Appointment of Principal Designate and Chair of Governors for Leigh Academy Minster

Mathieu Stevens, Principal Designate

Leigh Academies Trust (LAT) is delighted to announce that Mathieu Stevens has been appointed as Principal Designate of Leigh Academy Minster, signalling the start of a new chapter of education on the Isle of Sheppey. Mr Stevens’ appointment follows his significant contributions to the improvement of The Halley Academy in Greenwich and his current role at the Leigh Academy in Dartford.  Mr Stevens commented,

“I am honoured to be entrusted with the role of Principal Designate at Leigh Academy Minster. My journey with Leigh Academies Trust has been one of profound professional growth and shared commitment to the belief that every child deserves a high quality education regardless of where they live. I am eager to lead Leigh Academy Minster into an era where our dedication to academic excellence, innovative learning, and community collaboration sets a new benchmark for education on the Island. 

Our students’ potential is limitless, and I am resolute in my pledge to foster an academy that nurtures their aspirations, celebrates their achievements, and equips them for the global stage. Together, we will craft an educational experience that resonates with our values and honours the unique spirit of Sheppey.”

Simultaneously, it gives us great pleasure to announce that Gordon Henderson, MP, has accepted our invitation to become Chair of Governors at Leigh Academy Minster from September 2024. We are honoured that such a high-profile and well-respected community figure will take on this important role.

Gordon has been at the forefront of leading the campaign for changes in secondary education on Sheppey for many years. These changes are now coming to fruition. Gordon’s role at Leigh Academy Minster will be to hold academy leaders firmly accountable for the promises they have made to the community and to ensure maximum support for success.

“I was honoured to be asked to be Chairman of the Leigh Academy Minster’s Board of Governors.

 “The system of secondary education on the Isle of Sheppey has been letting down families for decades and I believe the proposal to scrap the current single split-site school, and replace it with two new schools, is just the kind of radical solution that parents on the Island have been crying out for.

“It is now important that Islanders rally round and give the two new schools their full support. As an Islander myself, I want to do my bit to make this exciting change to secondary education on Sheppey a success, which is why I was delighted to accept the invitation to lead the new Board of Governors at Leigh Academy Minster.”

Gordon Henderson, MP, Simon Beamish, CEO, and Debbie Biggenden, Academies Director
Left to right: Gordon Henderson, MP, Simon Beamish, CEO, and Debbie Biggenden, Academies Director

With these appointments the Trust is putting in place strong foundations for the future of education on the Island. However, it is important to remember that these are still proposals at the moment and we need the support and feedback of the community to bring this vision to life 

A public consultation is currently underway and closes at 5pm on the 4th December. The consultation seeks views on the closure of Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey and the opening of Leigh Academy Minster and EKC Sheppey Secondary. Public opinion is invaluable in helping us shape these proposals which is why we would encourage as many people as possible to take part. Full information about the consultation process can be found at

Information evenings

This week parents have been attending information evenings for Leigh Academy Minster and EKC Sheppey Secondary and attendance so far has been overwhelming, demonstrating the desire for parents to have a choice of two good schools on the island. At Leigh Academy Minster, Simon Beamish, CEO of Leigh Academies Trust was accompanied by Debbie Biggenden, Academies Director and Mathieu Stevens, Principal Designate to outline the trust’s vision for the new academy.

There will be a further information evening for parents who were unable to attend this week for Leigh Academy Minster on Thursday 23rd of November at 5pm taking place at the Oasis Academy, Minster Campus. 

A hall full of parents and prospective students with a speaker at the front.

About Leigh Academy Minster

Subject to consultation and approval, Leigh Academy Minster will open in September 2024. It will offer:

  • 180 places in each of years 7-11.
  • A sixth form for 250 students.
  • A grammar stream for more able pupils.
  • Disruption free learning.
  • Zero tolerance of bullying.
  • A smart uniform free for all parents of existing pupils.
  • A free Chromebook laptop for every pupil.
  • The international gold standard IB curriculum.

Further information can be found at