South Pennine Academies

The Trustees

Dr Phil Wheeliker - Chair of the Board - Academy Ambassador Mentor

Phil is a South Yorkshireman by birth and is a former Royal Air Force Logistics Officer who gained active service experience during the Falklands and the First Gulf War. Subsequently he spent many years within a variety of industries, gaining executive experience in general management, training provision and in business rescue and transformation. A business psychologist and psychotherapist, Phil currently runs a thriving international business, based in Wakefield, specialising in management training, corporate and individual performance coaching and in stress and anxiety control. He is a visiting lecturer for Rolls Royce in the UK and both OPEC in the Far East and the Kuwait National Petroleum Corporation in the Middle East, currently coaching their senior executives to cope better with mounting work pressures.

A qualified Financial Accountant and Chartered Logistician, he also holds an MA in Psychotherapy, a DUniv in Corporate Stress Management and an MBA. Recently his expertise was further recognised when he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for Services to Psychotherapy.

Having left school himself at 16 to undertake a Factory Administration Apprenticeship, Phil is keen to ensure that our pupils get the best possible start in life.

Mr Darren Smith

Darren left school at 16 (1986) and started out his working life with completeing an apprenticeship in sheet metal fabrication wth a Slaithwaite based company.

He moved into banking in 1995 working in a customer services call centre for Girobank (then part of Alliance & Leicester, now part of Santander); before eventually moving into an operational role. He moved into the commercial Bank in 2001 and has worked with many sizes of businesses / organisations from owner managed to large national corporates and the public sector. He spent 5 years specialising in the banks healthcare, education and communities team before moving into the banks new agricultural team in 2013.

Following redundancy in 2017 he moved to work as part of Yorkshire banks agricultural team. Here he is responsible for looking after and growing the portfolio of farming clients in the Yorkshire region, helping them develop viable business plans for their farms alongside managing the bank’s lending exposures.

He is passionate about education and helping others achieve their full potential as well as most things rural and outdoors activities. He has been a volunteer with the Friends of Beaumont Park woodland maintenance group for 10+ years and until 2017 was also a charity trustee with the Friends.

Mr Richard Fraser - Academy Ambassador

I became a Trustee to strengthen and advance education for students, families and the local community. I want to play a key role in the transformation of the education system within the Trust and believe that quality and measured education for our students will create innovative and economic success.

I have held a number of senior management roles within the financial services industry over the past 30 years and for the past 6 years have worked as a freelance audit and compliance consultant.

In addition to my career experience, I am also a Trustee of a local charity, the Samaritans as well as being a listening volunteer with them. 

Mr Peter Greenhalgh - Academy Ambassador

Peter was appointed to the Board in October 2017 and was recruited via the Academy Ambassadors programme. He is an Associate Director at Turner & Townsend who are consultants specialising in the built environment. He has worked primarily in civil engineering contracting as an engineer (mining and civil engineering) and as a project manager. He is a chartered civil engineer (CEng MICE) and chartered member of the Institution of Materials, Minerals and Mining (CEng MIMMM), in addition to being a chartered surveyor.     He has a wide breadth of experience across business and project management and has skills including cost analysis, risk management, project management, procurement and health and safety. He is a firm believer in lifelong education and hopes to be able to use his skills for the ultimate benefit of the trust and its students.

Dr Alison Iredale

Dr Iredale is a Course Director with responsibility for the post graduate distance learning provision in the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University.

She has worked in teacher education since 2003 and has research interests in professional knowledge and practice, work based learning, professional learning communities and educational change through technology.

Over her career her experience of teaching and strategic management in the education is wide ranging, having taught in colleges, adult and community learning, and private training providers. She has been a member of a local authority Early Years strategic board and was a parent governor at her children’s primary school.

Her interests range from teacher-learning communities, technology enhanced education and inclusive pedagogies.

Mr Steve Lees - Vice Chair of the Board

Steve was appointed to the Board in October 2017, recruited via the Academy Ambassadors programme. 

An ex-partner of a top 100 law firm, Steve’s career has included senior management roles in a variety of professional services firms covering law, surveying and insurance.  He is currently a director of a software business providing both operational and strategic leadership during its next phase of growth.

Steve has a strong operational background focused on delivering exceptional service through motivated and valued people.  He is a passionate believer in creating the best environment for learning by driving a culture of autonomy, mastery and purpose. 

Having left school at 16 with virtually no formal qualifications, Steve is driven now to help those going through school to make the most of the opportunities provided. 

Mrs Gail Howe

Gail is an experienced secondary teacher and senior leader who has worked in Kirklees throughout her career. Moor End was her first appointment as an English teacher and she worked her way up to senior leadership there after undertaking roles and responsibilities as Head of English, achieving AST (Advanced Skills Teacher) status, Head of Year and Assistant Headteacher.

Her most recent position was that of Associate Headteacher at Holmfirth High School for the last thirteen years. Main areas of responsibility include: standards of teaching, learning and assessment; self-evaluation; performance management; CPD; coaching and mentoring. Gail has also been a staff governor, and a governor at Greenhead College for a number of years.

Gail has a BA Honours degree in English Literature, a Masters in Education degree, NPQH and SLE (Specialist Leader in Education) and LLE (Local Leader of Education) status; she is also an accredited facilitator for the NCTL, and has delivered a range of leadership programmes for teaching school alliances. System leadership, working collaboratively and in partnerships is something that Gail is passionate about, particularly raising standards of teaching and learning across all schools so that all pupils enjoy and achieve as highly as possible.

Gail is now working part-time as an education consultant, predominantly with the West Yorkshire Teaching School Alliance, on a wide and diverse range of school improvement projects.

 Ms Jane Acklam OBE – Chief Executive Officer / Chief Accounting Officer

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.