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Welcome to Barker- Matt Isherwood

We are delighted to welcome new starter Matt Isherwood to the Barker team. 

Matt has joined us following 14 years at Brooke Weston Trust as Director of Estates. He has been a long-standing client of Barker and strong advocate for our work on Estates, Energy and Data. 

Matt brings with him enormous knowledge and experience of estates management from the schools and trusts side. Beyond his previous duties with Brooke Weston Trust, he is well known and respected for his work with The Trust Network and other sector bodies. 

We took Matt aside to ask him to give us an insight into his experience and what he is looking forward to most working for Barker:  

  1. Tell us a little bit about your previous working experience: 

I have worked in the Academy Sector for 14 years before joining Barker. Back in 2008 Brooke Weston was a 2-school organisation and I was brought into to lead the conversion of mainstream schools to becoming academies. I was the lead representative for the Trust in the design and delivery of the new build, a £26million Civic Trust Award winning project, which wasn’t a bad start! Kettering Science Academy | Civic Trust Awards

Over the course of the next 5 years, we added a further 6 schools including a PFI school which brought its own challenge. Alongside Academy conversion we also created a free school – Corby Technical School; where I led the project from the client side delivering the new school building on refurbishment funding. We were also involved in the design & construction of a new “all-through” Special Free School. 

 As you might expect conversion schools all have their various challenges, none more so than a historic backlog of maintenance defects and issues. The arrival of SCA was a game changer. Since 2015, the Trust fully embraced the strategic approach to managing their estate and using survey data to inform the decision-making process regarding the investment into the estate. 

The Trust estates teams with support from key partners such as Barker were able to swiftly address decades of neglect and condition-based defects ensuring that the schools of the Trust were safe to occupy. Alongside the ongoing cycle of works to address condition, by raising the awareness levels of the duties of the responsible body we were able to fast-track a Trust wide response to the management of Health & Safety and statutory compliance. 

In 2017 the Trust were supportive of an investment opportunity to enrol in a pilot scheme to reduce the energy consumed by our schools from the grid. Again, partnering with Barker we took a leap of faith for the sector in the delivery of a project to re-lamp schools with LED and install solar panels across a summer holiday. That project is now the reference case which proved the concept that made a significant contribution influencing the Government to enable the education sector to invest in renewables. 

I am most proud of the pioneering work we undertook within the Estates function at Brooke Weston Trust; from the utilisation of data and technology, to the refurbishment and re-purposing of the existing school accommodation, to the responsible and aware culture created with regard H&S and compliance.

2. What are you most looking forward to in your career here at Barker?

Someone once told me “You can’t become experienced without getting experience, but what you can do to fast forward the process is to engage with experience accelerators”. After 14years in the Academy Estate sector I have experience and I am thrilled that now under the Barker badge I can work with other Trusts, those newly formed and those that are established to help provide that “experience acceleration”. The opportunity to assist in bringing a sustainable energy future to the Education sector is really exciting. But overall, I am most looking forward to the fresh challenge, gaining new experiences and working with likeminded teams. 

After 14years in the Academy Estate sector I have experience and I am thrilled that now under the Barker badge I can work with other Trusts, those newly formed and those that are established to help provide that “experience acceleration”.

3. What do you believe the key challenges/focus’ for the sector are?

 There has never been and it is unlikely that there will ever be, enough funding to do what needs to be done let alone what you would want to do; the establishment of a long term strategic approach to managing the education estate is critical, if as a sector, schools are to get the best value out of the available funds. 


    4. Tell us some personal fun facts about yourself: 

 I left school at 18 with no clue what I wanted to do but over the past 32 years I’ve; represented my country in 2 sports (separated by 18yrs!), worked for P&O throwing the rope over the side and strapping down lorries, climbed a live 5,400m volcano, led expeditions to the jungles & reefs of Belize, been a PE teacher & a deputy head teacher, re-built a wreck of a house, got married & have 2 fab children. 


Matt’s role at Barker will be focused around the following areas: 

  • Management of key trust accounts 
  • Programme/project management 
  • Strategic estates advice focussed on Good Estates Management for Schools (GEMS) 
  • Training/support for our sector partners (CST, ISBL, TTN, ASCL and others) 

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