• Fri. May 24th, 2024

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Leader in research and innovation at Smith & Nephew takes up chairmanship of North schools group

An educational trust that runs some of the most successful schools in the North East is entering the next era with a new leader to continue its record of transforming opportunities for young people.

International lawyer Nigel Robson, who has dedicated 16 years to improving the education of children in the North of England, is stepping down as Chairman of the Emmanuel Schools Foundation.

He is handing over to Stewart McKinlay, Global Vice President for Research and Innovation at Smith & Nephew.

Nigel said: “After being granted Multi Academy Trust status I am confident that, under Stewart, ESF will develop into one of the region’s strongest educational performers transforming the lives and opportunities of young people in the North East.”

Stewart has served as a trustee on the ESF board since February 2017. He will assume the role of chairman from August 1, in time for this summer’s GCSE and A level results at ESF’s schools – Emmanuel College, in Gateshead, The King’s Academy, in Middlesbrough, Bede Academy, in Blyth, and Trinity Academy, in Thorne, near Doncaster.

In his professional career, he leads the worldwide research and development activities for Smith & Nephew’s Advanced Wound Management Division, developing new medical devices to be used in the healthcare systems of over 130 countries. He alsosits on cross-university industrial advisory boards in the fields of infection, biomedical engineering and wound healing.


A former pupil of Barnard Castle School and graduate of Leeds University, he is also the chair of directors for one of East Yorkshire’s largest churches, Revive Church, based in Hull.

Chief Executive of ESF, Professor Mark Pike, said: “We owe an enormous debt of thanks to Nigel Robson for serving as a uniquely qualified and experienced Chairman of ESF. We will miss him professionally and personally for all the experience, wisdom, good humour, sanity and strategic vision he has brought to the role over many years.

“I am grateful for Stewart’s willingness to serve as Chair and look forward to the organisation going from strength to strength under his chairmanship and with his expertise in leadership development, team performance and innovation.”

Prof Pike added: “What ESF does for children and young people would not be possible without the commitment to governance of people like Nigel, Stewart and our other trustees, dedication which is increasingly important in the current educational context. The vital role they fulfil is hugely significant, not always easy and is not always acknowledged sufficiently.”

Emmanuel College, which was founded by Sir Peter Vardy, John Burn OBE, Lord Bates and other pioneersin 1990, went on to be a catalyst for raising educational performance in Gateshead, maintaining an outstanding judgement from Ofsted for its entire history and consistently leading regional league tables.

As a result of its success and popularity with parents, the Emmanuel Schools Foundation was invited by local authorities in Middlesbrough, Blyth and Doncaster to sponsor further schools under the Academies programme.

Sir Peter retired as sponsor and chairman of ESF in October 2010, handing over to Nigel Robson, who led the Foundation to become a self-sustaining charity, a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) and a Teaching School Alliance.