Working with Michael has allowed me the opportunity to diary in some much needed head space (particularly at the moment) to focus on my professional journey with him and to consequently develop a much deeper awareness of how that is inextricably woven to the development and context of the Trust. The ability to work with Michael and learn from his national expertise, experience and the perspective of other leaders both the education sector, charities, public sector and commerce is invaluable in this multi-dimensional role.

Katrina Morley, CEO of Tees Valley Education Trust, 2020


Michael has a warmth and ease that facilitates the most effective coaching conversations.  Our senior team each came away from their interactions remarking that their exchange with him had provided a solid opportunity for honest and deep reflection.  His clear thinking and extensive knowledge of the sector meant that he was able to take the information we had all given him and synthesise this, producing a report for trustees that will provide the backbone to our strategic development plan.  Michael will now be a trusted, honest, and effective challenge partner for us as we continue to develop over the next five years.

Claire Maclean, CEO Tudor Grange Academy Trust, 2020

Forum Strategy provides strategic reviews of academy trusts’ development, based on the six dimensions of organisational development outlined in Michael Pain’s acclaimed book on academy trust leadership, ‘Being The CEO’. Reviews are usually commissioned by the trust’s board or its CEO to identify key areas for development and key considerations and questions that can form the basis of board discussions, organisation development and strategic planning. The reviews are based on Forum Strategy’s extensive experience in providing strategic consultancy to trusts, our CEO training and development, and a rich and wide ranging bank of resources on academy trust development, We run the country’s leading professional development network for academy trust CEOs, and the Being The CEO programme.

The six dimensions that form the framework of the report are:

  • Leadership Narrative
  • Effective governance
  • Being an employer of choice
  • Improvement at scale
  • Sustainability and investment
  • External partnerships

(Source: Being The CEO; The six dimensions of organisational leadership – Pain, 2019)

The reviews consist of :

  • A half day meeting with the CEO and Chair
  • Interviews with senior executives (and key trustees)
  • Review of key paperwork – including website, governance minutes, strategic planning and improvement models
  • Report writing and feedback to CEO and Chair

We provide a limited number of reviews each quarter. The CEO and board receive a report identifying key themes, links to essential research and resources, and key considerations and questions.

To request a strategic trust review, please email us at: admin@forumstrategy.org Please note that there is usually a waiting time of around two to three months.