Paul Armstrong – LAB member – Chair

Career history: 

1977 – 1989: Eskett Quarries Limited
Company Accountant

1989 – Present: Thomas Armstrong (Holdings) Limited
Financial Director & Company Secretary

Key Skills:

  • Strategic thinker
  • Business remodelling
  • Acquisition and disposal management
  • Due diligence
  • Reorganisations and restructures
  • Financial strategy
  • Budgeting and cash flow forecasting
  • Strong negotiator

Previously a member of Interim Executive Board (IEB) for Stainburn and Southfield Schools

Paul firmly and passionately believes that every child should be given the best opportunity possible to gain the key academic and personal skills that will prepare them and serve them well in whatever career path they choose. As a member of the IEB he saw first-hand the drive, dedication, hard work and passion from all the teaching staff to improve both schools and he believes that the new Academy will build on that progress and deliver the kind of education and personal development that will in time lead to the Academy being the school of choice in Workington for young people. Paul would like to play a part in developing that ambition and assist all staff, teaching or support, to deliver that vision.

Paul believes that in his working career he has developed the skills which will be required from the Local Advisory Board and he has a focused, driven approach to deliver them and a natural ability to communicate financial information in a manner in which a non-financial person would understand.

Interests: Golf, keeping fit, reading, gardening.

Kerry Rourke – LAB member – Vice Chair

Kerry has lived in Workington all of her life, she attended Southfield Technology College and Workington Sixth Form Centre.

Kerry lives locally and works in a Training department. She has previously worked as a Cost Engineer, forecasting and estimating costs for projects with multi-million pound annual budgets.

Her current work is focused on work based learning and she is responsible for the analysis, production, delivery and evaluation of tailor-made training packages.

Kerry’s interest in becoming a member of Workington Academy’s Local Advisory Board comes from her strong belief that every child should leave school empowered to mould their own future. School should build a child’s confidence by providing them with an environment to recognise and strengthen their natural abilities while supporting them in tackling their weaknesses. Kerry also feels that everyone should look back on their school days with fondness and not frustration and believe that this is something a local school can offer.

Kerry considers herself to be creative yet pragmatic. And she not afraid of a challenge. She embraces technology and believe it can provide real, individual, student-focused learning that has never before been so accessible. Kerry firmly believes that positive work done now will reap huge benefits in the future.

Margaret Payne – Lead Director

Born and brought up in Northern Ireland, Margaret read Law at Nottingham University before completing her training as a solicitor in Nottinghamshire and London. She has worked in a high street legal aid firm in London before moving to Carlisle in the 1980s. Margaret continues to work as a solicitor in private practice. She established her own practice specialising in crime and mental health law in 1998.

Margaret was a Governor of her daughter’s primary school and then became a Parent Governor when she moved to William Howard School about 16 years ago. When she left for university Margaret stayed on! She has lived through many of the changes in education with the school, and worked with 3 Headteachers in that time. In many ways, joining the Trust Board was a natural progression.

Margaret’s working life brings her into contact with young people who face a range of challenges including difficult family circumstance and mental health issues. That has given her an insight into the many pressures that young people and families face, and the context in which education takes place.

As someone who benefitted from a good state education, Margaret is committed to equality of opportunity for all, so the involvement of the Trust in raising standards and aspirations both at primary and secondary level in Cumbria is a very exciting development in which she feels she is privileged to be involved with.

Lorrayne Hughes – Chief Executive

Lorrayne is the Chief Executive Officer 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.

Des Bird – Director of Secondary Education

Des was born in Gretna, and attended Annan Academy before going on to study Law at University in 1997.

He began his career as a senior leader in schools in 2007, and has worked at this level in three schools in total; each of which was unique and had its own specific challenges. As Assistant Headteacher in a large inner city school in Manchester, Des was in charge of behaviour. In 2009 he moved on to take up the Vice Principal role of the West Lakes Academy in Cumbria, which had been formed a year earlier following the closure of two local schools. Des feels he learned a lot from both of these positions, and both schools underwent rapid improvements in the standard of behaviour, quality of teaching and ultimately achieved good exam results.

In 2014 Des was appointed as Headteacher of Richard Rose Morton in Carlisle, which had recently been placed in special measures. Almost four years later the school has improved immensely, both in terms of Ofsted grading, exam results and popularity in its local community.

Des currently lives in West Cumbria with his wife and an 11 year old daughter.

He is passionate about the impact a good education can have, and is delighted to be Headteacher at Workington Academy.

Mark Bedford – Headteacher, 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.

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.

Stephanie Hughes – LAB member

Stephanie has lived in Workington all her adult life, she has a husband, 2 daughters and a grandson. She enjoys baking, walks, music and family time.

After spending her primary and junior years at Flimby school, Stephanie spent her secondary years at Stainburn.

She currently works in the accounts office for a local joinery firm.

Previously she was a parent governor and fundraiser at a local primary school, until her youngest daughter moved up to Workington Academy.

Stephanie is a member of St Michael’s Church PCC, where she is regularly involved in the organising of community, parish and youth group events.

Stephanie has a strong belief that all children should have the chance to benefit from a good education, with stability, structure and guidance to enable them to gain the strength and confidence to achieve their goals. Having the opportunity to provide support and help make a difference is what has driven her to become a LAB member, where she hopes to work alongside other members to help maintain the fantastic standards at Workington Academy.

Neil McNicholas – LAB member

Marie Steele – Parent LAB member (Safeguarding lead) (subject to DBS clearance)

Marie has lived in Workington most of her life, she enjoys, yoga, walking and socialising with friends. Marie is married with 2 sons.

Marie attended Stainburn school. After leaving school she trained as a Nursery Nurse (NNEB) at West Cumbria College.

Marie has worked for most of her adult life in Education, firstly as a Teaching assistant, supporting children with SEND, then more recently as a Safeguarding and Pastoral Lead. Marie hopes to bring her experience of SEND and Safeguarding to help and support WA LAB, staff and school community. After over 25 years in education Marie has recently left education to pursue a new career and now works for the NHS as a Peer supporter in the Children and Young People Service.

Marie has a passion for SEND particularly ADHD and believes it is vital that all children & young people are supported with their self-esteem, mental health and wellbeing. She believes passionately in the importance of a good education for all, no matter what their ability, ensuring that all young people reach their potential. She is pleased to see a varied curriculum that offers the students development in creativity, arts and sport. Giving them the best opportunity to obtain a greater knowledge of the world of work and life skills.

Marie is looking forward to bringing her skills, enthusiasm and experience to help support the LAB and whole school community to continue to make Workington Academy ‘the best it can be’.

Gemma Dooling – Staff LAB member

Gemma grew up in Whitehaven, completing GCSEs and A-Levels at Whitehaven School before moving to university. After completing BSc, MSc and PhD degrees she worked as a post-doctoral researcher. then returned to Cumbria in 2018 to undertake her PGCE. Gemma joined Workington Academy in 2020 as Teacher of Geography and is now also the Eco-Coordinator, leading the Eco-Committee to win the school Eco-Schools Green Flag status for the first time in 2022.

LAB members in the previous 12 months:

  • Tracy Stainton – 24/08/2022
  • Mark Fryer – 20/03/23

To view the Meeting Attendance Records and Registers of Interest for the Workington Academy Local Advisory Board click the button below.