Education trust expands with new leaders as part of long-term vision


A successful Multi-Academy Trust in Northumberland has almost doubled its membership and made a raft of senior appointments after welcoming three local schools as partners.

The Three Rivers Learning Trust is now a Mixed Multi-Academy Trust as two Northumberland first schools and a middle school have joined to form an independent community of more than 400 staff and 3,000 students.

Harbottle Church of England First School, Thropton Village First School, and Dr Thomlinson Church of England Middle School, all in the greater Morpeth catchment area, are the newest members of the Trust, which exists to achieve excellence and greater efficiency in all its classrooms. The news follows last year’s Trust expansion as Abbeyfields First School was welcomed as the first step in its aim to grow to around 15 schools in the next five years.

Simon Taylor, CEO of The Three Rivers Learning Trust, said: “We are delighted to welcome these three community schools to the Trust. All of them are important local institutions that strive to give every child the self-confidence to develop a lifelong love of learning they can use in whatever they choose to do in the future.

“Throughout the Trust, each individual is truly valued for their unique contributions, and as a larger Trust, we’ll have a greater expertise to share among each school, to help us deliver the inclusive and innovative educational services that parents and students alike seek out, together with a more effective transition between Key Stages that empowers all our children to thrive.”

The move is already paying dividends as the Trust’s growth enables it to access capital funding of around £500K per annum that will help improve all of the school buildings it looks after. Liam Murtagh, Executive Head of Dr Thomlinson Middle School and Thropton First School, added: “We feel that this exciting development for both our schools will deliver significant benefits to the future learning and wellbeing of our children.”

The Trust expansion has also led to a review and restructure of leadership roles, including the introduction of a CEO, and the appointments of new Headteachers at Chanty and Newminster Middle Schools, and at The King Edward VI School, all in Morpeth.

Following a robust recruitment process, Simon Taylor, who was previously Executive Headteacher across The King Edward VI School, and Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools, will now lead all seven establishments as CEO, while from September 2018, Clare Savage, previously Deputy Head at The King Edward VI School will take up the Headteacher position. Meanwhile, Liz Kinninment will become Headteacher at Newminster Middle School, having previously been Head of School, and Bryan Stewart will lead Chantry Middle School as Headteacher, moving from his previous position as Deputy Head of The King Edward VI School.

Simon Taylor said: “We are thrilled to confirm these appointments, which not only strengthen our leadership and governance, but also provide continuity across the Trust for the mutual benefit of staff, students and parents.”

All seven of The Three Rivers Learning Trust’s schools are publicly funded, independent schools, working together as one cohesive unit in response to local educational needs. With greater autonomy and collaboration across an age range from three to 18, The Three Rivers, which was previously a Multi-Academy Trust made up of The King Edward VI School, along with Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools, is able to provide better links throughout the school experience to improve career opportunities for staff and students alike.

But from September 2018, Chantry Middle School, which is popular and currently oversubscribed, is to take on an extra 30 pupils as part of an agreement with Northumberland County Council to ensure every pupil in Chantry’s catchment area is guaranteed a place at their local school. Simon continued:

“Morpeth is a growing community, with demand in particular on Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools growing alongside it. We’ve worked with the local authority to meet this growing demand, by expanding Year 5 at Chantry Middle School by 30 places from the beginning of the next academic year, and if demand remains high, Newminster will also take on an extra 30 pupils in Year 5 from September 2019.”

This arrangement could continue year on year to support the increasing school age population as the Trust works to achieve greater efficiency and excellence across all its classrooms. Simon added:

“We are now working with Northumberland County Council to ensure The King Edward VI School has the necessary facilities to support the increased demand as these larger middle school year groups progress through their school careers.”

To find out more about the Three Rivers Learning Trust and its schools, visit

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