In an endeavour to continue our commitment to educational excellence, more than 70 Members, Trustees, Local Advisory Board (LAB) members and school leaders attended CET’s Annual Governance Conference. Held on Thursday 25th April at the University of Cumbria, this event provided a forum for collaborative discussions, strategic planning and the sharing of best practice. Each year, this conference aims to increase the effectiveness of our already well-established governance framework, through shared insights and collective efforts.

The event began with a vibrant performance from Workington Academy’s Performing Arts students, offering a delightful preview of their upcoming production, ‘Seussical the Musical’. Following this, Des Bird, Director of Secondary Improvement, welcomed the attendees with a short introduction outlining the Trust’s strategic vision and its ongoing growth trajectory.

The evening unfolded with a series of engaging sessions led by our speakers. The first session of the evening was led by Matthew Humphrey, Partner at RSM UK Ltd, who delved into the crucial aspects of decision-making, risk and control, providing valuable insights for our governance members who are navigating several responsibilities.

Tom Martell, Director of Strategic School Improvement, discussed how certain priorities can factor into driving overall improvement within a school. This included thought-provoking discussions around persistent challenges schools face, strategic decision-making and analysis of how to implement any changes needed.

Mark Gregory, Regional Director at One World, concluded the first half of the conference with a powerful session around leadership culture. He emphasised the importance of aligning strategic values and how CET’s strong existing culture is providing a solid foundation for this. He took time to explain the importance of different mindsets and encouraged each delegate to consider their most powerful mindset and how that could shape the work of Trustees and LAB members in the future.

After a networking break, the conference resumed with a Discussion Panel session. The panel members, Lee Garner, LAB Chair at Petteril Bank School, Ian Hick, LAB Chair at The Whitehaven Academy, Matt Hood, Trustee and Chair of the Student Achievement and Curriculum Committee and Margaret Payne, Member, Trustee and Chair of the Finance, HR and Business Development Committee, shared their experiences, provided invaluable perspectives and encouraged conversations around board effectiveness.

Gill Creighton, Safeguarding Manager, delivered an informative presentation on the duty and care that Trust Boards have within their schools. Offering practical guidance, Gill shared her expertise for effective governance in safeguarding matters.

Des Bird concluded the conference with a comprehensive session on Ofsted inspections and the pivotal role Trustees and LAB members play during these inspections. His practical tips on preparing for inspections, along with how to demonstrate effective governance, were met with appreciation from our attendees.

As the conference drew to a close, the consensus among attendees was clear – effective governance is essential for unlocking the full potential of our schools. Lorrayne Hughes, Chief Executive, and George Beveridge, Chair of the Trust Board, thanked the delegates for their dedication and contribution to each school and reflected on how empowering the conference had been for all involved.

What a wonderful start to the conference, watching the talented children from Workington Academy performing. It made us all realise why we were there, as the children are at the heart of everything we do at CET. It was great to have the opportunity to network with other LAB members and share good practices throughout the evening”

Anna Carroll, Headteacher at Longtown Primary School

Special thanks go to Lucy Hewson, Governance Professional, Charlotte Astill, Business Operations Manager, Leanne Coats, Business Operations Officer, and Jocelyn Newman, Business Operations Assistant, for organising such a valuable conference that will empower our Members, Trustees and LAB members, as we continue to create excellence together.

If you are interested in becoming a LAB member at one of our schools, you can find out more information via our Recruitment Pack below or by emailing