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Inspirit - St Thomas More Teaching School

St Thomas More Teaching School

School Improvement Team and Collaboration

 Here you will find details on our School Improvement Team and SLEs.

School Improvement Team - Professional Experience 

Dr Lorraine Cullen – School Improvement Director and NLE

Lorraine has a background in psychology and early career experience of working with ‘looked after children’.  The depth of understanding and skill set has been used effectively for working with schools in challenging circumstances to develop effective systems to support academic rigor which are underpinned by key principles for wellbeing and inclusion. 

Lorraine’s extensive experience of school improvement began early in her career when working with Westminster LA to support schools with curriculum development and the leadership of this; she has also worked as a Teacher Coach in schools considered to be underperforming.  As a leader in Herefordshire she led a ‘fresh start’ underperforming school to secure high quality provision for children in challenging circumstances.  Formerly, as the Head of a primary organisation in Northamptonshire, the school has, not only consistently, secured academic results in the top 1% in the country, it also served as a model of practice for wellbeing for the Local Authority and, more widely, as a National Support School.

With over thirty years in education, Lorraine has wide experience of supporting and training others.   Under her guidance, all of the schools that she is assigned to show sustainable improvements in provision and standards. She has effective strategies to support Heads in her role as a National Leader of Education and formerly as the CEO of a very successful Teaching School.  Research is a key element of her work and she has engaged in a number of projects to support vulnerable learners. 

Through doctoral study, Lorraine has developed her expertise in leading curriculum change.  She effectively assists schools in developing sustainable practices based on pedagogic principles which secure high levels of engagement and progress for all pupils.  Lorraine has recently, successfully, supported three Ofsted category 4 schools thorough the Tailored Support Programme.  

Lorraine has disseminated practice in China through the work of UNICEF and in Italy and Romania through research for anti-bullying and Including Children Affected by Migration.  She has spoken at a number of conferences including Mindfulness in Schools.  Lorraine currently serves as a Director for School Improvement for the Trust.  Her knowledge of wider perspectives in education is enhanced through working as employee representative for the Office for Students, piloting the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework.

Jayne Clancy – Associate School Improvement Director and LLE

Jayne was the Headteacher of the outstanding Hartwell Primary School for 12 years. During this time the school achieved consistent success, not only academically, but also in the range of broader opportunities offered to all children. Jayne’s mantra in school is “what you expect is what you will get” her school therefore expected the very best in all aspects of school life.  Under leadership the school remained in the top 10% of the highest achieving schools in the country and continue to perform well.

Jayne’s previous experiences include leading in a school with a special provision for children with severe learning difficulties, observing the power of inclusion on a daily basis. She strongly believes that it is our duty as educators to find ways to enable every child to shine. Jayne is therefore passionate about the consideration and use of a wide range of approaches relevant to the individual. Equally, Jayne’s passion extends to ensuring a central place for areas such as the arts and sport within our schools in order to identify and nurture the talents of all our young people.  She has always worked hard to ensure an environment conducive to learning for adults as well as children and she strongly believe that it is our duty as strategic leaders in school to facilitate the growth and development of all staff. Having stepped away from Headship, Jayne continues to use her expertise to help others in their journey to enable staff and children to be the best they can be.

Bernadette Grimley – Director of Teaching Schools and Secondary LLE

Bernie has had the experience of being part of a Leadership Team which took the school to outstanding for 10 years ago. She has remained within the school leading with different responsibilities including Headship and Head of Teaching School until the present day. Within Bedford Borough and the surrounding authorities Bernie has been part of Quality Assurance for both ITT and NQT staff. In running an Appropriate Body she has ensured that there is an innovative and supported structure in place to enter the profession. As a Section 48 Inspector Bernie has led Inspections across the Northampton Diocese and has been instrumental in securing action plans and SEFs with Head Teachers. Training by OFSTED on lesson observations has led to an understanding of the framework to enable secure judgements to be made about the quality of Education. As part of the use of Deep Dives in the Inspection Framework Bernie as introduced a structure between schools to model Peer Review Deep Dives to act as an audit and CPD focus for all schools involved. Bernie has been involved for many years in courses which have introduced good practice in the classroom such as OTP and ITP. In addition bespoke courses in Leadership have enabled change in the professional lives of teachers as well as the outcome changes for schools in RI across Bedford Borough and beyond.

Sarah Meeks – Lead Teacher for Curriculum and Assessment

Sarah has been working in Education for twenty years and has a wealth of experience across the Primary Phase. During this time, she has taken on a variety of roles and has been instrumental in leading improvement and supporting the staff in several school- based initiatives, to ensure the best possible outcomes for pupils.

Her most recent achievements include leading the school in English and promoting the use of visual literacy to aid children in both comprehension of reading and creativity in writing. She also leads on Global Citizenship and has been involved in many projects to develop critical thinking, using a range of subject matter primarily based on the Sustainable Learning Goals.

Sarah promotes the use of Philosophy for Children (P4C) as a tool for supporting language, thinking and questioning and has recently coordinated a cluster of schools, leading training sessions to develop the use of the principles of P4C and explore ways of using a range of texts to develop pupils’ cultural capital and expressive language.

Sarah has extensive experience of Year 2 teaching and assessment and has developed robust systems for managing effective formative assessment throughout and summative at the end of KS1. She has experience in supporting schools through end of Key Stage assessment and leading cluster moderations amongst other teachers across the County.  She has also supported teachers with the transition from KS1 to KS2; this has formed part of her responsibilities as a Specialist Leader of Education, in which she has supported schools with the implementation of effective assessment and in leading curriculum change to incorporate a global dimension to their practice.

Her current leadership priorities involve developing a team to incorporate aspects of inquiry led learning into their curriculum and to share her expertise in the use of formative assessment, which she uses effectively in her own practice.  Sarah has led in a highly successful school setting that maintained standards in the top 5% of school in the country so is aware of strategies to support all pupils, irrespective of their barriers to learning.   Sarah is committed to a pedagogy and practices that enable children to grow as independent learners, evolve their ability to make choices about their learning and in enabling learners to reflect and identify next steps in their learning journey.

Sue Tomalin – Lead Teacher for Reading

Sue Tomalin is the newly appointed Lead Teacher for Reading at Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Academies Trust.  Sue has a track record of successful teaching of all age groups over two decades.  Although she started her teaching career as a biology teacher, Sue became interested in the education of pupils who struggle to learn to read.  She gained a post graduate diploma and MA in Professional Studies in Education and became a specialist assessor and teacher of pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties.  As a member of the Northamptonshire Inclusion Team, Sue has supported the learning of hundreds of struggling literacy learners by training schools to deliver small-step synthetic phonics programmes for those children who could not benefit from Quality First Teaching.

Sue’s proudest achievement, however, has been to train as a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. Research has shown that young children with poor literacy will not reach the expected level when they undertake their Key Stage 2 tests at age 11. The inability to read affects a child's lifetime expectations and those who fail to reach their age-expected attainment early in their schooling will make up the poorest sections of our society in adult life. Sue had the privilege of teaching the lowest attaining six-year olds and accelerating their learning back to the average for their age.  This reset their trajectories so that these children could go on to access the curriculum alongside their peers.  As Teacher Leader for Northamptonshire, Sue trained more than forty teachers to become expert literacy teachers and together several hundred children across Northamptonshire had a life- changing educational experience. 

Sue has continued to support schools in Northamptonshire by training teachers and teaching assistants in research evidenced interventions to accelerate progress in reading for meaning and most recently has had the pleasure of directly working with secondary age pupils who have struggled to reach age expected levels.

Sue is looking forward to the opportunity of working with pupils of the Trust, and particularly with those who need that bit more help to read their way to a better life.  

Nathan Wells - Lead Teacher for Wellbeing

Nathan Wells joins the team as a previous Head of Centre and DSL for a large South London Collegiate. He has a history of championing pastoral care and implementing systems which have a swift and clearly measurable impact. In the last two years the value added results at his college increased by 0.7 following an improvement process he managed from 2017. During this time Nathan also wrote and embedded cross-college strategies relating achievement and attendance which contributed to improved outcomes and resulted in raw attendance at the college increasing by 4% within one year of implementation.

As head of pastoral provision Nathan has rewritten and established a wide range of policies relating to student wellbeing as well as establishing mental health provision following a marked increase in identified issues in students. The mental health provision he established saw a 40% growth in capacity within two years. He also completed research alongside the Who Cares Trust to better provision for Looked After Students in 2015 which resulted in new systems and a sustained increase in retention of Looked After Children by over 25%. 

Throughout his time as pastoral lead he established a new online system of tracking student vulnerability. This resulted in a 60% increase in the identification of vulnerability at the collegiate over a four-year period. He also heavily invested in staff training and the quality of the PSHE provision. He created a differentiated pastoral programme for both level 2 and level 3 students which focussed on wellbeing and student vision. This resulted in a significant and sustained increase of 28% in level 2 to 3 progression at the college and in an 8.1% increase in tutorials graded as good or outstanding within the internal tutorial observation schedule over 4 years.  

Inspirit Teaching School offers a wide variety of training and support packages for schools, governors and external agencies.  Programmes are based on in-depth research and identified best practice. They are delivered by expert practitioners, who have a deep understanding of pedagogy.

Some of the Leadership programmes offer National accreditation, such as the National Qualifications for Senior and Middle Leadership - NPQSL and NPQML. We work with The COLAB Leadership Centre, linked to the University of London, to deliver these programmes.

School-to-school support ranges from supporting a single department to supporting the Senior Leadership in a school. We have Senior Leaders of Education (SLEs) across a wide range of subjects and our National Leader of Education (NLE) is available to conduct Pupil Premium Reviews. The Teaching School is also able to conduct Teaching School reviews.

The School Direct programme, together with the Primary and Secondary SCITT, continue to recruit and show favourable early employment rates.

As an appropriate body, Inspirit registers, supervises, and provides training, as well as quality assuring the assessments of NQTs throughout their first year. The Teaching school offers full support and training to your school mentors.


Mechelle Claxton ST Thomas More School  SENDCo : SLE SEND

Mechelle has been the SENDCO for over 20 years. She has lead the school to OUTSTANDING in its development of the SEND curriculum, provision and progress of SEND students. She has worked alongside colleagues from other schools in auditing the SEND provision and given advice on raising the level of achievement across Primary and Secondary Schools .As a member of the SLT Mechelle has led the school in it’s provision for Visually Impaired and Hearing Impaired students in Bedford Borough. Mechelle has led the school in it’s work as a Brain Injury Awareness School in which she is shaping the awareness of this in school and beyond. Michelle is an SEND Inclusion Expert for Bedford Borough and sits on exclusion panels to ensure the rights of SEND students are represented fairly. More recently Mechelle has commissioned a bespoke building for SEND students at STM which looks to the future of SEND Education. This has been used as a Borough provision for the high quality work done in the school.

Kiran Dosanj: Acting Head of Digital Communications : SLE A Level Teaching and Staff Wellbeing

Kiran is an exceptional classroom practitioner at St Thomas More Secondary School.  Her students speak of her high standards in teaching Media and English. Of particular note is Kiran’s teaching A Level Language which has been a successful subject taught in the school since it’s inception by Kiran. Kiran has worked across neighbouring authorities in raising the standard of A Level provision for the 6th Form as an SLE. In doing this she has consulted collaborated and left staff feeling empowered and with an Action Plan going forward. In addition to her teaching role Kiran is a champion of staff wellbeing. She has set up committees to consult between mangers and staff and has been an excellent communicator of some delicate matters. In this capacity and with her Mentally Healthy Schools Train the Trainer work she has been working with local schools. She has a bright smile an endearing manner and great interpersonal skills, In a difficult situation in a school as an SLE she has much to offer.

Helen Faye Cardinal Newman School Luton : PSHE Leader

Helen is an Assistant Headteacher at Cardinal Newman School in Luton. She is a consummate professional and has leadership integrity. As a teacher of Psychology her results have always been amongst the best in the school. Her real flair though has been in the development of the PSHE curriculum across the school. This was outstanding according to OFSTED. She has worked with other schools in navigating the complexities of arranging lesson plans with a consistent and enduring high standard of student engagement. She has not shied away from difficult areas to confront and discuss as can be seen by the way the curriculum is dynamic and reflective. As an SLE Helen offers the ability to organise and shape the PSHE curriculum so that it is school and phase specific. She will be very much in demand as the new framework for OFSTED develops.

Jude Goodacre – SLE Drama

Jude is an established school leader having had experience of Headship as well as a rich experience of school leadership. She has led courses at Inspirit Teaching School on developing leadership potential. She has used a range of interactive methods to engage staff in self-reflection as a way into leadership. With a background in Drama Jude has motivated hard to reach students and is passionate about active teaching and learning. Her high standards have yielded excellent results in external exams. She is accomplished at developing a coaching culture within a school.              

Aoife Greaves – SLE SEND

Aoife brings a calm assurance into every aspect of her working life. She is a highly skilled SLE who has had impact in raising outcomes for SEND students across a range of Primary settings. Aoife is adept at setting systems into place so there is a strong sense of order and expectation around the provision for SEND children. She has many years of experience in Leadership and with this comes the ability to move situations on. She has skills in managing a Pastoral workload and can foster change in behaviour systems so that models are growth centred rather than punitive. She has worked with Heads and SLT to look at the reliability of current practice to enable change and development.

John Hopkins – SLE safeguarding and Behaviour Management

John is the lead for behaviour and safeguarding for the last 5 years. He is an SLE undertaking regular work with Bedford Borough across the schools in these areas. He is part of the Behaviour and Attendance Panel in Bedford Borough and has been commissioned by the Borough to work on a weekly basis. His forte is very much working with NQTs and giving advice to schools on their behaviour policy. He is knowledgeable about strategies to raise attendance and to promote positive behaviours, he does this through a positive and consistent approach. John is well respected for his approach which demonstrates a coaching model where he works alongside staff in a supportive and affirming way. Our own school has seen the benefits of this approach which he readily shares in CPD sessions.

Tina Hounsome – SLE Primary Maths

Tina has worked consistently across KS2 in raising standards for SATs in her role as KS2 lead. Historically she has secured outcomes which have put her own school at the top end of National Achievement. She has raised standards by the relentless focus on the individual child and her strategies to secure greater depth. Previously the school was St Gregory’s Middle School. It is within this context that she thrived and was able to push standards to a consistent high over time. She is particularly strong in building a school context for success.

Sam Jukes – SLE Data

Sam is a Data Lead for the OLICAT MAT, He has worked within this context initially at St Thomas More School in Bedford. This has afforded him opportunities to build up his skills and to confidently deliver expertise across the phases.

Sam has run courses for the Inspirit Teaching School on understanding data and using data to raise standards in schools. He has designed bespoke tracking systems and enabled there to be supportive and direct conversations on student attainment and progress. He works alongside school Leaders in a respectful and supportive way in which he really secures ambition for the achievement of children.

Thom Jonson – SLE ART and Highly Able

Thom has been HOD for Art for many years. He is able to lead other HODS on the responsibilities of leading as a Middle Leader. He has trained other Middle Leaders and has the expertise to lead others across phase on how to prepare for a Deep Dive in Art as well as being able to show how to monitor and evaluate the strength of a department. He led the NACE AG&T award at St Thomas More School and was part of the CPD input which enabled the school to gain the award.

Becky Lovesey – SLE R.E. and Teaching and Learning

Becky is an SLE who has worked from Inspirit Teaching School. She is an outstanding GCSE RE and A Level Teacher. She has run courses as part of the TS in raising the challenge level in RE. She has an excellent background knowledge in the subject and uses this to deploy her skills to the primary schools to enable more in depth subject knowledge within the subject. As a leader of the school RE Gold Award Becky has worked with other schools in building up evidence for the award, In reality she has used the award as an audit and as part of CPD to secure high standards in this area, As a teacher who has taught across phase Becky has much to offer in building up subject knowledge in this area.

Cat McGee – SLE SEND

Secondary Lincroft School Oakley Bedfordshire SENDCO and Mental Health and Wellbeing

Cat is an experienced SENDCO who has done a great deal to drive the Mental Health and Wellbeing Agenda across the Bedford Schools. She has chaired a Mental Health and Wellbeing Group across Bedford Borough and is a trainer for “Mentally Healthy Schools”. She is able to write her own courses and has worked on Training for Resilience as well as different coaching packages for staff and students. She models a positive attitude and is able to advise and help staff and students who are stuck in modes of behaviour. She is positive and optimistic and has a massive impact on Mental Health initiatives in a wide number of schools.

James Brown Stratton Upper School Biggleswade

James was formally the Head of Science at St Thomas More School. He is a motivational leader who changed the direction of the department during his time at the school. He is a highly skilled teacher with curiosity at the centre of his pedagogy. He is passionate about the outcomes for children and is an excellent middle Leader. He has the ability to lead on using Deep Dives as a way of fostering departmental review and as a way of sharing good practice, he has run courses with Primary school staff in Science teaching at Inspirit Teaching School and the feedback has been very positive.

Gavin Millard – SLE Geography

Gavin is a Geography teacher at St Thomas More he has led the Department at A Level and GCSE to the very best results year on year. Under his leadership the department has grown to it’s strongest in terms of achievement and numbers opting for the subject. He has arranged a raft of extra curricular activities to enrich and sell the subject. He has expertise to share with other teachers and HODs to promote this area. In addition Gavin has worked on a PP initiative in school. He has ideas and ways of reaching out to PP students to promote ambition and to build bridges with others.

Teresa Perry – SLE Textiles/CPD/Teaching and Learning

Teresa is the Head of D and T at St Thomas More School in Bedford. She has honed her skills over a number of years. She is an experienced HOD who has taken part in HOD Peer Reviews as part of the school’s CPD in preparation for the new OFSTED Framework. This has been excellent experience for staff across phase and has enabled Teresa to be in a position where she can offer advice and training on Deep Dives across the phases. Teresa is a highly skilled coach running courses for the National College on Middle Leadership, thus she has had an impact on a wide range of schools giving aspirant Heads of Department the confidence that they need to lead. Teresa is also a mentor for ITT, she is often asked for by name from external providers as she provides a strong learning platform from which new staff into the career can develop their skills.

Seb Sagina – SLE Religious Education

Seb is an experienced teacher of RE, He has effectively led the RE department at Kempston Challenger Academy for many years, He has the ability to monitor and evaluate the work of the department and to train other staff to teach the subject. He has a lot to off in terms of developing expertise to face a Deep Dive from OFSTED, He can coach staff over the longer term on how to build a successful department built on strong pedagogy in the classroom.

Carole Soraghan – SLE History and Teaching and Learning

Carole Soraghan is the Deputy Head at St Thomas More School. She has been involved in Leadership development for many years by leading the Recently Qualified Teacher course and by involvement in Specialist Leadership of Education Courses. She is at heart a history specialist. Previously the Head of Department and in charge of Teaching and Learning at St Thomas More School Carole has a great deal to offer in terms of strengthening middle leadership in schools. She has a strong focus on active teaching and learning and is working to embed the learning initiatives of the Learning Scientists. She has led a great deal of CPD on this and encouraged the leadership of others on this. She has much to give in leading a host of Departments particularly History Departments in the responsibilities of middle leadership

Jane Stringer – Business Management

Formally Finance Manager at Bedford Catholic Schools, now working remotely.

Jane is a Financial manager who is multi skilled. She has managed the TRUST Finance always keeping a calm assurance about spending. She has led courses in the Teaching School on taking responsibility for a budget for HODS as well as Head Teachers. She has given “Surgery Time” to other financial leaders and Trust leads to set up accountability lines. She is opne to working with schools to set up systems.

Alison Symonds – SLE Teaching and Learning and Primary CPD

Alison is a school leader currently at St Joseph and St Gregory’s. She has background in leading early years as well as a rich background in working for the authority as am EAL Advisor across phase. Alison has trained other staff on the “Leading a Mentally Healthy School” programme and is a coach and mentor to many. She is widely sought to support and mentor colleagues from other schools.

Nicolle Millard – SLE MFL

Nicholle is a multi- linguist. Formally a member of staff at St Thomas More School she has worked with other schools in promoting a love of languages. She maintains a coaching method of teaching and learning improvement. She is an outstanding practitioner within the classroom and readily supports others with great sensitivity. At an OFSTED stage where Deep Dives within subject areas are implicit Nicholle has the expertise to coach to success within a Primary and Secondary context.

At Inspirit we offer you the chance to collaborate and learn alongside our highly skilled practitioners. Be part of an outstanding school.