What our clients say about us

Sheryl has acted for Wise Owl Trust in the position of interim CFO for 2 terms. I can not recommend Sheryl enough, she has gone above and beyond her contracted remit. We will continue to use Shard Business Services to support our central team with a wide range of training needs, not just finance. If we could employ Sheryl, we would! She is a real asset and our team have thoroughly enjoyed working with her and learning from her wide skill-set. Nothing is too much for Sheryl and her team, and they set ambitious targets to achieve.

Sophie Murfin


As a new trust there is a lot to do on Health and Safety. Sheryl and Jo made it straight forward using their very easy and thorough ‘Monday.com’ platform. Each school now has its own portal to keep track of Health and Safety responsibilities and governors/trustees can access this too. Sheryl and Jo are always on hand to help with questions and concerns. We feel very well supported. Thank you!

Carla Bradshaw


Our Trust was established in December 2022 with initially seven primary schools joining the Mater Ecclesiae Catholic MAT. This was a time of great change with staff and directors working hard to establish the Trust, meet all the required standards and ensure robust and transparent financial management. Sheryl Cardwell supported the Trust in a financial consultant role. The support provided was exceptional, working with our existing finance team,  Sheryl ensured we had up to date management accounts, set realistic budgets and were well prepared for internal audit processes.

The commitment shown by Sheryl was incredible. She attended virtual meetings with staff and Directors even whilst away on holiday. Sheryl’s work and presence in the Mater Ecclesiae finance team provided excellent guidance, knowledge and re-assurance. We were so lucky to have Sheryl. We would strongly recommend Sheryl to any future potential clients.

Mia Barlow


We have worked with Shard Business Services, on a rolling internal scrutiny programme for the past 2 years. Shard has facilitated openness and transparency from the outset. Reports produced, including recommendations, have supported real change to be implemented in achievable and meaningful ways. At all times, I have found Shard to be approachable and generous with knowledge, experience and resources which has been useful when addressing any recommendations made. This challenge, overview and probity provides independent assurance to the board and enables the Trust to review current practices. This investment in time and scrutiny has been invaluable in our journey as we aspire for excellence in our financial, non-financial controls and risk management procedures. We would not hesitate to recommend Shard Business Services to your setting.

Jo Seddon


‘Sheryl assisted the due diligence work of the Trust by taking the lead on two separate academy conversions for the Trust. Sheryl used her vast expertise in the sector to complete the due diligence work effectively and efficiently, liaising effortlessly with all key stakeholders. Both transfers have subsequently been progressed. Sheryl’s approach was always extremely flexible and professional, and we are very grateful for the work that Sheryl completed. We would have no hesitation in recommending Sheryl for due diligence work that any Trust in the sector may require.’

Dewi Bennett


Sheryl did a great job as temporary business manager for us during a period between our previous SBM leaving and new one starting. She was able to step into the role at very short notice and had a level of knowledge, skill and experience that meant she could support the team in school from day one. She was professional, flexible and helpful – taking a lead with key areas of responsibility and also adapting to any challenges that arose. Her blended working meant she could support teams on site in person and maintain contact when working remotely. She wrote and presented reports and policies for governors and contributed to meetings within school. She was very conscientious, diligent with her work and everything was completed to a very high standard.

Ella Hughes


Our Trust grew significantly this year from 3 to 7 schools. Without the support of Sheryl at Shard Business Services, we would have found this difficult to achieve. Shard Business Services provided vital capacity in finance at a time when we were growing our own central team in order to meet the demands of growth. Sheryl was totally committed to the Trust – her communication was excellent and she worked sensitively with new Heads on their journey to joining the Trust, making the financial side of the process as painless as possible. Her expertise allowed us to focus on other areas and know we had a trusted partner working with us on the finances. We continue to work with Shard as the Trust grows as they know our Trust really well. We are extremely confident in recommending Shard Business Services for due diligence work, financial expertise and internal audit work.

Helen O’Neill


The University of Portsmouth recently established a schools Multi Academy Trust (MAT) and Shard Business Services and particularly Sheryl Cardwell provided invaluable support throughout the setup phase and during the initial period operation. Sheryl worked to provide expert due diligence and financial support, working with the Shadow Trust Board, the University, the headteachers, DfE and Regional Schools Commissioner. Her knowledge of the sector is second-to-none and with her expertise she helped grow the confidence of all stakeholders and particularly school finance staff as they adapted to their roles. To support the transition to operation Sheryl also acted as a very effective CFO for the trust in the first four months of operation. Again, her breadth of knowledge and skills but importantly, her people skills helped Trust and school staff adapt to the change in business approach. It is with great pleasure that I provide this endorsement of Sheryl and Shard Business Services and I whole-heartedly recommend them to you.

Mark Cooper


Shard Business Services were first engaged by Oak LP to carry out a programme of financial internal scrutiny. Sheryl’s robust and knowledgeable approach helped place us in a very strong position for our annual external and she is now responsible for our internal scrutiny on an on-going basis. Sheryl has high professional standards, and she is friendly, efficient and responsive in all her dealings with our staff. 

Sheryl’s expertise in GDPR has also been of great benefit to Oak LP, and she advises us in this area an acts as our DPO. Sheryl’s pro-active approach ensures that she is up to date with developments. In the fields of both financial scrutiny and GDPR, we are confident in Sheryl’s assurance of compliance. Shard Business Services provide an excellent standard of business support.

Kristie Bloomfield


Having been in finance for over 30 years but completely new to the education sector, Sheryl’s advice and guidance was invaluable in giving me a starting point when reviewing the school’s systems and procedures when starting my new role as an SBM in 2018.

Shortly after starting, Ofsted visited the school and with the input from Sheryl, our office procedures passed without any concerns.

Since then we have continued our relationship with Shard Business Services and they provide our GDPR training and monitoring and are on hand to help navigate the complicated world of finance in education. Sheryl has a wealth of experience and having done the job herself, is well aware of the challenges facing SBM’s. I cannot recommend her highly enough.

Joanne Woodley


We have worked with Sheryl Cardwell (Shard Business Services) on an ongoing project with University of Portsmouth to form a new Multi-Academy Trust and subsequent academy conversions into the Trust. Sheryl has supported the Trust to develop and create school-level and consolidated Trust budgets for the purposes of an RSC submission for their Headteacher’s Board. In addition Sheryl has worked with the group of schools to identify savings on their budgets, areas for central trust roles, and opportunities available to the group of schools once they have joined the MAT. We have found Sheryl to be highly effective in reviewing the schools’ positions and creating a sustainable central offer and budget forecasts. She is extremely knowledgeable in many aspects of trust and academy funding and resource management. We have also found her input in meeting with school governing boards invaluable when explaining budgets and savings as well as articulating the differences between being a maintained school and an academy.   

Sheryl is responsive, professional, knowledgeable and was able to respond to our need. We would highly recommend Sheryl to anyone and hope to work with her again very soon.

Gemma Kirk


Having a comprehensive GDPR audit carried out has been very beneficial to our organisation. We chose to have an on-site audit and walking around the premises with Sheryl and having discussions on good practice and ways in which we can improve, where in a lot of cases making simple changes could make all the difference, was very helpful. As part of the audit we also received a report of findings and an action plan which we will be using going forward to improve and fine tune how we manage GDPR in our organisation.

Having the report and the action plan and visually seeing where we are doing well, where things can be improved and where we are not compliant has ensured that we have all the tools we need to develop and perfect our approach to managing GDPR. The tracker on the action plan is also extremely beneficial as reference point for the future as we work towards evidencing full compliance in the areas where Sheryl has made recommendations. We received a very good service and would definitely utilise this again.

Anoushka Babapulle


9“A big ‘thank you‘ to Sheryl at Shard Business Services for the support you have provided our school. From enabling us to understand the requirements of the Academies Financial Handbook, to supporting our school business management function and conducting a detailed assessment of our deployment of school finances and resources, we have found your services to be extremely beneficial. The expert advice and knowledge provided by Shard has been invaluable in enabling us to further understand the use of financial benchmarks in order to ensure financial efficiency. Thank you

Haroon Asgarh


Sheryl worked with us in October 2020 to deliver training on the Integrated Curriculum Financial Planning process, tailoring her approach to our specific needs. Sheryl’s session was clearly presented and professionally delivered, ensuring that our finance professionals attending the training increased their knowledge in this particular area of school and academy finance.

Sheryl is extremely knowledgeable in this area and her session was presented in way that enabled our staff to gain from her experience and skill whilst taking care to check that the understanding of our employees was secure by the end of her training. All communications with Sheryl were promptly and professionally responded to and I would not hesitate to recommend Sheryl as a trainer for other services across the UK.

Martin Oswick


Sheryl supported Trust Governance Professionals to develop a bespoke database for our national training and development programme for academy governance professionals.

Sheryl created the database to fit our needs, to improve our processes in a way that was automated and functional, but also enabled us to keep the personal touch in our approach to communications with the group. She was responsive to queries and provided tailored training to help us get the new system up and running. The database will save us significant time on business and finance administration, streamlining our business practices and freeing up time to focus on working directly with members of the Trust Governance Insight programme. We would not hesitate to recommend Sheryl.

Anna Machin


I have known Sheryl now for many years now, as a fellow Business Manager and as a Consultant in her own right, and have always received outstanding advice and service. She has greatly assisted me with all aspects of a full HR service historically, and now is a tremendous support in her current consultancy role. Sheryl is extremely knowledgeable and very dedicated, particularly highlighted recently during the COVID issues by supporting our internal scrutiny whilst maintaining social distancing.  

Sheryl is exceptionally reliable and are often readily available, even at times outside our normal contracted hours. She carries out her role professionally and efficiently and her business knowledge is second to none. Over the years, I have found her advice absolutely invaluable. 

Sheryl is highly professional and delivers her service in an efficient and effective manner, whilst maintaining a very friendly and approachable outlook. Whilst having already agreed and renewed her role for the next twelve months, I am already considering other aspects of my job in which I feel Sheryl will be able to offer more support. 

I would strongly recommend Shard Business Services to any organisation without demur

David Brookes


‘Sheryl has completely transformed our school finances and HR systems.She has supported and trained staff, responded to questions from governors and the LA about the current budget and future projections, liaised with all relevant agencies as required and has kept the chair of governors and I updated every step of the way. 

She has provided clarity and streamlined procedures to support the school moving forward and her determination and attention to detail is unparalleled.’

Andrea Garcha


We are delighted with the service we have received from Shard Business Services since we began working with them. Sheryl is friendly and approachable and has a unique understanding of school business management and particularly financial compliance and accountability. The service was prompt and efficient and we have felt confident in the advice provided, which was delivered in a clear and understandable manner despite the complexities involved.We would have no hesitation in recommending Shard Business Services to any future potential clients.

Becky Foxton


Trust Governance Insight engaged Sheryl to prepare a training session for our network of 50+ academy trust governance professionals on the topic of board oversight of trust finances during Covid-19. Sheryl took a wide-ranging and complex topic and distilled it down into a presentation and Q&A that received fantastic feedback from our participants. Sheryl’s up-to-the-minute knowledge of academy finances and useful resources made the session unique.

Emma Perkin


Your initial assignment with ACE Schools MAT from the ESFA, was looking at our financial processes at forecasts. That’s where your unique qualities really showed through.  Over a very short period you understood the position the Trust was in, but also saw and commented on the massive turnaround particularly in the finance department achieved in a few months.  You also looked at the short-term recovery plans and made some very helpful suggestions. Your insights were such that I approached the ESFA to see whether they would specifically fund some more of your time to enable an independent financial report for our Board and the ESFA on our recovery plans, rather than find a contractor to provide this advice.  

I’m delighted that not only have they found some initial funding but have also extended that tranche.  Both my team and I are looking forward to showing you how far we’ve come and learn from you for our future development.  If you hadn’t been available, we would have sought an agency solution!  

Gavin Gracie


Sheryl Cardwell is employed at the Dunstone Education Trust as a Consultant Business Director. Her knowledge of all aspects of the business functions of educational trusts, academies and schools is excellent. All aspects of her work demonstrate attention to detail and flawless execution. The volume of work produced in the time allocated is impressive. 

I can highly recommend Sheryl to provide business services to the education sector. Her interpersonal skills are strong and she is efficient and hardworking.

Joan Dean


I have worked with Shard Business Services on a number of occasions and each time have found the level of knowledge, expertise and support second to none

Lesley Taylor