Learning Accord Multi Academy Trust

Partnership Promoting Excellence

Elm Street, Skelmanthorpe, Huddersfield, HD8 9DZ

01484 863306




Elaine Watson (Ex-Officio)
Experience and background of the Executive Headteacher/CEO

Elaine is CEO & Executive Headteacher of Learning Accord MAT & Executive Headteacher of Yorkshire Anglican Learning and Education Partnership. Elaine has significant experience of leadership within education, and became a National Leader of Education in 2009. Elaine has worked with a wide range of schools in challenging circumstances (in an Ofsted Category or vulnerable) to lead and shape the school improvement process, working with a range of consultants, LA officers and school communities to secure improved outcomes. Elaine is an accredited School Improvement Partner, Professional Partner and carries out Inspections for Ofsted. Elaine has experience of managing and delivering CPD, school to school support and initial teacher training. Elaine has extensive experience of financial management and the effective management of resources to secure best value.

Gillian Hamer
Experience and background of the Chair of Trustees:

Gillian is the Chair of Trustees and current Chair of Governors at Scissett CE Academy. She has extensive experience of governance, recruitment and strategic planning. She is a member of the Executive Board of Yorkshire Anglican Learning and Education Partnership, with direct involvement in overseeing the effective management and delivery. Gillian is a retired senior leader with over 40 years in education as both a primary teacher with music specialism and within senior leadership roles in Kirklees, including experience as a former Deputy Headteacher. Gillian was also a former Acting Headteacher at Rawthorpe Junior School and Carlinghow Princess Royal J & I School. Gillian was formerly appointed to the senior leadership team at Christ Church Academy Kirklees to help the school move forwards following an Ofsted Inspection.

Jen Sloan
Experience and background:

Jen has worked in education for over 20 years, including 11 years in primary headship. She is currently Senior Adviser, for the Anglican Diocese of Leeds, with the brief for Church School Performance. Jen has a proven track record of supporting schools through rapid improvement, developing teaching and learning and improving outcomes for pupils.
Jen was head teacher at Battyeford Primary School in Mirfield until December 2017, leading the school from a judgement of ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ in under two years. Prior to that she was head teacher at Cumberworth First School (2008-2015), taking the school from its previous Ofsted and SIAMS judgments of ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’.

John Knox
Experience and background:

John is an experienced accountant who has experience of human resources policy and legislation, information management, information technology, health and safety, property and corporate governance including risk management. John is an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and Chartered Global Management Accountants. He is an IOSH Health and Safety Trained Practitioner. As Head of Change and Property at the Diocese of Leeds Church of England, John leads a property team providing an estates management services across a diverse property portfolio. Previous experience includes the development of Service Business Plans, including the setting and monitoring of objectives and key performance indicators. In addition, John has developed and implemented a budget strategy based on income growth.

Dorothy Gott
Experience and background:

Dorothy has significant experience within education as an outstanding teacher and Deputy Headteacher. Dorothy has been a highly effective SENCO and has additional qualifications in Special Education Needs and Dyslexia. She has supported Kirklees LA with their PSHE provision. Dorothy has particular expertise within Initial Teacher Training and staff development and has led training at both a local and authority level. Dorothy has significant experience of governance and is currently Chair of Governors at St Aidan’s CE Academy. Dorothy has been a lead governor for recruitment and a key governor on the finance and resources committee. Prior to working within the education sector, Dorothy worked (for over 10 years) as a research chemist in industry; in a pharmacy department of an NHS hospital and in the support services within Higher Education

Julie Bowdidge
Experience and background:

Julie has over 30 years’ experience in Education and Children Services, much of this in senior leadership roles, covering areas such as Leadership and Management, Strategic CPD & ICT, Support Services, Business Planning and Traded Services. This has included working with Headteachers and school leadership teams, unions and professional associations and external organisations such as the National College and local universities. Julie is a Director and lead professional of Collaboratives.co.uk educational consultancy. She has experience of supporting schools, developing partnerships and collaborations, leadership and development programmes, coordination and arrangement of workshops and conferences, deployment of associate staff, in school training and supporting schools with academy conversion. Julie also has substantial experience in school governance. She has had roles as governor, vice chair and chair over a 15-year period.

Janette Skinner
Experience and background:

Janette is Headteacher at Horbury Bridge CE J&I Academy, a standalone church academy in the Diocese of Leeds. In addition to 15 years of Headship, she is experienced in school improvement, working with vulnerable schools and those in challenging circumstances through her roles as Local Authority School Improvement Adviser, Advisory Head and Executive Head. As a National Leader of Education, Janette is committed to system leadership and school-to-school support in order to share effective practice and enable schools to support each other on their continuous journey of development and innovation.

Antoinette Drinkhill
Experience and background:

Antoinette has been involved in education for more than 30 years and remains passionate about securing outstanding learning and achievement for all children. Originally a secondary science teacher at a large secondary school in Wombwell, she became a primary teacher in 1988 and taught in a large town centre school in Barnsley. She was Executive Headteacher of Penistone St John’s VA Primary School (a large 3 form entry 3-11 school) until 2021. Antoinette has experience of acting executive headship in a partnered school, a variety of school to school support placements as LLE, using her own and her school’s staff expertise. As Headteacher of a lead school for School Direct she has had significant involvement in initial teacher training. Antoinette has held strategic level involvement with Local Authority Finance Forums as well as experience of school amalgamation, expansion and buildings construction. In addition, Antoinette has experience of managing a multi-million-pound budget and leading within a complex and large staffing structure. Antoinette has also worked in partnership with a wide range of vulnerable schools, including an Ofsted category, to support leadership and secure improved outcomes. She is an accredited Professional Partner, Consultant Headteacher, LLE and SIAMS Inspector.

Peter Kearney
Experience and background:

Peter is an experienced lawyer and board member with experience in organisational development and HR. He is General Counsel of Twinkl Educational Publishing, an executive coach and board member of a number of charities and organisations including another multi-academy trust. Peter has a wealth of knowledge and understanding of legal, governance and HR expertise to bring to the board in addition to knowledge and understanding of risk management and strategic planning.

Ms Baljit Birring
Experience and background:

Baljit has a successful track record of working at senior levels in Children’s Services leading teams on Equality, Diversity and Raising Achievement of Minority Ethnic pupils and School Leadership & Management. For the last ten years Baljit has been working as an educational consultant working with the DfE, Teaching Schools Council and the LWY Equality & Diversity Hub school to help develop and supporting the implementation of a school-led system and to address the lack of diversity in school leadership. Baljit is the Senior Manager for Equality, Diversity and inclusion- Ofqual.
Baljit has substantial experience of school governance across primary and secondary schools as a governor, vice chair and Director on Trust Boards. Currently she is Chair of Governors (at Farfield Primary and Nursery School) in Bradford, which was a Requires improvement school when she was approached to join the governing body in 2019, under her leadership it is now a Good school. Baljit has continued to develop her skills and expertise and has completed the National Governor’s Association Chair’s Development programme and is currently near completion of the Ofqual Effective Governance level 6 course.


Dr. Richard Noake (representing Diocesan Board of Education)

Diocesan Director of Education Anglican Diocese of Leeds. Head of Theology and Religious Studies and Director of the Centre for Church School Education, York St. John University 2004-2015; Senior Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education and Religious Studies, York St. John University 1993-2004; Head of Department and teacher of RE secondary schools in Middlesbrough 1998-1993. Qualifications: B. Ed; MA; Fellow of the HEA; Visiting Fellow, York St John.

Rt Revd. Jonathan Gibbs

Jonathan was consecrated as Bishop of Huddersfield in York Minster on 17 October 2014. Jonathan was Chair of the House of Clergy in the Diocese of Chester from 2006 and Chair of the Diocesan Clergy Chairs Forum from 2011 to 2014. Formerly a member of the Clergy Discipline Commission and is a member of the General Synod and of the Meissen Commission, linking the Church of England with the Evangelical Church in Germany.

Revd. Nigel Sinclair (representing Diocesan Board of Finance)

Team Rector of Abbeylands Team Ministry. Degree in Public Administration (including 1 year working in a County Council Education Department). MA in Theology and Religious Studies. Experience as a governor in Six Primary Schools and Chaplain at Queen Mary’s School.

Revd. Helen Butler

Helen Butler has worked for 27 years in Primary, Secondary and Special Schools. She was judged an “outstanding” teacher and SENCo by OFSTED. Helen is Kirklees Partnership Manager for the University of the First Age, a national educational charity. She managed the Kirklees Extended Learning Service and was a School Improvement Officer supporting and challenging both Secondary and Primary phase schools. As Extended Schools Remodelling Advisor, Helen represented Kirklees Local Authority at national and regional forums. Helen is a Director and lead professional of Collaboratives.co.uk educational consultancy.