How we are governed
The Governance of Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust is structured in accordance with its Articles of Association and comprises of three levels; the Members, the Trust Board of Directors, and Local Governing Committees (go to how we are governed) who oversee governance at local level for academies in the Trust.
The ultimate responsibility for the running of our schools resides with the Trust Board Directors. They set the strategic direction for the MAT and are accountable to the Secretary of State for the performance of the schools within it. This is set out in a legal document known as the ‘funding agreement’. As charity trustees, they must also ensure that they are complying with charity law requirements. Directors are appointed on the basis of skills.
The authority for running each school remains at Local Governing Committee level and is clearly defined by our scheme of delegation.
Meet our directors
Cllr Martin GannonFoundation Director and Chair of the Trust Board
Martin was elected as a member of Gateshead Council in 1984 and served in various roles including Deputy Leader for six years, before being elected as Leader of the Council in May 2016. Prior to this, Martin worked for the GMB Trade Union for 23 years undertaking a number of roles including Regional Officer, Head of Research, Health and Safety, and Media and Communications.
Current responsibilities and employment include;
- Leader of Gateshead Council
- Chair of Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust
- Non-Executive Director, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust Board
- Director of Newcastle International Airport Local Authority Holding Company Limited
- Director of the Association of North East Councils Limited
- Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee
- Board Member of the North East Combined Authority
- Board Member of the North East LEP
The skills Martin brings to the Board include strategy, governance, HR, business, finance, policy and regional development.
Peter CantwellFoundation Director
Peter is an associate solicitor at Womble Bond Dickinson, and he works primarily within the firm’s education team. He advises governing bodies, academies, multi academy trusts, diocesan bodies, religious orders, local authorities, and the Department for Education. Following his Catholic education at St Joseph’s Primary School and St Robert of Newminster School and Sixth Form College, Peter went on obtain a First Class honours degree in mathematics and physics at Durham University. His governance skills include his legal specialism, business, policy, governance, and diocesan bodies.
Christopher CoxonFoundation Director and Vice Chair of the Trust Board
Chris is a retired BT business leader. He has had two main employers, the British Coal Corporation and British Telecom prior to his retirement in 2017.
Chris has a secure understanding of the distinctive nature and purpose of Catholic education and has been successful in numerous and varied leadership and management posts. His business experience is invaluable to his role in governance. His governance skills include Catholic education, governance, leadership, project management, communication, change management, HR, and finance.
Angela BoyleFoundation Director
Angela is a retired primary school Headteacher from within the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. She has extensive experience of leadership within the primary sector giving her great empathy understanding and the necessary insight for the Board. Angela was also able to bring her knowledge of Diocesan ethos and requirements to assist the Board in their decision making. Her particular skills lie within Catholic education, governance, leadership, project management, communication and change management.
Michelle HarrisonNon-Foundation Director
Michelle is the Head of North Region, Academies and Maintained Schools Directorate – North, Lancashire and West Yorkshire for the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) which is part of the Department for Education. Michelle has invaluable skills in the leadership, management and operations of the academy sector including strategic governance, academy business, finance, policy, academy development and the education sector. Michelle is also Vice Chair of Governors White Mere Community Primary School in Gateshead
Ian Mearns MPNon-Foundation Director
Ian is a member of parliament for Gateshead and a member of the parliamentary education Select Committee. He was first elected in the 2010 general election. He was educated the St Mary’s Primary school in Forest Hall and St Mary’s Technical School in Newcastle before commencing his employment with Northern Gas in 1974. Ian was the chair of the Campaign for the for a North East Assembly and was a member of the North East Constitutional Convention Steering Group. Ian chaired the Scrutiny and Policy Development Board for the North East assembly for three years. His skills lie in strategy, governance, HR, business, finance, policy, and regional development. Ian has also held a number of governance posts and currently serves as Chair of Governors at Kelvin Grove Primary School in Gateshead.
Claire ReidFoundation Director
Claire has served as a governor at St Thomas More Catholic School, Blaydon, and St Joseph’s Highfield. She is a qualified chartered accountant and has experience of governance within the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle in both primary and secondary sectors. Her responsibilities include financial management and control. Claire has skills in finance, strategy, vision, risk management, budget planning and setting, regulatory and audit skills, procurement, and business continuity planning.
Fr Colm HaydenFoundation Director
Alan retired in 2014 after a 40 year career in primary education the last thirty two of which were in the Catholic sector as a Deputy then a Headteacher. Alan led St. Bernadette’s, Wallsend, to numerous ‘outstanding’ inspection outcomes in both OFSTED and Diocesan inspections. Alan also supported other schools as a National Leader of Education where they were due inspection or required additional support. Alan support at St. Cuthbert’s North Shields resulted in a 7 year executive headship, which supported the school to move from an expected inadequate to Good with many outstanding features.
Alan also was also seconded by the LA as a Primary Advisor for the local authority where the main aspects of the role were in primary assessment at Baseline, KS1 and KS2, Primary NQTs and senior management succession planning as supporting with Headteacher appointments. In this role Alan worked across Gateshead, Newcastle and South Tyneside.
Alan also worked as an OFSTED Inspector and School Improvement Partner and lead ITT at St. Bernadette’s, was the Northern representative on the SCITT National Panel and also a founder member of NASBIT, a consortium that championed school centred ITT. Under Alans leadership St Bernadette’s became a lead school for the Carmel College ITT programme that encompassed many Diocesan schools. Alan has continued to work for Carmel since his retirement and is a Liaison Tutor working in a number of schools within BWCET, a role which he loves.
As a parishioner of St. Patrick’s , Alan was a Governor at local schools including St. Patrick’s, St. Alban’s and St. Oswald’s , and served as Chair at St Alban’s.
Meet our executive team
Nick Hurn, OBEChief Executive Officer
Nick has dedicated his entire career to the education sector. A former head teacher, Nick not only understands the challenges and pressures that today’s school leadership teams face, but he is also committed to helping you overcome them.
Nick believes in unlocking the potential of every individual and every school he is involved with, improving standards, and creating opportunities. He is an entrepreneur and innovator. He is a founder member and Chairman of Education Mutual and Schools Mutual Services, and his strategic vision led to the launch of Bishop Wilkinson Commercial Services and several innovative initiatives designed to support schools, improve services, and optimise educational budgets. Education Commercial Services (ECS) is an example of this. He also serves on two strategic Boards for the North East.
In 2017, Nick was given the opportunity to combine his twin passion for football and education, as a Premier league Education Advisor. Nick’s services to education were recognised with an OBE in 2015.
Jonathan ParkinsonDeputy Chief Executive Officer
Lucie StephensonDeputy Chief Executive Officer (Primary)
Louise LevyChief Operating Officer
Louise has worked in education for 12 years following almost 20 years in the Financial Services Sector, rising through the ranks to executive positions. Switching to Education was the right move – working within the fact-paced Business and Finance team and using her vast financial and management experience to drive improvements, compliance, and operational practice.
Louise is a Specialist Leader of Education and a member of the DfE School Business Professional Advisory Panel and an accredited School Resource Management Advisor.
Louise is the Company Secretary of Bishop Wilkinson Catholic Education Trust and actively serves as Chair of Governors of an Outstanding Primary School and Chair of Members at a Secondary Academy.
Barbara Riley O’DonnellDirector of Ethos
Martine MurphyTeaching, Learning and Training Director
Jacqui RidleyDirector of Governance
Jacqui worked in Governance for 25 years as a clerk in Newcastle, in Gateshead as Governor Support Service Lead and as Training and Development Lead in County Durham where she developed and delivered training for Governors and Senior Leaders across 260 schools, across all phases.
She has also worked as a school business manager in a two form entry primary school in Sunderland so has sound knowledge of school finance and operation and accountability to Governors. She is a qualified assessor and internal verifier for NVQ and an accredited Safer Recruitment trainer and has served as a judge for the Teaching Awards.
Jacqui serves as a Co-opted Governor at Dunston Hill Primary School in Gateshead and sits on the Finance Committee and is a Co-opted Governor, Vice Chair of the Governing Body and Chair of the Resources Committee at Bede Primary School, Gateshead. She works as a facilitator for the National Governance Association (NGA) leadership programmes and sits on Gateshead’s Schools Forum.
Andrea RileySafeguarding, SEND, Student Support Director
Julie CollinsCommercial Improvement Director
Julie’s experience within the education sector and public procurement more widely is extensive, spanning three decades. During her career she has been instrumental in education development across the public and private sector covering numerous categories, driving improvement, compliance, efficiency, and savings.
During that time Julie has remained a School Governor and is currently Chair for a Primary Academy, her knowledge and understanding firmly rooted in education. Julie’s background includes time with NEPO, YPO and CCS – giving her a unique insight into the procurement landscape and the variety of options available to schools.
Umer ChughtaiChief Technical Officer
Helen NadenDirector of Human Resources
Lisa SmithChief Finance Officer
Meet our central team
Gemma MillerHR Advisor
Jenna BianchiHR Apprentice
Jessica LevyHR Apprentice
Jo StoddartLead Cluster Manager
Interested in becoming a governor
From time to time we have vacancies across our Local Governing Committees for both Foundation and Non Foundation Governors.
To be appointed as a Foundation Governors you must be a practicing Catholic. We also have positions for other Governors who are not eligible to be Foundation Governors.
Governors are responsible for overseeing the leadership and management of a school: strategy, policy, budgeting and staffing. They enable their school to run as effectively as possible, working alongside senior leaders and supporting teachers to provide excellent education to children.
Governors must be committed to attending meetings which consider issues such as setting the school vision, mitigating financial risk and scrutinizing educational outcomes. They are also involved in the school community, providing challenge and support to the Headteacher and senior leaders. Governors bring a wide range of skills and expertise but training and development opportunities are available free of charge to Governors in our Trust.
If you are interested in becoming a Governor in one of our schools please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange an information discussion about the role and suitable vacancies.