Willing to go the extra mile...

“Pentir’s experience, professionalism and sensitivity have helped one in three participants in our Development Programme secure a promotion”

Bill Watkin - Chief Executive, Sixth Form College Association

Consistently impressed...

“Pentir are friendly, available, effective and very quick. Having never used a recruiter before, I now turn to Pentir first for senior appointments. They are valued partners in our work to provide top quality education”

Carolyn Roberts, Headteacher, Thomas Tallis School, Greenwich

Couldn’t have done it without the help of Pentir...

“The strength of field Pentir brought forward boosted the self esteem of both staff and school"

Professor Tim Warner, Chair of Governors, Thomas Tallis School

Pentir have been a fantastic support...

““We put Pentir under tremendous time pressure to recruit the Headteacher for Lord Grey Academy but they never faltered. We were presented with a viable list of candidates to take to final interview and made a first class appointment”

Jamie Clarke CEO of Tove Learning Trust

Pentir have been a fantastic support...

“They are also a very human organisation and that is very important to us”

Stuart Worden – Principal of The BRIT School

Pentir brought a new dimension...

“True to their word, Pentir's highly developed network of candidates, diligence and rigorous processes produced an outstanding list of quality candidates from which to choose our Headteacher. We would have no hesitation in using them again or in recommending them to others”

Neil Roberts, Chair, Wootton Primary School

Our approach

Our work is focused on building capacity through recruitment, increasing organisational and in supporting change. Our main areas of work can be summarised under the following headlines  

“Before using Pentir we had already tried and failed to attract suitable candidates. Pentir reviewed our advert, documentation and also approached appropriate potential future employees. This produced excellent results and a strong field to recruit from. Pentir were a delight to work with through every stage of the process”

Gaynor Cheshire - Executive Principal and CEO, Birmingham Ormiston Academy


Appointing high quality individuals has never been more important as organisations strive to innovate and respond to a rapidly changing world. The need to secure the best leaders has never been greater. In supporting this we recognise the importance of providing a personal service for both our clients and our candidates.

In the current climate, organisations, more than ever before, need confidence in the companies they choose to lead their recruitment processes. An automated, impersonal approach is unlikely to attract the best people. Approaches need to be thought through and considered. Candidates need the reassurance that they are not wasting valuable time. They need to speak to individuals who are knowledgeable and can provide advice and guidance.

Our service is provided by experienced people with extensive track records of appointing to senior roles across the public and private sectors. Our work is very much search and research led. We believe, it is vitally important to put significant effort into identifying and actively headhunting high quality people, rather than just relying on advertising. It is essential that this work is carried out in an ethical and emotionally sensitive way.

We provide a flexible service which complements any expertise/capacity clients might already have in-house. Clients can opt to use us to manage the complete recruitment process or particular parts. This flexibility and focusing resource in areas of greatest need, provides value for money.

  • Our work includes:
  • Working with clients and stakeholders to identify real need
  • Providing advice on all elements of the recruitment process
  • Research to actively identify and engage appropriate candidates
  • Assessment to gauge the suitability of candidates using a range of techniques and methods
  • Executive mentoring to support the transition of newly appointed individuals

“We put Pentir under tremendous time pressure to recruit the Headteacher for Lord Grey Academy but they never faltered. They never underestimated the scale of the challenge and deployed their resources accordingly to ensure we were presented with a viable list of candidates to take to final interview and eventually make a first class appointment”
Jamie Clarke - CEO of Tove Learning Trust


Our work is very much research led. We are well known for making successful appointments that last and add value. We offer a personal, rigorous and bespoke service to suit our client’s needs. We have substantial personal networks within Education and Local and Central Government and will not compromise on quality. We work tirelessly and in partnership with our clients from the moment we clarify the brief, employing desktop research, networking, social media and proactive “headhunting” to find the best candidate.

We provide regular search updates throughout the process to build confidence. These offer insightful market feedback, information on salary and useful intelligence in relation to how an organisation and the role is perceived by prospective candidates. Often this feedback is used to inform the remainder of the process. It is key to overcoming barriers to appointment and allows us to offer alternative solutions,  where necessary, to secure a successful outcome.

“SFCA’s Leadership Development Programme is oversubscribed once again and it continues to play a vital role in ensuring that the sector continues to thrive under strong leadership. Evaluations from participants have identified the mock interview, for a Principal post in a fictional college, with the specialist experts at Pentir, as one of the best elements of the year-long programme. Pentir’s experience, professionalism and sensitivity have helped one in three participants to secure a promotion."

Bill Watkin - Chief Executive, Sixth Form College Association


The focus of many of our projects is on increasing organisational effectiveness and developing leadership capacity. We understand the importance and the need to change cultures alongside behaviours in order to change and achieve more with less. The support we provide to increase effectiveness is varied and includes: one to one coaching addressing key areas within a defined period, team days and assessment centres as part of a restructuring processes.
Support comes in many forms:

  • Coaching and mentoring - our personalised coaching service helps new recruits transition into their new role efficiently and effectively
  • Succession planning - supporting organisations to develop internal talent to respond to new challenges
  • Improving team working - team development days for new and existing teams and development centres to increase individual and team capabilities and effectiveness
  • Development of rigorous yet appropriate assessment centres - to evaluate the capabilities of existing staff during restructuring processes
  • Supporting people leaving organisations - practical outplacement support; job hunting techniques; application; interview and assessment preparation

“Pentir understand Tallis and recognise the kind of people we like on our team. They are friendly, available, effective and very quick. Having never used a recruiter before, I now turn to Pentir first for senior appointments. They are valued partners in our work to provide top quality education”.

Carolyn Roberts, Headteacher, Thomas Tallis School, Greenwich


Many clients require capacity to address short term needs or to fill critical staffing gaps when a permanent employee cannot be appointed quickly. Interim management gives clients instant access to a senior “heavy-weight” yet hands on manager, who comes with a proven track record, matched to the client’s needs. The use of an interim leader creates time to consider all the options when making a permanent appointment.

Our service focuses on a targeted, search driven approach to identify a shortlist of candidates from our extensive network. The vast majority of them are known personally and therefore we are well aware of their strengths and ability to deliver.

We also assist in agreeing terms and conditions and in managing performance, retaining contact with the client and interim throughout the duration of the contract. We are transparent about our approach so that all parties are aware of our contractual terms. We believe this is key in developing a valued relationship with the people we work with.

“Pentir have been a fantastic support to the continuing success of the school. Through care and a detailed understanding of our needs, we have worked closely together to develop a forward thinking, creative and exciting future for the school. One of their many strengths is the consistent and individual support which is tailored and personal. They are also a very human organisation and that is very important to us".

Stuart Worden – Principal of the BRIT School


Given the expertise of our team and their diverse experiences, we are equipped to provide strategic advice on a range of areas. We can help organisations review their effectiveness, manage change and prepare for the future through horizon scanning. We have a particularly strong focus on working with Academy Trusts, Colleges and Schools, however, our clients have also included Government agencies, local authorities and organisations from the third/not-for-profit sector.

Typical projects include:

  • Advice on restructuring and capacity
  • Support and challenge for leadership and governance
  • Development of business plans and strategies
  • Identification of inefficiencies and solutions to reduce them
  • Review of recruitment/HR related costs/practices and advice on achieving savings
  • Design and development of approaches to respond to the evolving education landscape


Our team

Our people are experienced and of the highest quality.  What binds us together as a team is our commitment to delivering for our clients.  We are very proud of what we do and how we do it.

Below are profiles of our key people.  We also have a well established associate network who share our values and add to our capacity.  

Mike Phillips”We take our work seriously and take personal pride in what we do – this is appreciated by our clients and allows us to develop successful long term relationships.”

Noted for his interpersonal skills, contacts and extensive experience in executive recruitment and support in the public, private and voluntary sectors, Mike is among recruitment's most respected specialists.

He began his career at BP working in the technology field.  He joined Price Waterhouse and worked there for ten years initially in HR then transferred  to their search and selection practice.  The business grew rapidly and was then bought by Capita and rebranded Veredus.  He led their London operation through this change then opened GatenbySanderson's office in London.

In 2008, he set up Pentir to provide flexible, bespoke services to satisfy a particular need.  The key for him is that Pentir is about helping organisations develop capacity - be it through strategic advice, coaching and development, recruiting, or filling roles on an interim basis.

Mike has thoroughly enjoyed providing a personalised service within an evolving market, where the old ways are no longer effective and new approaches are needed. 

Maureen Nicholas"I enjoy providing advice which enables clients to solve challenging people issues.  Appointing to critical roles perceived to be difficult to fill gives me a real sense of pride and achievement."

Maureen Nicholas joined Pentir in 2010 to strengthen our leadership team. Noted for her client management skills, high quality of delivery and her ability to build strong relationships, she has an impressive track record of clients who repeatedly come back to work with her. Since joining Pentir she has worked with Education, Local Government, Central Government and Voluntary Sector clients to deliver a range of recruitment, organisational development and assessment projects.

Maureen has over 12 year’s human resources experience, which includes providing employee relations and employee resourcing advice to senior managers based across England and Wales, on complex and sensitive HR issues. She is also experienced in leading the implementation of HR projects.

In addition Maureen has worked in executive recruitment since 2005, recruiting Directors and Assistant Directors / Heads of Services to senior roles across a range of service areas, predominately within Local Government. She is especially skilled at working with clients to make appointments for difficult to fill roles.

Maureen is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development, and Institute of Career Guidance. She is level A and B British Psychological Society qualified and holds an MA in Personnel and Development and a Postgraduate Diploma in Career Counselling and Career Management.

Anita DentonI enjoy working as a true partner with clients to provide advice and solutions.  Some are building long term success whereas others need fast, efficient and effective services to satisfy their needs.  We have to be flexible, responsive and outcome focused. "

Anita is the newest member of our team and leads our research and interim functions.   She has worked in the executive search field for 14 years – initially in finance, telecoms, construction and engineering both in the UK and Internationally at MRI Worldwide. She moved into public sector executive search in 2003 firstly with Tribal Executive Resourcing and in 2007 with GatenbySanderson.    She has recruited to a wide range of positions up to Chief Executive and Board Level positions and a range of “difficult to fill” roles across Central and local government, the Not for Profit Sector and Higher and Further Education. 

More recently Anita has been recruiting Head Teachers, Principals and Vice Principal’s for Academies, Schools and Federations both interim and permanently.

She has a BSc in Applied Psychology, an MSc in Organisational Psychology from UMIST and is a Level A and Intermediate Level B BPS Psychometric Assessor

Kathy August“I am passionate about developing leadership capacity within organisations and improving governance, communication and decision making.  My work at Pentir involves providing expert advise and being part of bespoke client solutions that make a real difference.”   

Kathy has an exceptional track record of senior leadership in education.  Her experience of headship is complemented by her work as a Director of Education in two local authorities and a period as a Senior Education Adviser at the Standards and Effectiveness Unit.

Kathy was appointed Principal at one of the first 13 academies - Manchester Academy in Moss Side.  Its performance was transformed and it was consistently judged an outstanding school under her leadership.  She was appointed a National Leader of Education and then went on to become Deputy Chief Executive and Acting Chief Executive at United Learning.

Kathy received the DBE in the 2014 New Year's Honours List for services to education. 

Maggi WarrenI love the variety of the work I do and the sense of pride and achievement I feel when each successful assignment is completed. The team spirit and support within our organisation is second to none and makes each working day a real pleasure.”

Maggi’s career commenced in Glasgow when she was employed as an Audit Clerkess with Thomson McLintock & Co – Chartered Accountants. At the age of 21 she moved to England where she was PA to the Regional Director of a telephone answering machine company. After raising a family, Maggi returned to work in the late 80’s as a part time secretary with Lloyds Bank PLC and within 18 months, was working full time as Head of Customer Services. In 1997, Maggi joined PricewaterhouseCoopers’s executive search and selection team as PA to one of the senior partners.

Between 2000 and 2008, her career was split between working for the Business Link organisation as a Project Manager and in executive recruitment with GatenbySanderson.

Maggi has supported Pentir Talent Solutions since October 2008 as Head of Support and PA to Mike Phillips.  In addition to this, her main areas of responsibility include general administration, finance and accounts, invoicing and credit control, interim management and PA support to all the directors.


Our executive recruitment and search work

We have a track record of headhunting high quality people and supporting high profile appointments. 

The following provides context and feedback on some of our recent work.

The de Ferrers Trust, has nine schools (primary and secondary) across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Pentir were asked to support the Trust with the appointment of their new Chief Executive.

We worked with the Trustees and central team and used a technique called “Pinpointing” to draw out important contextual information about the role. We drew out a debate around whether the new CEO should have a schools/academies background and the transferability of other backgrounds.

Pentir used search techniques to identify and contact high quality candidates. Alongside of this, we also advertised the role. We carried out preliminary interviews and then during the final assessment process we involved trustees, school governors, principals and senior leaders from Trust schools, central Trust staff and students in the process of appointment. The assessment process included a number of exercises – a data exercise, a finance exercise and two presentations. A successful appointment was made from a strong shortlist of five candidates.

Pentir have supported the Trust with a number of distinct pieces of work. Having supported the appointment of the Director of Education, Pentir were asked to support the appointment to two primary schools in North London.

This became further complicated as the appointments were planned at a time when the initial process was interrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Pentir were required to headhunt candidates for the role, design and implement the advertising strategy and handle any candidate queries. The client made it clear that they wanted to work with a recruitment partner that really understood their needs and could be convincing when talking to candidates. The feedback from the Director of Education appointment was very positive about this and it became vital as the weeks in lockdown progressed. Strong shortlists were attracted for both roles and socially distant assessment/interview processes were carried out. Again, it was key that Pentir supported candidates throughout this process and successful appointments were made to the two positions.

"We have always found the role of an executive search team to be vital for high quality appointments. Supporting three senior appointments recently for Headteacher and Director of Education roles, Pentir have supported us expertly. Through creating interest in these key roles, to supporting the potential applicants through the process, Pentir has ensured we have always received a strong field of applications. Their advice and guidance is also very important to us and could not recommend Mike and the team more."

Mark Greatrex, Chief Executive, Bellevue Place Education Trust

Pentir was asked to support the Corporation of London in recruiting the first Chief Executive to the newly created City of London Multi-Academy Trust. We were briefed by the Director of Children Services, the Director of HR and Chief Executive of the Corporation of London.

Pentir undertook a search for candidates alongside a national advertisement. There was a formal longlisting and shortlisting meeting with Council members that were the shadow Board for the Trust. At the final stages, we used psychometric assessment, a strategic exercise and data exercise. The stakeholder engagement was a key part of this and there were interview sessions with Chief Executive and Director of HR for the Corporation, Headteachers and Principals across the Academies, as well as students. The final interviews were carried out by the Elected Members. Pentir attended and advised on the interview, providing areas for questioning and bringing the feedback together.

We generated a shortlist of three – one who was a successful Principal/Headteacher, a second who was Director of Policy and Performance in a Trust and had worked for DfE for a number of years. The third came from the private sector, who had a legal background and had been involved in creating a Trust as Chief Operating Officer.

The organisation was pleased with our work and we have continued to work with the Corporation on complex appointments in education and children services.

The Belvedere Academy is one of two state academies run by GDST. Pentir was asked to support the Academy with the recruitment of their new Principal following the retired of the incumbent who had been in place for a number of years. We had previously supported the Trust with another Principal appointment in the Wirral. It is a high performing Academy graded Outstanding by Ofsted. Although on the face of it, such a context should be considered attractive, many individuals are looking for opportunities to make an impact and this is a problem for organisations that are already considered outstanding.

Pentir undertook a search for candidates alongside a national advertisement. We worked with the CEO of GDST and their Director of Education attending and advising at formal longlisting and shortlisting meetings. At the same time there was a need to keep the local Chair of Governors and other interested parties informed whilst respecting the importance of confidentiality for candidates. Pentir carried out preliminary interviews and reduced the number of candidates down to a shortlist of three candidates.

We advised on, attended and supported the assessment centre which involved a range of stakeholders including staff and students. We then attended and advised at the final interview.

The organisation was pleased with our work and appointed a high quality individual who fitted well with the ethos and values of the organisation.

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. Following the promotion of DCCS to Deputy Chief Executive at another London local authority Pentir was asked to support the recruitment of his replacement.

We were briefed by the incumbent postholder, the Director of HR and Chief Executive of the Corporation of London and Elected Members.

Pentir undertook a search for candidates alongside a national advertisement. There was a formal longlisting and shortlisting meeting with Elected Members. At the final stages, we used psychometric assessment, and various panels including a young people’s and tenants panel. The stakeholder engagement was a key part of this and there were interview sessions with Chief Executive and Director of HR for the Corporation. The final interviews were carried out by the Elected Members. Pentir attended and advised on the interview, providing areas for questioning and bringing the feedback together.

Governors at Wootton Primary School had already made one attempt at recruiting a new Headteacher. Unfortunately the process did not attract a field of high quality candidates. At the same time the School was in discussion with a Multi Academy Trust to join them as the first primary school in the trust. It was at this point that Pentir was approached with a view to undertaking a headhunting exercise. Working closely with the existing school governors and the CEO of the trust we were able to build a profile of the type of person that would be the ideal candidate.

Through targeted head hunting alongside a national advertising campaign, we were able to attract high quality candidates. Ultimately eight applications were received with four applicants being shortlisted and a successful appointment made.

The Birmingham Ormiston Academy is a high performing 14 – 19 academy specialising in creative, digital and performing arts. The position became available following the appointment of the Principal to Executive Principal and CEO of the Trust. The Trust had failed to appoint first time around as they attracted a disappointing field. Pentir were then asked to support the organisation with the appointment process second time around.

Bringing an external eye to the information for candidates. Pentir suggested some amendments to the candidate information which brought far more clarity to the role and the skills and expertise required. Pentir rewrote the advertisement and conducted a headhunting process which focused on identifying high quality Deputies who had strong leadership skills on core academic areas which complemented some of the broader backgrounds of others within the senior and middle leaders.

We were successful in attracting ten candidates and of these six were invited for interview at the Academy. Candidates were encouraged to visit the school prior to the interview and assessment process.

Pentir completed a review of the applications received and this was used by Governors and Trustees to assist with the shortlisting process. The Academy were keen to involve staff, senior leaders, Governors. Trustees and students in the process. Pentir were involved in supporting the assessment centre through providing questions and a framework for the assessment process. We facilitated the student feedback session and the staff “speed-meeting” sessions with candidates. It was felt to be a far stronger field then the first time and a successful appointment was made.

The College of West Anglia logoThe College of West Anglia is one of the largest Colleges in the Eastern region with over 900 full time and part time staff and a student cohort of over 10,000. It serves a mainly rural catchment area covering Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and south Lincolnshire. The main campus is in King’s Lynn – a historic market town but not an easy location to recruit those with the relevant skills.

Our approach therefore involved headhunting and advertising. We sought to assess the best within the FE market with others from outside of the sector that had led large complex financial projects and were capable of applying their skills in this context. Our assessment process was designed to involve a broad range of stakeholders and ended with a presentation and interview with the Board.

The end result was a strong shortlist of candidates with the relevant skills and experience to operate at this level within further education and a successful appointment first time.

"We initially used Pentir to help us appoint a Principal for Kings Lynn Academy. Two previous recruitment campaigns had failed to identify and attract appropriate candidates, so we turned to Pentir. We attracted a strong field and achieved our objectives in full. We then used them to appoint to a very different role – Executive Director of Finance and Information for the College. They were equally effective and successful. I would recommend any academy looking to appoint an exceptional leader to talk to Pentir."

David Pomfret, Principal


Building capacity and supporting change 

We have supported organisations as they look to change culture, behaviours and improve organisational effectiveness. 

The following gives some detail of our involvement.

Brooke Weston Trust logoPentir have worked with Brooke Weston Trust over a number of years. We have supported the appointment of Principals, Associate Principals and Vice Principals across the multi-academy Trust. The context surrounding each appointment has been considered and a candidate attraction strategy agreed and carried out. Alongside this, we have worked together to develop an appropriate strategy for assessment which is rigorous but also provides potential candidates with real insights into the academy providing them with the information they need to decide whether this is the right environment for them – this ensures a two way process of appointment.

This has led to us supporting the Trust in developing a programme for aspiring leaders. Psychometric assessment is being used to provide further insight into delegates' natural leadership styles and identifying areas for development. We are also working together on succession planning and career management.

The Brit School logoPentir have been working with the Brit School for over two years. Our first role was to secure a high quality candidate to replace Nick Williams, the outgoing Principal – a very difficult act to follow. This involved pulling together a cohesive brief from consultation sessions with BRIT Governors and Trustees, Senior Management, middle leaders and the School Council.

Following the successful appointment of Stuart Worden, we worked on the transition to a new Principal and culture and have provided expertise in key areas to improve attainment levels. With his collaborative approach to leadership, the new Principal has looked to empower those around him having developed a collective understanding of purpose for the organisation, allowing creativity, innovation and encouraging individual ownership for development.

At middle leadership level, we have sought to increase self-awareness and recognition of individuals' natural leadership styles, personal strengths and areas for development. We have provided strategic advice alongside targeted support in key areas including, use of data, SEN, and review of science.

Slough BC logoThe Council carried out extensive restructuring of housing following the return of housing management services from the ALMO, People 1st. The restructuring covered 3 levels; head of service, managers and operational staff within the service. The extent of the changes meant that where there was no direct match or automatic right to assimilation, staff were invited to apply for posts in the new structure. As part of the selection process, individuals were required to demonstrate they met the relevant criteria and possessed the necessary competencies to carry out roles in the new structure at the appropriate level.

Relevant staff were asked to attend an assessment centre which tested job-related competencies. The assessment results were one of the factors used to determine which staff were appointed. The assessment process therefore needed to be rigorous, fair and transparent.

As a new concept for Slough, the process also required the signoff of the Trade Unions and by involving them during the design process, this proved to be relatively straight forward. Ultimately the feedback from both internal and external candidates was positive and they found the process fair and transparent. For those who were made redundant, they accepted the outcome without challenge. The client found the information from the assessment centre invaluable at the final interview stage for internal candidates and helpful in deciding which external candidates should be taken forward to the final stage of the process.

As the client felt we had built up a strong rapport with individuals who had attended the assessment centres we were asked to work with the new team to help them determine how they will work together going forward. To deliver on this aspect of the project, the whole team completed individual personality questionnaires which resulted in a developmental report that provided information about their individual preferences in the work place plus the role/s they like to play in teams. This information was used to raise awareness as part of a ‘teambuilding’ day.

We were originally engaged by this high profile local authority school to assist with the appoint tment of a new Headteacher. Our brief was simple but challenging - “to find an exceptional Head with the capacity to lead the organisation through a period of significant improvement in standards to one where it would be deemed to be an outstanding place for students to learn”. This was deemed to be a success with the appointment of Carolyn Roberts.

Over the intervening period, Pentir has supported the school with a range of different services, we were successful in appointing a Deputy Principal and were then asked to provide interim support in HR and then with a specific focus on Maths. Most recently we have supported the appointment of a permanent Head of HR, which was successfully completed in May.

Pentir are now in the second year of working with the Sixth Form College Association on their national leadership development programme for the next generation of sixth form principals.

This is taking place in a context where high quality candidates for leadership posts are in short supply.

Last year some thirty five individuals applied to become part of the first cohort. Our particular contributions was to provide a mock interview service with detailed feedback. This involved develop a briefing pack on a fictitious Principal appointment and to interview in this context against the specification.

The feedback sessions were honest and identified very clear areas for development as well as suggestions around interview style and approaches.

The feedback on these sessions was very positive. As a results the association has decided to run a further programme this year and engage Pentir's help.