With just six weeks to go until our MAT Excellence Awards, two members of the judging panel tell us what they’re looking for in the winners.

Scalable initiatives that make a difference

Lee Miller MBE, Deputy Chief Executive of the Thinking Schools Academy Trust, is on the judging panel for Wellbeing Trust of the Year. Lee Miller modified 200

When looking for a winner I am keen to find evidence of initiatives that not only have made a difference within the setting, but are scalable and could represent opportunities for other schools and trusts to explore. Any plan should also be sustainable and have a cultural impact within the school.

It was great to see the DfE working with the professional associations to agree a wellbeing charter and I am hopeful that all schools across the country consider adopting this, or a variation of this, as it will send a powerful message to all those considering joining the profession and help with retention.

I am keen to find evidence of initiatives that not only have made a difference within the setting, but are scalable and could represent opportunities for other trusts to explore

It is an absolute honour and privilege to have been asked to add my thoughts to wellbeing trust of the year category. As a leader of a trust that employs nearly 2,000 staff, I know first-hand the challenges individuals are facing and we have a commitment to supporting wellbeing for all those who to choose to work in the sector.

I look forward to reviewing the submissions with my fellow panellists and using the award ceremony as a platform to promote this vital agenda across the sector.

Innovation, impact, excellence and positivity

Nickii Messer, Leadership Consultant at All the Geese, is on the judging panel for CFO of the Year. Nickii_Messer_500_wb-modified_200.png

I am exceptionally proud to be a member of the judging panel for the Optimus Education MAT Excellence Awards 2023.

I have had the great pleasure of working with Optimus for many years. I have always appreciated how far they go to ensure they are able to disseminate the most up to date knowledge and understanding from right across the educational landscape. Couple this with the clear commitment and empathy for education and the people who work so hard in our schools, and Optimus Education has always been my go-to place to keep me up to date with everything from best practice right through to policy and compliance.

The winner should be someone who not only demonstrates excellence in their strategic and operational working practice, but can evidence sustainable, ongoing impact across the trust community

As a judge, I am looking for a chief financial officer who really stands out. This is never going to be an easy task as there are so many truly exceptional colleagues in these critical MAT roles. The winner should be someone who not only demonstrates excellence in both their strategic and operational working practice, but who can evidence sustainable, ongoing impact right across the trust community. 

They also need to be entrepreneurial and innovative, never more so than in these times of increasing austerity and, crucially, be able to engage positively and proactively with staff and trustees across the trust.

I know we will find that person, and I am very excited to find out who they are!