Family is at the heart of all Mark Lees does – from the family of schools he leads, to the Christian family values he promotes within them.


Mark Lees, the executive principal of the St Piran’s Cross Multi Academy Trust, has had to do both in his career as a leader within primary schools. Leadership, he says, is a huge responsibility, especially where young children are concerned, not least because of the influence you can have on them.

It was while working in his first deputy headship at a school in Shropshire that Mark was challenged to accept God as his own leader, if he was going to lead in a way that honoured Him. “The head teacher had such honesty and determination to live as well as teach in a Christian way, showing me how to be honest with myself.”

Mark’s subsequent career led him to lead both community and church schools but he believes that Christianity models fundamental values that underpin good teaching, wherever you teach.

Working as the principal of the St Piran’s Cross Trust has not only flexed Mark’s leadership muscles, but his learning ones too. “It’s very different leading a group of five primary schools, all with their own identities, personalities and demographic, to leading a single school,” he says. There was so much more to consider if he was to bring all of the schools to the same place, without anyone feeling left behind.

Prayer played a big part, and not just the sort you send up in a crisis. Apart from the prayers that started staff meetings, the children have been encouraged to adopt a culture of prayer. Every year they have ‘pop-up-prayer stations’. Last year they focused on the children of Syria and pupils could stop by and write prayer post-it notes, have a read of longer prayers or pause and pray for the children.  “It was really beautiful,’ says Mark. “Children can have such a pure and accepting belief in prayer – it really encouraged the teachers to think more deeply.”

The Trust has done great things under Mark’s leadership, with each school being officially recognised as good, but more importantly they are now a cohesive group who enjoy and benefit from being part of something bigger than themselves – modelling what it is to be part of a Christian family.