New boss of Bedford’s HEART Academies Trust outlines his vision

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The passion of parents, staff, governors and the community is a school’s greatest asset.

That is the message from David Hoare, the new chair of trustees at HEART Academies Trust, the group which covers Cauldwell, Shackleton and Shortstown primary schools plus Bedford Academy.

And in his week week in the job he laid out his vision for how the trust can move forward.

He said: “The people here really care. If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t have come on board.

“The fundamentals are right, now we need to build on them.”

HEART made headlines late last year after sweeping changes were announced which had parents, staff and governors all up in arms.

All three primary school headteachers were to lose their jobs, as well as three deputy heads and seven assistant heads.

The move was branded a “betrayal” and led to both HEART’s chief executive and the chair of governors leaving their roles.

Two months later the plans were effectively abandoned.

Mr Hoare, who is a former chairman of Ofsted and is currently chairman of the Teenage Cancer Trust, praised parents’ response.

He said: “I was really impressed by the parents. Last year showed that they cared enough to get cross.

“It’s something I was told about Bedford - people have a passion for their town, and that’s something we should tap into by working with other schools, other academies, and the wider community.

“We’re not in competition, we all want the best for our kids.”

In the longer-term Mr Hoare said that HEART could and perhaps should expand to take advantage of economies of scale, adding that having the chief executive run services such as catering and finances would free up headteachers to focus their attention on education.

But he said that the first priority was to do the best possible job with the schools already within the trust.

“We’ve got four schools now and we’ve got to get them right first,” he told the T&C.

“We’ve got great headteachers, we’ve got great staff, and we’ve got to support them and support the students. And luckily we’re in a good position financially.

“Once ourheadteachers can see the benefit of being part of HEART they can tell their colleagues elsewhere that their schools should be part of it too.”

BACKGROUND:

“Betrayal” at Cauldwell, Shackleton, and Shortstown primary schools

Plans to make headteachers redundant at three Bedford schools put on hold - the full story

What are the reasons for the changes proposed at Cauldwell, Shackleton, and Shortstown primary schools?

Details of the changes being proposed at Cauldwell, Shackleton, and Shortstown primary schools

HEART chief executive resigns: What happens next?

HEART chief executive resigns: Parents’ warning over 2019 at the trust

School boss resigns over HEART fiasco