Image of new trustees

New chair and trustees for education charity

Services For Education, the Birmingham-based charity that brings music and learning to life, has appointed Sarah Smith, Diocesan Director of Education for Birmingham Diocese, as its new chair.

The appointment coincides with the election of two new trustees to the charity that teaches music to some 38,000 children a week in Birmingham and delivers professional development and school improvement for teaching and support staff, middle and senior leaders, and governors in early years, primary and secondary schools.

Sarah Smith became a trustee of the charity –  which employs 250 staff  – in March 2015. In her role at Birmingham Church of England, she oversees 51 Church of England schools across the  diocese. She is also involved in setting up a new secondary Free School and is looking for further free school options for the Diocese.

Previously, she was Executive Headteacher of St John’s CE Primary School in Sparkhill, rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, which she led successfully for eleven years. She has also served as Chair of Birmingham Local Authority Primary Forum, a member of Birmingham School Forum,  and was one of the founders of Birmingham Education Partnership, supporting schools on their journey of school improvement.

Sarah succeeds Martin Chitty as chair of Services For Education who retires as a Trustee in Autumn 2021.

“I have seen at first hand the work of Services For Education – both as a customer of its services but also as head of a school, as a parent and more recently, as a trustee. It is a remarkable organisation teaching music to 38,000 children each week and with an unparalleled range of training courses delivering high quality support to teachers and schools in the city.

“I want to ensure that we continue to offer the best to our schools and the city’s children. It’s important that schools buy from us at the very best possible price to enable them to deliver for the children and families of the city,” she said.

“Services For Education can be proud of its work during the past decade but I am very aware of the inequalities that face the city’s children. For instance, learning and playing music should not be a privilege for the wealthy but is something that every child in our city should enjoy both in primary and secondary schools. Families need to think ‘this is for us’,” she said.

Two further trustees, Joanna Cooney and Parmjit Singh, have also been appointed as part of a programme to further reflect the interests and diversity of the city.

Joanna Cooney, who grew up in the West Midlands, is a trainee solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, qualifying in September 2021.

After obtaining a psychology degree from the University of Bristol, Joanna provided HR support to a FTSE 250 company before pursuing a career in law. Since joining Irwin Mitchell, first as a paralegal, she has worked for several years in its employment team where she developed a specialism in employment law issues in the education sector.

“I understand and appreciate the importance of arts-based programmes to children. My highlight of my schoolyears was singing in an all-schools choir at Symphony Hall.  I am looking forward to joining Services For Education as a trustee at an exciting time as the charity further extends its work in the community,” said Joanna.

Parmjit Singh was previously a trustee of West Midlands-based Angling Unlimited which promotes social inclusion, wellbeing and improving confidence with disadvantaged groups. He has held several senior roles in technology and, as a Social Value Ambassador, he supports several NGOs that provides re-cycled technology for education.

“My family has a love of music and I am an avid listener. Our family has been heavily involved in teaching music in my original home-city, Manchester. I am keen on supporting Services For Education in delivering on its business plan and extending its reach into a wider range of communities,” said Parmjit.

Sharon Bell, Chief Executive of Services For Education, said she was looking forward to working further with Sarah and the expanded board of ten trustees.
“We are working for the future, to counter the impact of the pandemic, meet the demands of the external environment and use the power of learning and of music to create and build confidence amongst children, young people, adults and communities across the city of Birmingham.
“Sarah becomes chair at a hugely important time when our schools, teachers, children and communities need additional support to restore the educational equilibrium.”
Services For Education has an annual income of around £7m and is supported by The Arts Council, charitable donations and its commercial operations.

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