The Central Team of The GORSE Academies Trust is small, sharply focused and highly impactful. It is led by the Executive Principal Sir John Townsley who, as well as leading all aspects of the trust’s strategic and operational direction, also acts as its Accounting Officer. It is our intention to minimise the level of financial contribution made to our central activities by each academy and it is a priority for the board of the trust to see those contributions reduce over the coming years.

The Executive of the Central Team is made up as follows:

Sir John Townsley

Executive Principal and Accounting Officer

Sir John joined Morley High School as its Headteacher in 2003. Prior to that he was Deputy Headteacher at The King’s School, Pontefract and Prince ...Read More

Sir John Townsley

Executive Principal and Accounting Officer

Sir John joined Morley High School as its Headteacher in 2003. Prior to that he was Deputy Headteacher at The King’s School, Pontefract and Prince Henry’s Grammar School, Otley. Whilst at The King’s School he led a team of teachers who spent a year developing and writing Positive Discipline which is now the dominant behaviour framework across schools in England.

Under his leadership Morley High School was judged as Outstanding in 2009, and then again as The Morley Academy in 2013. In 2007 he led a critical intervention at Rodillian High School which was successful in forming the foundation stone upon which the school has continued to thrive and build. Under the excellent leadership of its now Headteacher, Rodillian Academy is now a Good school with leadership and behaviour rated as Outstanding. In 2009 Sir John was asked to intervene at Farnley Park High School which was at that point in crisis. Under his leadership the school was transformed and it is recognised nationally as the most rapidly improved secondary school in Ofsted terms regarding its movement from Inadequate in 2010 to Outstanding in 2013.

A Lead Ofsted Inspector and a National Leader of Education Sir John is credited with supporting the turn around in performance at Bridlington School, Headlands School and Todmorden High School. Sir John was also a founding member of the Ofqual board and was the chair of the National Headteacher Steering Group for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.

Sir John was honoured for his services to education in the New Year’s Honours list of 2015.

Mark Randall

Director of Primary Education

Mark joined The GORSE Academies Trust as Principal of Hillcrest Academy in March 2015, securing the role of Director of Primary Education in January 2016. ...Read More

Mark Randall

Director of Primary Education

Mark joined The GORSE Academies Trust as Principal of Hillcrest Academy in March 2015, securing the role of Director of Primary Education in January 2016. Prior to this he held the role of Head of School Improvement for Wakefield Council and was instrumental in the significant improvement of the service following an ineffective inspection outcome. During Mark’s time in this role, the proportion of good or better primary schools across the Local Authority increased by 15% and was close to the national average on his departure. Previously Mark was Headteacher of Snapethorpe Primary School and Deputy Headteacher at Seven Hills Primary School in Morley.

Under Mark’s leadership Snapethorpe Primary School was judged to be an Outstanding school in 2013, having been Satisfactory on Mark’s appointment in 2008. In 2012, Mark successfully led the amalgamation Snapethorpe with a local school creating the largest primary school in Wakefield in one of the most deprived areas of the city. Rates of progress across Key Stage 2 placed the school in the 5th percentile nationally.

Mark is designated as a Local Leader of Education and whilst in Wakefield supported several schools as Executive Headteacher; his work was acknowledged by HMI. Mark is a Lead Ofsted inspector of primary schools.

David Craine

Partnership Director: Assessment and Performance

I have been a Physics teacher at the Morley Academy for 21 years and latterly Director of Physical Sciences across our growing Trust. My work ...Read More

David Craine

Partnership Director: Assessment and Performance

I have been a Physics teacher at the Morley Academy for 21 years and latterly Director of Physical Sciences across our growing Trust. My work has involved engaging primary students with scientific investigations and developing the skills of teachers within our Primary Trust academies. Moving into the role of Assessment Director allows me a unique opportunity to use some of the skills I developed at university, including data analysis and the representation of performance trends.

I've also been lucky enough to indulge my passion for the outdoors (mountaineering and climbing) by leading a number of expeditions and trips to the Lakes and Dales, and exposing students to the joys of the natural environment.

Cycling and reading provide a balance to my work.

Helen Townsley

Partnership Director: Teaching

Helen Townsley began her teaching career at Morley High School in September 2001.

As Head of Year 7 and Transition and Transfer her work with primary ...Read More

Helen Townsley

Partnership Director: Teaching

Helen Townsley began her teaching career at Morley High School in September 2001.

As Head of Year 7 and Transition and Transfer her work with primary partners and incoming Year 7 cohorts was referred to as 'exemplary' in the 2009 Outstanding inspection. Her role has evolved in a manner that has enabled her to develop significant pastoral, curriculum and teaching and learning expertise; in a voluntary capacity she jointly led the review and implementation of a new Key Stage 3 curriculum at The Morley Academy and led 'The Learning Challenge' in addition to her substantive role.

Promoted to the position of Assistant Principal, Helen has focused upon 'linking learning', Post 16 and teaching and learning. She was part of the team which intervened at the then Farnley Park High School where she worked in partnership with John Ziltener and Rebekah Taylor to rapidly improve the quality of teaching. Her contribution and impact was highly regarded by both The Morley Academy and The Farnley Academy inspection teams in 2013.

Her current role as Partnership Director of Teaching and Learning sees Helen leading all elements of teaching and learning and CPD partnerships in the primary, secondary and Post 16 phases including the leadership of the Advanced Skills Teacher team. Additionally Helen line manages IT across the Trust and maintains a senior leadership brief at The Morley Academy which includes the line management of English, literacy and mathematics across the curriculum.

Fiona McNally

Partnership Director: Teaching

Fiona McNally joined TGAT in 2015 and is a Director of Teaching across the Trust. She is also a lead Ofsted inspector, regularly leading inspections ...Read More

Fiona McNally

Partnership Director: Teaching

Fiona McNally joined TGAT in 2015 and is a Director of Teaching across the Trust. She is also a lead Ofsted inspector, regularly leading inspections in both primary and secondary schools. Fiona has been a Headteacher of a primary federation of two schools in Bradford, one of which was Outstanding, the other which had been judged to be Inadequate. The latter received a Good judgement in 2012, where leadership and management were judged to be Outstanding as a consequence of the excellent and rapid improvements made.

Fiona has also worked in the secondary sector; she is an MFL specialist, having taught French, Spanish and German for many years and having been Head of Year, Assistant Headteacher overseeing Key Stage 4 and Assistant Headteacher: Director of Sixth Form before becoming senior Deputy Headteacher in a large, successful secondary school in Wakefield.

Judith Shore

Partnership Director: Finance

Judith joined Morley High School as its Finance Manager in 2005. Prior to this she was a Senior Finance Officer for Leeds City Council working ...Read More

Judith Shore

Partnership Director: Finance

Judith joined Morley High School as its Finance Manager in 2005. Prior to this she was a Senior Finance Officer for Leeds City Council working with a range of schools across the city.

Judith has considerable experience in all aspects of educational budget control and has worked with schools in financial difficulty developing robust procedures and financial plans which have ensured long term viability.

The conversion of Morley High School to academy status required her to take on a lead role in this important area of the organisation’s development, this has continued as additional academies have joined the Trust. More recently Judith has played a key role in the delivery of successful Free Schools from application to opening.

As the Trust has expanded Judith has taken on additional responsibilities and now has oversight of a number of areas including Finance, HR, Admissions, Governance, Health & Safety and Project management.

Judith is an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

James Ramsden

Partnership Director: IT

James joined Morley High School in 2009 as an aspiring IT Technician. Through hard work and determination he has progressed rapidly to become Partnership Director ...Read More

James Ramsden

Partnership Director: IT

James joined Morley High School in 2009 as an aspiring IT Technician. Through hard work and determination he has progressed rapidly to become Partnership Director of IT. In his role, James is responsible for the management, direction and leadership of effective IT services across the Trust. Further to this, he plays a pivotal role in the successful management and delivery of major capital projects, including Elliott Hudson College and The Ruth Gorse Academy both of which have benefited from his leadership, knowledge and commitment.

In his years as Partnership Director of IT, James has shown significant impact in a number of other areas, including: transforming the IT team from a reactive support department into a proactive and enabling service, rapidly developing robust IT systems for new academies, and fostering the expansion and development of the wider support teams and services within the Trust.

In partnership with other directors, and through the vision and leadership of Sir John and Principals across the Trust, James continues to champion the development of IT to deliver outstanding results in all aspects of academy life.

Tina Dunderdale

Director: Capital Projects

Tina joined Ryecroft Primary School in 2006 as Business Manager. Prior to that she was a Sales Manager at Debenhams, White Rose. Whilst at Debenhams ...Read More

Tina Dunderdale

Director: Capital Projects

Tina joined Ryecroft Primary School in 2006 as Business Manager. Prior to that she was a Sales Manager at Debenhams, White Rose. Whilst at Debenhams she led a team of 72 staff and successfully met sales targets ranging from £4 - £6 million per annum.

Ryecroft Academy joined The GORSE Academies Trust in 2014 and Tina successfully facilitated the conversion with the help of Trust colleagues. Tina has an experienced business background of team leadership and complex project organisation. Tina’s current work within the Trust has enabled her to foster strong relationships with all stakeholders and to inspire a shared vision amongst others.

Tina joined The GORSE Academies Trust team in April 2016 as Director of Trust Projects. In her role she liaises with Principals on the development, funding and management of projects and works closely with the Director of Finance, Director of Heath & Safety and the Operations Manager to ensure that all projects are delivered within the required timescales and within budget.

Alan Marshall

Director: Health and Safety

Alan Marshall joined The Morley and Farnley Academies as Operations Manager in August 2012 at the end of a very successful 30 year career in ...Read More

Alan Marshall

Director: Health and Safety

Alan Marshall joined The Morley and Farnley Academies as Operations Manager in August 2012 at the end of a very successful 30 year career in the British Army. Having completed an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer in The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) in 1984, Alan served in Germany, Northern Ireland, Kuwait, Iraq, Canada, Denmark and the former Yugoslavia. Throughout this time he gained experience in Managing Health and Safety, Project Management, Construction and Engineering which culminated in him being responsible for 800 military vehicles and 150 staff.

Alan was awarded a Queens Commission into the Royal Engineers in 2005 and took up post managing the careers of soldiers undertaking specialist training. In 2007 he assumed the role of Squadron Quartermaster responsible for the management of logistics, health and safety and equipment care. During this time, Alan organised the deployment to Cyprus to perform a number of construction tasks, including the building of a 500m road, the first built by Royal Engineers in non-conflict situations, for over 30 years. As part of Project Talisman, Alan was instrumental in the development and inception of support for a Route Proving and Clearing capability and was responsible for the logistical move and health and safety of the equipment and personnel to a training Exercise in Jordan and subsequently the deployment of the first Talisman Squadron to Afghanistan in 2010.

Since Alan’s arrival in 2012, he has overseen the development of estates, health and safety and has successfully led in over 30 capital projects across the Trusts estate. Alan has introduced and developed systems to assist individual academies to manage their buildings and estates in a more efficient and cost saving way. Under restructuring, Alan has assumed the role of Director of Health and Safety and will be responsible for the development and implementation of Health and Safety across the Trust in raising awareness of all staff and ensuring that the Trust complies with statutory legislation.

Sally Sharp

Director: Human Resources

Sally joined The GORSE Academies Trust in September 2014 at a time of rapid expansion. Prior to that she worked for 32 years with Leeds ...Read More

Sally Sharp

Director: Human Resources

Sally joined The GORSE Academies Trust in September 2014 at a time of rapid expansion. Prior to that she worked for 32 years with Leeds City Council’s Department of Education, Education Leeds and Leeds Children’s Services.

During her time with Leeds City Council she worked as a HR Schools Business Partner to many schools including The Morley Academy, The Farnley Academy, Bruntcliffe School and Hillcrest Academy. She worked closely with Sir John and his team during critical interventions at Rodillian School in 2007 and Farnley Park High School in 2009.

Sally was the local authority’s lead officer on School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions and responsible for the development and review of the Model Pay Policy, and other HR policies, for schools in Leeds.

Andrew Elliott

Manager: Admissions and Legal

Andrew started working for the Trust’s Governance Unit in 2013. He has previously been a school governor at both Woodkirk High School and Cross Hall ...Read More

Andrew Elliott

Manager: Admissions and Legal

Andrew started working for the Trust’s Governance Unit in 2013. He has previously been a school governor at both Woodkirk High School and Cross Hall Infant School. Andrew brings with him extensive administrative and legal expertise which is invaluable in the ongoing development of the Trust.

Christine Watson

Personal Assistant to the Executive Principal

Christine was appointed by Sir John as Headteacher’s PA at the then Morley High School in February 2004, having worked previously in Early Years, Primary ...Read More

Christine Watson

Personal Assistant to the Executive Principal

Christine was appointed by Sir John as Headteacher’s PA at the then Morley High School in February 2004, having worked previously in Early Years, Primary and Secondary education in Kirklees and Leeds authorities.

Christine’s role expanded considerably to include Office Manager at The Morley Academy until 2012 and latterly as PA to the Executive Principal/Director of Administration for The GORSE Academies Trust.

Her role complements the wide vision of Sir John and his commitment to education and the dissemination of Positive Discipline and his work with other specialist schools, education establishments and Ofsted. Christine liaises extensively with the Principals, senior leaders and governors across the Trust along with other companies and authorities at all levels.