Lorrayne Hughes – CEO

Lorrayne is the Chief Executive of Cumbria Education Trust, the county’s largest multi-academy school trust.

Lorrayne took up her first Headship at William Howard School in Brampton in 2007 and in 2014 was commissioned by the Local Authority to bring about rapid improvement in two special measures schools in Workington. One of the schools was removed from Special Measures within 20 weeks.

She has led CET since inception to its current position where it is responsible for the education of more than 4,000 children across three secondary schools, eight primaries and West Coast Sixth Form.

Lorrayne passionately believes in inclusion and that all young people deserve a high-quality education. Children are firmly at the heart of all her strategic decision-making.
All schools work closely together following Lorrayne’s lead that collaboration can make a difference to all involved, from pupils and students to staff and their communities.

Lorrayne is a board member of the Confederation of School Trusts, the sector body for school trusts.

Mark Bedford – Head of West Coast Sixth Form and Workington Academy

Mark has been the Deputy Headteacher of Workington Academy since 2015, prior to this he worked as a middle and senior leader at William Howard School. He is an experienced Science teacher and has worked in schools in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Cumbria.

Mark has significant experience in post 16 education, built up over 25 years working in leadership roles in a variety of Sixth Forms.

Des Bird – Director of Secondary Education and Executive Headteacher, Workington Academy

Des has been Headteacher of Workington Academy since 2018. Workington is his second headship, and he has over 13 years senior leadership experience across 4 schools in Cumbria and in Greater Manchester.

Des has chaired a local Headteacher’s association, and is a Member of Ofsted’s Headteacher’s reference group.

Lisa Bland – CET Headteacher – Petteril Bank School

After completing a History degree in Birmingham, Lisa started her teaching career in a small school just outside Carlisle. Over the next 10 years she predominately taught children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 but over the last decade has been in Key Stage 2

Lisa joined the Trust in 2017 when she was the Assistant Head at Yanwath School. She has always had a passion for helping and supporting those children who are disadvantaged and her main responsibilities have been for Special needs, pastoral care and safeguarding. However, she is passionate about all children developing a love of reading and that they are given a curriculum which is exciting and enriching.

Born and bred in Cumbria, when travelling back from Birmingham always felt like she was ‘home’ when driving past Tebay. Over 20 years later when offered the post as head there she knew she was ‘home’ and this was the job for her.

In her spare time Lisa loves to be in the outdoors, either running at Parkrun with her children on a Saturday morning, training for marathons, swimming or walking the Wainwrights.

Gemma Brierley – Interim Executive Headteacher, Yewdale and Newtown Primary Schools

After completing a BA (Hons) Primary Education in Newcastle, Gemma began her teaching career at a large primary school in South East London. Over the next twenty years Gemma taught across 3 other schools in Kent, including serving as a Headteacher for the last five years in school that was transformed under her leadership.

Following her family’s relocation to Cumbria in October 2020 Gemma joined CET in November as the Headteacher of Yewdale Primary School.

Anna Carroll – Head of School, Castle Carrock Primary Schools

Anna relocated from Suffolk to attend University in Carlisle. After falling in love with the beautiful countryside she decided to stay and began her career in Haltwhistle. Anna then worked at Yewdale Primary School prior to it joining CET and has since progressed in her career with a Deputy Head role at Caldew Lea and presently as Head of School at Castle Carrock. Anna passionately believes in providing a broad and balanced education, which recognises and celebrates the talents of each child enabling them to grow in confidence, develop a sense of responsibility and achieve their full potential. Whilst not at work, Anna enjoys spending time with her three young children.

Sarah Davies – Head of School, Yanwath Primary School

Sarah Davies has had a rich and varied career in education including two years’ teaching experience in Australia and a further eleven years’ experience teaching and leading in primary settings across a diverse range of schools in London, Sheffield and Cumbria. As a Specialist Leader in Education, Sarah has worked collaboratively with numerous multi-academy trusts to improve outcomes for all children through effective mentoring and strategic leadership. She believes strongly that each child should be given every opportunity to reach their full potential.

Faye Eldon – Headteacher, Hensingham Primary School

Faye has had the privilege of working with many children in West Cumbrian Schools for the past 14 years. During this time, she gained extensive experience as a classroom teacher, progressing to Assistant Head, Acting Head and now the Headteacher of Hensingham Primary School. She has a passion for maths and has been a Primary Mastery Specialist and worked for the North North West Maths Hub. She is now a Professional Development Lead for the NCETM, and has worked with many schools in the area.

As a former pupil at Hensingham Infant and Junior Schools she understand the needs and strengths of the community and feels very fortunate to be able to lead the next generation of lifelong learners.

Cate Floyd – Interim Executive Principal and Executive Headteacher at Yanwath & Tebay Primary Schools

After 12 years in education, working across the country in a variety of settings and alongside national bodies such as the North North West Maths Hub, Cate moved from Accrington to join the CET leadership team to take on her first headship at Longtown Primary School in 2017. She believes that all children are entitled to the very best education and working within a school improvement model to develop and sustain change, change that is for the better and not just reactive, is important to her.

After successfully securing their first Good judgment at Longtown, she have moved into her second headship within the Trust, at Yanwath Primary School ensuring that they, as a leadership team, continue to provide a sustainable school improvement model where children and staffs mental health and wellbeing are at the heart of all decisions being made.

Chris Kearton – Assistant Headteacher, Workington Academy and CET Director of Improvement –
Raising Standards Lead

Chris has taught maths in Workington since 1997, undertaking a variety of roles in first middle, and then senior leadership. He currently oversees the use of data to drive improvement across the trust, as well as supporting the teaching of maths at Workington Academy.

Sarah Lee – Interim Head of School, Newtown Primary School

Sarah started her teaching career in a school in the south of Carlisle and enjoyed working there so much she stayed for 17 years quickly moving from class teacher to a member of the Senior Leadership Team within 2 years of starting. Throughout her career, Sarah has taught in every year group from Nursery to Year 6 and has led maths, science and other subjects within the school. She later developed her role within the extended services, helping the school and other organisations work together for the benefit of the pupils, families and the community.

Sarah was seconded from the Local Authority to Newtown School back in 2020 and has worked as part of the leadership team here both with the local authority and latterly with CET when the school was taken over by the academy. She is passionate about making a difference to not only pupils, but to the families and communities she serves as a whole.

Vicky McDowell – Headteacher, Northside Primary School

Vicky’s teaching career began in a primary school near London over twenty years ago and, since then, she has worked in the South and North of England in various teaching and leadership roles. She was also appointed as the first Vice Chair of the Chartered College of Teaching, a national organization created to develop professional standards for teachers. Most recently, she has served as Regional Headteacher of schools in the independent sector across the North-West.

As a parent herself, Vicky is passionate about creating a collaborative working environment where children can grow, develop their self-esteem and the skills fundamental to their education.

Gill Martin – Head of Finance

As an experienced finance professional, Gill leads on all aspects of financial planning, management and reporting, which includes the provision of an effective framework of financial systems, procedures, risk management and internal control.

Gill is committed to delivering a flexible, supportive and experienced central finance service to CET academies whilst supporting the development of comprehensive strategic financial planning arrangements to help secure financial resilience and sustainability of the Trust.

It is essential that the financial resources made available to the Trust are well managed and utilised in the most efficient, effective and economic way that enable the best possible outcomes and achievements Trust wide.

Before joining CET in March 2021, Gill worked in a senior finance leadership role in the charity sector and has over 20 years Internal Audit experience gained within local government.

Chris McAree – Headteacher, William Howard School

A Maths teacher by trade he has a passion for ensuring all students achieve their potential. He has worked at schools from the inner city in Coventry, overseas in Bahrain to numerous schools in Cumbria. He was previously a Headteacher in another Cumbrian standalone academy secondary school before joining CET and WHS.

Sue Newstead – Director Of Learning Provision (& SENCO)

Sue’s work in education began 20 years ago in a city centre school, working with groups with special and additional educational needs. A passion for inclusion and equal opportunity for all children soon led to middle leader, strategic management roles and qualification as a SENCO.

Appointment to the senior leadership team in Cumbria Education Trust as Director of Learning Provision (& SENCO), has afforded Sue the opportunity to develop and lead teams of highly qualified and skilled staff to support and guide children and young people to invest in themselves and their education, aiming for them to genuinely believe that they can ‘be the best they can be’

As a parent and grandparent, she firmly believes that educational provision should be exceptional and aspirational, something we strive to achieve within the Trust.

Jemma Nicholson – Interim Executive Headteacher, Longtown and Castle Carrock Primary Schools

Jemma has always had a passion for education and has over 16 years’ experience working in Cumbrian schools. Her ambition is to ensure that children love school as much as she does, and she enjoys nothing more than thinking of creative and memorable ways to achieve this.
Following her first successful headship, where she received one of the first ‘excellent’ graded SIAMS inspections on the new framework, she has joined the CET leadership team to take on the role of headteacher at Longtown Primary school.
Working with the local community and pupils’ hand in hand is especially important to Jemma, who believes that school is an extension of family and should be a safe, happy and aspirational place to be. She very much looks forward to maintaining Longtown’s high standards following their first ‘Good’ Ofsted, ensuring it flourishes further.
When not in school Jemma can usually be found having fun with family and friends, growing things in her garden or relaxing with a good book!

Nick Polmear – Operations Director

Nick has been with the Trust from the very outset and has been intrinsic in the growth and development of the Trust. Nick was promoted from Infrastructure and Assurance Director to Operations Director in November 2019 and has oversight of all CET Central Services.

Prior to joining the Trust Nick was a member of the Senior Leadership Team at William Howard School and served as the Support Staff Governor for 9 years.

Mhairi Roberts – Interim Head of School, Yewdale Primary School

Mhairi joined the teaching team at Yewdale Primary School in September 2016.  Mhairi was promoted to the Senior Leadership Team and given responsibility for coordinating Special Needs in March 2017, successfully completing the National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination (NASENCO) in May 2019.  Since then, Mhairi has undertaken the role of Assistant Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher and is currently Acting Head of School, a position she feels extremely passionate about.

Mhairi works hard to ensure that children become confident, independent learners and strongly believes that all children should be given the support they need to realise their potential.

Mhairi turned to teaching later in life having travelled the world, raised a family and enjoyed a 17-year career working in industry.

Kerry Rogerson – HR Manager

Kerry Rogerson joined the Trust as Human Resources Manager in July 2020.

An experienced HR professional with over 20 years’ experience she joins the Trust after undertaking a number of senior HR roles within the Public Sector.

Kerry is committed to building an HR team which is principles led, outcome driven and puts people at the centre of the organisation. People are our most valuable resource and as such she is passionate about working alongside key stakeholders to ensure CET attracts, supports and retains a representative mix of people with the right skills, knowledge, potential, behaviours and values who strive to be the best they can be.

Nicola Tweddle – Assistant Headteacher and Leadership Development Lead

After completing a Sport and Exercise Science degree and Secondary PGCE at Loughborough University, Nic moved back home to Cumbria to start her teaching career and has been a part of Workington Academy and Cumbria Education Trust since they were formed in 2015.

As well as teaching PE and Sport Science, Nic has been a Director of Learning at Workington Academy for over seven years, leading on the Academy’s primary liaison and transition programme, which has led to the academy becoming over-subscribed and welcoming record Year 7 students into the academy, year on year.

Nic has been part of Workington Academy’s Senior Leadership Team since 2018 and also joined the CET Leadership Team in 2021, taking responsibility for the trust’s Leadership Development and NPQ programme and overseeing student opportunities and events across CET. Nic is also a part of the CET School Improvement Team.

Nic puts children first in everything that she does and is passionate about inclusion and collaboration; ensuring that every child, regardless of background has every opportunity to succeed – to thrive, to aim high and to achieve their academic and personal potential.

Ayesha Weston – Headteacher, Caldew Lea Primary School

Ayesha has been privileged enough to work in education for twenty years in a variety of quite unique roles. Originally from north of the border, Carlisle has been her adopted home city for over 13 years. She took up her first leadership role in an alternative provision setting, as leader of the primary phase in a local Pupil Referral Unit; she has a long held passion and personal drive to improve the life chances of the most socially and economically disadvantaged children in society. Following this. her first Headship, in contrast, was as Head of a small ‘outstanding’ Church of England Primary Academy, where she spent five years.

Ayesha joined CET in September 2019 as Headteacher of Caldew Lea Primary School. Caldew Lea already has a special place in her heart, as it is not only her local school but also the school in which she completed her teacher training nearly twenty years ago.

The children of Caldew Lea are a constant inspiration and really are the most fantastic children you could wish to work with. They are currently on a rapid improvement journey towards ‘good’, made possible by the support provided by being part of Cumbria Education Trust. She is proud to be a part of a strong, cohesive organisation which truly puts children first.

Chris Wilkins – Director of Primary Education

Chris has been a teacher for over 25 years working in schools in the South East, Midlands and Cumbria including 16 years of headship in three schools. He is fortunate to be in a role within Cumbria Education Trust which enables him to work across a number of primary schools supporting the development of curriculum, teaching and learning and collaborative working.

Helen Wright – Head of School, Tebay Primary School

Nigel Youngman – Headteacher, The Whitehaven Academy

Nigel has extensive leadership experience of raising standards in schools serving coastal and urban communities in Norfolk, Suffolk and East Sussex.

An experienced English and Film teacher, his career began in Pakistan, followed by Birmingham and Bristol.

He lives with his family in Cumbria, and enjoys running very slowly on the fells.