South Pennine Academy

The Members

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.

Prof. Tim Thornton

Tim is a professor of History who studied at New College, Oxford. In 1997 he was awarded the Royal Historical Society's David Berry Prize; in 1999 he was proxime accessit for the Society's Alexander Prize. He was the first scholar based in a new University to win one of the Society's prizes.
Tim has served in a variety of roles at the University of Huddersfield, including a secondment as Head of University Centre Barnsley during 2005-6 and time as Dean of the School of Music, Humanities and Media. He was appointed Pro Vice-chancellor (Teaching and Learning) in October 2008 and then became Deputy Vice-Chancellor in September 2015, being associated with the University’s achievement of Times Higher Education University of the Year and, most recently, Gold status under the UK Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework and the Global Teaching Excellence Award. 

Mr David O'Hara

David is a semi-retired Chartered Accountant and Finance Director who spent most of his career in multinational manufacturing.

 He became a governor at a Huddersfield special school in 2004. In 2015 he was appointed a National Leader of Governance. In that role he has worked with primaries, secondaries, maintained schools, multi-academy trusts, university technical colleges and a further education college.

 David received an excellent state education in Barnsley and is motivated by the drive to give all children the best possible start in life.

Mr Graham Smith

Graham has a BSc from Liverpool University and is a chartered accountant. He is a full-time working director of Mono Fire and Security based in Manchester . He also holds non executive directorships with STEGTA  (Salford and Trafford Engineering Group Training Association), a charity running apprenticeship schemes, and with Oldham Community Power Ltd, who design and fund community owned solar panel schemes for local schools.

Graham has a strong belief in the need for education to nurture routes into both the world of work and into life-long learning.

Ms Denise Kriens

Denise became a Member of South Pennine Academies in June 2021.  She is currently a member of the executive team of the Rodillian Multi Academy Trust (RMAT) in Yorkshire. Her current role is as the Director of HR, Safeguarding and Health & Safety, and she is committed to ensuring that human resources across the RMAT provides the best outcomes for children and young people, in a safe and secure learning environment.

Denise has over 30 years’ experience in the field of HR in education, starting her career supporting schools in Wakefield with WMDC prior to becoming a HR Business Partner supporting Headteachers for Education Leeds and Leeds City Council then moving to work for the RMAT.

Denise has previous experience volunteering as a parent governor at the Pontefract Academies Trust and currently works in close partnership with the Trust Board of the RMAT.

Denise has a BA Hons in Business Administration and is CIPD qualified. She is also a trained Designated Safeguarding Lead, a certified trainer for Safer Recruitment, and a member of the national organisation CAPE (Child Protection in Education).