Victoria FitzGerald joined the charity on an interim basis at a pivotal point in our 2021 financial year, the Annual Report & Accounts needed to be finalised, and a number of important changes in workstreams were underway, requiring input from both a financial and governance perspective. Victoria, after a short handover, picked up these challenges and moved them forward at pace. She also found time to provide excellent finance for non-financial leaders training for both the charity team and the trustees, which was very well received.
Victoria’s breadth and variety of experience was invaluable in helping us all to take a step back and look at things with a fresh perspective. I would have no hesitation in recommending her services.
Paul Kearney, Chief Executive
"Magna Learning Partnership engaged the services of Victoria Fitzgerald in the period before we opened as a Multi Academy Trust. We had some complex financial issues to resolve and needed the expertise of someone who could steer us through the challenges.
Victoria soon proved to be worth her weight in gold, unpicking financial data, gaining the trust of Finance staff in the schools and providing solutions for us with immense skill. We have also witnessed her talents in working with the ESFA, in particular in relation to the rebrokerage of a fourth school into the Trust.
Victoria is approachable, professional, flexible and highly knowledgeable in the field of Academy finances and contracts. What is certain is that we would not have achieved the position we are now in as a Trust without her significant support. We will certainly continue to access Victoria’s advice as we grow and I would recommend her without hesitation to any education group similar to our own."
Sarah Busby, Executive Headteacher
Magna Learning Partnership, Salisbury
"Victoria supported the early growth of Cathedral Schools Trust and her work was invaluable. Victoria provided financial expertise around growth scenarios supporting our planning and central services structures. She immediately understood what was needed and her support made a huge difference at a critical point for the trust.
Victoria’s work instilled confidence for the Board of trustees, her development of cashflow forecasting and growth analysis, ensured that the board quickly understood both long and short-term growth implications.
Victoria also supported the financial due diligence, working with the CST leadership team, liaising with school chairs, headteachers and primary school business managers during the process. She very quickly established the confidence of all who worked with her and became part of “the team”.
Victoria understands deeply the challenges of MAT’s and the policy drivers from the EFSA and she used this intelligence to support the trust with development grant funding and business cases critical to the establishment of our trust. Her highly personable and positive approach endeared her to all and we will undoubtedly call upon her again."
Neil Blundell, Executive Principal
Cathedral Schools Trust, Bristol
"Victoria was a great asset during her interim role with us in 2018.
Her experience of schools enabled her to settle in quickly, working out which relationships she needed to establish promptly and already understanding the way in which school roles interlink together. She was very approachable and professional in all her dealings, always putting people at their ease and demonstrating empathy in difficult situations, appreciation of other people’s challenges, and the ability to inspire trust and confidence.
Victoria was able to prioritise and had no difficulty identifying which matters needed sensitive handling. She was extremely confidential and naturally discreet exhibiting very high professional standards in all her dealings with people – within and beyond our organisation such as staff, parents, professional advisors and unions. She completed several tricky matters in a short space of time rather than allowing them to drag on for her successor and this has been very beneficial for other senior managers.
Victoria always demonstrated very good financial understanding and while recognising and working very well with the expertise of others in the finance team, she also showed real leadership and the capacity to identify and grapple with important financial issues.
We all enjoyed working with Victoria and were sorry to say goodbye when her interim role finished."
Isabel Tobias, Headteacher
Redmaids' High School, Bristol
"Victoria has worked with us since the inception of our new multi academy trust. She has delivered a bespoke package of training and support which has certainly helped executive leaders and directors on the trust’s board to deepen their skills, knowledge and confidence.
Victoria’s professionalism is exemplary and her positive and open manner has enabled each member of the team to participate fully in the planned, professional learning. Thank you Victoria!"
Chief Executive Officer
Grove Learning Trust, Swindon
Victoria has a very professional approach and she went above and beyond to understand the financial needs of the board of Grove Learning Trust and then created a bespoke financial training program. Victoria’s knowledge was instrumental in helping us to grow in our financial understanding as a new board and supported Grove Learning Trust with 3 training sessions. Each session was tailored to the level of previous understanding, including compliance, responsibility and accountability. Victoria had to be really creative as all sessions had to be delivered remotely due to COVID - 19. Each session had practical activities and case studies to review our learning and provided the board with useful takeaway tips around financial scrutiny. We can not thank Victoria enough for facilitating our growth and understanding around all delegated financial responsibility within the trust.
Chair of the Board of Directors
Grove Learning Trust, Swindon
“Following the closure of a local independent special school a small team of dedicated professionals set about the task of planning and starting up a new independent school for children with dyslexia and co-occurring difficulties. This would have been an enormous task in a ‘normal’ year, but to deliver this during the covid pandemic brought a number of significant challenges. In our enthusiasm and passion to get the new school provision established for the children in need of a school place as soon as possible we applied for registration, but our application was unsuccessful.
Following this set back we brought in Lock House Consulting to provide us with expert advice on the independent school standards and to support us through policy and governance development. Our passion to secure the new school was matched by Shelley and her colleague Victoria from Briarsmead. They quickly grasped the challenges we faced, worked professionally but also challenging us to establish the best governance and accountability structure for the new school. They supported us to create a thorough policy map and they reviewed and guided the improvements needed to develop a suite of strong school policies as evidenced in the resulting pre-registration ofsted.
Shelley and Victoria’s knowledge, expertise and networks across the state and independent school sectors has been invaluable in enabling us to establish a strong model for our new school. They were pro-active in their handling of the requirements, working in a manner that pushed us and developed and strengthened our own skills, and they were hugely responsive to our needs. Their expertise and approach instilled confidence for the proprietors, the governing board and the school leaders. Our pre-registration Ofsted in November 2020 was a huge success. The work we had completed on policy and governance development was singled out for praise by the Ofsted inspector.
We are eternally grateful to Shelley and Victoria for their advice, guidance and support. They have been brilliant. Their support has enabled a swift completion of the school’s development and a successful school registration enabling us to open our school for January 2021 – providing much needed places for children with special needs. We would have no hesitation in calling upon Shelley and Victoria for future support and recommend them to any independent school looking for support with governance, leadership and start-up development.”
Proprietors/Founders - Gian Carlo Floris, Director and Bradley Middleton Director of Operations
The Levels, Somerset