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Governance Information

Lingfield Education Trust Board of Directors

John Steel

John was born and raised in Darlington.  When pursuing a career in teaching he was inspired by his father who, having spent 16 years in the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm, entered teaching as an ‘emergency trainee’ just after then end of WW2.  He was an exceptional teacher who had an amazing rapport with his pupils.  He retired as Head Teacher of a Darlington School in 1980. John left school in 1971 with unpretentious public examination grades, insufficient to get him into teacher training, therefore he entered the world of sales and marketing as a sales representative for both local and national companies. Despite enjoying his work, John's vocation for teaching was undiminished and he studied in FE night classes to gain the requisite qualifications for entry into a 3 year B.Ed (Hons) course combining Initial Teacher Training.  He emerged with a distinction (First) and began his teaching career in 1983.  Thankfully his father survived long enough to see his first (Y6) class perform their Christmas Nativity play. Wanting the best for all children, no matter what their starting points, has been fundamental to John's career aspirations.   Throughout his teaching career he has been unashamedly ambitious; believing that he could genuinely, and largely, make a difference to outcomes for all pupils.  Within 10 years of qualifying as a teacher his career path had reached the post of Deputy Headteacher of a large primary school catering for children of service families on a front-line RAF fighter base at the end of the first Gulf War. After two years he was appointed as Head Teacher of a C of E (aided) primary school in Darlington.  The school had recently been inspected and had narrowly missed being judged as failing.  The school served an area of high deprivation and pupils joined the Reception Class with very low starting points.  Difficult decisions had to be made in order to bring about a turnaround of low expectations and a culture of “well what can you expect from these children?” After three years he was temporarily seconded to the local authority’s School Improvement Team to lead on a Government sponsored information technology initiative.  After a year his post was made substantive with a widened brief to incorporate the role of Primary Adviser for a number of primary schools within the authority, many of which were in challenging circumstances or in danger of ‘failing’ Ofsted inspection. He went on to train and qualify as an Ofsted Inspector and School Improvement Partner (SIP).  In 2011 he took early retirement / voluntary redundancy from his position in the local authority’s School Improvement Team. John now enjoys engaging in part-time consultancy work with a number of local primary schools (outside the Lingfield Education Trust) and for some national training providers.  He works as a director within the Lingfield Edcuation Trust and retains the position of Chair of the Local Governing Body at Heathfield Primary School.  He is also a trustee / director of the Northeast Wellbeing Trust.

Stuart Crowther

Stuart was born in 1945 to a mining family in the south Yorkshire coalfield. After working for the National Coal Board for several years, Stuart attended university at the London School of Economics, graduating in 1970. Following Ph.D. research at the University of Leeds, Stuart taught Industrial Relations, Human Resource Management and Organisational Psychology at several universities until retirement in 2008. Stuart also served as Justice of the Peace and Judge of the Family Court for 20 years until 2015. Voluntary activities since retirement: Educational: - Governor, St George's Church of England Academy, Darlington (2005-2016) Chair of Governors, Mt Pleasant Primary School, Darlington (2009 - ) Governor, Hurworth Academy, Darlington (2011 - ) Chair of Board of Directors, Lingfield Education Trust, Darlington (2014 - ) Others: - Chair of the Independent Monitoring Board, HMP Kirklevington, Yarm (2008 - 2015) Councillor, Middleton St George Parish Council, (2004 - 2011) Councillor, Low Dinsdale Parish Council, (2015)

Graham Fitzgerald

Graham is a chartered accountant and a partner in Teesside-based accountancy firm Evolution LLP, where he works closely with over 40 academy trusts across the north east as well as a wide variety of commercial organisations. He has been a governor at Hurworth Primary since the summer of 2012 and became chair in early 2013. Graham was appointed as a director of the MAT board at its inception and chairs the finance committee, where he brings his experience of academy finance and audit requirements to the trust. He has a nine year old daughter and in his spare time enjoys following cricket, supporting Middlesbrough FC and getting as much value as possible from his National Trust membership.

Kathleen Whitmore

Kathleen Whitmore has been a Governor at Heathfield Primary School for a number of years before joining the MAT Board in 2014. She taught in a local Secondary School for many years and has now retired She has a keen interest in the development of curriculum standards and pupil welfare and to this end is chair of these committees both at LGB and MAT Board level. Recruitment of staff is high on her list of priorities and she has enjoyed short-listing and interviewing many people for posts both teaching and non teaching in Heathfield Primary and latterly for Senior Staff at MAT Board level. Her commitment and enthusiasm is appreciated by the staff and fellow governors who know her, and she will continue to challenge and support the work of Lingfield Education Trust for the foreseeable future.

John Martin

John is a retired father of one who is an ex local authority employee of 26 yrs. John has lived in Darlington all his life and has a vast knowledge of the town. John also used to be health and safety rep for Unison. He has been involved in several building projects which he enjoyed very much and has a keen eye for detail on paper and in productivity. John has been a Primary School governor since 2011 in which time  having a particular focus for health and safety and looked after children. John has also enjoys helping on school trips as well as driving the mini bus. He enjoys the challenging, questioning and supporting as a director on the MAT board and is a founder member of Lingfield Education Trust.
Lingfield Education Trust Governance Structure   new let governance
Name Directorships or controlling interests with businesses Trusteeships/Governorships at other educational institutions and charities Close family relationships within the Trust Shareholdings
Stuart Crowther - Governor at Mount Pleasant Primary School Member of Interim Local Advisory Board at Corporation Road Primary School Valerie Johnston Independent Trust Board Member Partner -
Graham Fitzgerald Name of organisation: Baldwins (Wynyard) Limited Nature of organisation: Accountancy Firm Nature of Interest: Director and Shareholder - - Name of organisation: Baldwins (Wynyard) Limited Nature of organisation: Accountancy Firm Nature of Interest: Director and Shareholder
John Martin - Governor at Heathfield Primary School - -
John Steel Name of organisation: North East Wellbeing Trust Nature of organisation: Provider of special services to schools Nature of interest: Trustee Chair of Heathfield Primary School Governing Body - -
Kathleen Whitmore - Governor at Heathfield Primary School - -
Nick Blackburn Name of organisation: North East Wellbeing Trust Nature of organisation: Provider of special services to schools Nature of interest: Trustee - - -
Dame Dela Smith Name of organisation: Ski Peisey Ltd Nature of organisation: Shared ownership of Chalet Nature of interest: Company Director Ascent Academy Trust Director and Member Horizons Specialist Academy Trust Member The Education Centre for Children with Down Syndrome Vice Chair and Patron - -
Tim Damer - Age UK Darlington Director/Trustee - -
 Colin Eglington - - Name of organisation: STY.comNature of organisation: Customer Engagement Nature of Interest: Shareholder
 Christine MacKinnon - - Name of organisation: ACUMYSNature of organisation: Consultancy Nature of Interest: Shareholder

Register of Business Interests