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 who oversee governance at local level for schools in the Trust.
The ultimate responsibility for the running of our schools resides with the Trust Board of Directors. They set the strategic direction for the Trust 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’. Trust Board Directors are also charity trustees, and as such they must also ensure that they are complying with charity law requirements. Directors are appointed based on their skills and experience.
Our Governance Structure
The authority for running each school remains at Local Governing Committee level and is clearly defined by our Scheme of Delegation .
We have five Members who are the guardians of the constitution, determining the governance structure of the Trust and providing oversight and challenge of the Directors to ensure the charitable objectives of the Trust are being fulfilled and a Catholic education is provided. Members approve the Articles of Association and have the power to appoint and remove the Directors. Members appoint the Directors with the right skills to ensure the Trust is run in accordance with its aims and objectives. In view of the overarching role of the Members, the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle is a Member and appoints other Members from within the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. Members are independent of the Directors.
- The Bishop (Bishop Stephen Wright)
- The Vicar General (Rev Canon Peter Leighton)
- Episcopal Vicar for Education (Rev Simon Lerche)
- Diocesan Director of Education (Mrs Deborah Fox)
- Diocesan Financial Secretary (vacancy)
Trust Board of Directors
The Directors have overall responsibility and ultimate decision-making authority for all the work of the Trust, including the establishing and maintaining of the schools within the Trust. The Directors have the power to direct change where required. There are no “terms of reference” for the Trust Board as the detail is set out in the Articles of Association. A summary of the key responsibilities of the Directors is set out in the Scheme of Delegation. Directors meet at least twice each term as a full Board.
In accordance with Academy Trust Handbook 2023:
The Academy Trust is the legal entity with the Board having collective accountability and responsibility for the Academy Trust and assuring itself that there is compliance with regulatory, contractual, and statutory requirements.
The Academy Trust Board provides:
• Strategic leadership of the Academy Trust: the Board defines the Trust vision for high quality and inclusive education in line with its charitable objects. It establishes and fosters the Trust’s culture and sets and champions the Trust strategy including determining what, if any, governance functions are delegated to the local tier.
• Accountability and assurance: the Board has robust effective oversight of the operations and performance of the Academy Trust, including the provision of education, pupil welfare, overseeing and ensuring appropriate use of funding and effective financial performance and keeping their estate safe and well maintained.
• Engagement: the Board has strategic oversight of relationships with stakeholders. The Board involves parents, schools and communities so that decision-making is supported by meaningful engagement.
The Board has three committees established to undertake detailed and focused work in the areas of standards, finance and audit. The committees meet at least once termly.
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.
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.
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.
Fr Colm HaydenFoundation Director
Father Colm is from Dublin, Ireland. He was appointed as Parish Priest to the Parish of the Durham Martyrs in 2005. In 2015 Bishop Seamus further appointed Father Colm as the Episcopal Vicar for the East Durham and Sunderland area
Alan retired in 2014 after a 40 year career in primary education, with 32 years served as a Deputy then a Headteacher, leading St. Bernadette’s, Wallsend, to numerous ‘outstanding’ inspection outcomes. Alan also supported schools as a National Leader of Education and supported St. Cuthbert’s North Shields for 7 years as an Executive Head. Alan also was also a seconded LA Primary Advisor where 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 3 local schools and served as Chair at St Alban’s.
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 Governor you must be a practising Catholic. We also have positions for other Governors who are not eligible to be Foundation Governors.
Governors are responsible for overseeing the strategy and leadership of a school. They support their school to run as effectively as possible, working alongside senior leaders and teachers to provide excellent education for all children.
Governors must be committed to attending meetings which consider issues such as setting the school vision and direction, mitigating financial risk and considering educational outcomes. They provide support and challenge to the Headteacher and senior leaders. Governors bring a wide range of skills and expertise but additional training and development opportunities are available free of charge to all Governors in our Trust.
If you are interested in becoming a Governor in one of our schools please complete the form by following this link and we will arrange an informal discussion about the role.
Local Governing Committees
The Trust Board has established Local Governing Committees for schools within the Trust, comprising of individuals drawn from the schools community, both as elected and appointed members.
The role of a Governor within the Trust is an important one. The governance structure ensures that as far as possible the responsibility to govern is vested in those closest to the impact of decision making.
Those serving on the Local Governing Committee are accountable to the Directors and the Bishop and must ensure that, at all times, they act in good faith and in the best interests of the school and the Trust, exercising care and skill using their knowledge and experience.
Local Governors meet at least termly, but can meet more often if necessary. Local Governors also visit their schools, linked to specific areas to support deepening their knowledge of the school and to provide oversight.
Details of the Governors for each school can be found on each schools website.
Collecting and Publishing Local Governing Committee & Board Diversity Data
Diversity is important and we want our Local Governing Committees and Board to be increasingly reflective of the communities they serve.
Provision of diversity data is voluntary. We have asked all Governors and Directors to submit their data on a voluntary basis. At this point 4.95% of Governors and Directors have submitted data. This is felt to be insufficient to be a true reflection of governance within our Trust and therefore at this stage we have no data to publish. This will be monitored on a termly basis.