Amanda Nicholson - Chief Executive Officer
As a Headteacher I have led my schools through successive outstanding Ofsted inspections. I took Oakwood Academy through academy conversion in 2012, then opened a 6th Form College and Primary Department. Oakwood Academy was also a National Teaching School and I was the NLE for several years. We have supported schools and teachers across our region and helped bring through the next generation of teachers. I was an Ofsted Inspector between 2018-2019 until I became the CEO of Kings Academy Trust and Executive Principal of Oakwood Academy.
Kassia Academy was re-brokered into our trust in 2020 and we opened a 19-25 provision called the Excel Hub for young adults with disabilities. We applied to the DfE for a Free School and Acorn Academy is due to open in September 2024.
I have worked in education for over 27 years and have worked in a wide variety of settings, across all ages and all abilities. I am committed to ensuring that all young people get the best education possible and we give children the start in life they deserve. I was privileged to be named in the Queens new year’s honours list in 2021 for services to education. It is an honour to serve the most vulnerable children in areas of significant deprivation.
Julie Owen - Deputy CEO
I have 24 years’ experience of working across mainstream, hospital and PRU education settings, as both a teacher and a school governor, having been a PRU Head Teacher for over 10 years.
As a classroom Teacher, my areas of expertise were English and Careers Education. I am currently a Senior Mental Health Lead and have delivered Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses to groups of parents, resulting in significantly enhanced family relationships with consequent improvements in school attendance and academic outcomes.
Having a MSc. in Counselling and Psychotherapy, I am conscious that the three core counselling skills of unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence have value in developing effective working relationships with young people and their parents.
Emotional regulation is immensely important as one aspect of creating optimal learning environments. I oversaw the introduction of therapeutic services to the PRU which, combined with opportunities to develop emotionally and socially, proved successful in complementing academic development, leading to high-quality outcomes for young people.
I am committed to ensuring that all young people in the Kings Academy Trust schools feel safe and listened to, in order that they can thrive and develop as self-motivated, lifelong learners; to achieve this, I am keen to ensure staff wellbeing is supported to facilitate high-quality reflective practice across the Trust.
David Donnelly - Chief Operating Officer
I have worked in special education for over 20 years. Although I have had many different roles within schools, my specialism is in the pastoral care of children and young people and working teachers to support and engage with pupils with complex learning difficulties and disabilities.
Over this time, I have developed and maintained provision within schools to support pupils’ social, emotional, behavioural and mental health needs and put in place, facilities and alternative education programmes for children with complex needs which has enabled these pupils to fully engage in learning and school life.
My current role as COO, involves with closely with the head teachers of the schools within Trust on all operational matters, including, HR, Health & Safety, Project Management, Site Management and ICT.
Jonathan Poole - Chief Finance Officer
I joined Kings Academy Trust as CFO in the summer of 2021, bringing with me a wealth of experience in education finance garnered over a twenty-five year career.
There are several highlights in my background that I believe it is useful to share. I spent the first part of my career providing financial support services to the Grant-Maintained sector (in many ways a precursor to Academies and Multi-Academy Trusts), and I later went on to manage the support services division of this company.
I was then appointed as the Business Manager, and later Finance Director, of a prestigious north-west school (a state sector grammar consistently ranked in the top 10 schools nationally) before being a key part of the team that led the process to convert to Academy status, create a Multi-Academy Trust, and manage the incorporation of a further eight schools into the Trust.
A highlight in the later part of my career has been an 18-month period working as a freelance consultant to open a new school in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The school had a particular remit for improving the quality of Saudi girls’ education, which has historically lagged behind boys’ education, and I was proud that the school opened on time, within budget and effected positive social change.
I am delighted to have joined Kings’ Academy Trust, and I believe the ethos of the Trust echoes my own. I hope that my role in the organisation can help in some small way to improve the outcomes of the young people we serve.
Emma Elsey - Trust Business Manager
I have worked within the education sector since leaving school myself at age 16; completing my AAT qualifications up to level 4, whilst working as a Finance Assistant at a local independent school. After this I joined Kings Academy as Finance Officer 3 years ago. Since joining the Trust I have completed my school business management diploma and hopefully this will enable me to contribute towards ensuring the best education and environment is available for all pupils.
Catherine Mclaughlin - Director of Teaching and Learning
I have worked in education for over 10 years across some of the most challenging areas within Greater Manchester in both primary and secondary settings. After working for a number of years in mainstream education in disadvantaged areas, I turned to teaching children with special educational needs and disabilities at Oakwood Academy. During this time, I continued to learn and grow as an educator. I began supporting the delivery of School Direct training and the Outstanding Teacher Programme and was able to share my knowledge and skills with the next generation of educators.
I progressed within Oakwood Academy through middle leadership as Head of Teaching and Learning in the Foundation Stage. I then became a Senior Leader, moving to Oakwood's enhanced resource for pupils with ASC and SEMH needs, as an Assistant Head and eventually as Head of the provision.
I am so proud of the work I have done enhancing outcomes and life chances for vulnerable young people and now work as Director for Teaching and Learning for Kings Academy Trust, supporting staff across all settings.
Michelle Navin - Director of Safeguarding
I have worked for Oakwood Academy since 2010 and held many positions within this time. I started as a 1.1 worker progressing to Teaching assistant, learning mentor, lead learning mentor and inclusion manager/ Deputy safeguarding lead. I am also the staff governor, representing both staff and pupil voice to all governing bodies.
More recently, alongside my role as Inclusion Manager I have taken up the position of the Director of Trust Safeguarding, working for Kings Academy Trust, overseeing the safeguarding practices and procedures for all trust schools working in collaboration with them to ensure outstanding practice throughout.
From the moment I began my career at Oakwood, I realised my passion for supporting the most vulnerable young people in the community, being an advocate for them and their families to ensure their safety and inclusion, not just within an education environment but for their future lives.
Amanda Ellis - Director of Teaching and Learning
I have worked in both Primary and SEND secondary educational settings over the last fifteen years. During this time, I have held the posts of classroom teaching assistant, classroom teacher, Head of Year, Head of Department, Assistant Headteacher and most recently, Deputy Headteacher for Teaching and Learning at Oakwood Academy. I became an SLE for teaching and learning seven years ago and have supported the development and improvement of teaching and learning internally and externally.
I have experience of coaching and mentoring experienced staff and those new to their role, recently becoming an induction tutor for Early Career Teachers. I also support the delivery of professional sessions for trainee teachers on the Schools Direct program.
I am passionate about SEND and the development of a Curriculum inclusive for all and in raising the bar for SEND pupils to allow them to achieve their full potential within a supportive environment. I believe the best pedagogical approaches are grounded in research and use this research to develop inclusive teaching and learning strategies that promote the best outcomes for our young people.
John Proctor- Trust Data Manager
I have worked in education for over 30 years and have had a varied career working in a variety of settings; schools, colleges, training providers and local authorities.
I am a former senior leader of a large mainstream high school in Wigan and have been Data and Exams Manager at Oakwood Academy since 2016. The move into SEND provision is something that I had always looked for and I am delighted to now have a Trust-wide role and be working with colleagues in the other establishments.
I am passionate about making a difference for all young people but especially for those who need that extra help to succeed.
Lindsay Regan- Director of Behaviour
Lindsay graduated from Salford University with a degree in Visual Arts before qualifying as a Teacher of Art from MMU in 2006. Lindsay enjoyed 10 years of teaching Art as an Assistant Headteacher in a Secondary Mainstream School in Rochdale before relocating and joining the team at Kassia in 2016. Lindsay is passionate about working with the most vulnerable children and strives to improve their life chances through therapeutic care and inclusive education.