Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire’s Flying High Trust CEO awarded OBE for services to education

  • News
  • Posted on: October 20, 2021
  • Partnership: Flying High Partnership
The Chief Operating Officer of a Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire multi-academy Trust has received the Order of the British Empire for services to education.
Two children carrying a poppy wreathe

West Bridgford resident, Mr Chris Wheatley, has 25 years’ experience in education, and 8 years as CEO of the Flying High Trust which he founded in 2012 at Cotgrave Candleby Lane School. The primary multi-academy Trust now has 26 member schools throughout Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

During his leadership, the Flying High Trust has been the recipient of many accolades including being recognised as one of the top 5 performing Trusts’ nationally for multi-academy trusts of more than 10 schools, and top 3 nationally for progress in reading and writing of disadvantaged children. Of the 26 schools within the Flying High Trust, all have improved on their Ofsted ratings since joining, with all 26 now rated good or better by Ofsted.

Chris, who is a previous winner of Head Teacher of the Year Award, said that he feels humbled by the accolade. “I am excited at the news but also want to say I think this is recognition of what the Trust has achieved as a whole, not just me. This is for all of the staff and children too.

“We mark our success as the children achieving their dreams. I want to support our children to realise their ambition and to be a success and to make a positive contribution to society. We also view success as breaking down any social barriers which might impede opportunity. Wherever you are born, we will strive to enable the equality of opportunity for all of our children.”

Chris said that his upbringing in Middlesbrough prompted his dream of working in education. “I remember listening to ‘The Headmasters Ritual’ by The Smiths at 13 years old and deciding that education should be very different! I also witnessed the imbalance of opportunity, of the aspiration in young people being dependant on their backgrounds. I knew I wanted young people to succeed regardless of their background and that still drives me.”

On hearing the news, Chris said he instantly thought of his Grandparents. “Although my grandparents are no longer alive, they were massive royalists and had told me from a very young age that receiving an honour from the queen was the highest achievement and something to aim for. I must have been about 8 years old at the time and certainly didn’t expect it would happen to me! I will be thinking of them on the big day, -and sad that they can’t witness it; it would have meant so much to them.”

“Most of all I would like to thank those who have supported the Flying High Trust, every child, parent and employee. This award is testament to their achievements and work.”

Chris said that the award has led to a certain amount of change in the workplace. “People are enjoying pulling my leg by bowing or curtsying in front of me as I walk in, and some are calling me ‘OBE’-Wan Kenobi! But no one is treating me any differently and nor should they, -this award is for all of us!”

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