CFO takes overall prize for best school business manager in Kent

Catherine Dottridge, chief finance officer for the multi school academy trust based at Bennett Memorial and including five Kent schools on Friday was declared overall winner of the KM Kent Teacher of the Year Awards in the Business Management category.

Mrs Dottridge has been at Tenax for nearly three years, having previously worked as business manager for other Kent primary schools, and before that in the commercial sector. During that time the Trust has grown to seven schools, with others in the pipeline to join, spanning both Kent and East Sussex. The Trust includes one of Kent’s few free schools, Bishop Chavasse Primary School in Tonbridge, which opened in 2017.

Speaking after the awards ceremony on Friday, Mrs Dottridge said: “It is a great honour to have my work for Tenax recognised in this way. Since I joined Tenax we have done a huge amount to create systems and processes to run the business side of a growing and successful Trust, and to support schools in managing budgets at a challenging time for school finance. A big thank you also to Tenax for allowing me to work flexibly around my family commitments, and to my wonderful finance team and all our Tenax business managers.”

Tenax CEO Ian Bauckham CBE said of the award: “This is fitting recognition for the exceptional work Catherine Dottridge has done in shaping the business and finance side of this Trust as we grow. It is a huge assurance to me and to the Trustees that, despite our rapid growth and the pressures on school finance, we are in the very good shape we are. This is largely due to Catherine’s strategic leadership. Her caring but entrepreneurial approach brings many benefits to the Trust. It is particularly pleasing to have this public recognition for someone whose work is often behind the scenes and not immediately noticed by parents and teachers.”

Mrs Tina Holditch, headteacher of Leybourne St Peter and St Paul Primary School, which is part of Tenax, said: “ I was really pleased when I heard this news. It has been a pleasure to work with Catherine since we joined Tenax. She has the perfect combination of a strong business sense and a real understanding of how primary schools work and what is important to us. She is always prepared to go the extra mile to help us sort out any problems and is really solutions-focussed. Well done Catherine!”

And this is not the only cause for celebration locally. The winner of the West Kent Teacher Trainee of the Year award was Eleanor Garland who has spent most of the current year training at Fordcombe CE Primary School, which is currently consulting on joining Tenax in the autumn. Eleanor will be starting as a full time teacher at the school having completed her training there. Mr Bauckham added: I am delighted for Fordcombe and for Eleanor. Warmest congratulations to her.”