It is nearly one year ago that I was asked to take on the role of Chair of Galileo Trust – a role which I agreed to take on until such time that Trust Governance would be in a good place. I can now reassure you the Trust is in a very good place and hopefully, we will appoint my successor at the February Board meeting.

As I have said so often the prime concern of the Galileo Trust Board is to ensure the best interests of the children within the Trust are met.


People changes
Trust Board. We now have a very strong Board of Trustees in place. We have also introduced a new secretariat for the Trust Board and our schools. You can find details of those Trustees on www.galileotrust.co.uk/profiles. Let me assure you that the present Board is even stronger than when I reported to you in July with specialist experience in strategic planning, school improvement, finance, audit and risk, and governance.
Chief Executive Officer. Following the departure of the previous CEO we were fortunate to have the support of Debra de Muschamp, Chief Executive of Sunderland-based IRIS Learning Trust, as Interim Chief Executive. I wish to publicly acknowledge Debra’s commitment and significant contribution to the development of the Trust.
I am delighted to welcome our new, permanent, CEO Jane Spence, who started in January. Jane brings a great deal of experience and insight which will help us to make even more progress during this academic year. A major task for our new CEO will be to work with school leaders to build an exciting, shared vision and unleash the enormous potential that this Trust has to improve the life chances of our children.


COVID-19
We continue to face the major challenge of Covid-19. I am sure Headteacher colleagues within the Trust continue to keep you up to date with significant challenges and responses to COVD-19.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has placed major strains on schools. Our leaders, staff, children and parents have continued to respond with great resilience. Again, I would like to thank you all for the ‘extra mile’ everyone has gone to in ensuring we do everything we can for the children in our care. The additional burdens that have fallen on parents and carers seem to be without end. So, we need to remain positive that there soon will be an end and hopefully we will enter a new and brighter future. Of course, the key challenge will be to address the long-term impact that the pandemic has had on our children’s education and futures.


Good Governance
I mentioned during my July 2020 report that the Education Skills and Funding Agency had produced a report on the governance and financial oversight of the Trust. The report is now published and will be available from 09th February 2021. I do understand that the report may appear rather
dated as it is deals with issues which occurred nearly two years ago. However I am delighted to say that all the issues that the report raised, such as contract tendering, financial scrutiny and procedures, have been dealt with. We have achieved this because of the incredible dedication and resilience of our Headteachers, central staff and Trustees, who have worked together to address these issues. In fact, most recently, our internal audit presented a glowing report on the governance and financial oversight of the Trust.


Our commitment to the Trust and its children
I would like to thank the central staff, Headteachers, Local Governing Committee Chairs and all staff within our schools for their wonderful support during my period in office.
As I have said so often before, there is an unrelenting focus on the children, their families and the communities they serve. Everyone is committed to ensuring the Galileo Trust is successful in the future.
If you have any questions following receipt of this letter please do feel you can get in contact with the Trust by email: info@galileotrust.co.uk

Finally, I would like to thank you for your on-going commitment to the Trust, especially during the recent months and all the added pressures associated with the pandemic. I would like to thank parents and carers for all that you have done and continue to do, to help and support the Trust.

Yours sincerely,
Les Walton CBE FRSA
Chair Galileo Trust

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