Meet our Executive Leadership Team

Sue Ashton2


 Mrs Susan Ashton, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy CEO

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein

My focus is on the strategic operations of the Trust ensuring that our resources and processes are maintained to enable our schools to give children the best possible outcomes.  Driving the vision for the Trust through maximising the funding we receive and spending effectively to ensure our children have access to the facilities and tools that will enable each of them to “Reveal the Champion Within”. 

Exec HT


 Mr Phil Powell, Executive Head Teacher, Knockhall Primary School

“Read. Travel. Read. Ask. Read. Learn. Read. Connect. Read.” Dr Seuss.

‘Revealing the Champion Within’ - If we are truly to achieve this then our education offer has to be the very best that it can be; but what does that mean? To me, it means that not only will we have designed an inspirational curriculum that captures the minds of learners, but also the minds of the adults who deliver it to our children. It means that we constantly look at ourselves in order to assess whether we could be better meeting the needs of our children. It means that we are never happy, or content with our children’s outcomes, rather we always look to find ways of improving what we do in order to make outcomes better. More than anything however, it means to me that we do this as peers, supporting each other genuinely and with complete focus on our core purpose.

As with every aspect of life at the Woodland Academy Trust, I believe that CAIRS has a vital role to play in the education, accountability and outcomes of our schools. each other the skills and knowledge to help us grow. 

Exec HT Jo Walkden2


Miss Jo Walkden, Executive Head Teacher, Northumberland Heath Primary School

 “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein

 Ever since I was 5 years old, I have always aspired to be a Head Teacher because the Head of my Junior school was inspiring.  He never failed to make children feel that being a well-rounded child was more important than being academic. As I grew up as a child who despised ‘tests’ but loved gymnastics, singing in the school choir and any type of competition, I knew that I wanted to be an educator and I worked tirelessly to achieve my dreams.

I am committed to improving the education of all of the children in my care and I am really excited about my role and the impact that I can now have in changing lives across the Trust.  Having worked in various local authorities and schools, I have been privileged to support rapid improvement in outcomes which has led schools to receive a good Ofsted. 

I believe in working in collaboration with colleagues on the chalk face to ensure the right outcomes for children and hold fast to the vision and values of the Trust in every aspect of my work.  As I work within my new role as Inclusion and Safeguarding lead, I wish to ensure that systems and processes are aligned to enable all staff to know and understand the WAT way and to build on the good systems that are already in place which deliver the best results for the children.  

Exec HT Claire Ingrams


Miss Claire Ingrams, Executive Head Teacher, Willow Bank Primary School

‘You never teach a subject, you always teach a child. You teach children in a way that they will learn, and then things will fall in place for them.’ Dorothy Height, Educator

 Our family of schools have a duty to provide our children with the tools to access their learning, to grow socially and emotionally as well as academically.  Without these tools, the children that pass through the doors of our schools will not have the tools required for the journey that awaits them in their teenage, young adult and adult lives.

These tools come under the guise of a teaching and learning model, which, in turn, allow us to facilitate excellent teaching and learning for our children, giving them the skills that they will need to access their learning as well as support their social and emotional development.

Children should come to school safe in the knowledge that their teachers and adults around them have their best interests at heart, that adults around them know what helps them to learn and what may hinder their learning.  This way the correct provision can be planned.  With all of the tools within the model; it is the aim that children who attend our family of schools will demonstrate that they are motivated and committed to their learning within a positive and caring atmosphere.

Exec HT Julie Carson

Mrs Julie Carson, Executive Head Teacher, Peareswood Primary School

 “If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting. ” Bowie

As a child I loved learning. I still remember my primary school days: specific teachers, subjects and approaches that were used within my school, and which ignited my passion for becoming a life-long learner.

While I remember aspects of my maths and English lessons (normally because I was in trouble for talking!), the areas that I remember most are from the wider curriculum that I was offered. Wondering what delight was being brought in for the ‘nature table’; watching tadpoles develop in to frogs; going on trips to Hadrian’s Wall to support our learning on Romans; accessing a classroom at lunch time so we could practice our rendition of Britain’s Eurovision Song Contest entry for that year………the list is endless. Needless to say, I loved school and all that it had to offer.

That is what I want to recreate for our children across the Trust. I want our children to have the same opportunities that I have had, and that my children have had. For each of them, through our curriculum offer, to find that hidden talent that no one knew they had, and develop it in to a clear strength for their future selves. For each of them to want to be in school every day, excited about that day’s learning.

Yes, maths and English outcomes are highly important so that our children are literate and numerate and can access a whole range of jobs, but just as important is the wider curriculum so our children can thrive in anything they choose to do regardless of their starting points.

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