The Emmanuel Schools Foundation was awarded MAT status earlier this year and has plans to grow from its base in the north of England.

Professor Mark Pike, who is Head of the School of Education at the University of Leeds, has been appointed as CEO, providing strategic leadership to the MAT.

ESF currently has four highly regarded schools – Emmanuel College in Gateshead; The King’s Academy, in Middlesbrough; Trinity Academy, in Thorne, near Doncaster; and Bede Academy, in Blyth, Northumberland, which was the first in the region to open as a 3-18 academy.

ESF Chairman Nigel Robson said: “This is a very exciting time in the 18-year history of our Foundation and our schools, during which time we have built considerable expertise in the development and operation of new schools.

“It is our ambition to develop more centres of educational excellence, to grow our family of schools and share best practice in teaching and learning. We are delighted, therefore, to have appointed Professor Mark Pike, a highly respected educationalist of significant achievement, to lead the MAT and continue our work to create rigorous and stimulating learning environments for all our young people.”

Professor Pike said becoming a MAT would enable the organisation to raise aspirations and expectations for more children and young people and their communities.

He added: “My role is to build on the strength of the multi academy trust and ensure more children and young people benefit from high quality character education and excellent academic outcomes across our schools.

“We look forward to making a greater contribution to the initial teacher training of high calibre teachers of character in our primary and secondary classrooms.”

A professor of education and an extensively published author, Professor Pike’s research areas of specialism include character education, which is central to the ethos of the Emmanuel Schools Foundation, and the contribution of Christian-ethos schools in modern Britain.

He is an educationalist with nearly 30 years’ experience of schooling and teacher training and was a teacher in secondary schools for ten years before moving into teacher training and leadership.

Professor Pike is director of the £1.1m Narnian Virtues Character Education research project funded by the John Templeton Foundation, which investigates how young people can learn the virtues of wisdom, love, justice, integrity and self-control through the study of the Narnia novels of CS Lewis.

Professor Pike and his wife Barbara have three children, Luke, Lydia and Jeremy, who are students at Trinity Academy, in Thorne.