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Michael Pain, LLB (Hons) – Director & Consultant

Michael Pain is a strategic adviser, researcher, speaker, and education-thought leader. Michael’s career has been dedicated to supporting school leaders to anticipate and manage change, capture and share best practice, and to develop vision and strategy that best serves children and young people’s learning and healthy development. 

Michael founded the annual National New Headteachers Conference in 2015 (which is now into its third year). In 2016 he established three regional networks for CEOs of multi-academy trusts, and is passionate about supporting leaders in this new sector to succeed, to the benefit of all children. Michael is a trusted adviser to MATs CEOs, headteachers, and other leaders.

Michael’s career and work is grounded in his unique experience and he has established Forum Education as a highly respected national consultancy and training organisation for schools. He was formerly Special Advisor to the CEO and Head of Policy & Public Affairs at the National College for School Leadership and, before that, Assistant to the Minister for Europe. He is a trained lawyer, having been Called to the Bar in 2007.

Michael regularly speaks at education conferences on how school leaders can ensure their schools and children thrive in a fast-evolving education landscape and society. He also blogs regularly on school leadership and education sector issues. Michael has visited hundreds and case studied dozens of schools across the country and is passionate about achieving high quality education for all children through the sharing of evidence and innovative practice. His interests include sailing, motorsport and playing the guitar.

You can follow Michael on twitter at: @michaelpain

You can read Michael’s recent articles including:

Would you like to book Michael to speak at your conference? See more at: Michael Pain Conference Speaker


Sarah Ginns – Research Manager; MSc; PRINCE II Qualified Practitioner

Sarah Ginns

Sarah Ginns is responsible for Forum Education’s strategic briefings for multi-academy trust and school leaders, as well as a range of consultancy projects – including bid writing support and research projects.

Sarah has strong background in policy and research in the education sector, having spent over ten years working at the National College for Teaching and Leadership. During this time she provided strategic and policy support to successive Chief Executives and their leadership teams, including leading the College’s first major policy review during 2004. From 2011-13 she was Manager for Policy and Public Affairs, providing regular policy updates and advice to colleagues, as well as developing a policy briefing service for the College’s membership website. She has also managed a number of seminal research projects on aspects of school leadership, successfully commissioning world-renowned research teams and individuals.

Before moving into education policy, Sarah was Policy Adviser at the major biomedical research charity, the Wellcome Trust, where she was responsible for identifying and developing the Trust’s position statements and consultation responses regarding major developments in biomedical research and policy.

Sarah is passionate about enabling schools to recognise and disseminate their excellent practice, so that all pupils can benefit from the best teaching and learning.


Rachael Gacs, MA – Training and Resources Manager 

Rachael is Forum Education’s Training and Development Manager, and is responsible for the delivery of our flagship events, including the National Early Headship Conference. Rachael also oversees the resources and materials that we produce to support the learning and development of school leaders, including publications and case studies for academy trusts, teaching school alliances, CPD providers, and our own leadership programmes.

Rachael is a trained teacher, and formerly taught Religious Education and Humanities subjects for seven years, with experience in both the state sector and independent sector. She held the pastoral role of Head of House for several years, and is well acquainted from first-hand experience with the everyday issues and pressures effecting schools and children in the current educational climate.

Rachael holds a first-class degree in Philosophy and Theology, and an MA in Philosophy, Theology and Literature, from the University of Nottingham.



“Michael played senior roles within the National College – as Special Advisor to CEO Steve Munby and as Senior Manager for Policy & Public Affairs. He has designed and delivered high profile projects and events that have set the agenda for school leadership policy and thinking.”

Prof. Toby Greany, Education Leadership & Innovation, Institute of Education

“Michael was exceptional in his support and advice in the run up to the general election of 2010 (and immediately afterwards) as the College planned, successfully, to be one of the very few non-departmental bodies to survive the change in government. He played a key role in ensuring the National College was well-prepared and briefed to enable it to argue its case in a credible way – during the period of the changes in government – with shadow ministers, with ministers and officials….He also helped to craft the important consultation and communications with school leaders on the development of Teaching Schools and the new, revised, NPQH.”

Steve Munby, CEO of CfBT (Formerly CEO of the National College)

“Michael played an important role in advising and supporting me to deliver a range of strategic messages in my role as Chairman of the National College. His ability to identify the key issues and trends and to draw on relevant evidence and sector intelligence, and his perceptive approach to understanding our large and experienced audiences, have enabled him to draft communications that contributed significantly to the organisation’s development and reputation. I always found him calm and thoughtful in approach, with the confidence necessary to provide constructive advice to senior executives”.

Vanni Treves CBE