Nicki Bell & Alistair Shaw, Entrust

Bringing their experience as former headteachers, Alistair Shaw and Nicki Bell from Entrust have co-created and designed a new solution to improve leadership effectiveness in schools.

Entrust, our joint venture with Staffordshire County Council is a specialist provider of education services to schools. We caught up with Nicki Bell and Alistair Shaw who have co-founded and designed the new Optimum Leadership Solutions Package from Entrust, designed to support and enhance effective leadership in schools.

Tell us about your role and the new Optimum Leadership Solutions package

Alasdair (AS): Working with Nicki, we have designed and developed a pack of 15 leadership solutions for school leaders. We support school leaders in making the best use of these, which in turn makes their lives considerably easier as these are proven effective strategies for them to adopt and use immediately.


Nicki: Our aim, in creating the leadership solutions, was to take some of pressure of bureaucratic tasks from headteachers by devising a series of frameworks and templates to prevent school leaders having to keep reinventing the wheel. We hope that this gives them back some time which they can spend on the really important part of the job, i.e. the children.

What do you like most about your role?

(AS) I enjoy being able to provide valued assistance that makes a lasting difference to leaders’ effectiveness and in turn improves learning for their pupils.

(NB) For me, as an ex-headteacher, I enjoy being able to offer some practical support to school leaders based on my own experience and having the time to develop some useful strategies that genuinely help school leaders make best use of their time.

What are you currently working on?

(AS) We are both working together to expand leadership package to a further 10 solutions that will support school leaders.

What is your biggest success or proudest moment?

(AS) Probably seeing the relief on the faces of highly effective leaders where we have provided a clear way forward to support them in their day-to-day role.

(NB) I love working with new headteachers and being able to offer them something that will help them get to grips with the complexity of headship and give them confidence to realise that the job can be manageable with the right systems and processes in place.

When you were a child, what did you dream of being when you grew up?

(AS) Healthy, mature, respected and able to make a difference for others.

(NB) When I was little, I wanted to be an air hostess, although I had never been on an aeroplane and had no idea what it involved!  When I was a bit older I ran ‘classes’ in my garage during school holidays so I guess I was always going to teach!

What do you do in your spare time?

(AS) I enjoy house and classic car renovations, as well as garden design and creation, photography, walking and exercise.

(NB) Cooking, reading and researching my family tree.

If you had to eat just one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?

(AS) It would have to be Wagamammas’ vegetarian Yasai Chilli men

(NB) And for me, it would be a curry from my favourite Indian restaurant.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received?

(AS) To take care to attend to the next - but one - step in your career.

(NB) Back in 1989, I was advised in a performance management meeting to go for a deputy headship role.  Without that advice, I would never have considered it.

Tell us something people might not know about you.

(AS) I actively support an animal charity in France that caters for dogs in their twilight years.

(NS) I have had the privilege of delivering some leadership training to headteachers in both China and the Middle East.



Entrust: Inspiring futures through outcomes-focussed partnerships


The Council and Capita have created a joint venture brimming with innovative ideas and practical solutions and, two and a half years on, there are real results and positive feedback from both schools and parents. At a time when school budgets are in the spotlight, Entrust is a ground-breaking move that is making a true difference to children and young people – and delivering long-term economic and financial benefits.

John Tradewell, Director of Democracy, Law and Transformation, Staffordshire County Council

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