Hanif Patel resigns as Chair of the Board of Trustees at Heart Multi Academies Trust

Hanif Patel

The Shortstown Shackleton Cauldwell (SSC) Action Group has welcomed the resignation of Hanif Patel as Chair of the Board for the Heart Multi Academies Trust (MAT).

The SSC Group and Heart MAT are currently in mediation talks over the restructure of three Bedford primary schools.

Cauldwell, Shortstown and Shackleton schools were due to come under one executive head, with current head teachers either taking a lesser role or accepting redundancy. Parent Governor bodies were also due to be disbanded.

After strong opposition from parents the restructure has been halted pending independent mediation between the two groups.

In a statement the SSC Action Group said that Mr Patel’s position has: “…become untenable through the shocking actions and decision making of the Trust over the proposed restructure of the primary schools.”

Heart MAT has confirmed their acceptance of Mr Patel’s resignation and issued a satatment on his behalf.

Mr Patel said: “I would like to reiterate my sincere and unreserved apology for the poor communication we have had over the proposed changes.

“With this in mind I feel that it is essential for the Trust to have a fresh and new person as Chair to move forward after the governance review to start building and establishing a strong relationship with parents, staff, the local governing bodies, and other key stakeholders.

“This is essential if we are to ensure that our children have the best possible opportunities, that there are no limits on their achievements and that we have continuous improvement of standards and attainment in all our schools”

The Board of Trustees at Heart MAT added their thanks for Mr Patel’s commitment and energy and confirmed the process to appoint his successor is already under way.

Despite the resignation the SSC Action Group say they still have grave concerns over the level of effective governance arrangements within the Heart Academy Trust and its board of trustee members including CEO Claire Smith.

Their statement continued: “We hope the new Chair of the Board for the Heart Academy Trust will be completely independent and not connected to The Harpur Trust (who are their main sponsors; currently the board of trustees is composed of members who either work with or have connections with The Harpur Trust).

“Should this be achieved, the SSC Action Group looks forward to working with the newly appointed Chair to rebuild trust with the key stakeholders.

“We wait with anticipation clear outcomes from mediation and the external governance review of the Trust to agree a positive way forward for our schools and children’s education.”