Leadership Team

Meet the Team

Lorrayne Hughes

Chief Executive

Lorrayne has led Cumbria Education Trust (CET) since its inception in 2015. It has grown to be the largest school-based, Multi-Academy Trust in Cumbria, responsible for the education of more than 4,500 children across three secondary schools, ten primary schools and West Coast Sixth Form.

Lorrayne took up her first headship at William Howard School in 2007 and, in 2014, was commissioned to bring about rapid improvement in two schools in special measures that were based in Workington. Workington Academy was the first school to join CET – it is now thriving, oversubscribed, and in 2022, achieved a Good rating from Ofsted.

Lorrayne passionately believes in inclusion and that all young people deserve a high-quality education. Children are at the heart of all her strategic decision-making. Her vision is to enable each young person to reach their potential by providing an innovative and inspiring learning experience for students aged 3 to 18. CET schools work collaboratively and share the same core values – Respect, Responsibility and Resilience – as well as the motto ‘be the best you can be’. Lorrayne is a Board Member of the Confederation of School Trusts.

School Improvement 

Thomas Martell

Director of
Strategic School Improvement

Thomas is responsible for collaborating with colleagues across the Trust to design and evaluate the Trust’s approach to school improvement. 

Thomas ensures key decisions are made by following the best available research and evidence, which is key to rolling out effective School Improvement Plans.

Sue Newstead

Director of

Sue is responsible for developing the provision for vulnerable groups, including SEND, in all Trust schools and via wider collaboration. 

Sue works closely with each school within the Trust to support vulnerable young people, ensuring that the right support is available at all times for individuals.

Chris Kearton

Director of
Improvement - Raising
Standards Lead

Chris has taught Mathematics at Workington Academy since 1997, undertaking a variety of roles – firstly in Middle, and then Senior, Leadership. 

Chris currently oversees the use of data to drive improvement across the Trust, as well as supporting the teaching of Mathematics at Workington Academy.

Nic Tweddle

Student Events and Leadership Development Lead

Nic takes responsibility for the Trust’s Leadership Development, including the implementation of all NPQ programmes. 

Nic also oversees all of the student opportunities and events across the Trust, including events such as Be The Best You Can Be Week and CET Innovate.

Secondary Leaders

Des Bird

Director of

Des is responsible for the School Improvement Framework in our secondary schools and is responsible for ensuring a rigour and focus on this vital area of work, to ensure that our School Improvement Strategy is well designed and implemented effectively in our schools.

As the only National Leader for Education in Cumbria, Des is extremely well-placed to support our schools in our endeavour to achieve year-on-year improvements.

Mark Bedford

Headteacher at

Mark started his career in education as a Science teacher. Previous to becoming Headteacher, Mark was Deputy Headteacher at Workington Academy and, prior to this, worked as a Senior Leader at William Howard School. 

Mark is also the Headteacher of West Coast Sixth Form. He has significant experience in post-16 education, with over 25 years of leadership experience in a variety of sixth forms across England.

Kath Pigdon

Headteacher at
William Howard

Kath is passionate about driving William Howard School to the next stage of its journey. She believes fully in the Trust’s vision and values and works hard to instil this in staff, students and her own children.

Although Kath has over a decade of experience in Senior Leadership, she believes her most valuable lessons in leadership and life have come from competing at the highest level in her chosen sport – canoe slalom.

Nigel Youngman

Headteacher at
The Whitehaven Academy

An experienced English and Film teacher, Nigel’s career began in Pakistan, followed by Birmingham, Bristol and then Cumbria. He has extensive leadership experience in raising standards in both coastal and urban schools.

Most recently, Nigel has been an integral part of the enormous improvement of teaching and learning at The Whitehaven Academy, leading to a first-in-its-history Good Ofsted rating.

Primary Leaders

Matt Butler

Director of Primary Improvement and Professional Development

Matt is responsible for implementing the School Improvement Framework in the Trust’s primary schools and his key area of responsibility focuses on design, specifically designing the blueprint for school improvement.

Matt has a wealth of experience in the sector, having previously led curriculum and subject development.

Cate Floyd


Cate believes that all children are entitled to the very best education and that implementing a strong School Improvement Model in schools to develop and sustain change is crucial. 

Cate ensures that leadership teams have a sustainable model and that the mental health and wellbeing of staff and children are paramount at all times.

Gemma Brierley

Executive Headteacher at Newtown Primary School and Yewdale Primary School

Gemma began her teaching career at a large primary school in London. Over the next 20 years, Gemma taught across 3 schools, including serving as a Headteacher in a school that was transformed under her leadership.

Gemma is now Executive Headteacher at Newtown Primary School and Yewdale Primary School.

Jemma Nicholson

Executive Headteacher at Longtown Primary School and Petteril Bank School

Jemma’s first headship led to her receiving one of the first ‘excellent’ graded SIAMS inspections on the new framework. She is now Executive Headteacher at Longtown Primary School and Petteril Bank School.

Jemma works closely with her pupils and the community, to create a safe and aspirational school environment.

Ayesha Weston

Executive Headteacher at Caldew Lea Primary School and Yanwath Primary School

Ayesha has a long-held passion and personal drive to improve the life chances of the most socially and economically disadvantaged children. 

Ayesha joined CET in September 2019 as Headteacher of Caldew Lea Primary School, which has always had a special place in her heart as it is where she completed her teaching training. She is now Executive Head at Caldew Lea Primary School and Yanwath Primary School. 

Amanda Brotherhood

Headteacher at

Amanda previously worked at Caldew Lea Primary School before taking on a new role as Headteacher of another school in Carlisle.

Bringing experience and passion to Hensingham Primary School is what drives Amanda, as she continues to ensure that staff and pupils can be the best they can be. She thrives off working closely with families and further developing the school as it continues its exciting journey.

Anna Carroll

Headteacher at

Anna has previously worked at Yewdale Primary School, Caldew Lea Primary School and Castle Carrock Primary School, and is now Headteacher at Longtown Primary School.

Anna believes in providing a broad and balanced education, which recognises and celebrates the talents of each child, enabling them to grow in confidence and develop a sense of responsibility – meaning they can achieve their full potential. 

Sarah Davies

Headteacher at

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.

As Headteacher of Yanwath Primary School, Sarah is driven by her strong belief that each child should be given every opportunity to reach their full potential in a thriving environment.

Sarah Lee

Headteacher of
Castle Carrock
Primary School

Sarah has previously worked at Petteril Bank School, Newtown Primary School and Yewdale Primary School and is now the Headteacher of Castle Carrock Primary School.

Sarah is passionate about ensuring that every child is happy at school and reaches their full potential, both academically and through personal development. She works closely with staff, families and the local community, believing that collaboration together is the recipe for success.

Vicky McDowell

Headteacher at
Northside Primary School

Vicky has over 20 years of teaching experience and has also been appointed as the first Vice Chair of the Chartered College of Teaching, a national organisation created to develop professional standards for teachers. 

Vicky is passionate about creating a collaborative working environment, where children can grow their self-esteem and develop the fundamental skills needed for their educational journey.

Mhairi Roberts

Headteacher at
Newtown Primary

Mhairi joined the teaching team at Yewdale Primary School, before becoming Assistant Headteacher, then Deputy Headteacher and Interim Head of School, before becoming Headteacher at Newtown Primary School.

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

Helen Wright

Headteacher at
Tebay Primary

Helen has previously worked at Yanwath Primary School and now has the exciting job of working with the staff, pupils and parents at Tebay Primary School as Headteacher.

Helen has gained a wealth of experience whilst working at CET, in which she has particularly focused on the daily running and growth of a primary school. There are ambitious plans for the schools’ development, as it continues its journey to outstanding.

Central Services

Nick Polmear


Nick has been part of CET since its inception and he leads the Central Services Team, overseeing Business Operations, Estates, Finance, Governance, HR and ICT. He is also the Data Protection, Health and Safety and Safeguarding  Lead.

Prior to his move into education, Nick served in the Royal Air Force for 25 years and held a lead role in Joint Cyber Security Collaborative Exercises, working in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US.

Charlotte Astill

Business Operations Manager

Charlotte manages a wide range of operational aspects throughout the Trust, including administration, marketing and communications, events and a number of compliance areas, including data protection, policies and health and safety.

Charlotte is passionate about driving efficiencies and delivering first-class services, whilst protecting and enhancing the reputation of the Trust, to ensure its continued success.

Gill Martin

Head of

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

Gill is committed to delivering a flexible and supportive central finance service to CET schools,  supporting the development of strategic financial planning arrangements.

Kerry Rogerson


Kerry is an experienced HR professional who joined the Trust after undertaking a number of senior HR roles within the Public Sector.

Kerry is committed to building a team that is principles-led, outcome-driven and puts people at the centre of the organisation. Kerry is passionate about working with key stakeholders to ensure CET attracts, supports and retains a mix of people with the right skills, knowledge and values.