South Pennine Academies

Academy Effectiveness Board

Jane Acklam OBE - Chief Executive (CEO)

Jane is the CEO of South Pennine Academies.  She has considerable experience as a highly successful Headteacher and Principal.  Jane has been a National Leader of Education since 2009, and effectively supported and built capacity in a wide range of schools, locally and regionally.  As the Principal of Moor End Academy, she led them through numerous Ofsted inspections achieving outstanding in 2009 and again in 2012.  Jane has won national awards for her commitment to excellence in the professional development of teachers, and has been awarded a Teaching Award, as Headteacher of the Year. She has a wealth of experience working for the DfE on the Head teacher Board for West Yorkshire and Lancashire and as a Teaching and Leadership Adviser for NCTL.  Jane was awarded an OBE for services to Education in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list.

 Alison Black  - Academy Improvement Lead

Alison is the Academy Improvement Lead for South Pennine Academies. She has thirteen years experience as a headteacher and school improvement adviser and is currently part-time Executive Principal of two Primary Academies in East Oldham. As a headteacher, Alison has successfully led newly sponsored academies to achieve good inspection gradings as well as achieving outstanding in her first headship. Alison leads the Academy Effectiveness Team to work with schools in a range of activities to support school improvement including monitoring effectiveness through data analysis and reviews, supporting self -evaluation, building capacity in leadership and provision of high quality professional development for the whole workforce. 

 James Ashmore - Academy Improvement Advisor

James is an Academy Improvement Advisor for South Pennine Academies and leads on Trust-wide Professional Development. He has spent 11 of the last 17 years teaching Secondary English and has held a number of middle and senior leadership roles, including leading two successful English departments.  In 2012, he became a Specialist Leader of Education and has supported schools in developing English leadership, curriculum, teaching and assessment. He is a trained NPQ facilitator and leads SPA's NPQML and NPQSL programmes in our alliance with Ambition School Leadership.  He has also delivered professional development courses for ASCL and is the co-author of the book, ‘The New Middle Leader’s Handbook’.

Darren Atkinson - Senior Leader for Educational Standards and Improvement 

Darren is the Senior Leader for Educational Standards and Improvement for South Pennine Academies and has spent 16 years teaching, and leading, in Secondary Schools. In 2016, he became part of the South Pennine Academies' Academy Effectiveness Board.  Darren supports the trust to use data and outcomes more effectively and bring about strategic improvement.  From 2018, Darren will also be working towards his Masters in Research focused around the impact of MATs, which he is due to complete by the end of 2019.   In 2019, he joined Park Lane Academy as Principal and is focused on raising achievement for students and aspirations for the community.

Sarah Cunningham - Primary Improvement Advisor/Deputy Director HHScitt

Sarah is the Primary Improvement Advisor for South Pennine Academies and the Deputy Director of the recently judged as OUTSTANDING Huddersfield Horizon SCITT.  Sarah has been in Primary Education for over 27 years and has worked in Kent, London, Hertfordshire and Kirklees. She has been an EYFS Foundation Stage Lead, both a Key Stage 1 & 2 Lead, and an Assistant Head/Head of School. In schools she has lead Curriculum Planning, Assessment, Literacy and has also been the subject lead for a variety of other foundation curriculum subjects including ICT, RE, Art, DT MfL and PSHCE. In 2012 Sarah was designated a Specialist Leader of Education. Sarah considers the SLE role to be an important and integral consultancy role supporting teachers in their own learning and professional development. She is a SLE for various areas in Primary Education including Literacy, Cross Phase planning, Early Years, Behaviour Management, SEND and Mentoring. She has a teaching certificate in PSHCE and is an English Specialist. 
Sarah has mentored NQTs, coached students through various stages of their teacher training and has delivered regional training for local authorities, Huddersfield University for the BA QTS course, local cluster training groups and in school CPD for whole school training events, NQTs, and Middle Leaders.
‘I chose teaching as a career because I wanted to work with schools in contrasting contexts at the chalk face. I feel strongly that we have a duty of care to enrich children’s lives through carefully planned experiences that encourage autonomy and life skills. We as educators have one chance to get it right and help all children reach their full potential.’
Sarah has also Moderated for Kirklees Local Authority, and is a facilitator for the OLEVI teaching programmes including the Outstanding Teaching Programme Plus+.

Amanda Underhill - Secondary Partner Learning and Teaching Coach

Amanda is a Secondary Partner Learning and Teaching Coach as part of the Academy Effectiveness Team for South Pennine Academies. Before joining the Trust, she spent the first nine years of her career teaching English in various secondary contexts. During this time, Amanda held a number of middle leader and extended senior leadership roles, including leading a successful English department. In 2014, she was designated as a Specialist Leader of Education, supporting schools in developing English curriculum, teaching and assessment. She has experience facilitating various CPD, including the Trust’s NQT and RQT PD programmes, and is a qualified facilitator of the OLEVI ITP, OTP, POC and OTP+ teaching programmes. Amanda also graduated with an MA in Teaching and Learning at Leeds Metropolitan University in June 2013.

Louise Ashmore -  Academy Improvement Advisor

Louise is a School Improvement Advisor for South Pennine Academies. She has led Maths departments in two secondary schools in West Yorkshire and been a Deputy Headteacher responsible for Curriculum and Standards. As a Specialist Leader of Education for Mathematics, Leadership of the Curriculum and Closing the Gap, she supports and develops middle and senior leaders and specialises in the improvement of maths teaching and leadership. Louise led the Round 2 Strategic School Improvement Fund Project to diminish differences for disadvantaged students in maths at primary and secondary phases across the Trust.

Lauren Wilkinson - Associate Learning & Teaching Coach

Lauren is an Associate Learning and Teaching Coach as part of the Academy Effectiveness Team for South Pennine Academies, working along side Amanda Underhill to support the development of Learning and Teaching across the Trust’s secondary academies. Lauren has recently moved from Lancashire, where she studied as a Design & Technology teacher QTS* at Edge Hill University. Lauren began her teaching career at a school in Blackpool, where she stayed for 3 years, before relocating to West Yorkshire in 2017 and securing a role at Moor End Academy. In her first year at the academy, she was promoted to Assistant Subject Leader for Art, Design and Technology. Recently, Lauren has been working closely with the Trust as a coach at Moor End to support and guide staff within their classroom practices. She has delivered various whole school CPD sessions and INSET to the Trust’s secondary academies. This academic year, Lauren will continue to work at Moor End three days a week, whilst working at the Trust for the remaining two.