Speaker profile

Stephen Chamberlain

National Leader of Governance (Confirmed)


Stephen was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer and Trustee of the Challenger Multi-Academy Trust (CMAT) in September 2015. CMAT is a DfE approved sponsor and sponsors four schools in Bedfordshire and three in Essex. As well as a focus on high achievement, the trust specialises in the development of learning outside the classroom through `the implementation of the Challenger Diploma, which seeks to recognise and reward the skills and attributes that help to build ‘character’. CMAT have been delighted to welcome Lord Nash, former Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System and former Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan MP to our academies to see first hand our work on developing ‘Character’. The trust is part of the Challenger Trust and Stephen is a member of the Education Committee chaired by former National Commissioner, Frank Green, CBE. Ofsted designated two of the trust’s first sponsored academies in Bedfordshire ‘Good’ in 2018.

Ofsted commented in 2018: ‘The trust’ s chief executive officer (CEO) and local governing body (LGB) provide an appropriate level of challenge and support to school leaders. The CEO of the trust

visits the school regularly to check on senior leaders’ progress towards achieving their priorities and the targets set by the trust. He has also supported new senior leaders as they have grown into their roles.’

Ofsted: Kempston Challenger Academy, September 2018

‘The support of CMAT has contributed to the school’s rapid improvement. This has included working with the school’s leaders to present achievement data in a more user friendly way and making it a more helpful tool for raising standards, and providing effective coaching for the headteacher.’

Ofsted: Lancot Challenger Academy, July 2018

Stephen is a Senior Partner for Challenge Partners. Challenge Partners, led by Sir George Berwick is a national network of local school partnerships with a mission to enable every pupil to experience the combined wisdom of the education system.

CMAT is part of the excellence network of over 300 schools and operates a CP Hub as part of CMAT’s Leadership, Learning and Teaching Commission.

Stephen has been designated a National Leader of Governance by the National College of Teaching and Leadership and with Dame Pat Collarbone and former Policy Exchange Head of Education, Jonathan Simons, is a member for the Astrea Academy Trust, Chief Executive Libby Nicholas. He is also a Director of the Pop-Up Foundation with Professor Paul Clarke engaging in school improvement and international projects on sustainable communities.

Prior to his appointment as a CEO of CMAT, Stephen was Director of Education for the East of England for a large multi academy where he oversaw the work of fifteen primary, secondary and special academies. He was originally appointed by the trust in 2009 as the founding Executive Principal of Clacton Coastal Academy as well as undertaking other Executive Principal roles for the trust. Clacton Coastal Academy was one of the top 15 most improved academies nationally in 2010, in the top 3 in the Eastern Region and was designated ‘good’ with outstanding features in 2014.

Ofsted commented in 2011: Its (the academy) key strength is its executive principal; his determined leadership and vision for the academy has raised the expectations of staff and the aspirations of students. His excellent leadership has accelerated a number of improvements and generated good capacity to make further gains’

As a result of working closely with the team of principals and consultants in his region, two primary academies originally in special measures before joining the trust, were removed from a category with one academy moving to good in just five terms.

Two secondary academies were graded outstanding and one is now a teaching school. By July 2015, thirteen of the fifteen academies were ‘good’ or better with three graded ‘Outstanding’.

As part of his role Stephen has recruited and appointed a number of principals and SLEs. He is currently working with a number of teaching schools on the ‘Improving Teacher’ and OLEVI Accredited Outstanding Teacher Programmes as a facilitator as well as directing other national leadership programmes (NPQH, NPQSL, NPQML) and the Associate Headteacher Programme. He is also an Executive Director for a Teaching School in the East of England Region.

Stephen is a Facilitator and Design Partner for Ambition School Leadership delivering sessions for the National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL) qualification and on the Executive Leaders/Leading Several Schools Programmes. He also delivers programmes on human resource management in education for the UCL Institute of Education/Deloitte MAT Leaders Executive Programme.

Stephen is a regular speaker at national and international conferences in the UK, China, Finland and the USA and has recently spoken at the Academies Governance Conference in 2018 and will be speaking on effective trust governance at the National Schools and Academies Show in April 2019. He has recently been asked to lead a DfE funded Expert Reference Group for NASEN ((National Association of Special Educational Needs) to develop a suite of inclusion indicators and guidance for school leaders to support the SENCo to have maximum impact in their role in schools and MATs.

Stephen has undertaken a number of roles in education including Ofsted Inspector, accredited consultant for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and as an Associate Advisor for School Improvement and Leadership for Essex County Council. He was also Chair of an education consortium of over 45 primary and secondary schools in West Essex where he was a local authority headteacher between 2005-2009.

Outside of education Stephen is a classically trained musician and orchestral conductor and has travelled all over the world to perform and conduct.


Agenda sessions

DAY 2 - April 4, 2019


    • 10:00 am
      Delivering Effective Governance to Support School Improvement and Enhance Learning Outcomes