Aspirant & New Academy Trust CEO Programme 2019

Check out the introduction to our book: Being the CEO Book (published January 2019)

Check out our article on the 6 differences between an Executive and a CEO: BLOG: 6 things that set the CEO role apart

Check out our video resources: Leadership in Conversation

Review some of Forum Strategy’s thought-leadership work for the MAT sector: Policy Roundtable


Forum Strategy’s Aspirant CEO programme begins in January 2019. The programme is designed for those people who are executive leaders of multi-academy trusts (or elsewhere – including federations) and are ready to finally make the leap to the CEO role. For those looking to start  or access CPD for Executive Leadership roles, we strongly recommend Inspiring Leaders’ NPQEL programme.


The transition from Executive headteacher (lead practitioner) to CEO (corporate leader) is far more challenging and perilous than some anticipated. It has been demonstrated time and again that being an accomplished headteacher or even Executive Headteacher, is no guarantee of becoming a great CEO. There is a huge transition to be made. The leader must again become chief learner rather than chief adviser. Some have flourished as CEOs, whilst others – mainly through their inability to reinvent themselves as chief learners – have ended up a case study in how not to do it.

Being The CEO, Michael Pain


MAT Leaders National Conference


The programme involves:

  • 3 face to face sessions (over 12 months) based on our CEO framework. These take place in Southwell, Nottinghamshire;
  • A study visit to an established and well-regarded academy trust;
  • An individual subscription to Forum Strategy’s weekly briefings on strategy, leadership thinking, policy, research and funding – for 12 months!
  • Membership of one of Forum Strategy’s five MAT Leaders networks during 2019 – including attendance at our National MAT Leaders Conference in September;
  • Coaching provided by Michael Pain (Forum Strategy’s CEO) and a face to face session with an experienced MAT CEO approved by Forum Strategy;
  • Access to Forum Strategy’s extensive resources – including course materials
  • A mock interview led by our recruitment experts, based on the Forum Strategy CEO framework, with feedback and coaching (for those applying to roles)
  • Support with and feedback on applications during your time on the programme.

The themes of the programme are the four foundations of the CEO role, and the following six dimensions:

  • Translating vision into leadership narrative and strategy
  • Building a successful relationship with your board of trustees
  • CEO as Chief Talent Officer and Culture Maker
  • Enabling improvement at scale; improvement as an organisational habit
  • MAT sustainability and growth
  • Building social and professional capital – external and internal relationships


Find our more about Forum Strategy’s National #MATLeaders conference: National MAT Leaders Conference 2018


Who runs the course?

Forum Strategy is one of the country’s leading consultancies specialising in organisational and leadership development for multi-academy trusts. We run five regional MAT CEO leadership networks and an annual MAT CEO conference. We provide strategy consultancy to help MATs grow sustainably and successfully, drawing on research from within and beyond the sector. This work includes corporate governance reviews, CEO performance management, business and organisational planning, bid writing, and marketing and communications.

Michael Pain is a strategic adviser to CEOs and Chairs, a researcher, and a leadership trainer and speaker. Michael’s career has been dedicated to supporting leaders and organisations to plan ahead – anticipating and managing change with success; and to develop vision, strategy and communications that engages and motivates clients and staff alike. Since 2016, Michael has established five regional leadership networks for CEOs of trusts and charities, and is passionate about supporting leaders to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

Michael’s career and work is grounded in his unique experience as an entrepreneur, having taken Forum Strategy – in five years – from a start-up business to a national consultancy and training organisation that is highly respected by hundreds of CEOs. He was formerly Special Advisor to the CEO and Head of Policy & Public Affairs at the National College for School Leadership and, before that, Assistant to the Minister for Europe. He is a trained lawyer, having been Called to the Bar in 2007. Michael’s book, Being The CEO, is published in December 2018.


Who has contributed to our previous MAT CEO programmes and networks?

Previous programmes have included contributions and inputs from NHS Improvement, the Chief Constable of Durham Police, CEOs of children’s hospices including David Strudley CBE, Ofsted, award-winning entrepreneurs – including ‘services to industry’ award winner, Kate Lester and Sunday Times Fast-Track 100 winner, Stuart Conroy, and Vanni Treves CBE (former Chair of Channel 4) and many more.

Academy trusts that have contributed include Flying High Academy Trust, Vantage Academy Trust, Woodard Academy Trust and many more – reflecting a wide range of sizes, contexts and status of development.


Confirmed contributors to the programme include:

David Strudley

David Strudley CBE – former CEO of Acorns and Rainbows Children’s Hospices and a former Chief of Staff in the British Army

Emma Knights

Emma Knights OBE – CEO of the National Governors Association and former CEO of the Day Care Trust

Steve Munby

Dr. Steve Munby CBE – former CEO of the National College for School Leadership and the Education Development Trust. Chair of the National Teaching Awards

Vanni Treves CBE

Vanni Treves CBE – Corporate governance lawyer and expert. Former Chair of Channel 4, Equitable Life, and the National College for School Leadership

Marie-Claire Bretherton

Marie-Claire Bretherton, – Director at CfBT Schools Trust and Head of the Kyra Alliance.


Andy Buck

Andy Buck – best selling author of Leadership Matters and former Director at the National College

Michael Pain, CEO, Forum Strategy

Michael Pain – CEO of Forum Strategy and founder of the National MAT Leaders Conference and 5 Regional MAT CEO leadership development networks

More To Be Confirmed.


Key dates:

27th February 2019 (9.30am – 3pm): Southwell, Notts – Course introduction; CE0 framework & the 4 foundations; Translating vision into leadership narrative.

5th June 2019 (9.30 am – 4.30 pm): Southwell, Notts – Building an effective relationship with the board / Being chief talent officer & culture maker

Early July: Luton – Study visit, Chiltern Learning Trust; Enabling improvement at scale.

26th September 2019 (9.30am – 3pm): Midlands – Forum Strategy’s National #MATLeaders conference

25th November 2019 (9.30am – 3pm): Southwell, Notts: Leading a sustainability organisation; generating social and professional capital



The cost of the programme is £2795 plus VAT.

Check out an example of our high quality resources: Leaders In Conversation – #MATLeaders resources



To request an application form, please contact . The deadline for applications is 10th December 2018


Our framework for the programme (designed and developed by Forum Strategy)


Our thought leadership

Check out Forum Strategy’s ‘cutting-edge’ thought leadership and how we are using our voice to inform policy and developments in the sector: 3rd #MATLeaders Policy Roundtable: Successful and sustainable trusts in an age of austerity


Forum Strategy: Our commitments to clients include:

  • Supporting improvement wherever possible;
  • Staying informed on the key & emerging issues;
  • Producing high quality research & communications;
  • Ensuring our integrity & maintaining client confidentiality at all times;
  • Being responsive & professional in all that we do;
  • Being truly independent – including, receiving no direct government funding.