Board of Trustees

Purpose & Overview
Trustees collectively, as the Board of Trustees have wide responsibilities under statute, regulations  (Companies Act 2006, Charities Act 2011, Education Act 2002 and 2011) and the Master Funding Agreement
Principally their role is to ensure that the academy trust's funds are only used in accordance with the law, the Articles of Association and Master Funding Agreement. The Board of Trustees has wide discretion over its use of the academy trust's funds, which it must discharge reasonably and in a way that commands broad public support. It is responsible for the proper stewardship of those funds, including regularity and propriety, and for ensuring economy, efficiency and effectiveness in their use – the three key elements of value for money.
The Board of Trustees  have overall responsibility and ultimate decision making authority for all the work of the academy trust. This is largely exercised through strategic planning and the setting of policy; ensuring adherence to the Articles of Association, compliance with legislation and the Academies Financial Handbook and the achievement of the Objects within the Articles of Association.
The Department for Education require that all Members, Trustees, Governors and Senior Executives of the Academy Trust declare all Business and Pecuniary Interests on an annual basis or as changes occur. Section 2.5 of the Academies Financial Handbook provides information on the required process. All information submitted must be made available on the website.
The Business and Pecuniary Interest declarations can be found below for the Academy Trust Members, Trustees and Executive staff. Each school will publish the declarations for their Local Governing Boards on their website.
Our Board of Trustees

Mr Charles Christie

Chair of the Board of Trustees

Following graduation in mathematics from Manchester University, Charles worked for over 50 years in business, mainly in systems companies and high tech engineering both in the UK and elsewhere. Latterly this involved corporate management roles including both executive and non-executive director positions. Most recently he was Director Development Strategy & International Operations for IDS, an Italian based company involved with developments relating to radar, air navigation, UAVs and special purpose antennas. The role included coordination of the company’s overseas subsidiaries as well as some merger and acquisition activity.

Prior to this he was a partner in a small management consulting organisation addressing particularly strategy and change management. This period included pro-bono strategy management assignments involving a number of UK charities.

Previous employers were Consett Iron Company, CEIR, Logica and Finsiel. Consulting clients served while with CEIR and Logica included the Civil Service Department and the DVLA as well as major clients in the petroleum industry, consumer goods, banking and overseas government.

Mr Alan Keenleyside

Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees

Alan has worked for 40 years in all phases both in urban and rural schools, latterly as a Headteacher of 27 years’ experience. Within this timescale he has been seconded twice to HMI and twice to his LA to work with the school improvement team. Additionally he has had two acting Headships, one of which was a middle deemed secondary in special measures for the second time.

Alan was a Primary SIP, External Adviser, Threshold and NPQH Assessor and served on an Interim Executive Board for a Newcastle school in special measures which is now outstanding. He was a National Leader of Education (NLE) and with another colleague co-wrote a national training programme for school to school support for NLE’s. Together they formed the Tyne Valley Teaching School Alliance of which Alan’s establishment was the lead school. In this role he contributed to leadership development; succession planning, talent management; research and development; school to school support; initial teacher training and governance.

Since retiring, Alan is a governor of another academy primary school and serves as a trustee on an educational charity.

Ms Margaret "Maggie" Anderson


Maggie has worked in Primary education since 1979 in both Newcastle and Northumberland; she has been Head Teacher at SELEfirst since 1993. Under her leadership the school became one of the first Beacon Schools in the Country; they have been graded Ofsted outstanding on three consecutive occasions. In 2007 her school was named in Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools Annual Report as one of the country’s top primary schools.

Maggie was seconded in 2003 to Northumberland LA where she was appointed as part of newly formed interim strategic senior team (IEB) to write the LA post Ofsted Action Plan. Between 2003 and 2008 she trained and worked as both an External Adviser and a Threshold Assessor. From 2008 Maggie trained and worked as a School Improvement Partner (SIP). In 2009 Maggie was awarded an OBE for services to education. She became a National Leader of Education (NLE) in 2012 and in that role has co-wrote a national training programme for school to school support for NLE’s; supported several schools deemed RI over sustained periods following inspection and been a member IEB for two schools.

Alongside a ‘job share school partner’ she established Tyne Valley Teaching School Alliance (TVTSA). This Alliance has continued to grow and now includes 12 good and outstanding schools across 4 LA including Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead and Sunderland.

Maggie is a founding board member of North East Teaching School Partnership (NETSP) who became, and still maintain, their lead in the region to write and deliver National College School Leadership nationally accredited leadership programmes NPQML, NPQSL and NPQH. She has delivered training on regional NPQH programmes for aspiring Head Teachers and mentored newly appointed Head Teachers. Between 2013 and 2015 she delivered training to aspiring and newly appointed NLE on behalf of NCSL.

In 2014 Maggie’s school became a lead teaching school; they deliver a well established and successful School Direct Programme in partnership with the University of Northumbria. She was funded by DFE to organise and deliver a regional training programme for the implementation of 2014 New Primary Curriculum; commissioned by Bridge North East to develop and deliver Arts Leadership Programme; organised a successful bid to deliver Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) Maths Programme, a specialist SEND Cluster and an EYFS hub and induction for NQT. Since 2014 she has appointed and commissioned Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE) across a range of key areas including English, Maths, SEND, Behaviour and EYFS.

Maggie engages regularly with All North Teaching Schools (ANTS) to develop effective system leadership. She has worked Internationally since 2012 with partner schools in Shanghai alongside group of Gateshead schools to develop cultural and professional links; works annually with a group of schools in Netherlands who seek to develop their Curriculum including ‘Thinking for Learning’; as part of British Council programmes have worked with schools in Helsinki and Zagreb.

Mr Simon Bewick


Simon Bewick has over 25 years’ experience in the educational publishing sector, most of it spent working with Oxford University Press (OUP). During his time with OUP Simon was responsible for the introduction and development of various global strategies, particularly in the digital arena. Simon has trained and lectured around the world, and has worked with local educational ministries on numerous projects in Europe, Asia and Latin America. He started his career teaching English in the UK and Japan, and holds a BA Hons from Reading University, IDM Dip Direct/Digital, and recently completed his PGDip in Strategy and Innovation at the Said Business School, Oxford University.

Ms Deborah Piggett


Deb is currently the HR Director for North East Learning Trust having taken up this position in 2016, as a member of NELT’s Executive Team. She operates at a Strategic level and brings significant Organisational Development experience to the role as Trustee of SMART. Whilst Deb has only worked in Education for the last two years she has a wealth of people management and business administration experience built up over the last 30 years across a range of sectors and hopes to use her knowledge and skills to support improvement and development of the Academy Trust.

Mr John Quinn

Trustee, Committee Chair

John has had a number of Finance Director roles in North-East based companies. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1988 John worked for five years at Ernst and Young before embarking on a career in Industry. John has worked for companies in food manufacturing and printing. It was in the print sector where John was part of a team which successfully negotiated a MBO of the business. Most recently has taken on a new role in haulage and waste recycling.

Mr James Lawson


Jamie currently works for Asda as a Senior Human Resources Business Partner leading HR Operations across a geography of stores. He has extensive experience in retail leadership, managing change and has worked on global HR projects. Jamie’s previous role was as head of Asda’s Organisational Development function where he was responsible for leading the design and implementation of the organisation’s OD strategy, including large scale strategically critical projects. Jamie is a Member of the CIPD and hold a BA (Hons) in History & Politics from the University of Northumbria.

Ms Eileen Morrison

Trustee - Retired

Mr Eric Gray

Trustee - Retired

Mr James Clark

Trustees - Retired

Dr Helen Roberts

Trustee - Retired