Specialist Leaders of Education

Barbara Mahoney

Specialism: School business management and financial management


Barbara is an experienced Business Director and senior leader. Barbara states “Within school we are long used to sharing good practice and understand that this can be very beneficial. Greater collaboration with other schools leads to schools finding solutions to their specific needs.”

As a Business Manager, Barbara has first-hand experience of networking in both local authority and academy settings, and she finds it incredibly motivating to work with others and engage in dialogue that challenges and inspires her to find solutions to complex problems.

Karen Goodwin

Specialism: Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) development


As an outstanding teacher, Karen leads the development of Newly Qualified Teachers and second year teachers at John Taylor High School and is involved in the delivery of training on our thriving School Direct (ITT) programme. Karen has guided and supported numerous colleagues new to the profession and the retention of NQTs beyond their initial year far outweighs the national average.

Karen states “I always include up to date thinking on outstanding teaching and learning to support new teachers. NQTs are presented with a range of ideas and strategies that improve the quality of their teaching, thus contributing to improvement across the whole school. Liaising with teachers from other schools or educational experts is both motivating and engaging. I feel networking and collaborating with other schools is a key part of my role.”

Alison Clements

Specialism: Leadership of Continuing Professional Development (CPD)


Alison currently holds the position of Curriculum Area Leader for English at John Taylor High School, and is an experienced leader , outstanding teacher and coach. As well as her senior role within the English department, Alison also leads the delivery of the Improving and Outstanding Teacher Programmes for the National Forest Teaching School as a senior facilitator.

Alison has experience of supporting other schools, observing lessons, coaching colleagues and supporting with recruitment. When asked what motivates her to participate in system leadership, Alison stated “I have a clear strategic view of the latest educational developments and substantial experience over many years of leading on CPD; both at a whole school, subject and partnership level”.

Emma Walker

Specialisms: Leadership of Curriculum; Religious Education; Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) development


Emma, an outstanding practitioner, holds the position of Curriculum Area Leader for Religious Education at John Taylor High School, driving the department forward via rigorous performance management, improvement planning and self-evaluation.

Emma states “I have a firm belief that a collaborative approach is essential to improving and raising standards. I wish to build relationships with other colleagues in order to identify, prioritise and implement innovative, as well as ‘tried and tested’ methods to contribute to the wider whole school agenda and create a network of professional development.”

Simon Markwell

Simon MarkwellSpecialisms: Leadership of Continuing Professional Development (CPD); Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) development and Art & Design

Simon is an outstanding teacher and leader, and has demonstrated this within his work with NQTs, and within the Art & Design department at John Taylor High School. Simon supports the Art department via performance management, improvement planning and self-evaluation. Simon is also co-facilitator on the Improving and Outstanding Teacher Programmes for the Teaching School. Simon states “I am a passionate and reflective practitioner and throughout my teaching I have been committed to critically examining and exploring what constitutes excellence within teaching and learning”.

James Farrell

Specialisms: Information and Communications Technology

James is an outstanding middle leader and has an excellent knowledge and expertise within the area of ICT. James has had a significant impact in his home school of Barnfields Primary, Stafford in both the curriculum and administrative areas of ICT. James states: “I have seen the positive impact that successful system leadership can have on both colleagues and pupils. I have promoted innovation in ICT, developed new working practices and introduced new technologies with the aim of raising the quality of provision and achievement. Through cascading knowledge and innovative ideas to the larger school team, I have been able to empower others and have a wider impact on overall teaching and learning.” James has established ICT networks within the Stafford area and supports other schools with sharing his own good practice.

Jenny Nicholls

Specialisms: History

As an outstanding teacher, Jenny holds the position of Curriculum Area Leader for History at John Taylor High School.  As an experienced leader of a very successful department, she is also a trained facilitator for Middle Leader courses. Jenny has experience supporting other schools as Staffordshire’s former History Advanced Skills teacher and of coaching and mentoring from her time leading the development and induction of Newly Qualified Teachers.  

Jenny states ‘being an SLE is an honor. Helping and inspiring others is very rewarding. Sharing and developing good practice in leaders outside of JTHS can transform schools and the lives and opportunities of children within.’ 


Sarah Higgs

Specialism:  Science

I am keen to develop new links and partnerships with committed science teachers in order to share outstanding practice with the view to drive excellent teaching and learning further still. 


Chris Jackson

Specialisms: Initial Teacher Training and Newly Qualified Teacher Development; Behaviour and Discipline; Attendance

Chris is an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST) for inclusion, a qualified Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) and recently completed the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH).  Christopher has taught in primary, secondary and short stay schools over the past 20 years. He has a passion for “Learning Outside the Classroom” and is successful in securing funding to support inclusive practice. Most recently he was a key part of the team that took Burton Alternative Routes Centre Specialist Sports College from “Special Measures” to “Good” in less than twelve months.

Chris states, “I am a systems thinker with a proven record of improving outcomes for students. My cross phase experience and educational advisory roles contribute to successful liaison and collaboration with colleagues in a wide
range of settings.”


Emma Waller

Specialism:  ITT, NQTs

As a reflective and conscientious teacher who recognises the value and significant impact of highly effective teaching, I believe it is imperative that our NQTs are nurtured, supported and inspired to be outstanding practitioners.  Through continually developing my own practice and through experimenting with new teaching strategies I believe I can ensure our future leaders are highly effective in the classroom.  I am excited by the opportunity to work collaboratively with other leaders to raise the standards of NQT induction and the teaching that takes place in our classrooms everyday.


Ashley Roe

Specialism:  Primary Maths

As an outstanding teacher Ashley leads Mathematics at The Mosley Academy.  Ashley has guided and supported collagues with their mathematics teaching and learning, and has helped the school to achieve results that are consistently above the national average.  She has experience in supporting colleagues both in her own setting and in other, primary settings and finds it incredibly motivating and rewarding to work with others in order to challenge, inspire and raise standards in primary phase mathematics learning.  I passionately believe in a collaborative and supportive approach to improving and raising standards in Mathematics. I enjoy meeting and working with new colleagues in order to identify, plan for, implement and assess methods of learning and teaching that contribute to whole school improvement.


Chrissie Foster

Specialism:  Exam Administration

As examinations officer for John Taylor High School, Chrissie has responsibility for all exams and trial exams held within the school. With almost a decade’s experience in her field, Chrissie has an exceptionally good knowledge of exams and keeps up to date with the constant changes applied by the Awarding Bodies, Department of Education and Joint Council for Qualifications.

Chrissie also organises and facilitates the local Exam Officers meetings between ten local schools, three main Awarding Bodies plus a member of the Entrust team and holds responsibility for the training of new and existing invigilators.

Chrissie is keen to share her experience, knowledge and understanding, and believes that her expertise would be of great benefit to schools in need of exam reform or assistance for new exam officers.


Kelly Ellis

Specialisms : Primary Information and Communication Technology, Assessment, Leadership of the Curriculum, Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) development.

Kelly is an outstanding teacher and Deputy Headteacher across ‘The Forest Federation’ based at Needwood CE Primary School. Kelly delivers courses for a Local Authority and has supported and guided a number of colleagues and schools both locally and abroad in the implementation, development and use of mobile technology to enhance and transform teaching and learning across the curriculum. Within her current role she has taken the lead in developing an approach for assessment without levels across the federation in light of recent Curriculum and Assessment changes.

Kelly states, “I am passionate about providing children with the best possible learning opportunities and know that through support and collaboration with colleagues including teaching students and NQTs we can deliver high quality, engaging learning experiences in our classrooms. As a leader I know only too well the importance of school improvement and how this can be achieved by raising standards and improving teaching and learning through outstanding and innovative practice. As an SLE I look forward to sharing good practice and growing and nurturing leadership skills in others to lead effectively in their own settings.”


If you would like to find out about accessing the support of our SLE’s or applying to become an SLE, please call the National Forest Teaching School on 01283 881079 or email nfts@jths.co.uk with a brief outline of the support you would like to access

If you would like to enquire about becoming an SLE please contact Claire MacDonald at c.macdonald@jths.co.uk or call 01283 881079. Click here to view the SLE application guidance document.