Welcome to The Link Academy Trust

The Link Academy Trust is a multi academy trust made up of eighteen primary schools offering your child strong foundations to academic excellence. Your child deserves the very best education, your family deserves to be part of the very best community and we aim, together, to provide exactly that.

Nicky Dunford, CEO Link Academy Trust

Nicky Dunford

Nicky Dunford is the CEO and Accounting Officer of the Link Academy Trust and has been since its inauguration in April 2016.

Nicky’s experience of leading small schools was the basis for the Trust having a very specific focus: to provide the very best education for pupils in small, often rural schools within their communities. This vision has remained at the heart of the Link Academy Trust as its reputation has extended and the number of small schools has grown from the initial 6 primaries to 17.
A Head of a small school has to be resilient and have expertise in so many areas, put these small schools together and you can start to share and develop a core of people with specialisms that makes leading the school so much more effective. Becoming a Multi-Academy Trust was the vehicle through which this could be achieved and indeed was.

Nicky returned to education after 15 years of running her own manufacturing business to take up the headship of Hennock Community Primary School in 2006. She received the NCSL Regional Primary Head Teacher Award in 2009 and by 2010 Nicky was asked to take up the role of acting Head Teacher at Bearnes’ Voluntary Primary as it joined Hennock in Management Partnership. The school had been operating well below DfE Floor Standards for a long period of time and was in danger of closure. Requiring robust and rigorous leadership, including major building changes, alongside considerable development of staff and leadership, the school moved to a judgement of ‘good’ in 2012 which has been maintained. In September 2012 the two schools formed a Federation with Nicky as the Executive Head Teacher.

In April 2016 the two schools of Newton and Teign Federation joined the four schools of the Totnes Federation of Village Schools to form The Link Academy Trust.

Woodleigh Federation, three primary schools joined the Link in March 2018 after a Management Partnership, as the Trust’s reputation for supporting small primary schools grew and the Trust prospered. Following this the Link was approved as a Sponsor Academy enabling the Trust to support failing schools. The Link also took part in a DfE Research project investigating small rural primary schools in terms of financial sustainability. Four of the Link’s financial practices were published as case studies reflecting best practice.

During 2019- 20 the Link Academy Trust saw significant expansion with Drakes, (East Budleigh) and Otterton formerly the Raleigh Federation and Broadhempston joining the Trust. Later that academic year Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Ilsington and Moretonhampstead primaries were re-brokered into the Link from the South Dartmoor Academy Trust and then in 2021, Morchard Bishop C of E joined to strengthen the Woodleigh Hub further.

More recently, Sparkwell All Saints Primary have joined the Trust to add to the Totnes Hub and now with the addition of Wolborough C of E Primary School to the Moorland Hub, the Link goes from Strength to strength..

The Trust now has an established reputation as a successful Trust, able to offer excellent school improvement opportunities as well as sound financial practice. Academy Heads are able to focus completely on Teaching and Learning while experts manage HR issues, payroll, a full range of financial services, property actions-including a full programme of regular maintenance and rapid support. Health and Safety issues are managed, alongside GDPR and catering/ cleaning.

If you are interested in exploring whether we are a Trust you would like to work with please don’t hesitate to contact us. A warm welcome awaits.

Meet Our Academies