South Pennine Academies

Academy Effectiveness Team

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  - Director of Standards and Continuous Improvement

Alison is Director of Standards and Continuous Improvement at SPA. She has thirteen years' experience as a headteacher and school improvement adviser and was previously Executive Principal of two of our primary academies in East Oldham. As a headteacher, Alison has successfully led three 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.

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+.

Lee Haughton - Secondary Partner Learning and Teaching Coach

Lee is a Secondary Partner Learning and Teaching Coach for South Pennine Academies. Before joining the Trust, he spent the majority of his career teaching English in various secondary contexts across North Manchester. During this time, Lee held a number of middle leader and extended senior leadership roles, including leading a successful English department and developing Literacy and Oracy across the curriculum. Over the past five years Lee has been a Senior Assistant Headteacher, responsible for Key Stage 4 pupil outcomes, SEND and Closing the Gap between the achievement of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils, believing that no child should miss out on the opportunity to achieve due to circumstances beyond their control. Within his senior leader role, Lee also ensured the support and development of middle leaders, which is something that he is extremely passionate about. 

Lee believes that 'middle Leaders are the engine room of any school. We should always ensure that they are supported in facilitating their vision, in order for their subject, faculty and curriculum to be the best that it can be. This will do nothing but benefit all students.'

 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.