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Michael Pain, LLB (Hons) – Owner & Consultant

Michael Pain is a strategic adviser, researcher, entrepreneur, 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 achieve successful organisational 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 this new sector to develop and thrive to benefit of all children. Michael is a trusted adviser to MATs CEOs, headteachers, teaching school alliances and others.

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

Michael regularly speaks at education conferences on how school leaders can thrive through the current challenges and opportunities they face, strategies for successful recruitment and retention, and developing a vision and strategy for organisational success. He also blogs regularly on school leadership and education sector issues.

Michael has visited hundreds of schools across the country and is passionate about achieving high quality education 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 on building a culture of professionalism through both the use of data (here) and CPD (here).


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

Sarah Ginns

Sarah Ginns has a 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.


Nick Bannister, CIPR – Associate PR & Communications Adviser


Nick is a PR and communications content specialist with over 20 years experience in media relations, communications and journalism. Since 2011 he has run his own PR and communications agency, specialising in helping education businesses, charities and public sector bodies connect with schools and other sector stakeholders. During this time he has worked with over 20 organisations, achieving high quality coverage in the national, specialist and regional media and across social media. Nick is a mentor to post graduate magazine journalism students at Nottingham Trent University and a member of the Education Media Centre’s advisory group. Nick’s work editing national school leadership magazine ldr for the National College for School Leadership earned him the Chartered Institute for Public Relations’ prestigious national Excellence Award along with a cluster of other accolades.



“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