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.
Our Board of Trustees
Mr Charles "Sandy" 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. 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 co-wrote a national training programme for school to school support for NLE’s. In 2014 Maggie’s school became a lead teaching school, delivering School Direct Programming in partnership with the University of Northumbria.
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 authorities. Maggie is a founding board member of North East Teaching School Partnership (NETSP) who maintain their lead in the region to write and deliver National College School Leadership nationally accredited leadership programmes NPQML, NPQSL and NPQH. 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, Netherlands, Helsinki and Zagreb.
Mr James "Jamie" 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 Deborah "Deb" 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 Mark Stephenson
Mark is a practising lawyer who qualified in 2004 and specialises in advising on commercial property transactions. He has represented a variety of clients, including individual investors, developers, nationwide property companies as well as offshore based investment companies. Over the numerous years he has been practising, he has developed a great understanding of underlying legal principles particular to real estate matters, which includes a significant amount of bespoke drafting of legal documentation specific to such transactions. This enables him to advise from a position of knowledge and to negotiate effectively, resulting in procuring documentation that accurately reflects the terms agreed between the parties.
Since 2015 he has held the position of partner and in 2018 he joined a Legal 500 listed law firm in Newcastle City Centre. As a partner he has gained a tremendous amount of experience in the day to day management of both the business and the employees that comprise the firm.
At a professional level, Mark most enjoys being involved in helping to deliver focused results on complex transactions for clients. He prides himself in providing pragmatic solutions to the issues faced in real estate transactions and is careful to ensure his advice clarifies the implications of the documentation as well as the practical points of the transaction.
Mark has also added to his legal knowledge by obtaining a Masters in Advanced Commercial Property Law (LLM) from the University of Northumbria.
In his spare time Mark enjoys photography, walking the Northumberland coastline with his wife and dog and likes to travel to new destinations and interact with other cultures whenever he can.
Ms Katie Stevens
Katie is a chartered accountant with over 25 years of financial and audit experience, working in both the public and private sector. Since qualifying Katie has worked for multi-national corporations in the construction industry, consumer goods and professional services, working in over 100 countries. Such roles provided broad experience of transformation and project management, mergers and acquisitions, finance and risk management, strategic management, governance, and internal and external audit.
Being diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 23, Katie recognised the concerns disabled persons (and their families) face. As a result, Katie has a stubborn passion for diversity and inclusion, a desire to raise awareness and to drive inner confidence. This has included being Chair of the Disability Employee Support Network for the UK rail industry.
Katie decided to retire early to pursue her desire to support the most vulnerable in our communities. Katie is currently a Trustee for Ascent Multi Academy Trust, based in Sunderland, and Chair of the Finance, Audit, Risk and Resources Committee. Katie is also Finance Director for a local Community Benefit Society and a Trustee for the UK charity, Young Epilepsy.