Oak Learning Partnership Header Image
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Oak Learning Partnership

Oak Learning Partnership is a Multi Academy Trust that was formed on the 1st April 2019 between Unsworth Primary School and Elms Bank Specialist Arts College. Hazelwood High School is currently being sponsored by the Partnership.

Our CEO is Elaine Parkinson and our Director of School Improvement is Christine Reynolds. Both are Executive Headteachers of the Partnership.

Ethos and Mission Statement


To give our learning community a highly effective education in a truly inclusive environment.



Compassion - we believe that we should show compassion to others and teach our young people that to be compassionate demonstrates their strength of character. Teaching our young people to be compassionate to one another should be a key element of their education. Encouraging compassion between all staff and for parents and families should be part of the ethos of the school.

Aspiration – we have a strong desire across our learning community to achieve something great, to achieve more than we expected and to encourage others to do the same, to believe that we can achieve great things and overcome all the obstacles.

Integrity - we talk about having moral courage, overcoming difficulties, and being able to have difficult conversations, being self-reflective and basing everything on truth and trust, having empathy and being open with a clarity of purpose in our systems.

Resilience – we want to encourage our pupils to be fearless, to have capacity including emotional capacity, to be confident, have positive self-esteem and be able to bounce back and be on a journey for learning.

Annual Reports & Accounts

Annual Report & Audited Accounts


As Oak Learning Partnership started on 1st April 2019, the first annual audited accounts available in the downloads below are for April-August 2019.


Memorandum of Association

The memorandum of association is a form signed by the “subscribers” to the company, who are those people who agree to become the first members of the academy trust. The DfE requires there to be at least 3 subscribers. 


Articles of Association

The articles of association are the governing document for the academy trust, setting out its objects, the eligibility criteria for members and governors, and the procedures for appointment and removal of members and governors. The articles also deal with voting rights of the members, the powers of governors and set out the procedure for meetings. DfE approval of the form of the articles is required before the academy trust company is incorporated.

Governance Information

Skills, Experience & Expertise needed for members and trustees

Members and trustees should have the following qualities:

  • A commitment to improving education for all pupils.
  • Ability to work in a professional manner as part of a team and take collective responsibility for decisions.
  • Ability and willingness to commit time and energy to the role, including attendance at meetings and prompt engagement with communications.
  • Commitment to the Trust’s ethos, vision and values.
  • Good literacy and numeracy skills.
  • Basic IT skills – word processing, using e-mail, accessing web portal, etc.
  • Understanding and experience of strategic planning.
  • Ability to analyse information and data and extract key information.
  • Ability to analyse and review complex issues objectively.
  • Ability to propose and consider innovative solutions.
  • Understanding of current education policy and landscape.
  • Good communication skills including being able to discuss and handle sensitive and confidential issues.
  • Ability to question and challenge.
  • Experience of financial planning, management and oversight.
  • Links with business and the community.

In addition to these generic skills, when appointing new trustees the Trust will consider the overall skills needed on the board and should be looking for individuals who also have higher level skills and experience in one or more of the following domains:

  • Education leadership and school improvement.
  • Finance and business management.
  • Company law.
  • Human resources and personnel management particularly in the public sector.
  • Project management.
  • Building and facilities management.
  • Marketing and public relations.
  • Fund raising and income generation



The members are akin to the shareholders of a company. They have ultimate control over the academy trust, with the ability to appoint some of the trustees and the right to amend the trust’s articles of association.

The Members will meet annually and their key roles will be to:

  • Act as custodians of the visions and values of the Trust; and fulfil the duties of charitable trustees in terms of compliance, prudence and care.
  • Receive the annual report and accounts.
  • Ensure that the Board is fulfilling its responsibilities.
  • Agree to appoint/remove additional Members.
  • Sign off the Annual Report and Accounts.


Our Members

Simon Toft

Simon is an experienced commercial director with 23-years in the newspaper publishing sector and wide-ranging operational experience and a proven record of leading and inspiring large, disparate multi-site sales and support teams. He has extensive experience of implementing successful organisational change, which has included business unit relocations, integrations and start-ups. As a McDonald’s franchisee since 2010 he has made a long-term Business commitment to the Whitefield and wider Bury area.

Daniel Brown

Dan is a highly experienced change professional with 16 years’ experience gained within a variety of organisations across the broad spectrum of Financial Services. He has a record of accomplishment of delivering results, both in a business as usual context and tactical interim solutions, with a particular emphasis on delivering transformational change and successfully building and leading businesses through periods of significant change. Currently Dan is a Senior Manager for the Automobile Association. Leading transformation of business processes and implementation of complex change.

Bernie Garner

Bernie has worked with community leaders to co-produce a broad range of community services that meet the needs of the Jewish community across Greater Manchester. Previously worked as a Director of Care and Education for a specialist Independent Autism Provider and has a proven record of accomplishment of leading and implementing strategic objectives and designing and implementing business plans and devising initiatives to exceed targets.



The trustees are responsible for the same three core governance functions performed by the governing body in a maintained school: setting the direction, holding the headteacher/CEO to account and ensuring financial probity. As charity trustees, they must also ensure that they are complying with charity law requirements. Academy trusts are charitable companies and the trustees are company directors and must comply with company law requirements.


Our Trustees

Steven Howarth

A dual qualified accountant Steve supports and advises business operations with their strategic and operational decision-making, through the provision of key insights that drive better business performance. Currently works at the Ministry of Justice as the Head of Finance Business Intelligence which encompasses the development of strategic financial plans and systems.

Sheila Gaskell

Prior to her retirement Sheila worked as a freelance school improvement officer supporting a number of schools on a variety of school improvement issues. Sheila held the positon of School Effectiveness Officer for Bury Children’s Services with responsibility for all aspects of pupil performance, which included creating a bespoke pupil tracking system, which is used by all primary schools in Bury.

Ashley Boroda

Ashley is a qualified business coach and communication trainer who works with small and medium size business owners and professional service firms. He is involved with a number of local activities including the Whitefield Business Group. He is also involved with Digital Advantage, which brings the work place to schools for five days and helps students develop their thinking, analytical, creative, business and digital skills.

Emmanuel Amadi

Emmanuel is an erudite scholar, Pharmacist, Scientist, and entrepreneur. He was the Founder/ CEO of EE AMADI LTD, t/a Drugs4U Pharmacy, Manchester, and a Contractor to the NHS (2011-2018). He built a Mail-Order Pharmacy business from scratch achieving a turnover of £1.2 m on sales by end of August 2017. He stepped down from his roles on 10th Aug. 2018 to focus his interests in Academia: Teaching & Research in Higher Education.
Mr. Amadi is a Fellow of the Chattered Management Institute (FCMI) for his significant commitment to the highest standards in Management and Strategic Leadership; a Founding Member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, and a registered Pharmacist with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).
He holds a B.Pharm; PGDip. Pharm; MSc, & Executive MBA. Mr Amadi has completed his doctorate (PhD) studies in Nanotoxicology and Genetic Toxicology/ Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Bradford. His PhD award would be conferred on him on 16th July 2019. He has presented his papers both locally and internationally. His recent paper on the Genotoxicology of Graphene Oxide on pulmonary disease patients (asthma, COPD, and lung cancer) was delivered at the NANO Boston World Conference, Boston, MA, USA (April 22-24, 2019) under the “Emerging Researcher Forum”.

Cath Atherden

Cath is currently acting as interim head of the Virtual School for Vulnerable Children, a recently reorganised service which includes the original Virtual School, the statutory SEN Team, Sensory Support Service, Additional Needs Team, Educational Psychology Service and most recently, the outreach team for pupils with SEMH difficulties, formerly the primary PRU. Her main current responsibility is in facilitating the LA work with the primary and secondary SEMH Partnerships and improving Inclusion across the borough, including the introduction of a locally produced Inclusion Quality Mark for Bury schools.

Gary Oldham

Gary has extensive senior leadership experience across a number of sectors including the military, Healthcare and Higher Education. He has been a Board Director for over 16 years, and spent 7 years as a Chief Executive of an NHS Mental Health trust in the West Midlands. He is currently Deputy Chief Executive (Organisational Enhancement) at Liverpool John Moore’ s University and his remit includes accountability for people, organisational development, marketing, student recruitment, international relations, corporate communications and stakeholder relations.

Paul Rogers

Product Director and learning technology expert with strategic change management experience. Currently leading on digital and blended learning solutions for professional qualifications and apprenticeships. Previous roles include within Higher Education (Universities of Manchester and Bolton) as an academic and Head of Department, and in the private sector as a Consultant Business Psychologist designing and delivering bespoke leadership and management training for a variety of clients including the House of Commons and BAE Systems.

Local Governing Body

Each school retains its own local governing body.

Composition of local governing bodies (LGB) is per current Schemes of Delegation, which allow significant flexibility to meet local context and needs. LGBs should focus on creating governing bodies comprising people with the right skills and commitment to ensure effective governance. Headteachers will be responsible for seeking appropriate membership of their LGB supported by the CEO and the trustees. The trustees prior to appointment will agree all members of the LGB.

Function of local governing bodies:

The details of what has been delegated from the trustees to local governors should be detailed in a scheme of delegation for each LGB. This should make it clear what functions the trustees have delegated to the LGB and for which academies. They are expected to undertake an annual self-evaluation of the effectiveness of their governance and identify priorities for improving governance.

It is important to note that local governors are not trustees of the academy trust, unless they also sit on the academy trust board. Everyone involved in the MAT governance arrangements should ensure that they understand what their role is. This should be clear from the scheme of delegation. It should be noted, however, that even where trustees have delegated functions to local governors, the trustees remain accountable and responsible for these functions. Trustees should, therefore, be satisfied about the LGB’s ability to adequately perform any functions delegated to them

In general, it is expected that LGBs will be responsible, in each school, for:

  • Ensuring that the school promotes the vision and values of the Trust.
  • The safety and well-being of staff and pupils.
  • The attainment and progress of pupils.
  • The quality of teaching and learning.
  • The range and quality of the curriculum.
  • The appointment, development and performance management of staff.
  • The effective deployment of funds and resources.
  • Ensuring that the school meets the standards of financial management and controls set out in the FHT Finance Policy.
  • The maintenance of the site and buildings.
  • Engaging effectively with parents and the local community.
  • Ensuring that the school fulfils the Trust’s expectations for engagement

Information about Academies

Academies are state schools that are funded directly by the government rather than through the local authority. They have to establish strong and effective systems of accountability and governance to ensure that they are successful and provide the highest possible standards of education and care for children. At Unsworth we consider that this is what we do and, in order to protect our school and its children and families in the future,  we feel the time is right to join with others in order to be ‘stronger together’. Our multi-academy trust will be known as Oak Learning Partnership.

Individual schools will be facing huge pressures over the next five years and it is now widely accepted that groups of schools working together in collaboration are best placed to provide security and strength to their communities. Well over half of all secondary schools in the country are already academies as are around twenty per cent of primary schools. The number is increasing quite rapidly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Further information on the creation of a Multi-Academy Trust

What is a Multi-Academy Trust (sometimes called a MAT)?

A MAT is where a number of schools formally join together so they can share resources and help each other to improve. Rather than being funded by and accountable to the local authority, a MAT is directly funded by and accountable to the Department for Education (DfE).

Individual academies, which are part of our MAT, will retain their distinctive nature. They will keep their names and uniform policies. The school’s will not change except in ways we think will improve the schools even more. This is why we want to create our own MAT so we can shape its nature and retain the characteristics that make our schools successful rather than join an existing MAT and potentially lose some of our unique qualities. This is the same for each school in the MAT.

All academies in a MAT are overseen by a single board of trustees. Our trust board is made up from governors from the schools in our partnership and  other trustees specifically recruited for their skills. The board is responsible for standards and the overall effectiveness of all the academies in the trust and not just one school. Certain powers are also delegated to local governing bodies at each school. These will be decided in our scheme of delegation which will be drawn up during Summer 2019.


Why are we considering forming a Multi-Academy Trust?

The founding schools of our MAT have worked together. We have collaborated on different projects. We want to secure this partnership and protect our schools going forward. The leaders and governors at each school have spent many months researching the benefits and pitfalls of becoming part of a MAT. The reasons for doing this in a formal partnership are:

  • To maintain excellence in both of our schools for all of our pupils by closer collaboration and sharing of expertise and school improvement strategies at a time when support from the local authority has diminished.
  • To further develop the educational experience for all of our children through our work together in developing an enhanced curriculum.
  • To strengthen leadership at all levels across all of our schools and increase opportunities for the continuing professional development of all staff.
  • To take further control over our finances and find opportunities to benefit from economies of scale and share costs and administrative functions.
  • To offer school to school support to schools that are under-performing in a more formal relationship by becoming a sponsor of such schools.

What are the benefits for our children and communities?

Our children will benefit through:

  • Developing an enhanced curriculum which leads to a broader range of learning opportunities across all of the schools in the trust.
  • Greater opportunities for learning across the schools, both physically and through technology, enabling pupils to collaborate together and foster more friendships with each other.
  • Enabling a greater consistency in learning by sharing best practice and ensuring attainment and progress is the best it can be for all children.
  • Access to improved resources, services and support functions that the local authority can no longer provide due to spending cuts.
  • Access to a greater number of shared resources e.g. curriculum materials and shared staff expertise.

What are the benefits for staff and our schools?

Our staff will benefit by:

  • Developing closer links between staff so that they can work together to develop better teaching and learning, share expertise and jointly problem solve.
  • Gaining a greater understanding of pupils’ progress through sharing data and other self evaluation processes across all schools in the trust.
  • Increasing capacity for strategic leadership, as leaders in our schools we will be able to work across the trust as a team to further develop and share areas of expertise. This will enable us to retain our best staff by increasing their opportunities to develop.
  • Enabling the leadership of the trust to bid for grants for additional funding as a charitable status trust.
  • Sharing ‘back office’ functions such as financial management, ICT functions, personnel management, central purchasing and premises maintenance so that we can do things more efficiently and more effectively.
  • By choosing to join a MAT, the schools will not be forced into academy status under the sponsorship of another school or organisation in the future.

What are the possible concerns?

‘Pressure to convert has been put on our school from the Department for Education and the government.’

The governors of each school have made the decision to support conversion independently based on what they see as the benefits to the children, the school and the staff. These decisions were made prior to recent government announcements on academisation. We believe that schools are best placed to work on school improvement together. It is this ‘school-led system’ that will ensure the best possible provision for all of our pupils.

We will not be forced to take on additional schools until we have the capacity to do so. Any decisions on additional schools joining would be made by the Board of Trustees. Any school joining would be expected to abide by our vision, ethos and governance structure and fully contribute and learn from the other schools.

‘This is a sudden decision. Our school is doing well-why change?’

The leaders and governors at each school have spent two years considering the question of whether to form a MAT for all of the reasons outlined above. We feel that we will be stronger together as the local authority’s capacity to support and challenge schools diminishes.  We want to shape our own future and take control at this point in time. We have always been outward-looking and believe that collaboration is how we improve our school even further.

‘The schools in the MAT are very different. Some are primary schools and some are secondary schools. How can that work?’

All schools have to focus on the pedagogy of teaching and learning, which is the dame no matter what the age range of the young people. We feel that this diversity adds to our strength as a group. We will also ensure that our founding principles are written in such a way as to protect the distinctive nature of each individual school. No school in the MAT will have the power to change the nature of any other school.

Each school will retain responsibility for setting its own culture and ethos from selecting uniform to developing their own curriculum. Much of the sharing is ‘behind the scenes’ where it is most effective.

As our MAT grows in the future, we will look to maintain a balance of primary and secondary schools.

‘The trustee board may not know individual schools very well.’

The trustees are partly made up of existing governors of the schools concerned. They will want to do their best to make sure all children across the trust are well looked after and will continue to visit the schools as governors do currently. They will also have to commit to ALL of the schools in the MAT and not just represent one.

‘Staff may find it hard to meet up with staff from other schools.’

All the schools in the MAT are within twenty minutes drive of each other. The schools involved in our MAT already involve themselves in joint developments.

‘The school is no longer accountable to the local authority.’

This is true but the trust would be accountable directly to the DFE and our accounts would be audited by the DFE’s Education Funding Agency and external auditors. We would also be overseen by our Regional Schools Commissioner, Vicky Beer, as well as continue to be subject to inspection by Ofsted. The schools in the trust would also continue to work in partnership with the local authority and buy back those services that offer value for money. Schools already buy-back services from both local authority and private providers and this will not alter but working as a group of schools gives us more opportunities for economies of scale.


Why should our staff support other schools?

Our school has always collaborated with and supported other schools. The governors have always supported this work outside of our school as they have seen the benefits for Unsworth. Looking outwards has led to improvements in our own practice.

We believe that we have an obligation to our own school and to children in other schools to make sure that their educational experience is the best it can be. This sometimes means that our staff go into other schools to develop their practice. This is called school to school support. Decisions to offer support are only made if we have the capacity to do so without affecting the quality of education in our own school and that will continue. Being part of a trust gives us additional funding to protect our own school when offering school to school support.


What might the trust look like in the future?

It is our intention to start as a small MAT in order to get our structures and relationships with each other right. We also need to ensure that joining the MAT protects the quality of education in our own schools before we start to support other schools.

In the future other schools might apply to join our MAT. Whether they do so would depend on them sharing our values and beliefs and our capacity to support them if support is needed. There would be a process of ‘due diligence’ before any school joined the trust.

There is also more information about academies on the gov.uk website, we have shared the link below.

Our school motto is ‘Together We Build Understanding.’ We live that every day.  We are entering into this process with enthusiasm and a conviction that it is the right thing to do for the future of our school.