New Chair and Vice-Chair for NACE board of trustees
14 October 2020
Having served six years as Chair of the NACE board of trustees, Steve Clarke is handing over to Amy Whittall, with Christabel Shepherd taking on the Vice-Chair role.
Amy Whittall has been a NACE trustee since 2013, working alongside Steve as Vice-Chair since July 2014. She is Headmistress at King Edward VI Handsworth School for Girls, a selective girls' school in Birmingham. Her previous experience includes time as Deputy Headteacher at another school in the King Edward VI Academy Trust, and working in the north-west network of Birmingham schools, sharing and developing practice for more able learners.
Christabel Shepherd joined the NACE board in 2018, having previously worked with NACE as an Associate, and having led two schools to NACE Challenge Award accreditation. With over 30 years’ experience of teaching in both primary and secondary settings, Christabel Shepherd is currently Executive Headteacher of Bradford’s Copthorne Primary and Holybrook Primary Schools.
Taking on this new role at an uncertain time for schools, Amy commented: “It has been a privilege to work with NACE as Vice Chair of Trustees for the last six years, and I am delighted to be taking on the role of Chair. As a serving headteacher, I fully recognise the challenges for schools in the current climate. Some of those challenges are new due to Covid, but some are longer-standing challenges such as funding, capacity and resource. Whatever the challenges we face as a profession, our young people always remain at the front and centre of all we do and I am excited to continue to work with NACE in support of schools to deliver a challenging curriculum through engaging teaching and learning for all students, particularly the more able.”
Christabel added: “Having worked with NACE for over a decade, using the organisation’s support, advice and resources to help lead improvement in a number of schools, it was a great pleasure to be asked to become a trustee. I am delighted to now be offered the opportunity to become the Vice-Chair and to work even more closely with NACE and the board members. In spite of current challenges, this is a very exciting time for the education sector. Never before have we worked in a climate where evidence-based research is so pivotal to our work in securing the very best outcomes for each of our pupils and never before has there been such richness in the range of research being carried out and the guidance this provides to shape our practice. As ever, NACE has been quick to respond to this shift and has commissioned a range of research to support us. I look forward to this exciting year ahead.”
Steve Clarke, who will remain a member of the board, has a background in business leadership and accountancy. He became a NACE trustee in 2010 and was elected Chair in 2014. Reflecting on his time in the role, he said: “It’s been a privilege. It was brave of NACE to appoint someone without an educationalist background, and I’ve learned so much about education from my colleagues on the board. One thing I’m particularly proud of during my time as Chair is helping to refocus the charity on research; I’m pleased we’ve developed this and continue to do so. There are challenges ahead – the impact of Covid on schools, but also government policy which is not overtly supportive of a focus on more able; this is a real challenge and something I hope to see change. It’s important for NACE to keep more able on the agenda, especially for those more able learners who are less likely to be inspired due to their economic and social environment.”
He added: “I believe Amy is absolutely the right person to lead NACE through these times and to bring a fresh perspective that will benefit NACE long-term along with [CEO] Sue Riley, the team and trustees.”