Developing partnerships

We can help you to develop your school or education partnership:

We provide: 

  • Partnership evaluation, design and development

  • School and partnership strategy development support

  • Brokering and supporting academy trust mergers

  • Help in selecting a partner

  • Guidance and support in setting up the partnership

  • Project Management and guidance services - click here

  • Stakeholder engagement - communication and consultation strategies

  • Guidance and support on developing school-to-school shared services

Robert Hill’s Education Blog item onMAT mergers – lessons for successful Integration’

New DfE Trust Capacity Fund (TCaF) to support your trust’s growth and/or merger Now available - Check your eligibility for a grant of up £310k here and apply here.

Download our Toolkit by clicking on the image to the right, and view client examples and testimonials below:

Attenborough Learning Trust

Highly successful partnership facilitation and project management by Lock House Consulting Ltd for four community primary phase schools in central Leicester, supporting the school leaders to design and establish the new Attenborough Learning Trust. The new trust, which serves a diverse and highly multicultural area of the city, currently includes:- 2 infant schools and 2 primary schools, all of which include nursery provision; supporting over 1500 children and their families; with a staff team of over 200 and an annual revenue budget of c.£8m; operating across 6 school sites with an asset value of c.£30m. Thorough due diligence, design of a creative partnership model holding true to agreed core principles for the schools, complex multi lingual communication and consultation, well planned staff TUPE and assets transfers and a very successful member and trustee recruitment campaign, all contributed to a positive trust launch on April 1st 2019.  Click here to read the Case Study.  The project was led by Shelley Whitehead and supported by Cambridge Education.

Read testimonials about our work here:

“Shelley was a key driver in the successful formation of our Multi-Academy Trust. As a group of schools coming together, we wanted to ensure that we brokered the necessary expertise and project management skills to support us in building strong foundations for the Trust, in a robust and compliant manner. Shelley expertly fulfilled this role and became an integral part of the development and implementation team, working alongside school leaders, governors and new members and trustees. Every aspect of the project management work was excellent – production of materials, frequency and clarity of communications, progress tracking and liaison with the DfE and RSC. Her experience and support was invaluable. As a former Headteacher in the group of schools, and now Chief Executive Officer, Interim, I have found Shelley very easy to work with, approachable and responsive to queries and issues and a great personal coach throughout the process.”

Jane Ridgewell, CEO – Interim, - Attenborough Learning Trust

“From the first contact with Shelley, asking if I would be interested in becoming a trustee, I have found her to be a true professional. She copes with all that is asked of her, and managed to advise a diverse group of people in a newly forming organisation with many challenges. Her level of knowledge, attention to detail, planning and project management skills are of the highest quality. Shelley also has the ability to guide and steer people through difficult times. Yet all this is achieved whilst still being a very friendly and approachable individual. It was a great pleasure to work with her on the project.”

Graham Smith, Chair of Trustees - Attenborough Learning Trust

“Shelley is a wonderful person to work with. She is somewhat of a tour de force, but she kept us focused and on track. Shelley, although very experienced and knowledgeable at the academisation process, was respectful to our wishes and feelings. Shelley had great insight into what the Trust would look like, if fashioned to our requirements; she helpfully explained what would work and what required tweaking to ensure we achieved the right structure. Shelley also had knowledge of other partners which would be helpful to help us meet our goals. I am very grateful to Shelley for her guidance in this process, and she is part of our success story.”

Gina Samuel-Richards, former Governor, now Member - Attenborough Learning Trust

“Shelley. This was a long journey, with a few ups and downs but it has provided me with a massive amount of learning , not just about MATs but about myself as well. I hope that I’m a better person than I was at the beginning, and that is very much down to you for initially having confidence in me and the ongoing support and guidance you provide throughout, regardless of time or day. I’m truly indebted to you and it’s been a great pleasure working with you."

Minesh Chauhan, former Chair of Governors, now Member - Attenborough Learning Trust

Equa Multi Academy Trust

Successful project management for six community and CofE schools in rural Wiltshire to design and establish the new Equa Multi Academy Trust. The new trust encompasses: - a single community secondary academy 11 to 19, together with 5 foundation primary schools (2 VC and 3 VA) including 2 nursery schools. Following an initial difficult start in 2015-16, the schools commissioned Lock House Consulting in December 2017 to help the group re-evaluate and refresh its core vision, ethos and principles; reshape its partnership plans; and design the new MAT and its accountability framework. Academy Orders were agreed in Sept 2018 with conversion and transfer to the new MAT on April 1st 2019.

Read testimonials about our work here:

“Lock House Consulting made a significant contribution to the success of the project, in particular contributing: • considerable experience of academy conversions and new multi-academy trust development • rigorous project management disciplines • an extensive network of useful connections • comprehensive documentation”

Roger Townsend – Chair and Nicky Clarke Project Steering Board Chair – Equa Multi Academy Trust

“Hi Shelley, thanks for everything, and on a personal note I want to thank you for all the help you have given me and the Trust. We have benefited hugely from your experience and expertise and your passion to deliver a strong, high quality outcome for Equa.” Regards………………………John

John Evans, Trustee – Equa Multi Academy Trust

Sarum Academy transfer to Magna Learning Partnership

Led the project to successfully re-broker and transfer Sarum Academy – a single CofE sponsored academy trust, to Magna Learning Partnership. Partnership facilitation, project management, RSC and ESFA liaison, positive stakeholder engagement, worked closely with Taylor Culshaw legal advisors and Briarsmead financial advisors on complex land and financial arrangements. Sarum Academy successfully joined Magna Learning Partnership on Nov 1st 2017. Post transfer feedback included - “Model of project communication and engagement meant it felt more like a conversion partnership than a re-brokerage, created trust between the academy and the trust” and “Highly professional, robust and highly supportive project management by Lock House Consulting, Legal advice from Taylor Culshaw and Financial planning from Briarsmead – a powerful combination”.  Click here to read the case study.

Read testimonials about our work here:

“Lock House Consulting Director, Shelley Whitehead, provided MLP (Magna Learning Partnership) with high quality project management and MAT expertise during our formation and more recently when we merged Sarum Academy into our partnership. Shelley’s depth of knowledge within the education sector is formidable. Managing any business merger is a challenge. However, project managing a merger where there are multiple stakeholders, several approval bodies and complex legal procedures to be followed requires dedication, professionalism and at times a sense of humour. All of which I am delighted to say that Shelley has in abundance. Mergers of this type are a team effort of course. Shelley was very much part of that team and played a huge part in its success.”

Neil Owen, Chair of the Board, Magna Learning Partnership

"Shelley's rigorous and no nonsense project management approach underpinned a transparent process. Problems were identified as early as possible, communicated with stakeholders and resolved effectively. This enabled the partnership to develop throughout the transfer, which secured trust on all sides and, ultimately, the successful transition of Sarum from single academy to membership of MLP. That outcome reflects very positively on the depth of experience available through Lockhouse Consulting and it's network."

David Middleton, Chair of the Interim Board, Sarum Academy Trust

Magna Learning Partnership

Successful partnership facilitation and project management for three secondary schools in Salisbury to establish a new multi academy trust from one of the academy schools and convert and transfer the other two schools into academies within the new MAT on April 1st 2017:- 3 11-16 secondary schools, 2 single sex – 1 boys and 1 girls, and 1 co-ed; CofE and Foundation mix of schools and academies - 1VC academy, 1 VA and 1 maintained Foundation school; total NOR c.1750; c.250 staff; >£9m annual revenue; c.£33m asset value; complex financial planning and land transfers with shared use sites; successful sponsor approval and agreed sponsorship growth, now supporting MLP with the transfer of Sarum Academy, an 11-19 single CofE academy to the MLP trust. Click here to read the case study.

Read testimonials about our work here:

"Shelley has worked with us as a consultant since Magna Learning Partnership existed only as a germ of an idea. The journey to our new status as a Multi Academy Trust has been both eventful and challenging; what is certain, however, is that we could not have achieved it without the expert knowledge, support and guidance from Shelley. Her exceptional skills as a leader, facilitator and project manager have ensured our success, whether this has been the preparation of documentation for the DfE and ESFA, the strategic planning necessary to meet the deadlines along the way to conversion or the provision of well-informed advice. In every way Shelley is deserving of our thanks. I have – and would – recommend her to any team aiming to create something new and exciting in education."

Sarah Busby, Executive Headteacher Magna Learning Partnership

Sherborne Area Schools’ Trust

Supported the 7 schools (1 secondary, 6 primaries, VA, VC and community) to come together as a new partnership and develop their underlying memorandum of understanding that has led to the successful start-up for the new multi academy trust.

Read testimonials about our work here:

“Shelley, The Trust was born on 1 June with The Gryphon and 6 primary schools. I wanted to thank you for all your work and support for us all. The work on the MOU has been worth its weight in gold as we have moved forward… you said it would. It obviously took some time but that has proved necessary to shape what we wanted and to keep everybody together. You will see a significant change in attitudes and approaches from those very early days when we first met. We couldn’t have done it without you."

Steve Hillier, Executive Headteacher, Sherborne Area Schools’ Trust

Harbourside Learning Partnership

Successful project management for a group of six schools that converted to academy status within a new MAT on July 1st 2016:- 3 infant schools, a primary school and two junior schools; CofE and Community mix of schools and academies - 3VC, 3 Community; total NOR c.3000; >400 staff; >£11m annual revenue; c. £38m asset value; complex land arrangements with shared sites; rapid conversion of four months. Click here to read the Case Study.  The project was led by Shelley Whitehead and supported by Cambridge Education. 

Read testimonials about our work here:

"Shelley worked with us for two and a half years taking us from the first deliberations over collaborative working and explaining the options open to us, to supporting the formation of a working group of Headteachers and a lead governor from a number of Poole Schools, to drafting a Memorandum of Understanding between the six schools who settled on forming a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) and then on through to the final stage of academy conversion and formation of our Trust. There is a vast amount of work involved but Shelley had endless patience and wise advice as we grappled with the changing landscape of education. She has a wide contact base which helped ensure we knew all the latest DfE and government developments and Shelley's breadth of knowledge from working with different newly formed MATs meant we could learn from their experiences, their successes and avoid some of the pitfalls! Shelley enabled us to form the MAT which we felt would work best for our six schools whilst adhering to the necessary guidelines and regulations of Academies and Trusts which were an unknown world to us. I, and the team of Headteachers and Governors who worked closely with Shelley, would wholeheartedly recommend her as a consultant if you are looking for someone to assist you and your school with the journey through to Academy status."

Emma Jackson, Chair of Trustees - Harbourside Learning Partnership

"Dear Shelley, We've said it many times but I just wanted to reiterate my thanks to you for the support you've given us. I confess I'm no great lover of Academy status as a principle and I still have reservations about it, but I have become convinced that in the current climate it was absolutely the right step for us to take. The fact that we have been able to do it in a co-operative way is really important for me. I have been very pleasantly surprised by the level of trust which has grown between us and the increasing sense of interdependence, and it seems to me that this has been a powerful tool for co-operation. Of course, we could have co-operated in this way before but we didn't and I can see that the business of working together for academy status has enabled all that. So, all in all I think this has been tremendously valuable and I'm confident that it will continue to be so. You're expertise has been invaluable."

The Revd Michael Camp, Vice Chair Harbourside Learning Partnership, and Rector of the Parish of Parkstone, St. Peter and St. Osmund with Branksea, St. Mary, Poole

Salisbury Plain Academies

Successful project management for a group of four schools converting to academy status on July 1st 2016 within a new MAT:- one secondary school, two primary schools and an infant school; CofE and Community mix of schools - 1VA, 2VC, 1FoundationTrust; total NOR c.1100; school size range 79 to 600+; c.180 staff; £6.5m annual revenue; c.£22m asset value; leadership recruitment and establishing a new trust board; complex financial planning. 

Read testimonials about our work here:

"Shelley Whitehead is an asset to any project. Her knowledge and understanding of the education sector and, in particular, of the leadership and management of complex change management, are second to none. She has excellent analytical skills and extremely high computer literacy both of which she uses to the utmost effect in developing strategy and leading others to ensure the strategy is successful in both implementation and outcome. Her organisational skills are unparalleled in my experience, such that she is able to retain, maintain and sustain detail in every aspect of the demands of each and all projects and those skills are matched by a work ethic which both inspires others to rise to the challenges that her enthusiasm and professionalism set and which guarantees that the work she has planned for any project is paced, measured, secured and fulfilled. Shelley is well-connected in the education sector and this means that she can call on a depth of knowledge and expertise which always adds to every aspect of the tasks in hand. Hers is a proven approach and as a result she is recognised as an immensely professional, highly respected innovative strategist in multiple areas of the education world; her work is tailored to each unique context, is supportive and challenging in order to ensure the right outcomes for children, for teachers and for schools."

Helen Mathieson, CEO, Salisbury Plain Academies

"Shelley, Thank you so much for all your hard work supporting us over the last few months and helping us to get ready to send everything to DFE, you have been a star!"

Caron Hitchen - Chair of Governors, Avon Valley College

"THANK YOU Shelley!!!! I'm amazed you're still standing. Thank you so much - really appreciated."

Sarah Ward - Headteacher, Bulford St Leonard's

"Shelley, I am not sure I thanked you properly for everything you did to get the papers in - you have just been amazing. Thank you."

Clare Tunnicliffe - Chair of Governors, Figheldean St Michael's / Chair of the SPMAT Steering Board

Wimborne Academy Trust

Successful project management for a group of seven schools converting to academy status within a new MAT:- two middle schools and five first schools; CofE and Community mix of schools - two VA, one VC, four Community; across two local authorities; total NOR c.1900; school size range 51 to 630; c.250 staff; £8.5m annual revenue; c.£27m asset value; A teaching school; 3 schools with headship changes in parallel Case study. The project was led by Shelley and supported by Cambridge Education.

Read testimonials about our work here:

"Just a brief line Shelley to thank you for all your direction & support throughout the project. I really don't believe we could have achieved it in the time frame without it. I personally feel I have learnt so much over the last year looking back to our first meeting at Allenbourn & hopefully although the learning curve will continue to be rather steep for a while, the knowledge gained will be of benefit to the Trust!."

Trustee - Sharon Eldridge

""Shelley. I would like to pass on my thanks on behalf of the schools of the Wimborne Academy Trust for your outstanding work in supporting us to develop a strong academy partnership. Your ability to put forward creative but solid solutions that recognised the needs of our diverse school group whilst meeting the legislative requirements was without a doubt one of the critical success factors of the project. Reflecting on the project and the new trust now that we have been open for just a few short months, our school and MAT leaders can see the skill and professionalism with which you managed all stakeholders and advisors and guided our school group to a partnership model that with your facilitation became stronger throughout the process and has enabled everyone to 'hit the ground running' and deliver from day 1. I am excited by the new opportunities that our new trust brings for the children, staff and families of our schools and thank you for the part you played in making this possible."

Liz West, CEO, Wimborne Academy Trust

"Excellent Project Lead"

"Clearly defined time line and plan by the project manager enabled project to progress successfully".

"It was agreed that the external advisors selected were excellent and had met the needs of the MAT in various ways. Communication was prompt and relevant, face-to-face meetings were appreciated, an understanding of MAT drivers was exhibited and flexibility in the plan was provided to meet the needs of various stakeholders eg; evening meetings. The personal touches fostered a good working relationship".

"It was agreed that the support/challenge role played by Lock House Consulting and supported by Cambridge Education was a key success criteria".

Quotes taken from the Trustees and Headteachers at the Post Implementation review meeting March 2015

Diocese of Salisbury

Academy Partnerships - Providing partnership development guidance to the Diocese of Salisbury and a number of Diocesan schools and local clusters across Wiltshire and Dorset.

Read testimonials about our work here:

"I am writing to say a very big 'Thank You' for funding Shelley Whitehead to come and work with a group of our Primary schools last week. Her expertise was so evident and a fantastic support. She was able to respond to questions there and then, which enabled us as group to move our thinking forward. We are hoping to arrange for Shelley to support us in pulling together a similar session after Easter for Heads and Chairs, from which a Memorandum of Understanding will hopefully be created."

Headteacher - Weymouth

"Thank you very much for your time and for your detailed and highly informative presentation to governors yesterday. You pulled all of the issues together very succinctly and gave us much food for thought. The detail in your information is great ... thank you again!"

Headteacher - Poole

"Many thanks for your hard work. I thought that the conference was really informative yesterday. Well done. I have really gained from your input and up to date advice."

Headteacher - Marlborough

"Thank you for your hard work yesterday, there is no doubt that you are moving us forward and I for one appreciate the step by step approach you have adopted."

Chair of Governors - Marlborough

"Hi Shelley - I have heard from Sarah M just how amazing you were on Tuesday - both in the morning session with Frank Green and all day long in supporting/leading our School Leadership conference. I really appreciate you 'shaking and moving' to engineer Frank's attendance at the event. But also I want to say thank you for the creative work you provided on our new variation multi-academy-trust options for schools, your ideas have helped to shape and crystallise our thinking and the models are already proving to be enormously useful with our schools. Your consistent support is highly valued - thank you."

Joy Tubbs, Deputy Director of Education, Diocese of Salisbury


Academy Sponsor partnership brokerage and development

We brokered the innovative partnership between the Diocese of Salisbury and Mott MacDonald Cambridge Education, creating a strong new sponsor approved by the DfE and now actively sponsoring seven primary schools in Wiltshire and Dorset.

Read testimonials about our work here:

"As the DfE Sponsor Advisor Shelley was instrumental in advising the Diocese on its options for becoming a new academy sponsor. She took on board our specific needs and sought and brokered an excellent partner for us in Mott MacDonald Cambridge Education. Her experience, negotiations, patience and creativity brought together two organisations with complementary skills enabling us to achieve sponsor status and to be there for the schools that need us and those that want to be a part of our partnership. Without Shelley's perseverance this partnership would not have been possible."

Joy Tubbs, Deputy Director of Education, Diocese of Salisbury / Director, Diocese of Salisbury Academy Trust

Easton Royal Primary School and St John's Marlborough

Rural All-through-School Partnership

We instigated and led an innovative collaborative partnership between a primary and secondary school creating a rural 'all-through-school' partnership to improve student achievement levels and secure sustainable community education. Now the two schools have formally converted to academies within the new Excalibur Academies Trust and are successful academy sponsors.

Read testimonials about our work here:

"As Chair of Governors of a very small rural primary school she has demonstrated outstanding vision and determination in seeking to secure the long term viability of her school. Her achievement of a soft federation for age 4 through to 19 education provision is testament to her negotiating skills and exemplary efforts."

Dr P K Hazlewood, Headteacher, St. John's School, Marlborough

"I was immediately impressed by Shelley's passion for the school and her unrelenting drive to achieve the very best for the pupils and parents for whom she was representing. She had a very clear view of what she considered to be important but the entire school community was included in decision making on every step of the way.

"Shelley has worked tirelessly for the school and has used her expertise to look further than the usual solutions to the problems of small schools with falling rolls. Thinking outside of the box comes easily to Shelley and she was able to persuade others that this was what they needed to consider to ensure the future of one of Wiltshire's smallest schools."

Estelle Smith, Advisory Headteacher, Wiltshire Council

Cluster collaboration models -

The Academy option - what does it mean for rural primary schools?
Providing strategic thinking and challenge to help groups of rural primary schools to understand and explore the opportunities and threats of the current climate and the drive to Academy status for all schools.

Read testimonials about our work here:

"I am sure I speak for everyone in thanking you for the wonderful presentation on Friday. It was mind-blowingly interesting and the three hours just flew by! Thanks for the slides and as you suggest, will think carefully about how best to disseminate the key messages to other Govs"

Ashley O, Governor

"Hi Shelley, thank you so much for the talk you gave on Friday it was very informative and made everything much clearer. Thank you also for the link. Look forward to seeing you again at the next cluster meeting."

Lucy O, Governor

"It was an excellent session that provided me with a really good understanding what Academies mean and what the challenges are. Thanks for taking the time to explain everything! Cheers."

Paul S, Governor

"Shelley. Thanks for that and for a great presentation on Friday, it was very extensive and helpful. I was only sorry I had to dash off early but really appreciated you sharing your knowledge and experiences. Kind Regards"

Zoe G, Governor

Buxton School

All through school amalgamation. Education leadership engagement providing strategic guidance around governance and organisation to a secondary and primary school as they moved from federation to amalgamation under trust status.

We established immediate credibility by helping the school to secure a series of key decisions, recruit new skilled governors and elect a new Chair. Further assignments followed to create the new operating structure for the Governing Body and establish the strategic development plan.

Read testimonials about our work here:

"Shelley, Thank you very much indeed. You have helped us move a very long way forward and we're really grateful for that. I don't think that we could have done it without you - so thank you for all your hard work and for Saturday in particular. We'll know where to come at the next stage!"

Candice Dwight, Headteacher

"Thank you for your assistance in making the conference a real success and such prompt return of outputs and other documents. I thought Saturday was a real step forward and certainly the GB now is very different from the one two years ago when I joined the school. I am sure Jo and Candice will be in contact with you but from my point of view your experience, knowledge and organisational skills have been so vital and supportive at what has been a very hectic time. So thank you once again and I'm sure you will be the first person we call when we need more support."

Alison Money, Business Manager

"Shelley, Thank you so much for this, and for all your hard work for us. The awayday has been welcomed as a success, and you have really helped us get into a good starting position!"

Jo Durning, Chair of Governors