Celebrating MAT Excellence

Recognising the work of multi-academy trusts up and down the country

The Education Space was proud to sponsor the MAT Excellence Awards organised by Optimus Education on 29 June 2023. The inaugural awards ceremony and gala dinner held at The Park Plaza in London provided opportunity to highlight achievements and demonstrate the impact trusts have had on pupils, staff, and community, with more than 300 guests in attendance.

Across thirteen categories including environmental trust of the year, wellbeing trust of the year, and employer of the year, winners were selected by a team of judges headed by Leora Cruddas CBE, Founder of CST, and Stephen Morales, CEO of ISBL. The glitzy black-tie event was hosted by comedian Shappi Khorsandi, well-known for her appearances on television shows such as Live at the Apollo, Have I got News for You and Mock the Week.

During the evening, Iqbal Vaza, CEO of The Education Space, presented the award for the Trust Executive Team of the Year, which was awarded to Priestley Academy Trust. The judges stated that the trust’s investment in school improvement, values and commitment to #bethechange came through very clearly, with a focus on structures, systems and process enabling the team at Priestly to achieve transformational change and improved outcomes for pupils.

Shortlisted MATs in this category included Lionheart Educational Trust, Rivermead Inclusive Trust, Shaw Education Trust, Staffordshire University Academies Trust, The Mast Academy Trust, Wellspring Academy Trust and Windsor Academy Trust. From Newham, Agate Momentum Trust was short-listed for the MAT of the year award.

During the day-time conference which preceded the evening event, Iqbal Vaza delivered a key-note speech on the supplier-buyer relationship within the education ecosystem. Iqbal was joined by Shahed Ahmed OBE, CEO of New Vision Trust, Keri Edge, CEO of Agate Momentum Trust, and Anthony Wilson, CEO of Newham Community Learning Trust, all of whom gave an overview of the work of their MATs and how they valued the support provided by The Education Space.

The Education Space had a presence at the accompanying exhibition, where company colleagues enjoyed meeting guests and promoting services.

A huge thank you to everyone who made the event possible: partners, judges, sponsors and guests, and to Optimus Education for organising. Congratulations to all the winners!

Winners at the MAT Excellence Awards 2023

  • CEO of the year: Mark Wilson, Wellspring Academy Trust
  • CFO of the year: Benedicte Yue, River Learning Trust
  • Community trust of the year: Ormiston Academies Trust
  • Digital innovation award: Shaw Education Trust
  • Employer of the year: New Collaborative Learning Trust
  • Environmental trust of the year: Windsor Academy Trust; Highly commended: Abbey Multi Academy Trust 
  • Governance professional of the year: Rebecca Rafferty, Changing Lives in Collaboration (CLIC) Trust
  • Growth and impact award: Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust
  • Inclusivity award: Lionheart Educational Trust
  • Lifetime achievement award: Gillian Hindle and Joy Clark, Oak Trust
  • MAT of the year: E-ACT
  • Trust executive team of the year: The Priestley Academy Trust
  • Wellbeing trust of the year: The Park Academies Trust

Article written by Sarah Beaumont FRSA, Head of Governance Services