Chief Executive programme

– for system leaders   

The SSAT Chief Executive programme is both strategic and pragmatic, recognising that those leading established and growing MATs are entering uncharted territory for which no blueprint for success exists. We can however learn from the evidence and distill the key ingredients to navigate our way. The programme addresses the essential capabilities required for the chief executive role and the very practical concerns of leaders. Contributors are drawn from both education and business, bringing together experienced chief executives and relevant sector expertise.

How the programme works

This programme is comprised of four events and includes attendance at the SSAT National Conference. As well as executive group coaching.

Event Session Title and Content Location & Date
One The role of the Chief Executive and MAT leader
The role(s) of the chief executive
Characteristics of successful MATs
Visioning and moral purpose
Strategic leadership and governance
Practising CEOs sharing tools for success
Two Strategic business and financial planning sustainable growth with KPMG
Learning from high performance organisations and business
Financial and business acumen, probity and entrepreneurialism
Sustainable growth and due diligence
Managing risk, mergers and acquisitions
Ensuring resources are deployed effectively to maximise impact
Three System leadership
The role of MATs within the wider national education system
The emerging ‘middle tier’
Competition and collaboration
Being a system leader and system thinking
Working with Regional Schools Commissioners and Ofsted
Four SSAT National Conference
Engage in the education debate on key issues for school leaders
Learn from nationally and internationally recognised experts
Participate in school-led workshops hosted by some of the country’s most successful and innovative schools



  • Learn from leading CEOs and sector experts in education, business and finance
  • Personalised executive coaching with David McQueen from Magnificent Generation
  • Develop the essential skills, competences and behaviours to take your MAT forward
  • Join a powerful and supportive national network of system leaders

Speakers on the 2017 programme

Sir David Carter The National Schools’ Commissioner, The Department for Education
davidcaterSir David Carter became National Schools Commissioner on 1 February 2016, having previously worked for 18 months as Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West. Sir David is the former CEO of the Cabot Learning Federation, a post he held from September 2007 to August 2014. Sir David is a music graduate of the University of London and has taught music in comprehensive schools across the country since he started teaching in September 1983. In 1997, he became headteacher of Cirencester Deer Park School in Gloucestershire. In 2003 Sir David joined the DfE to spearhead the National Remodelling Team, supporting primary, special and secondary schools to introduce the workforce remodelling programme.

In 2004, Sir David was appointed Principal of John Cabot City Technology College in Bristol and led the formation of the Cabot Learning Federation, now made up of 12 schools. He became one of the first National Leaders of Education and in the summer of 2011, the Cabot Learning Federation successfully applied to become one of the first Teaching Schools in the country. Sir David received a knighthood for his services to education in the Queen’s birthday honours in 2013.

Sue Williamson Chief Executive, SSAT
suewilliamsonSue Williamson is Chief Executive of SSAT. She led the management buyout of the old Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and has established the Schools, Students and Teachers network that provides fresh ideas for ambitious schools. The transition from a charity to a limited company has been a demanding learning experience made easier by a relentless focus in principled leadership. Sue was a headteacher of a specialist school for eight years. Her experience has been crucial in writing the pamphlet on Leading.

Robert Hill

Robert Hill’s cv includes periods as a senior manager for the Audit Commission and a special adviser to Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and from 2002-04 the Secretary of State for Education. Since 2005 Robert has researched, written and advised on school policy issues. In 2012 he led a study for the National College for School Leadership into the effectiveness of academy chains and the Royal Society of Arts published his think piece, The Missing Middle, which argued for establishing a network of school commissioners. In 2013 Robert led a major review of the education system in Wales and continues to support the Welsh Government on its school improvement strategy.

Robert ’s current work focuses on supporting the development of effective multi-academy trusts (MATs) and he regularly works with the leaders of both longer-established and newer MATs. The Education Select Committee has twice asked him to give evidence on issues relating to MATs and he is supporting a range of development programmes for MAT leaders.

Robert is a Visiting Professor at the UCL Institute of Education. He writes a regular education blog here.

Professor David Hopkins
David has recently completed his school improvement trilogy with the publication of Exploding the Myths of School Reform; the previous books being School Improvement for Real (2001) and Every School a Great School (2007). David is passionately committed to improving the quality of education for all and has worked at the intersection of policy, research and practice for over forty years. Among a range of educational roles, he has been Chief Adviser to three Secretary of States on School Standards in the UK, Dean of Education at the University of Nottingham, a secondary school teacher and Outward Bound Instructor. He also helped found the National College for School Leadership, consults internationally on school reform and holds visiting professorships at Universities around the world. David is currently Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Education, University College London and the University of Nottingham; Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Bolton; founder of the Adventure Learning Schools Charity; and despite two new knees, still practices occasionally as an International Mountain Guide. David was recently ranked as the 16th most influential educator in the world by the American based Global Gurus organization.


David McQueen Founder, Magnificent Generation
davidmcqueenDavid is an experienced coach and facilitator. He is the founder of Magnificent Generation, an education company that has a simple mission increase attainment whether in education or in the world of work. He has worked with clients in the corporate, third and public sector, including Virgin Media, Asda, Sainsburys, Barclaycard, Societe Generale, HSBC, RBS, BP, Shell, Cisco, Morgan Stanley, Pearson, JP Morgan, Northern Trust, BBC and Channel 4.


In order to showcase the best variety of leadership practice and school contexts all of our programmes are run at venues across the country. For example, recent programmes have included venues based in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton, Chester and Coventry. The programme is also subject to change dependent on the needs of delegates.


Start date
TBC – The 2017 cohort is now fully booked, the next cohort will open for bookings in spring 2017.

Ten Months

Four events

Executive Headteachers and CEOs (leading more than three schools) of established MATs across primary, secondary and special education needs schools

Get in touch with us by email

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*KPMG International’s Trademarks are the sole property of KPMG International and their use here does not imply auditing by or endorsement of KPMG International or any of its member firms.

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