‘We have worked with Berry Education since September 2020. Berry Education provide both our operational and strategic governance services and both services are excellent. Prior to September 2020, Claire Mitchell of Berry Education had been our governance clerk since 2017 and as such led the Trustees and I through the first months and years post academisation when her expertise in academies and the laws, regulations and requirements around them was invaluable in ensuring we made a smooth and successful transition from maintained schools to MAT.

Claire’s knowledge and expertise in the area of governance is excellent. She is well informed and has a very thorough knowledge and understanding of academies, how MATs work and the frameworks within which MATs operate. As she has such a detailed knowledge, she is able to offer this expertise to our board and its committees during meetings as well as when questions are raised outside of meetings. Berry Education is always completely up to date with developments in governance, EFSA requirements and DfE policy and ensures that the board and I are also kept abreast of developments and changing requirements even between meetings so that we are able to discharge our statutory responsibilities effectively. This is a huge benefit to us and means that for me as CEO, and for our Trust Chair, we do not have to worry about missing anything as we are kept informed in a very timely manner.

Berry Education has a very good professional network meaning it can draw on its contacts to support our trust and schools as required, and their regional training work for the NGA amongst others ensures that they are at the forefront of good practice. This has also been of benefit to us as we access the expertise and knowledge this brings to Berry through our clerking contract, therefore helping to keep us at the forefront of good governance practice too.

On a practical level, organisation around meetings is excellent and Berry Education ensure that all timescales are adhered to for meetings and documentation. During meetings the clerk is always well prepared and can refer back to things in the minutes and from previous meetings, this preparation means she is able to support our Trustees at all times and keep them informed of points relevant to their discussion. In addition to organisation, knowledge and expertise, Claire’s personal skills are outstanding and she has supported both the trustees, our LGBs and me through some tricky situations over the years with a clear head and a calm manner. She supports in trustee meetings in an effective but friendly way ensuring that when there are points that require clarification from the clerk this is done in a professional way which allows trustees to make decisions with all relevant information at their fingertips.

Berry also have an excellent track record on advising and supporting trustees directly with operational issues. Recent examples include the appointment of external auditors and the management of a sensitive HR issue. In both cases the feedback from trustees was of the highest order in regard to the support they received from Berry Education. I am also aware that the Chair of the Trust finds Berry Education a good source of advice and support when he needs it.

In conclusion, we are very happy with the service we receive from Berry Education and I would recommend them without reservation, their services are excellent.’

 

Dr Ailsa Taylor, CEO – Oak Learning Trust

Trusts we work with..

Address

The Old Brewery Business Centre, Castle Eden, Durham, TS27 4SU

Phone

01429 839242