1 February, 2024
Ormiston Academies Trust has appointed Jennifer Barker as its new national director of learning.
This new role has been created to make sure the trust is providing high-quality professional development for its 5,000 staff so they can have the most positive impact on the 35,000 children and young people in its 42 academies.
Jennifer is currently a senior dean at Ambition Institute where she leads the learning design and research departments. Prior to Ambition, she led the learning design team at Teach First and before that spent nearly a decade teaching and leading in primary schools in Manchester. Jennifer is also a chair of school governors and is studying for a doctorate at the University of Manchester.
The appointment follows those last month of Natasha Rancins as Ormiston’s national director of secondary education and Ed Vainker OBE, on a part-time secondment until the end of this academic year, as national director of transformation.
Ormiston has also further strengthened its board. Dr Elizabeth Walton, a former teacher who is now professor of education at the School of Education, University of Nottingham, and who convenes the UNESCO chair in teacher education for diversity and development; and Tariq Syed, the CEO RVU, which operates a portfolio of brands including Uswitch, Confused.com and Money.co.uk, tempcover and Mojo Mortgages, are both now trustees.
Additionally, Professor Rob Coe has joined the board’s school improvement committee. Professor Coe was previously professor of education and director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University, where he worked for 20 years doing research, evaluation, teaching and policy engagement. He is the director of research and development at Evidence Based Education and is a senior associate at the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF). Professor Coe was a co-author of the EEF’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit as well as the Sutton Trust report What Makes Great Teaching? and the Developing Great Teaching report for the Teacher Development Trust.
Tom Rees, chief executive officer of Ormiston Academies Trust, said:
“Ormiston’s founding belief is that every child can thrive, regardless of their background. Key to making this a reality is investing in the ongoing professional development of our staff. We know that high-quality teaching is crucial if children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are to achieve good outcomes at school. As a trust, we’re focused on providing great teaching, every day, in every school for every child. That’s why we are prioritising professional development and support for our teachers.
“So I am really pleased that Jen has agreed to join our team and we’re excited about the impact she will have.
“These appointments signal our commitment to developing our people. They will add capacity within our organisation and allow us to invest in professional development and evidence-informed approaches to school improvement in the future.”
Jennifer Barker said:
“It is a privilege to be joining Ormiston and I am so excited to start building on the work of the trust to ensure brilliant professional development opportunities for staff. I am genuinely grateful for my time at Ambition and so proud of everything we have achieved in the last five years. The opportunity to take this and work directly with colleagues across Ormiston’s schools is one I couldn’t be more excited about.”
Hilary Spencer, chief executive of Ambition Institute, said: “Jen has made a phenomenal contribution to Ambition’s work in the last five years, through her leadership of our programme design and research. We will be very sad to see her leave Ambition, but we are delighted at her appointment to Ormiston Academies Trust. This is a fantastic opportunity for Jen to put her expertise into practice with Tom and his team, helping all their teachers and school leaders to keep getting better, and giving every child the best start in life.”
Prof Rob Coe said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with colleagues at Ormiston supporting school improvement. Developing the expertise of all staff should be the highest priority for any school or trust, but it can be hard to keep this focus in the face of competing pressures. Ormiston has clearly signalled that this is their priority and for me that makes it so exciting to be able to join them in this challenge.”