Shropshire Star

Academy trust looks to add governors across the group

A fast-growing academy trust is looking to broaden the range of expertise on its boards of governors.

Louise Burns

Today is National Governors Awareness Day, which is raising awareness of the crucial role which governors play in the education system, and recognising their commitment.

And with two new secondary schools coming on board – Burton Borough in Newport and Telford Priory School – the Learning Community Trust is keen to hear from people who believe their experience and enthusiasm could ‘make a difference’.

Mike Briscoe has more than 25 years of experience in education governance and currently chairs the Learning Community Trust board, managing an annual budget of more than £60 million.

He said: “Governance is sometimes the overlooked in the education world, yet my view is it is the single closest point of contact to hear first-hand the school experience for learners, staff, and communities.

"That is a privilege. I relish understanding the workings of school life from many perspectives so I can try to make a difference, by offering support and challenge for how schools and academies work and can improve. That excites me.

“My family and friends often ask me ‘what do you do?’ I provide strategic leadership to the brilliant team in the trust to reach our long-term aims for our young people and communities, ensuring that we stick to our values and core principles.

“Our role is also to ensure that finances are well-managed, our great staff are supported and developed, our buildings and services are fit for purpose and of course to plan well for an ever-changing future of learning.”

Mike said the chance to have a positive impact was the most enjoyable part of the role.

Louise Burns

Marketing and brand strategy consultant Louise Burns chairs the governors at the trust’s Severndale Academy in Shrewsbury, and has been part of the governance team since 2017.

She originally became involved as a parent governor when her daughter was at the school and said: “It’s an incredibly rewarding role for anyone who is curious, open-minded, and enjoys the chance to get involved, and make a difference.

“Our job is to look at the bigger picture and chart a general direction, identifying potential blockers to progress and working out how to shift them.

“It’s not our job to just be cheerleaders for a school or academy from the sidelines; that’s not what governance is about.”

Louise said Severndale was particularly keen to add governors with either a health and social care, or local government background to its existing team.

Former deputy head teacher Mark Austin is currently a governor of three schools in Telford & Wrekin, including Lantern Academy at Ketley Bank, and Burton Borough School in Newport.

He said: “I took early retirement to return to my home town of Telford, where I never did get to teach. I’m still passionate about education, so this is a way of me staying in touch with the sector, and giving something back.

“I’m not here just to sit on a committee – I want to make a difference.

“For me, the best thing about a governor’s role is the challenge; it’s always good to learn, and having the opportunity of working directly with parents, students, and senior leaders is absolutely fantastic.

“Being a governor is also a great opportunity to influence the strategic direction of a school and challenge decisions in a positive way – getting people to think about things they may not have considered before.

“The beauty of the trust is that all of its schools are encouraged to retain their own distinct identity, while at the same time adhering to core values of being embedded in their communities.”

Anyone interested can contact governance professional Steph Morley on 01952 387505, or email

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