Amanda Bennett is the CEO of Great Heights Academy Trust, and a National Leader in Eduction (NLE). She strategically leads a core team of dedicated leaders and managers who run the Trust and mentors current and future leaders across the Trust’s Academies. Amanda supports and guides both Trust academies and others in need of support: using her experience to guide developments and support the delivery of bespoke visions and goals to meet to the evidenced needs of children, parents and staff across a wide range of settings.
Before leading the Trust, during her 14 years as The Greetland Academy’s Headteacher, Amanda led the school from successfully serving its local village to becoming a consistently high-achieving, outstanding school. Moving the school continuously forward included Amanda’s leadership of its conversion to academy status in 2010, one of the first outstanding converters in the region. Having established effective and robust curricular practices, with strong staffing and management structures, Greetland became increasingly able to offer outreach support to other schools. Driven by the school’s desire and preference to be at the forefront of the academic landscape, to lead and benefit from change, Greetland successfully bid to host and run multiple nationally recognised designations: a SCITT (AA Teamworks); a Multi-Academy Trust lead school; a Research School (the Oldham Research School); and an English Hub (now Great Heights English Hub). Further accreditations included Investors in People status, Arts Mark and regional Pupil Premium awards. The academy supported many regional and national initiatives, including the ‘Effective use of Teaching Assistants’ EEF project, RQT targeted support, EYFS projects, Workload initiatives and the Early Career Framework.
Following Greetland’s conversion to academy status Amanda has supported other school leaders and Governors through their academy conversions. Having restructured her own trust’s business model, she has helped to develop governance and accountability structures within other schools and designations. Amanda continues to provide school support and guidance through the trust’s Research School designation within the ‘Opportunity Area’ of Oldham in partnership with the Oldham 6th form College.
Amanda became an NLE in 2013 and a Pupil Premium Reviewer providing audits and support to primary and secondary schools across West Yorkshire. She has been part of cross-regional school support, including in ‘cold spot’ areas and areas of high deprivation. She has worked on several Teaching School projects and provided both additional capacity and due diligence work to other MATs. She has provided school to school support for schools in West Yorkshire and more recently supported schools with the national COVID-19 recovery offer, providing case studies of success for the DfE. Amanda has supported network meetings, conferences and induction events for NLEs. As a member of the ESFA Financial Steering Group she has provided system leadership input to this national strategy group.
In recent years, until July 2021, Amanda supported Teaching Schools across Lancashire and West Yorkshire (LWY), being the representative for LWY on the Teaching School Council (TSC). She created and led an effective regional delivery team to support system leaders and Teaching Schools: managing school to school support processes and providing updates and links to national and local priorities. Amanda continues to support the national School Improvement agenda leading the current Trust and School Improvement Offer (TSIO) across the region matching and monitoring system leaders with schools in need of further support.
The role of CEO is always challenging and ever-changing. Amanda finds inspiration from the positive outcomes achieved by coaching and mentoring stakeholders and partners to reach their full potential and most importantly seeing all trust pupils and staff achieve the same whilst enjoying their time within all of Great Height’s schools.
Amanda was honoured to be awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours list, for her services to education in West Yorkshire, in January 2021.
Jimmy Christian is the Executive Principal of secondary provision and his role is to ensure that the structure and culture of Key Stages; 3, 4 and 5 enables all students and staff to achieve their best. In his role of Executive Principal, Jimmy supports leaders across the secondary academies and Mirfield College whilst also, presently, acting in the role of Principal at The Mirfield Free Grammar.
Prior to taking the role of Executive Principal, Jimmy acted in the role of Interim CEO of The MFG Academies Trust for 17 months. During this time Marsden Junior School secured a ‘Good’ Ofsted judgement, improving from ‘Requires Improvement’ whilst seeing a substantial increase in student numbers at Mirfield College and Colne Valley High School. A key responsibility of this role was managing the transition of The MFG Academies Trust into Great Height Academy Trust.
Jimmy has been the Principal at Colne Valley High School for 6 years. In this time the academy made significant improvements, progressing from an ‘Inadequate’ judgement to receiving a ‘Good’ grade, which is the first time in a 65 year history that the school has been officially recognised with a ‘Good’ judgement. The academy has become a school of choice, and is oversubscribed in all year groups. The academy is now full, having increased student numbers by over 300 during this period.
Prior to being appointed Principal at Colne Valley High School, Jimmy has held various Senior Leadership positions in; Behaviour, Achievement, Inclusion and has been the Designated Safeguarding Lead with previous middle leadership responsibilities in SEND, teaching and learning, pastoral and subject leadership.
Jimmy places students and staff at the centre of everything that he does and is eager to support other schools and organisations. He is the Co-Chairperson of the Kirklees High School Head Teachers forum and Vice Chairperson for Kirklees Education Learning Board. In addition, he chairs Single Point Referral panels to help ensure schools and children are allocated support appropriately. He has experience of being a school and academy governor at Junior, Primary and Secondary provisions.
Dani Worthington is the Director of School Improvement for The Great Heights Trust and ensures that all of our Trust schools have a continuous focus on school improvement and that all leaders have high aspirations and expectations for all pupils. Following a forensic analysis of need in each school she is able to differentiate her approach to the academies improvement at each schools varying stages of the improvement journey. As Executive Principal, and previously Principal, of Carlinghow Academy she has swiftly secured rapid improvement for the school and brought about the necessary changes to ensure a high quality learning offer to the pupils and their families. In her Executive role she continues to provide support to the leadership team in embedding this high quality offer.
Within Dani’s team sits the Research School, English Hub and SCITT. Having these designations and the highly skilled staff who lead in these areas provides the SI team with the capacity to deploy experts in their fields across the Trust and provide a MAT external offer of SI from 2 – 18. The SI team are committed to developing great teachers and using evidence informed professional development to ensure teachers are as good as they can be in what and how they teach.
Dani has a proven track record in school improvement which has seen her designated as a Local Leader of Education and she took her previous school, Moorside Community Primary School, on a journey from ‘at risk of special measures’ (as determined by the LA 2015) to ‘good’ (OFSTED 2017). The schools she has served have been in areas of high social deprivation with up 60% on the pupils eligible for pupil premium funding. Throughout her teaching career she has worked with many children displaying challenging behaviours, complex needs and mental health issues and is passionate about ensuring all children have access to quality professional support and was invited to speak to MPS at the launch of The Child Mental Health Charter on some of these issues. Dani has 8 years’ experience of providing school to school support for schools in Calderdale, Kirklees, Bradford, Oldham and the East Riding of Yorkshire. Dani has also served as the chair of the North Halifax Primary Behaviour and Attendance Collaborative, the chair of the Calderdale Primary Headteachers Association and has been one of the primary representatives on Calderdale’s Children’s Safeguarding board. She currently attends the Kirklees joint working partnership meetings with Academy leaders and CEO’s and is a Trustee for the Time Out Foundation (a charity supporting the education and care for those in the care system and/or on the edge of care services).
Roz Wood-Ives was appointed to the role of Deputy Director of Secondary School Improvement from September 2022. Roz has a proven track record of effective school improvement, both through previous senior leader roles she has held and her most recent position as Head of School at Lightcliffe Academy. Roz joined Lightcliffe Academy as Vice Principal in 2019 following the Ofsted inspection of 2018, in which the school was judged to be ‘inadequate’ in all areas. Roz was appointed as Head of School from September 2020, following a period of turbulence and instability. Roz is exceptionally proud to have successfully led Lightcliffe Academy on an improvement journey out of special measures, both as Vice Principal and subsequently as Head of School, and of the improved outcomes for students in summer 2022.
Prior to working at Lightcliffe Academy, Roz successfully held senior leadership positions in a variety of settings, including Senior Assistant Principal with responsibility for curriculum and qualifications at Appleton Academy; Assistant Director of School Improvement at Bradford College Education Trust and Head of Sixth Form at Rastrick High School. As Head of Sixth Form, Roz led rapid and impactful improvement, resulting in Rastrick Sixth Form being the highest performing non-selective sixth form in Calderdale in 2015.
Roz is truly excited to join the team at Great Heights Academy Trust and is committed to continuously improving the quality of education that the young people in our care receive.
Jayne Firth is the senior leader responsible for the Trust’s corporate and operational functions. Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and serving as an integral member of the MAT Team.
She has lead operational responsibility for strategic management and leadership of business management and planning of the Trust including HR, Estates Management, H&S, Risk Management, Legal Services & Project Management including the delivery of new academy conversions. Supported by her team of HR Manager and Business Support Officers, based at the Trust’s Riverside Mills offices, she undertakes internal audits in the ares of H&S and Safeguarding and ensures efficiencies of contracts and procurement. Jayne plays a key role in upholding, promoting and modelling the vision and values of the Trust at all times and providing a high level of service to stakeholders.
Along with the CEO and CFO Jayne holds termly organisational effectiveness meetings with all Principals to support and guide leaders with compliance and current national initiatives.
Jayne has worked in education for over 20 years and was enrolled on the first pilot of the Certificate of School Business Management for the National College, attaining this in 2004. Jayne has supported over 15 schools in their transfer to Academy status, leading a Carnegie Conference for academy transfer for West Yorkshire head teachers and Chairs of Governors. She also leads our local cluster group and has been a mentor of other SBMs. Jayne is an SLE in Academy Conversion and Academy Administration.
Jayne is very used to supporting schools in her areas of expertise including visioning events with staff and Governors; assisting in pupil premium reviews and tracking; full admin staffing audits as well as H&S whole staff training sessions.
Jayne has been a guest speaker at a regional School Food Trust Seminar to showcase how schools could approach the introduction of the UIFSM Plan and has been a member of a strategic group at the Dept of Health led by the Minister for Health on the Obesity Strategy.
Jayne has secured funding for a number of Condition Improvement Fund bids amounting to over £2.2 million as well as successful bids for Sports England Funding and a number of community grants which have ensured the ongoing improvements to the Trust’s grounds and buildings.
Amanda Rawson is a member of the senior leadership team, reporting to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and is responsible for the strategic management and leadership of all aspects of financial matters within Great Heights Academy Trust.
Amanda, supported by the central Trust Finance Team, leads on the preparation of all returns to the ESFA, DfE and other external stakeholders, including audit. She provides the financial lead to the strategic financial planning process, including: annual budgets, periodic forecasts and funding requirements. She provides overall financial direction within the Trust’s senior leadership team, working with colleagues to ensure financial compliance and policy development across the Trust.
Amanda, along with the central Trust Finance Team, supports Principals and academy staff to make effective use of their financial resources and to provide updates on national initiatives and developments for future planning. In addition, she meets with Principals termly, at Operational Effectiveness meetings, to review financial performance and provide support and challenge.
She has worked within education for seventeen years, having been at The Greetland Academy since 2011. Prior to this, she worked with all phases of education as part of her role in the Halifax Excellence Cluster which supported 26 schools in Calderdale ‘facing challenging circumstances’; she has also been a Bursar in a secondary school.
Nationally, Amanda is part of the ESFA’s Academy Financial and Assurance Steering Group; within this role, Amanda Chairs one of the three Working Groups that report into the Steering Group. The particular focus of the Working Group she Chairs is on financial reporting and assurance. This includes oversight of the production of the Academies Accounts Direction, which all academies and their auditors utilise to produce their Annual Accounts.
Amanda is AAT qualified (Association of Accounting Technicians), as well as having successively completed the Certificate of School Business Management via the National College.
Amanda is a designated Specialist Leader of Education. As such, she has been deployed to carry out due diligence checks on schools potentially due to convert to academy status; review the finance operation and structures of a through school; and is regularly utilised to deliver academy peer review external assurance checks, as part of meeting the Academy Trust Handbook requirements. She has previously been commissioned by the local authority to deliver training on academy finance and assurance processes to Calderdale governors, as well as participating in sub-groups to support the work of Schools Forum.
Amanda’s background includes 11 years as a Finance Manager at Marks & Spencer prior to moving into education. She has been a Governor (including Chairing the Curriculum and Standards Committee) for approximately 12 years and was one of the Members of the Academy Trust when Greetland school converted to an academy in 2010. She has also extensive governing body experience via other Calderdale schools, including Special education provision.
Andrew Midgley is an LLE and the Principal of Raynville Academy in Leeds. As Director of Governance Andrew liaises with the COO, CFO and the HR Manager to ensure all areas of the Trust are aware of key information and deadlines to ensure all designations can operate safely, effectively and within legal and financial regulations.
In 2016, Raynville (then Raynville Primary School) was found to be requiring improvement with progress and the attainment of children being below national averages. Andrew reorganised the staffing structure, established new meeting schedules, revised the systems for behaviour and attendance, and focused the senior managers and UPS teachers on relentlessly improving the quality of teaching and learning. This rigorous approach resulted in a successful Ofsted Inspection in December 2017, with Raynville judged to be a strong ‘good’ with an outstanding EYFS. The inspectors noted the increase in attendance, reduction in behaviour issues and significant improvements in results across the school. The results then further improved in 2018 when moderated for EYFS, KS2 writing and at a KS2 SATs moderation by the LA.
Before Raynville, Andrew was seconded from his post of deputy Headteacher in an outstanding school, to become the acting Headteacher of Dean Field Community Primary School, Halifax in 2007. Dean Field was bottom of the league table in Calderdale, had 55 exclusions the previous year and had only 142 children on role. Andrew was made the permanent Headteacher following a successful first year. Within first four years, Ofsted Inspection found Dean Field to be good with outstanding features and by March 2012, Dean Field was in the top 50 primary schools in England for sustained improvement. During Andrew’s headship, there were no exclusions, the school was full, with a waiting list and was hosting training for other schools covering inclusion, pupil premium and governance.
Following these successes at Dean Field, Andrew was asked by the Local Authority to support a three-form entry primary school that had failed its Ofsted inspection. He then became the executive Headteacher at a local primary school that had gone into special measures. He supported the school during its transition to becoming an academy and his effectiveness was recognised in the following Ofsted Inspection report. In 2018, Andrew became an LLE following successful results at Raynville and Ofsted Inspection report.
In December 2019, Andrew supported a ‘Special Measures’ school in Kirklees as Executive headteacher to support their improvement journey and conversion to become an academy. Following this, he was again deployed as an executive headteacher at a school in Calderdale with the same remit.