The Priory Federation of Academies Trust has announced eight new trustees after the Department for Education (DfE) formally closed an investigation into its former CEO’s spending.
The new appointments were confirmed at a meeting of the Trust on Monday night. They join three others in forming the new Trustee group.
The DfE held an investigation at the school after it was discovered former CEO Richard Gilliland had been spending inappropriately.
This included high-paid jobs within the Trust for his family, spending money on renovating a building to live in, and even the purchase of sex games.
The police investigation is still ongoing, but as part or negotiations with the DfE, the Trust elected new trustees.
The Trust overlooks Priory Academy LSST, Priory Witham Academy, Priory City of Lincoln Academy and Priory Ruskin Academy.
The new board of Trustees are Howard Gee, Kate Hindmarch, Frank Knowles, Ian Jones, David Knowles, Simon Richardson, June Kirton, Peter Murphy, Steve Milner, Deborah Harry and Jane Powell.
The new members, include specialists in finance, law, education, business, logistics and human resources, will bring additional expertise to the Trust.
The new board will now begin looking for its new CEO, as well as deciding on a new constitutional framework for the Trust.
The Priory Federation of Academies said it has completed or is working on a number of points written out in its Action Plan.
In addition to the new board members, directors and education accountants, completed plans include redrafting new key policies, new firm of external auditors, a human resources manager and consultations with staff and students.
Chairman Terry Coffey retired from the Trust. He said: “I have worked exceptionally hard with senior colleagues over the last few months to help steer the Federation through a very difficult period.
“I was tasked by the DfE with creating an accountable, effective and fully functioning organisation which was capable of delivering the highest standards and the best practice.
“I have done exactly that and I am now proud to hand over, as I had always intended, to the next generation. There are some very talented people on board and I have no doubt the Trust will continue to go from strength to strength.”
New Chairman Howard Gee, who was on the board previously too, said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead the new board of Trustees into the next phase of our development.
“The new board brings an impressive range of skills and expertise that will allow us both to support and challenge the academies’ work to ensure that our students achieve their full potential.”
The Priory Ruskin Academy Chairman of Governors, and a Higher Education representative from Churchill College, Cambridge, will continue as Trustees.
The new Priory Trustees
Sponsor Trustee Howard Gee
Howard Gee has 34 years’ employment at a major engineering company in Lincoln. Currently involved in pan-European project to harmonize IT systems in 11 sites across five countries. Governor at the Priory Witham Academy and predecessor schools for more than 10 years, the last six as Chairman.
He said: “My experience of operations management in large organisations, working within the highest standards of compliance, will transfer across very readily to the Federation structure. We have much to build on and even more to achieve.”
Sponsor Trustee Kate Hindmarch
Kate Hindmarch is Partner at Langleys Solicitors LLP in Lincoln, specialising in employment law. Part-time Employment Tribunal Judge sitting in Birmingham. Trustee of First College, Louth. Former Chair of Women in Newark and a committee member of the Working Group for Business Women’s Link (Lincolnshire & Rutland).
She said: “The Federation has seen terrific expansion in recent years. I should like to see a period of consolidation and reflection as the new Trustees come on board, perhaps with a view to having other academies join us in the medium term.”
Sponsor Trustee Frank Knowles
Frank Knowles is currently a self-employed education consultant and inspector, undertaking Section 5 (Ofsted) and other inspections, quality assurance reading of inspection reports and supporting schools becoming academies. Previously one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools (HMI); local authority senior adviser; Deputy Head of a large inner city comprehensive school: Head of Department and teacher of Mathematics.
He said: “I want to see stability, improvement and success in all four academies. My particular strengths lie in leadership and management, curriculum, analysis of assessment data, school self-evaluation and school improvement – strengths which I hope will benefit the Federation in the years to come.”
Ex-Officio Trustee Ian Jones (Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Priory Federation of Academies)
Ian Jones has been Priory Federation Interim CEO since March 2012; Priory Academy LSST Headmaster 2008-present; City of Lincoln Community College Headmaster 2003-08.
Academy Trustee David Knowles (Chairman of Priory LSST Governors)
David Knowles is the Head of Compliance and risk Management, ADAS Group of Companies (since 1993). Priory LSST Governor and Committee Member since 1992, with special responsibility for Disciplinary Panel (Chairman). Past Chairman of Coleby All Saints C of E County Primary School. Chartered Member of the Institute of Safety and Health.
He said: “I want to help maintain and grow The Priory’s reputation as comprising some of the foremost academies in the UK; where students are put first, and where staff, trustees and committee members are always mindful of this.”
Academy Trustee Simon Richardson (Chairman of Priory City of Lincoln Governors)
Simon Richardson is the owner of QSP, an international development business which manages and owns private medical facilities, business parks, aviation training, international construction projects and boutique short-stay accommodation. A former pupil of the City School, a former governor of Newark & Sherwood College and a former director of Newark Enterprise Agency, Mr Richardson has served as a City of Lincoln Governor for 12 months, chairing both the General Purposes and Finance committees.
He said: “I believe all students can achieve great things, irrespective of their academic abilities or background. I support anything which helps young people achieve their career and business aspirations. At the Trust itself, I want to see an open and engaging board with a clear vision for the future and which sets clear goals for senior management.”
Academy Trustee June Kirton (Chairman of Priory Ruskin Governors)
June Kirton is a Retired Personnel Officer, North-Eastern Group Area of a nationalised industry.
She said: “In Grantham, I will support the Headmaster at Priory Ruskin as he continues to bring two local schools together under a new build. At Trust level, I will support the Chairman while the Federation builds on its recovery from recent events.”
Academy Trustee Howard Gee
Acting Chairman of Priory Witham Governors until a permanent appointment is made.
Staff Trustee Peter Murphy
Peter Murphy has been a Teacher of Science for 16 years; employed at the Priory Ruskin Academy, Grantham, since its formation in September 2010.
He said: “I want to see the federation continue to grow and improve. I also wish to see a more open leadership within the academies and the Trust to ensure that staff can see the direction in which the Federation is heading.”
Parent Trustee Steve Milner (Priory Ruskin)
Steve Milner is Logistics Manager with BAe Systems; previously 22 years in the RAF, leaving as a senior NCO. Also currently a volunteer with the BAE Systems Education Ambassador programme – a scheme which raises awareness among young people of engineering by supporting the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects.
He said: “I want to ensure that there is a clear, simple process that ensures that the views of parents are heard and acted upon appropriately. I hope to see greater collaboration and sharing of best practice between the teaching departments in the Federation. Ultimately, I want to see the Federation continue to take positive steps forward, learning from the mistakes of the past and becoming a better, stronger and truly exceptional educational facility.”
Co-opted Trustee Deborah Harry
Deborah Harry is Chief Finance Officer at the University of Lincoln. Formerly Director of Finance at the University of Northampton. A Certified Accountant and Chartered Company Secretary, Ms Harry is currently Treasurer of the British Universities Finance Directors Group (BUFDG).
She said: “My aims for the Trust are financial rigour and excellent accountability and communications. As a mother of two, I want to see continued academic excellence – schools that the city, community, pupils, teachers and parents are all proud of.”
Co-opted Trustee Jane Powell
Jane Powell is the Group secretary of Lincolnshire Co-operative. A solicitor responsible for all the legal and corporate governance aspects of the business; also looking after, at a high level, the Co-operative’s strategies for internal audit, whistle-blowing and fraud prevention. Company secretary of Lincolnshire Co-operative development agency, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes and supports the creation of new cooperative ventures; and Lincolnshire Co-op’s nominee representative on the board of Lincoln City FC.
She said: “I want the Federation to become an open and transparent organisation clearly perceived as working with the interests of the children who attend the various academies at the forefront of everything it does. I believe it already has the interests of the children as its primary consideration, but unfortunately I’m not sure that’s the generally perceived view.”