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Members And Trustees


Members of Champion Education Trust have an interest in educational issues in addition to successful leadership and management experiences from a range of organisations and business.

They serve on a voluntary basis and are involved in preparing, with the Trustees, the strategic plan for the Trust and receive reports from the Board of Trustees, regarding the progress made towards achieving the identified outcomes. This ensures that the Trust receives the appropriate information from schools to enable it to provide challenge and support to school leadership and hold schools to account for their performance.

Members are appointed for 4 years and are eligible for re-appointment.

Members meet at least once per year for an Annual General Meeting, with other meetings held when necessary. Members are responsible for the ongoing appointment of Trustees, and skills audits are completed every October.

Jim Henderson

Jim worked as a science and physics teacher since 1984. For 19 years he has been a school leader, including being the founding Headteacher of an academy. He has spent the last two years as a consultant head working to transform a school in special measures and join a multi-academy trust.

Jim is currently developing a science and physics education consultancy but is keen to volunteer his services and experience wherever they might be useful. He has worked within two large MATs and understands the distinct roles of members and trustees.

In addition, he is on the board of directors for a social enterprise organisation which promotes opportunities into blue-chip employment for girls from disadvantaged and BAME backgrounds.

Charlotte Hesketh

Charlotte is the Virtual School Headteacher and Assessment Officer for Blackburn with Darwen Local Authority. Within this role she holds statutory responsibility for promoting the educational achievement for looked after and previously looked after children. She works closely with colleagues in schools/education settings, Children’s Social Care and with carers and has a detailed understanding of the challenges faced by some of our children and young people given their adverse childhood experiences.

Charlotte also manages the SIMS Support Service contract for schools and is an advocate of the power and efficiencies management information can provide to schools.

Jenni Lea

Jenni is an experienced project manager, currently in the role of Community Engagement Manager for the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, the largest nature conservation charity in the  north west. She manages multiple projects and a team of officers working across Greater Manchester and Lancashire, supporting people with mental health conditions to improve wellbeing through a connection to nature. As part of her role, Jenni coordinates partnerships and strategic development with NHS trusts, local authorities and other third sector organisations.

Jenni is also a qualified Forest School practitioner. Previously she has empowered young people with complex needs in schools and alternative provision settings, to access nature, as a therapeutic intervention within the wider curriculum.


Trustees of the MAT have an interest in educational issues and successful leadership and management experiences from a range of organisations/businesses. The role is voluntary and offers the opportunity to contribute to the development of the educational provision of the member schools within the Trust.

The Board of Trustees will be accountable to the DfE/EFA and Regional Schools Commissioner for all the activities of the MAT. Their representatives, Chair and Executive Headteacher, will report annually to the DfE on the outcomes for all the schools within the MAT. Consequently, the Board will be the ultimate decision making body in relation to all aspects of the operation of the MAT.

The Members appoint new Trustees for a maximum of 4 years, and are eligible for re-appointment. The Board of Trustees will meet six times each year, and Academy Headteachers are invited to attend and report to the Board as appropriate.

Jessica Byrne (Vice Chair)

Jessica recently retired as Head of Education of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council where she was responsible for the strategic leadership and management of the education department and associated policy and budgets. This included direct leadership of school improvement, post 16 education and skills, school organisation and place planning, schools capital programme, inclusion, attendance, behaviour and SEN.

She was a member of Children’s Services senior leadership team, responsible for liaison and joint development with Children’s Social Care and Health, and a member of the Council’s extended leadership team. She also has significant experience of working with colleagues across the North West and with Ofsted, the DfE and the RSC’s Office.

She has 23 years' experience teaching in primary and secondary schools and 18 years' experience working as a senior officer in local authorities. Her qualifications include a Master of Education (Leadership and Management) and accreditation as a Primary and Secondary School Improvement Partner. Jessica has extensive experience working with Blackburn Central High School and Crosshill School, plus was a Trustee of East Blackburn Learning Community Trust.

Mark Hindle

Claire Hollister

Claire is an independent educational consultant and worked within secondary education for 35 years, nine of these as secondary headteacher.

She inspects schools on behalf of Ofsted and is an active school governor.

Claire has authored a Spanish course and a reference guide for GCSE Spanish along with a resource and activity booklet for students going on educational trips to Spain.

In addition, Claire has delivered the Woman into Headship programme for a local authority.

Angela Howard

Angela is the Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning at the Technical Centre, Blackburn College. She is responsible for the provision within health, early years health and wellbeing, school of technical studies (construction, motor vehicle and engineering), and customer service industries (hair and beauty, hospitality, travel and tourism and public services).

Angela is a member of the Integrated Strategic Needs Assessment Leadership Group run by Blackburn with Darwen Council and is a member of the Families Health and Wellbeing Consortium. She spent 12 months as an honorary researcher for Department of Health Research at Lancaster University.

Diane Johnson

Diane is an HR professional who has spent over 30 years working in challenging, fast paced businesses which include FTSE 100, private equity, public sector and SME environments. Having worked in senior and executive level roles, she now runs her own business delivering Strategic HR leadership, coaching, L&D and practical HR solutions within SME businesses in the North West of England.

In addition to her professional HR qualifications and corporate membership of the CIPD, she is also a qualified business coach working to improve leadership capabilities and develop organisation cultures that demand and deliver diversity and inclusion.

Diane is also a Leader at 4th Rossendale Brownie pack, where for the last 8 years she has encouraged and supported girls aged 7-10 to learn social skills, work together, be tolerant and respect diversity whilst carrying out the most important part of the guiding philosophy – having fun.

Adrian Terry

Adrian is EMEA Chief Financial Officer for IPG MediaBrands - one of the world’s largest advertising and media planning and buying agencies. He is a qualified accountant with over twenty years-experience working in senior finance positions within sectors such as retail, distribution, data, television/ film content and advertising. In his current role he looks after the finances for IPG's media and data business in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region. The role requires the successful delivery of client’s campaigns within budget, development of profitable new business models and the implementation of people, processes and tools to accelerate growth in rapidly evolving market-places.

Adrian studied a BSc in Geography and Geology at Manchester University, is a Qualified CIMA accountant and studied Corporate Finance at London Business School.

Dot Thomson (Chair)

Dot is a former Local Authority Officer who had responsibility for a budget of £1.8 million covering staffing costs for a central team of 10 and the administration of grants to schools. She has significant experience of recruitment and selection of Headteachers and Senior Leaders to schools. Her teaching background was in both Primary and Secondary Schools with RE as a specialist subject.

Dot is confident in tracking pupil progress and analysing the strengths and areas for development arising from data and has a good working knowledge of the ASP data dashboard and Fischer Family Trust systems. She is an accredited trainer for safer recruitment and trained in Safeguarding and Prevent.

Dot has vast experience as a member of various governing bodies and is the current Chair of Governors at Blackburn Central High School and a member of the Governing Body at Crosshill School.

Yusra Arshad

Yusra is Headteacher at St Thomas’ C of E Primary School with vast experience of being a specialist lead in education, SSIF managing, school to school support, facilitating national professional qualification programmes (NPQs) and quality assuring for the schools direct initial teacher training programme. Yusra is also a Trustee at the Diocese Board of Education. She was involved in writing a bid which secured the status of regional training centre for Apple and her school has since had great CPD development with other practitioners, such as Apple Distinguished Educators, Apple UK and LEGO UK (STEM). Her school provides STEM training on a regional, national and international level and she has experience of developing testing to be used in schools. This was as a working party organised by the DfE to work with the Standards Testing Assessment (STA).

During her career, Yusra has benefited from working alongside some outstanding leaders with experience of school improvement, appeals and HR issues, in addition to the experiences outlined above.

Recruitment of Members and Trustees

Further individuals are currently being identified to strengthen the Trust with HR, Legal and Primary and other professional backgrounds. It is noted that the DfE’s preference is to have 5 members.

New members and trustees are being actively sought by working with Academy Ambassadors. A skills analysis audit is in the process of being compiled as it is recognised there are gaps in the areas of HR, Legal and Primary Sector.

If you are interested in applying please contact Academy Ambassadors.

Articles of Association

Certificate of Incorporation

CET Conflict of Interest Policy