About Us

Welcome to The Shared Learning Trust from our CEO:

The Shared Learning Trust was founded in 2015 when 4 schools assimilated and split from their original sponsor to become a stand-alone multi-academy trust in Luton and Dunstable. The trust has had some great early successes since the foundation with improved Ofsted ratings and some remarkable gains in examination results. For example;

  • The ability to support The Stockwood Park Academy in moving from Ofsted rated; Requires Improvement to Good.
  • Greater economies of scale. Allowing our academies to spend more money on pupils and less on services.
  • Strong financial reserves to drive the Trust in an ever uncertain financial environment.
  • Strong collaboration, with shared accountability, which has led to better progress and attainment for pupils in our primary and secondary academies.
  • The ability to offer all our academies a top slice which is significantly lower than local authorities and other trusts.
  • Governors who come together from all our academies to share strategic thinking, combine skills and support each other.
  • In Key Stage 5, 86% of our students went on to sustained education or employment (vs national average of 73%).
  • Our academies boast some of the best, most innovative educational facilities in the country.
  • We work hard to provide students with a rich and varied education both inside and outside of the traditional classroom, to position them for success in life.

The Shared Learning Trust has appointed Cathy Barr as its new Chief Executive Officer. Cathy is already part of the Shared Learning Trust’s family of schools, having been Principal of the Stockwood Park Academy in Luton for the last five years. The Shared Learning Trust is a stand-alone multi academy trust which runs a family of four schools based in Bedfordshire: Stockwood Park Academy, the Chalk Hills Academy, the Linden Academy and the Vale Academy. Cathy grew up locally, in Harpenden, and went to school in St Albans. She has almost 25 years’ teaching experience under her belt, qualifying in 1993 and joining the team at Stockwood Park (then the Barnfield South Academy) in 2009.

​Cathy said of her appointment: “I am thrilled to have been appointed CEO of the Shared Learning Trust. I care passionately about the students we teach and will do all I can to ensure each and every child, from the age of two to 18, gets the best possible care and education in our academies.”

Cathy’s interests outside the classroom include martial arts and she has a black belt in Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art. She replaces the outgoing Andrew Cooper, who has returned to his native North West, having taken up the CEO position with a stand-alone Trust in Bolton. Cathy added: “I am looking forward to leading the Trust into a new period of growth and development, working with staff, students and parents to ensure the Trust is the best that it can be. “I’m determined to ensure our academies continue to go from strength to strength through great teaching and the dedication and commitment of staff and students alike.”

Our Ethos

    • The Shared Learning Trust expects exemplary conduct by every student.
    • In return students will be supported, monitored and encouraged to pursue their aspirations. We offer a wide range of enrichment activities and extra curriculum initiatives. The experience will be challenging, rewarding and memorable. Students enjoy their time here and also give back to the wider local community. They are role models and young leaders, who contribute to the collegiate ethos with a mature and dedicated approach to A-Level study.


Our Vision

    • Our vision is based around three core principals Strive, Achieve and Believe! This is very much in the heart of everything we do as a result our students are articulate, hard-working and well-rounded individuals who achieve highly and enjoy their educational journey.
    • The Shared Learning Trust’s ensures high quality exam results, as well as providing additional opportunities and experiences for students. It will prepare students for the next step, through the excellent teaching and tutoring of our highly qualified and experienced staff.
    • Our Trust is vibrant and friendly, supported by 3 state-of-the-art buildings. It is a learning environment where all students have the opportunity to be high achievers, make good friends, contribute to their community and take part in a wide range of extra-curricular activities.
    • By choosing The Shared Learning Trust you will benefit from the support of extremely committed teachers with professional expertise. We provide the correct balance between pressure and support for each individual, to ensure you leave with qualify cations and experiences that will place you very well for your future career.
    • We hold a pivotal position in delivering a world class education for students within our local community.
    • Together we are achieving more than we ever thought possible.
    • We look forward to welcoming you to The Shared Learning Trust.


Our Team

Cathy Barr - Chief Executive
Cathy Barr, Chief Executive
Kevin Martin - HR Manager
Kevin Martin, Marketing, Communications and HR Director
Rachel Barker - Chief Financial Officer
Rachel Barker, Finance Director
Gary Kennedy - Facilities Manager
Gary Kennedy, Facilities Manager
Ian Hardwick - Health & Safety Manager
Ian Hardwick, Health & Safety Manager
Mikhaela Chapman - PA to CEO
Mikhaela Chapman, PA to CEO and Clerk to Trust Board


The Shared Learning Trust is a multi-academy trust – that means that a single trust is responsible for running a number of academies, in our case currently four. The trust itself is made up of a group of members and trustees who take joint responsibility for making sure things run smoothly across all the academies.


The ‘members’ of the Shared Learning Trust are a bit like the shareholders of any big company. They have the ultimate say over what the trust does, they can make changes to the trust’s constitution, which is known as the ‘Articles of Association’, and they have the power to appoint some of the trustees.

The members of The Shared Learning Trust are:

Rachael McConaghie

Rachael is a lawyer and Partner leading the property disputes department

Lord McKenzie – William David McKenzie, Lord McKenzie of Luton (Bill McKenzie)

William David McKenzie, Lord McKenzie of Luton (Bill McKenzie) (born 24 July 1946) is an English Labour politician and, up to the General Election of 2010, was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Communities and Local Government. Post 2010 General Election he has variously served as shadow ministers for DWP and DCLG. He served for 22 years as an elected member of Luton Borough Council, four years as its Leader. Over his time with accounting firm Price Waterhouse, he worked in the US, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

David Sheridan

David is Managing Director of Europa Components plc (1990 – Present). Based in Luton, Europa is the leading independent supplier of fuses in the UK and a leader in supplying isolators and other control gear components to electrical wholesalers throughout the UK. David is also Chairman of Veruth Holdings Ltd a long term investor in SMEs. David became an ACA in 1978. He spent 20yrs + on national and local committees of ICAEW. He was on the Council of ICAEW for three years and Vice Chairman of the Board of Chartered Accountants in Business.


While the members are like the shareholders of a company, the ‘trustees’ are more like Directors. They are responsible for three main areas of running the trust:

  • Setting the direction of the trust in terms of what it wants to achieve
  • Holding the Principals to account for the educational performance of each academy, and
  • Making sure the finances are all in order and everything we do offers the best possible value for money.

Like the Board of Directors of any big organisation, the trustees of the Shared Learning Trust pay particular attention to:

  • Setting the strategic direction for the Trust, alongside the Chief Executive
  • Making sure there is consistency in things like HR policy across the trust
  • Ensuring that the trust complies with all relevant laws, includimg charity law requirements and the same company law requirements that apply to all Directors.
  • Keeping a close eye on the executive team and the individual academy principals and holding them to account at all times through the Chief Executive.

The Shared Learning Trust Trustees are:

David Sheridan – Chair

David is Managing Director of Europa Components plc (1990 – Present). Based in Luton, Europa is the leading independent supplier of fuses in the UK and a leader in supplying isolators and other control gear components to electrical wholesalers throughout the UK. David is also Chairman of Veruth Holdings Ltd a long term investor in SMEs. David became an ACA in 1978. He spent 20yrs + on national and local committees of ICAEW. He was on the Council of ICAEW for three years and Vice Chairman of the Board of Chartered Accountants in Business.

Victor Cowell

Victor is a retired engineer.  He was a Technician in the Royal Signals, Army Special Reserves and member of the Territorial Army.  He is a non-executive Director at Luton Law Centre, Vice Chair at Safer Luton Partnership, a Member of the Luton Independent Advisory Board for Bedfordshire Constabulary and a Member of the Tenant Advisory Board for Luton Borough Council. He became an ordained Minister in 2004 and is a Pastor of Higher Mountain Truth Ministry.

Deborah Harris-Ugbomah

Deborah is a chartered accountant and a senior executive with significant experience in strategy and change management, strategic development and delivery. Having trained as an auditor with PwC, her career has been in corporate finance, investment banking and financial services.  Deborah is a director of consultancy, DHUA Ltd and a director of venture capital service, MEH Ventures LLP. Deborah is also the Audit Committee Chairman and a Non-Executive Director with Moorfields Eye Hospital, a specialist NHS ophthalmology hospital with world-leading education, research and commercial services. and is a non-executive member of the Moorfields Eye Hospital Dubai .  Deborah also chairs the Association of Audit and Financial Non-Executive Directors (AFNED), holds several non-executive roles at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and is the first female elected as chairperson of its non-executive directors’ group. Deborah was recently appointed to the main committee of the London Society of Chartered Accountants. With an interest in the third sector, Deborah became the Treasurer and Audit Committee Chair for Action for Blind People, one of the charities within the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) group. Deborah is also a member of both the audit committee and treasury committee of Notting Hill Housing Trust.

Craig Smith

As well as being 14-19 Strategic Lead at Luton Borough Council, Craig is a National Leader of Governance and in this role has supported both the Heads and Chairs of Governors in a number of schools.

Trefor Hamer

Trefor retired as a senior executive after 35 years with a major clearing bank. During that time he undertook roles in branch banking, regional administration, and teaching management accounting skills at the bank’s training centre and spent three years working in the community helping business proprietors address solutions to problems in all aspects of their businesses. He subsequently undertook the role of chief executive officer of a division of a public company whilst retaining support functions in other businesses and a charitable organisation.

David Forbes

David is a retired teacher. After graduating from the Royal Northern College of Music and Middlesex University, he taught Secondary Class Music in the London Borough of Haringey and then moved to Hertfordshire Music Service, the Country’s largest, as a Peripatetic Instrumental Teacher, delivering woodwind instruments and Music Technology tuition in Primary and Secondary Schools. He was responsible for the website, Music Medals and organising and delivering CPD for its 550 teachers and instructors. As an active member of the Hertfordshire Branch of the Associations on the Music Service Hub – its Governing Body. He currently directs a local Community Choir, plays sax and flute with Fleetville Swing band, and is involved with Computer Friendly, a charity offering ICT advice and courses.

Rob Grant

Rob is the Estates Director for Berkhamsted Schools Group which comprises independent day and boarding schools, and nursery provision. Berkhamsted School is one of Britain’s leading independent schools with over 475 years of history and tradition.

Prior to working in the education sector Rob worked in construction and latterly in facilities management where he was the account manager for a facilities provider supplying a major UK bank.

In the voluntary sector Rob has served as a councillor and school governor as well as various other trusteeships.

Local governors

One of the jobs of the trustees is to appoint a governing body to each of the academies within the trust. These ‘local’ governing bodies are given the job of helping the trustees, or the Directors, with more detailed decision making specific to each of the academies. So they’ll be getting involved in areas such as:

    • Scrutinising the finances and resources of each academy
    • Doing all they can to increase the success rate for students and the quality of the teaching
    • Working to develop and maintain a good relationship with parents, carers and the wider community in which each academy is based
    • Details of each academy’s governing body can be found on the individual academy websites, links to which can be found below.

The Chalk Hills Academy

The Stockwood Park Academy

The Vale Academy

The Linden Academy