central services that they’ll need and a year ago we didn’t have that. And I think I would’ve struggled to put that together without Nikki’s involvement.”

100th NED from PwC joins Ascent Academies Trust in Sunderland

The 100th non-executive director to be placed was Susan Blair, a Senior Manager at PwC. Susan joins Ascent Academies Trust, which grew out of an outstanding special school and is now sponsoring special and mainstream schools. 

Susan Blair said: “While PwC is a global brand, we pride ourselves on being active in our local communities across the UK and as a firm we know how important it is to do the right thing in the community. When PwC therefore gave me the opportunity to become a non-executive director of an academy trust, I jumped at the chance. The Ascent Trust is doing some brilliant things in Sunderland and so I am excited to be joining the team and I will hopefully be able to support them and make a real difference in the local education sector.' 

Kaye Forrest, non-executive director at University of Chichester Academy Trust, said: “Having failed to take advantage of the educational opportunities that were available to me during my school years I am passionate about trying to help others achieve their full potential.  In addition, as a Human Resources specialist in the commercial sector I am very aware that many young people lack the skills that employers are looking for from entrants into the workplace and I want to bring this insight into schools.

“I hope that my background and experience will bring another perspective to the Board and enable them to add even more value to the schools in the trust than they undoubtedly do already.”

Nick Tesseyman, Managing Director European Bank for Reconstruction and board member at Burnt Mill Academy Trust, said: 'I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my experience in the commercial sector is relevant as a trustee in the education sector. I've already received positive feedback about one of the recently-joined trust schools on the improvement which has taken place in just a few months under new leadership.'

Ian Hancocks, Senior Leadership Manager at Kaplan Accountants and board member at LEAD Academy Trust since October 2014, said:  “LEAD have benefitted from having someone to ask the basic questions - helping them to be self-reflective and offering a fresh pair of eyes. I have also introduced LEAD to a broader network; providing a source of talent and suppliers that can support the Trust’s growth journey. Seeing how another business works and helping to challenge and improve decision making is rewarding; the fact that it indirectly helps children to achieve their potential is very warming.”    

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