Q&A with our Chair of Trustees, Stephen Bradshaw
Stephen became our Chair of Trustees from September this year to ensure we’re governed appropriately, help us make important decisions and provide inspiration and encouragement for what we’re trying to achieve.
Stephen joins us after a long and successful career setting up and running special schools and residential care for both children and adults. This including founding Farleigh College that specialises in Aspergers and The Aurora Group that runs schools and care services across the country.
Why did you want to join Learn@ as a trustee?
I didn't - I have known Peter since he was a deputy headteacher at a SEN school in Rochdale in the early 1990s and have remained friends and colleagues ever since, despite taking very different career routes.
He asked me to help with the mentoring of some of the multi-academy trust (MAT) headteachers which I agreed too - then felt the greatest need the MAT had was for a Chair of Trustees and Board - so he invited me to put myself forward - I had just left The Aurora Group as CEO and Founder and had some time available and was willing to help.
However I would have not agreed had I not agreed with the MATs philosophy and Peter's leadership to focus on the needs of children and to make a difference. Hopefully I can bring a business structure and experience into areas that the MAT is experiencing for the first time.
What do you enjoy most about your career in special education schools?
Making a difference to children's lives and seeing them grow in a safe and secure environment. I enjoyed the ability to be flexible, to take risks and to develop outstanding facilities. My first school in Somerset was in 1985 the first school for students with Asperger's Syndrome. Today it is run by The Priory Group and is still graded outstanding by Ofsted.
What will be the most important aspects of your role as chair of trustees?
To assist Peter and his heads in developing outstanding schools with a sound financial model that allows for growth and development opportunities for all.
I believe that the focus is two fold, one on quality and everything that entails and judged by Ofsted and the second a sound financial model that ensures sustainability and growth.
I need to ensure that there is clear governance in each school and in the MAT as a whole through the CEO and individual heads. This includes policies and procedures to follow and support for the staff in their individual roles. Corporate and clinical governance should be included in this. There will always be issues, it is important these are dealt with appropriately and follow clear guidelines.
What will success look like for the Learn@ trust?
All schools to be graded good or outstanding, over subscribed, with excellent reputations. It would also demonstrate a sound financial model in each school alongside a clear vision and development plan for the MAT that encourages growth and innovation.
Importantly that everything is focused on the students and making a difference to their lives giving them the skills and strategies to becoming contributing members of society.