Trust governance

The governance arrangements for Horizons Specialist Academy Trust, as prescribed in the Articles of Association, are set out below:


Horizons Specialist Academy Trust has four Members:

Dame Dela Smith 11.07.13 Original (signatory) Member
Ian Cunningham 01.09.17 Appointed by Members
Linda Laidler 01.09.21 Appointed by Members
Professor Adam Boddison OBE 10.12.21 Appointed by Members

There is currently one Member vacancy.

As charitable companies limited by guarantee every Trust has Members who have a similar role to the shareholders of a company limited by shares. They:

  • oversee the achievement of the Company's objects (as detailed in the Committees section),
  • are the subscribers to the Articles of Association (where they are founding Members)
  • may amend the articles of association (the articles include a definition of the trust’s charitable objects and governance structure) subject to any restrictions in the articles or in the trust’s funding agreement or charity law
  • have powers to appoint and remove Trustees in certain circumstances
  • receive the Trust's Annual Accounts (subject to the Companies Act). 

Member resignations during the past 12 months

Brenda Kirby resigned wef 4 August 2023 (term of office 30.11.18-04.08.23).  Brenda had declared a business or pecuniary interest as a Trustee of Cornerhouse, a Board Chair of IMB Holme House Prison, a Non Legal Member of Employment Tribunal and a Environmental Health Officer for Middlesbrough Council.  


Trustees manage the academies on behalf of the Trust, through undertaking the core functions as detailed in the  The Governance Handbook  - ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction; holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils and the performance management of staff; and overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.  Trustees also need to ensure that the Trust complies with charity and company law and operates within the Funding Agreement that has been signed with the Secretary of State.

The Articles of Association state that the Board of Trustees shall have the following Trustees:

  • CEO who is appointed by Members
  • Up to 6 Trustees appointed by Members
  • There is also the facility for the Board of Trustees to appoint Co-opted Trustees.

The current membership of the Board of Trustees, along with Trustees' terms of office, are detailed below. 

There is currently a vacancy for one Member appointed Trustee.


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Anna Ward

Term of office: 3 October 2022 - 2 October 2026 

Anna is a Co-opted Trustee - appointed by the Board

Anna is a senior official in the Department for Education and, following an internal reorganisation, has recently moved to work in the newly established Yorkshire and The Humber’s Regions Group where she is the Head of Delivery for North Yorkshire, Humberside and the Programme Management Office, having previously being based in the North region.  

Anna has worked on academies delivery for over 6 years with the aim to help raise education standards and develop MAT capacity within the regions.

She has extensive knowledge and experience of working with the education sector having worked for the Department for over 20 years and, as well as working on delivery, has worked on various policies including teachers’ pay and conditions, teacher supply and initial teacher training.  

Anna is a member of the Trust Board's Standards Committee.

David New

Term of office: 1 September 2021 - 31 August 2025

David is a Member appointed Trustee

David has worked in local government for 38 years, spending the last 18 of these with Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council until his recent retirement.

David is a CIPFA qualified accountant and was Senior Finance Manager in Stockton responsible for finance associated with a broad range of areas including Children’s, Adults and Community Services.  He’s worked in the field of schools and associated education funding for the last 24 years. Since its inception and until recently David has been the finance lead on Stockton’s Schools’ Forum.

David has experience of working with a host of stakeholders and partners including academies, companies, other LAs and the ESFA. In terms of school governance, he’s served as a member of the Interim Executive Board at Thornaby Community School and has provided governor training.

David is keen to give back to those areas he's valued working with over his career. David is particularly enthusiastic about supporting children with learning difficulties and disabilities to gain the best outcomes possible in preparation for adulthood.

David is the Chair of the Trust Board's Resources & Audit & Risk Committee. 


Elizabeth Horne CBE

Elizabeth is the Chief Executive Officer of Horizons Specialist Academy Trust (HSAT), which was established as a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) on 1 August 2013 and has been a recognised Sponsor MAT since November 2015.  Elizabeth is also the Trust's Accounting Officer.

After graduating from university, Elizabeth gained postgraduate teaching qualifications in both secondary and primary education and taught in both sectors.  Building on this experience, Elizabeth moved into the area of special education and gained a range of postgraduate qualifications.

Elizabeth already had wide experience of leading and managing in a variety of settings prior to taking up post in 2009 as Executive Headteacher of Stockton Borough First Federation: a "hard" federation of two special schools, having been a headteacher of three special schools in Scotland, including that of Principal of The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh (giving her valuable experience of the independent and charitable sector).  In addition, she gained valuable experience of working as an Associate Assessor with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIe) in Scotland – a role which involved Elizabeth in the inspection of specialist SEN and mainstream-based provision across Scotland and the Highlands and Islands.  She also had the experience of heading up services for SEN at local authority level as a member of the education directorate in East Dunbartonshire Council.

Under Elizabeth's leadership, Stockton Borough First Federation evolved from a modest amalgamation of two special schools into a more dynamic organisation where staff and financial resources were increasingly moved and reorganised seamlessly to meet pupil and student need.  Consequently, Elizabeth viewed the move to academy status as a natural, necessary and sound progression on the journey towards ensuring that student needs and support for their parents and carers were the primary "drivers" in organisational change and professional development and focus.  Her philosophy of "no child left behind" is at the heart of Horizon Specialist Academy Trust's determination that innovation and sound practice based on robust self-evaluation are key elements in improving learning and teaching.  Furthermore, the freedoms of academy status - combined with successful funding applications to the ESFA - have enabled HSAT to improve the quality of its facilities as well as employing its own specialists in areas such as speech and language therapy and educational psychology.  The Trust’s strapline “to do more and to do it better” continues to underpin the work of the Trust.

Elizabeth was a co-opted member of the Regional Schools Commissioners Headteacher Board for the North of England from 2016 until March 2024 and she is also the representative for Special Schools/Academies on Special Schools' Voice  - a national group which seeks to provide a collective voice for special schools and those seeking to create the best possible outcomes for children and young people.

Elizabeth was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to Education in The Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List of June 2016.

Maurice Jones

Term of office: 12 July 2021 - 11 July 2025

Maurice is a Member appointed Trustee

Maurice is the previous Chair of the Board of Trustees and prior to this was Vice Chair at the Trust's inception in 2013.  He has been involved in the governance of the Trust’s academies/schools for over 28 years.  Maurice is also the Lead Safeguarding Director for the Trust. 

Prior to retirement, Maurice was a senior police officer directly responsible for 300 staff and a £10m+ budget.

He is a former Trustee of North England Children’s Cancer Research Fund and also of Tees Country Products and Tees Country Products Enterprises.  He is a current Director of La Bastille Ltd.

Speaking about the Trust, Maurice is very clear in his vision that the Trust can continue to deliver the best possible education to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities across the Tees Valley, to help them maximise their potential and realise their aspirations.

As well as Vice Chair of the Trust Board, Maurice is a member of the Resources & Audit & Risk Committee and the Standards Committee, and is also the Lead Trustee for Safeguarding/Child Protection.

Colin Whittaker

Term of office: 12 July 2021 - 11 July 2025

Colin is a Member appointed Trustee

Colin has been a governor for over 29 years, including more than 18 years at Abbey Hill (Vice Chair for 2 years and Chair for 4), Chair of Stockton Borough First Federation from its formation until its conversion to Horizons Specialist Academy Trust (7 years) and Chair of the Trust at its formation in 2013 until 2017 (4 years).  Additionally, he was a governor of Ash Trees Special Primary School for 3 years.

Colin graduated in Metallurgy and worked worldwide in production, processing, computerised production planning, business development and commercial management roles until early retirement from the position of Sales and Marketing Director of a multinational multi million turnover engineering contracting company with 500+ employees. 

His charitable activities include 15 years in the Round Table organisation in several continents and 4 years in Rotary International, plus numerous years as a director of charitable trusts providing work for people with learning difficulties.

Colin is the Chair of the Trust Board’s Standards Committee and is also a member of the Resources & Audit & Risk Committee.

Dr Baxi Sinha

Term of office: 16 December 2022 - 15 December 2026

Baxi is a Member appointed Trustee

Baxi has been a Member appointed Director since 2014. After completing medical training over 20 years ago, he specialised in mental health and is currently working as a Consultant Psychiatrist and Clinical Director in Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust which is a leading Mental Health Trust in the area. He has experience in research, medical education and clinical psychiatry. He is passionate about use of technology and data as tools to improve efficiency and overall productivity.

Baxi is a member of the Trust Board’s Resources & Audit & Risk Committee 

James Bromiley

Term of office: 1 September 2020 - 31 August 2024

James is a Member appointed Trustee

James has worked in the charities, central and local government sectors for over 20 years. 

James was the Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer of the Elevate Multi Academy Trust in North Yorkshire, Strategic Director of Finance, Governance and Support Services at Middlesbrough Council; and he has also worked at the National Audit Office and as a Senior Civil Servant at the Department for Education, where most recently he led the academies programme in the North of England.

James has been a Trustee of HSAT since 2015.  He is passionate about education and is also a Governor at Northumbria University and a Governor at East Durham College.


David Walker MBE

Chair of the Board of Trustees

Term of office: 1 September 2023 - 31 August 2027

David is a Co-opted Trustee - appointed by the Board

David is a highly experienced and well respected education professional who has unrivalled experience and expertise in supporting school leaders and trustees in the development of effective governance models.

David brings over 40 years of experience in the education sector to his work and this includes extensive headship experience, a range of senior management roles in local government, a national advisory role in the DfE's BSF programme and consultancy and leadership roles in the private sector. He also worked with the MoD for two years on supporting the transition of service children. 

He has Qualified Teacher Status and is a graduate of the University of Warwick. He was an Ofsted inspector for 13 years. David was selected as the NGA’s Outstanding Clerk of the Year in 2015 and was a member of Sir David Carter's expert group that developed the DfE's Competency Framework for Governance. He also helped to develop the DfE's framework for school/academy clerks. Latterly in his career, David provided governance support to a number of Multi Academy Trusts in the north east of England.

David is a member of the Trust Board’s Resources & Audit & Risk Committee and the Standards Committee.


Rosemary Nicholls, Member appointed Trustee, resigned wef 7 February 2024 (term of office 01.09.21-07.02.24).  Rosemary had declared no business or pecuniary interests.


The Board has a robust Committee structure in place - information on the Committees' membership, scheme of delegation and terms of reference can be accessed via the following link.


Alison Ascough, Governance Operations Manager.  Contact: 01642 677113 / Abbey Hill Academy, Ketton Road, Stockton on Tees, TS19 8BU


Please follow the link to access information on the Trust's local governance arrangements, which are undertaken by the Academy Councils.

Mo Mowlam Academy
Corporation Road
TS10 1PA

Tel: 01642 779292


Horizons Specialist Academy Trust is a company limited by guarantee (Company No 08608287) and exempt charity registered in England and Wales.

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