Operational Management Team (OPCAT) and the central infra-structure

Andy Moorcroft, CEO  

After a very varied youth which consisted of sporting competition, playing music, acting professionally and travelling I found myself working at a school for orphaned young people from inner city Manhattan in upstate New York. This opportunity, allied with my childhood experiences, provided me with both an understanding of the power of education and a strong desire to help young people overcome the challenges they face.

I returned to the UK to start a teacher training course and began my career as an English teacher in a deprived area of Manchester; this really opened my eyes to the consequences of social injustice and cemented to me the importance of the teaching profession. I saw first-hand the impact a passionate teacher could have on young people. I have spent the subsequent 20 years working across the north-west at a variety of schools in a range of different contexts and in a range of leadership positions. I have developed a track record of school improvement in all the schools I have worked at; as Principal at Beamont Collegiate Academy in Warrington, I led the school to its first ever ‘good’ Ofsted judgement, secured an £11 million new build and took the school to being amongst the most over-subscribed in the town.

As Chief Executive Officer within The Challenge Academy Trust, my aim is to use my influence and experience to ensure that the children and young people in our care are provided with the best educational opportunities and care possible. Education has the power to transform, inspire, unlock opportunity and to ignite passions and this responsibility is one we are committed to across the organisation.

Tim Long, Executive Principal Secondary

In 2008 I was appointed Headteacher of Bridgewater High School having started out as an English teacher and having assumed middle and senior leadership roles in a number of schools.. In 2013 I was appointed a National Leader in Education whilst Bridgewater became a National Support School working alongside a number of Warrington schools. At the same time, I trained as an Ofsted Inspector, a role I still fulfil as a “serving practitioner”. I have successfully led the school’s conversion to Academy status and then the formation of TCAT whilst securing Teaching School status.

In September 2018 I was seconded to the Teaching School Council to coordinate the delivery of the DfE’s School to School Support offer across the Liverpool, Merseyside and Warrington areas for Tier 2 schools; I also undertake a number of these deployments myself whilst providing school to school to support to other schools in the region.

In my current role in the Trust I am the Executive Principal Secondary and lead out on school to school support.

Vicky Briggs, Executive Principal Primary

Children and the way they learn and develop never ceases to amaze me; from the moment they start school, with all the awe and wonder of learning, to leaving us ready for secondary as rounded and confident citizens. Their inquisitive minds and ability to overcome challenges leaves me in awe of them. It is an honour to be in this role and I never underestimate the influence we have on so many young lives.

This is my twentieth year in education, having taught in three different schools across Warrington, in all age ranges of the primary phase. For a number of years I have also worked and supported school improvement in schools across Warrington. I have been fortunate enough to visit and work in schools in China and South Africa, setting up the strong partnership with Thembilihe school that continues to this day. I am also a governor at Penketh High school and am currently studying for my NPQEL. As Head of Great Sankey Primary since January 2014, I could not be prouder of the wonderful team we have in place.

I am passionate about how the Trust has evolved since 2017 and am excited to see this role develop further, working strategically together for the best interests and life chances for the children across our schools.

Adrienne Laing, Operations Director

I  have worked in school business management since 2003 in both the maintained and academy sectors having spent the previous 10 years in the logistics industry. I was at Bridgewater High School from 2007 until 2018 as the Director of Finance and Resources and then moved to work centrally for the Trust becoming Operations Director in September 2019.  I was a long standing member of the National Association of School Business Management (NASBM) and, on its conversion to the institute of School Business Leadership in 2018, I became a Fellow and was appointed to be an SRMA (School Resource Management Advisor). I also Chair the Institute’s Advisory Panel to the Executive Board and was honoured to receive the CEO’s Award for Exceptional Contribution to School Business Leadership in November 2020.

My aim is to ensure that I do everything I can to support our academies to ensure that the back office functions (that is our premises, administration, governance and IT teams) of our academies are working effectively and efficiently. By doing this, our teachers and learning support teams can focus all their energies on the core purpose of teaching and learning and that will ultimately benefit over 7,500 children and young people who are educated at the academies across our Trust.

I have two adult children, both of whom attended Broomfields Junior School and then Bridgewater, and in my spare time to relax,  I enjoy weekly yoga and Pilates sessions and I also sing with Rock Choir where I have been lucky enough to perform at such venues as the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool and the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.

Ben Logan, Head of Human Resources  

After more than 20 years in local government HR, most recently with Warrington Borough Council, I joined TCAT in February 2020 and it’s fair to say that it’s been an unusual induction period!  However, with the support of colleagues in the Trust centre and at all our academies (via Zoom for the most part) I’ve been made to feel very welcome and I’m excited  to be involved in the next stage of TCAT’s journey.

The HR service is a key enabler in supporting any organisation to achieve its aims and ambitions through its greatest asset – it’s people.  In terms of TCAT this means ensuring that we can attract, develop and retain an engaged workforce with the right skills, knowledge, behaviours and systems of working they need in order to do the jobs we need them to do.  HR’s role in this includes ensuring that our employment policies and practices are fit for purpose and compliant with the law, developing and maintaining robust reward, wellbeing and employee engagement initiatives and good trade union relations.  We also provide support on the management of complex HR casework, legal advice, workforce planning and development as well as transactional services such as contract administration, recruitment support and payroll advice.  Underpinning this is a programme of coaching and guidance for managers and employees so that they are able to deal with any HR matters at source by appropriate application of existing policy and procedure.

Away from work I enjoy rugby league, being heavily involved in the running of my local community club as well as being a match official. I also ‘enjoy’ running and having been lucky enough to run/hobble round London on more than one occasion my personal aim is to complete the set of ‘marathon majors’ around the world, at some point before my knees pack in on me!

Damian McGuire, Director of Finance

I am a Chartered Accountant. I trained in practice before moving to a university spin-off company which delivered post graduate education and specialist corporate training worldwide. During my time there, I completed my MBA with my final dissertation being the creation of a financial distress model for the HE sector. It has been interesting watching more recent developments in the HE sector and how my model now fits. Working here also gave me my first taste of education being delivered during a pandemic – the SARS outbreak. No staff could travel to deliver the courses our training centres in the Far East so we had to quickly install IT infrastructure. I changed jobs and moved to an unquoted PLC, in the retail pharmacy sector, where I progressed to the role of Finance Director. The company was sold to a well-known high street pharmacy chain and I then began some work as a consultant. After becoming a parent, I decided to change role and joined Priestley College as Director of Finance. The College converted to a 16-19 academy and joined the Trust upon conversion.

My role involves overseeing the finances of the Trust, helping the Headteachers manage their budgets, managing public funds and ensuring value for money. Throughout my life, education has been an important theme, from it being key to my future life by giving me the option to leave an area of high unemployment/little or no opportunities, having worked in all sectors of education and, whilst outside education, meeting my wife who just happens to be a teacher.

Jill Stanton, Business Manager for the Trust

I joined Bridgewater High School in 2018 as the Business Support Manager to facilitate a hand over from Adrienne Laing.  From 2019, I became the Business Manager.  I have worked in education since 2006 within the maintained and academy sectors and also have experience within the AP sector.  I was heavily involved in the strategic partnership between Teaching Schools and local authorities within the Liverpool City region to develop systems of school improvement and secure appropriate

funding to raise educational attainment within the area.  Before moving into education, I worked in Banking & Finance after completing a degree in Business & Economics at Manchester.  I am proud to be part of The Challenge Academy Trust and look forward to the times ahead.



Management accountant: Karen Threadgold

Finance managers: J. Hackney, A.Davies, L.Atherton, S.Messenger

ITT / Oxnet: J. Moules, J. Hodgson

CPD Lead (Education Connect): Karis Mason

Safeguarding Officer: Fiona Allen

Admin / Facilities support: K.Ormand, P. McEwan