Eden Academy Trust

Meet the Trustees

Mr Peter Ingham


 I sit as the Chair of Trustees for the Multi Academy Trust  that oversees the governance of Eskdale, Jesmond Gardens, Bluebell Meadow and Stranton Academies. It is the job of the trustees to ensure schools within the MAT fulfil their duty to educate our children in a safe, efficient and effective environment and to set a vision with our Schools to provide the very best learning experiences for our students.


We are a trust absolutely committed to developing the ‘whole child’ and to helping pupils develop the highest of ambitions. We aim to deliver the finest learning environment for all children, and seek to provide inspirational experiences to help our pupils achieve their potential. However academic success is only half the story: our schools are all high performing, but throughout them there is an ethos of care for the students that is greater than academic achievement. We are an inclusive trust, filled with staff that seek what is good for all pupils, with a clear commitment to the pastoral needs and wellbeing of every child.


Mrs Sandra Saint

Sandra is an advocate for anything that supports positive personal development within schools, workplaces and communities.

A qualified teacher (BA Hons QTS) with many years of classroom experience; she then spent almost 10 years as a PSHEe/Healthy Schools School Improvement Adviser within a Local Authority. She has developed a range of education programmes and resources at local, regional and national levels.

Since 2010 Sandra has been running her own consultancy and training business in relation to Health & Wellbeing education (so all things PSHEe/Healthy School related) and has spoken at several national conferences in relation to PfBV (Promoting fundamental British Values) and SMSC (Spiritual Moral Social Cultural) curricula. She was the north-east parent a school coordinator for 3 years for the Alcohol Education Trust. She is a member of the PSHE Association, a train-the-trainer for Quality Circle Time, a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader & Teacher.

Sandra is a national verifier for the Citizenship Foundation’s SMSC Quality Mark award and a national Adviser and Verifier for Optimus’ WAS (Wellbeing Award for Schools).

Sandra is also a Director of Golden Tree CIC which is a community interest company providing a range of innovative Mental Health & Wellbeing programmes. She delivers a range of this mental health training to organisations across the country. She is also a Train-the-Trainer for the FRIENDS programmes.

Sandra is an experienced school Governor, a Trustee of the Eden MAT and a mother to two teenagers.


Mrs Gillian Slimings

 Gill Slimings has been involved with Stranton School for over 10 years,  initially as the manager of the Children’s Centre and then as a governor. She is currently on the Board as a Trustee with Eden Academy. 

She has been a governor in Hartlepool for over 30 years believing passionately in every child being given the best chance in life. Gill has a Masters Degree in Integrated Leadership which transfers well into governance by ensuring everyone has a voice. 

Although now retired, Gill worked as the Children’s Librarian with Hartlepool Library Service for 32 years, subsequently managing Children’s Centres across Hartlepool for a further 10  years. 

Gill is an advocate for the importance of Early Education, in particular the impact of early speech and language development. Through working with the local community and schools, Gill has contributed to ensuring the very youngest children and their parents were supported seamlessly from birth to school and that they started life with the best outcomes possible. 

Gill is Mum to two grown up children and a Grandma to one.  Having been  brought  up in Hartlepool and worked across the whole borough for over 40 years she knows the community well.


Mr Alan Clark


Alan Clark is a former Chair of Hartlepool Borough Council's Children's Services Committee where he was the lead member for social care and education. Alan has a record of standing up for Hartlepool’s schools by challenging and engaging government ministers to deliver and fund education effectively. It is Alan's passion to ensure that all our children are afforded the opportunities and experiences necessary to help them excel in later life whatever their social or cultural background.


As well as spending 10 years in the steel industry before its demise, Alan has also worked as a youth worker in various organisations across Hartlepool. He has been a volunteer for over 20 years and is also the Chair of Trustees at the Belle Vue Community Sports & Youth Centre. As well as this, Alan is currently studying for an Honours Degree at Teesside University in Social Work.


Mr Peter Gowland

I have worked in the Third Sector for many years, chiefly with Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency - the town’s voluntary sector support body. My main role was as project development officer - providing advice, guidance and developmental assistance to new and existing organisations. This included help with governance, fundraising, representation and volunteering.

I am now a director of Hartlepower, a trustee of the Friends of Carlton Camp, the Asylum Seekers and Refugees group and the Hartlepool Men’s Shed and a member of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Hartlepool Action Lab; the latter looking at ways to address community needs in Hartlepool through citizen involvement. 


Mrs Julie Thomas

Julie is  a recently retired Head Teacher and a National Leader of Education. She has been a school Governor in schools in which she has been a Leader since 2005 and she has a Masters Degree in Education.

Julie very much wants to remain involved involved in Education whilst her experience and skills are still relevant.  Julie is extremely passionate about education and believe that all children deserve a good education irrespective of their background and start in life


Mrs Susan Macklam


As a mature student, Susan achieved a life long dream to become a Primary School teacher in 1998 and upon qualifying Susan began her teaching career as a Newly Qualified Teacher at Stranton Primary where she worked for ten years.

During this time, Susan developed a particular passion in the teaching of Literacy and completed a four year Masters of Education in Children’s Literature degree course where she was awarded a Distinction for her research into gender differences when boys and girls read picture books.

Susan later moved into school leadership – developing a key role in the professional development of Teaching and Support Staff whilst completing her NPQH.

Over the coming years, Susan was asked to become a Visiting Lecturer for Sunderland University - supporting undergraduate student teachers on their teaching placements; and to work as a lecturer within the English Department of the School of Education. Susan was also to be an Educational Literacy Consultant to work with Leadership Teams and teachers in other schools within Hartlepool to raise standards in Literacy.

Upon retirement,  Susan has always maintained a strong interest in Stranton School and the education of young children in Hartlepool. Susan is now a Trustee member of the Eden Trust and is looking forward to being part of a team again and helping provide the opportunity for all children, staff and members of the community within the Trust to achieve their true potential in life.


Mrs Joanne Stuart

An experienced teacher, English specialist, school leader and bringing the wealth of knowledge from working in another Trust in the North-East, Joanne is a key supporter and champion of Eden Academy Trust. 

Providing  support and challenge to the Trust around curriculum choices, assessment data and well-being; Joanne is determined  to ensure each school leader does their very best for each and every child who attends the Trust Schools - ensuring each child achieves their full potential regardless of their background and context.  


Mr Joseph Saunders


"Every day is a school day and every experience is a time to learn"  


Joseph 'Sandy' Saunders has recently joined the board of trustees for the academy. His previous line of work was within the Royal Navy as a Leading marine engineer Submariner which has allocated him with plenty of skills throughout his career. His last posting was lead instructor within the Admiral Interview Board so is no stranger to the Plies of school processes and the difficulties they can face. Having left the military in 2020 and finding a new lease of life working for the government's counter fraud directorate he is keen to share his experiences and knowledge of process, professionalism and bettering everything he is involved in. A strong believer on how the quality of teaching and well-being of pupils should be at the forefront of all school priorities ensuring all students receive the best possible experience they can and enjoy coming into school.


Trustee Business Interest Forms 2022/23 


The role of Trustees


The trust board is the decision-making body of the academy trust and is accountable and responsible for all the academies equally within the academy trust. The academy trust will also be the employer of any central staff and those within its academies. Everyone in governance should be aware of and accept ‘The 7 principles of public life’, as set out by Lord Nolan.


Academy Trustees are the people who make up the trust board, in some academy trusts they may be referred to as directors. Academy Trustees are both the charity trustees and company directors of the academy trust.


The trust board must operate and make decisions to further the academy trust’s charitable object, which in the majority of trusts is ‘to advance for the public benefit education in the United Kingdom’. The Academy Trustees are responsible for the general control and management of the administration of the academy trust.


Subject to the provisions of the Companies Act, the academy trust’s articles of association and the Members’ ability to direct the trust board by special resolution, the Academy Trustees may exercise all the powers of the academy trust. They have statutory duties to exercise care, skill and diligence and avoid conflicts of interest.


As the strategic leader of the academy trust, it is vital that the trust board is connected with, and engages, the communities and stakeholders it serves.


As set out in the Governance Handbook, all trust boards have three core functions:

  1. Ensuring clarity of the vision, ethos and strategic direction.
  2. Holding the Executive Leaders to account for the educational performance of the school(s) and its pupils and the effective and efficient performance management of staff.
  3. Overseeing the financial performance of the school(s) and making sure that its money is well spent.

Trust boards should also have regard to the need for the Executive Leader and teachers in their academy(ies) to be able to achieve a satisfactory work life balance, and, through their strategic role, should provide support and challenge to help reduce unnecessary burdens.



Decision Making


The board is the academy trust’s key strategic decision maker. It may delegate certain responsibilities to the Executive Leader and in accordance with the academy trust’s scheme of delegation (below), a committee or an individual, but the trust board remains accountable and is responsible for all decisions made.

The trust board must make decisions in the best interest of pupils, not personal interests, and welcome a diverse range of viewpoints when debating decisions.  Boards should play a strategic role and avoid routine involvement in operational matters. They should focus strongly on holding their Executive Leader to account for exercising their professional judgement in these matters and all of their other duties. However, since the board is responsible in law for the school(s), it may need to intervene in operational matters if a circumstance arises where, because of the actions or inactions of the Executive Leaders, the school may be in breach of a statutory duty. Having advised the board, Executive Leaders must comply with any reasonable direction given by it.