Trust Governance

Governance exists at different levels within the Focus-Trust.

The Focus-Trust Board

The trustees on the Focus-Trust Board bring a wealth of experience and expertise from within and outside education. This combination results in a focused approach drawing on best practice and previous success.

The Board meets regularly to maintain a strategic overview of the Trust’s work. The day to day work of the Trust is managed by the Chief Executive who is accountable to the Trust Board. The Articles of Association outline the relationship between the Trust Board and the partner academies within the Trust .

In terms of company and charitable law, the trustees of the Focus-Trust are accountable for the business operation of the Trust. Whilst the Trust Board sets the direction for the organisation, it is a key principle of our approach that leadership is devolved as close to the level of operation as possible, i.e. to the Local Academy Governing Body and the Academy Principal.

Clive Davies OBE
Chair of Trust Board and Founding board member

Clive is one of the founding Directors of Focus Education UK Ltd. Prior to establishing Focus, Clive worked as a headteacher, Ofsted Registered Inspector (RGI) and LA Adviser.

Clive draws on a wealth of experience working with schools nationally and internationally. Clive undertakes a mixture of work including key note speaker at large scale events; national conferences; training; and in-school consultancy.

Much of Clive’s work involves supporting schools to analyse their current position and supporting leaders to construct purposeful and fit-for-purpose self-evaluation systems which impact on pupil outcomes. Over recent years, Clive has been focusing particularly on the development of an approach to leading and delivering the curriculum which ensures a high degree of engagement for children. The Learning Challenge Curriculum® is being used in over 500 schools in England. Clive works in all areas of school improvement and works from early years through the secondary phase.

Amanda Clarke
Board Trustee

For 20 years Amanda has been an Entrepreneur, and previously ran a specialist training and consultancy company based in Cheshire.  She has trained over 100,000 participants and hundreds of instructors across the UK; and produced the UK’s first blended learning first aid course for home study. She has been involved in training early years practitioners since 1994. Amanda designs and delivers a wide range of learning programs in various media formats. Topics include management and leadership, mind management, behaviour analysis, personal communication, attitudes, values, performance, accelerated learning, time management and safety. In 2013, she took a career break and completed an MBA at Manchester Business School, graduating with Merit in 2015.  From Amanda's consulting work, she has expertise in a wide range of business issues, in particular transformational change and continuous improvement, in industries as diverse as food processing, heavy engineering, retail, tourism, education and transportation. Her work takes her around the UK, Europe, and the Middle East. She is passionate about being able to be MAD (Making A Difference) every day and in her spare time, she contributes her time and expertise to a number of community projects and fundraising for smaller children's charities

Linda Davies
Founding board member

Linda is one of the founding Directors of Focus Education UK Ltd. Prior to establishing Focus, Linda set up and ran the Inspection Unit for St Martin’s College at Lancaster University.Linda takes day to day responsibility for the management of the company including all financial and taxation requirements. She also leads the consultancy strand of the company.

Elaine Hibbert
Board Trustee

Elaine is an educationalist with a wide range of experience. She has recently retired after 14 years in Headship (4 substantive posts and 3 executive posts) and has a comprehensive understanding of both strategic and day to day leadership and management of a primary school. Three of her headship posts were in schools placed in ‘Special Measures’ and she successfully led the school until they were judged by Ofsted as Outstanding. Elaine has a good understanding and working knowledge of strategies for lifting the quality of teaching, raising standards of achievement and improving pupils’ progress. For the last 6 years of her headship, she was a Leader of Education and in that role she has worked with a variety of schools and colleagues, supporting and developing their professional needs. She has, in the past, also supported schools using her experience as an Ofsted Inspector and School Improvement Partner. Elaine established an excellent reputation within Rochdale authority and was placed in three different schools as Executive Head. She is highly respected by colleagues, teachers and governors for her professionalism and for the positive, friendly support that she provides. Since retiring from headship Elaine has continued to support Deeplish Academy where she is Chair of Governors.

Helen Lee
Board Trustee

Helen is currently Headteacher of Oakdene Primary School in St. Helens having been a  Headteacher  for 14 years. Oakdene has grown from a School causing concern to Outstanding under Helen’s tenure and it is now the Lead School in The Oaks Teaching School. Helen has been an Executive Headteacher and is now a National Leader of Education. She has supported many Schools and, in particular, has developed Leadership Teams improving outcomes for children and developing staff at all levels. Helen has been Chair of the local Headteacher Association and is currently on the SEND Task Force for St. Helens. Helen runs several programmes for Staff at all levels through The Oaks Teaching School and particularly enjoys nurturing new Headteachers into their roles to develop positive, experienced Headteachers to lead  Schools.

Matthew Milburn
Board Trustee

6Matthew has been a secondary Headteacher for 14 years in two large secondary schools and is currently Head at Saddleworth School, Oldham.A National Leader in Education, Matthew works at a strategic level as a board member for the Oldham Learning Partnership. He is a qualified Coach and works with new Headteachers as they take up Headship.He Chairs the secondary heads group in Oldham and has a long term interest in creating school systems that enable children to flourish.

Helen Rowland
Chief Executive

Helen is the Chief Executive of the Focus-Trust. With over twelve years’ experience as head teacher of a school judged outstanding in all aspects, Helen was proud to join the Trust at the outset in 2013, as Academy Improvement Officer.Since becoming Chief Executive in March 2015, Helen works in partnership with academy leaders, governors and academy teams on developing & improving teaching, learning, assessment and leadership for positive impact on pupil outcomes. Helen is a qualified inspector, holds the Professional Qualification of School Inspectors (PQSI) and has recently undertaken Ofsted inspections.Having spent over 26 years in education, Helen is passionate about the difference Focus-Trust is making to its’ children, staff, families and communities, many of whom live in disadvantaged communities.

Rachel Shatliff
Board Trustee

Rachel has worked for HSBC Bank for 25 years, joining the graduate programme after completing an English Honours Degree at Nottingham University. Her current role is Deputy Regional Corporate Director, North of UK, having gained extensive financial services experience across Corporate, Global Banking, Commercial and Retail businesses, with leadership roles covering relationship and sales management, risk management and people development, across the full range of sectors in UK and Europe.

Rachel is passionate about supporting local businesses and developing people and is involved with a number of initiatives to improve diversity and inclusion, talent development and sustainability. She also has 3 children and chairs a Down’s Syndrome Support Charity, alongside semi professional singing and therefore hopes to bring a wide perspective of interests and experience to the Focus Board.

Dan Spencer
Board Trustee

Dan is a Facilities Manager for Amey, a public services company. He became a school governor 6 years ago when his youngest son started school. In this school, it quickly became apparent that the school was not performing well. The leadership and management of the school were poor and OFSTED judged the governing body to be inadequate. This culminated in the Head and Chair leaving and I took on the role of Chair, quite early in my career as a governor.

The school is now massively improved and on a consistently rapid upward trajectory. A range of improved governing body processes and practices have implemented have been successfully adopted by other local schools.

Dan now engages in governance work beyond his children’s school; this has involved speaking at Clerking Seminars and  working with the local authority on a number of focus groups, including topics such as Communication, ‘Complaints Against Governors’ and Head Teacher Wellbeing. He also served as Secretary to the LA Governors Association. Earlier this year Dan was asked by the local authority to Chair the governing body of another school which is going through considerable difficulties and he is now steering that school through the challenging process of merging with a neighbouring school.

In 2012, Dan’s commitment was recognised by the local authority via the award of ‘Outstanding Chair of the Year’.

Simon Willis

Prior to retirement Simon taught in London, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire schools. He brings a wide range of educational experiences to the board, including 10 years of Headship and 10 years of Education Consultancy. Throughout his career all his schools have been challenging, large, inner city, multi-ethnic comprehensives.As a consultant Simon specialised in the quality assurance of Teaching & Learning although as his role developed in many schools he took on a range of diverse roles.He worked and continues to work with energy, passion, commitment and determination to ensure the very best learning outcomes for all pupils. He sees overcoming disadvantage as both a challenge and an opportunity.Over the years Simon has experienced Governance, in numerous schools, as a Headteacher, Staff Governor, Community Governor and Associate Governor.Currently Simon is Vice Chair of Governors at Thornton Primary School and a Governor at Wilsden Primary School.

Local Academy Governing Boards

Each academy has a Local Governing Board which sets the strategic direction of the academy. It is the role of the Governing Board to exercise leadership on behalf of the Focus-Trust Board in the operation of the individual academy. The Local Governing Board also provides ongoing information to the Focus-Trust Board about the running and success of the academy.

The key responsibilities of the Local Governing Board are to:

  • evaluate pupil outcomes;
  • challenge and support academy leaders;
  • take decisions about personnel management;
  • manage resources; and
  • raise concerns and risks with the Chief Executive and Board.


Each Local Governing Board includes parent/carer and staff representatives. The Board also includes members of the local community.

Accountability for the academy performance within the Trust is based on a strong and professional relationship of challenge and support. Each academy is evaluated against an agreed framework. This enables Trust leaders and Academy leaders to measure the impact of their work against agreed standards.