Cumbria Education Trust (CET) has announced the appointment of Chris Wilkins, a well-known face within the Cumbrian education community and beyond, who will be joining the Trust in September as its new Director of Primary Education.

Currently executive headteacher at the Carlisle-based St Ninian Catholic Federation, he brings vision and focus to the role, possessing over 25 years of experience within the primary education setting.

He also played a key role recently in the organisation of the highly successful Northern Lights Inspiring Education Conference in Carlisle, which was aimed at all those who wish to explore and share strategies and practice dedicated to improving educational outcomes.

Mr Wilkins will replace Rob Lakin, who will leave his post at Easter to take up a position of principal and CEO in Kampala, Uganda for the next three years, working at GEMS Cambridge International School which delivers an English education and curriculum for children aged two to 18 years.

Speaking about his new role, Mr Wilkins, said: “CET has an excellent reputation and my experience to date provides a robust platform for sharing best practice and allowing me to work with a greater number of schools and therefore make an impact on improving the life chances of a greater number of children.

“It will also be my responsibility to ensure that CET provides an excellent primary curriculum, which benefits all pupils, regardless of their background and prepares them well for the next stage of their education.

“CET is at an exciting stage in its growth, as one of the largest multi academy trusts in this part of the world, and its ethos of encouraging pupils and students to be the best they can be, supported by the belief that a first-class education will improve the life chances and choices of young people, chimes exactly with my own.

“Mr Lakin has carved an impressive path through primary learning within CET and it is now my job to continue the good work that he has begun. I am looking forward to the challenge.”

A further key appointment has been made with that of Gary Wallace-Clarke, who is currently a highly experienced Executive Headteacher at an outstanding primary school in Newcastle. He will work with CET during the summer term to provide leadership support.
Lorrayne Hughes, Chief Executive of CET, added:

“We were so pleased to be able to offer the position of Director of Primary Education to Mr Wilkins, who is not only a highly experienced education professional, but is also familiar with the local education scene. He will be a huge asset to CET as we continue to develop and improve educational outcomes for all our children.

“We are also delighted to announce the part-time appointment of Gary Wallace-Clarke, who brings in depth experience and expertise within the primary sector to ensure our momentum continues in the interim phase.

“Naturally, we are very sorry to be losing Mr Lakin and on behalf of the Trust and Local Advisory Boards and all of his colleagues in CET, I should like to extend our very best wishes to him and his family as they embark on this next exciting chapter of their lives in Uganda.”

Mr Lakin, who joined CET in 2015 has made an outstanding contribution to CET both as Director of Primary Education and as Headteacher of Yewdale Primary School in Carlisle. Speaking about his time in Cumbria and his new life, he said:

“I have always wanted to travel and work internationally, so aside from enabling my own children to see the world, as CEO and principal my new job presents the opportunity to work in secondary education, which will provide a wider range of possibilities for the future. The philanthropic nature of the school also appealed to me as it provides an education for many underprivileged children.

“It’s been an amazing experience for me and my family in Cumbria and I am delighted to have been able to help CET to grow and develop from a small operation to an organisation of some scale that is now, really making an impression within the education sector in Cumbria.

“My greatest achievement was seeing Yewdale Primary School progress from one which was regarded by Ofsted as being inadequate to one which received a ‘good’ Ofsted judgment in July last year. The teaching staff have matured into exceptional leaders and really add value to CET’s depth of resource. I will miss them all and of course, my friends and colleagues throughout CET.”