Leeds West Academy


We are Leeds West Academy

Mr Christian Wilcocks - Principal of Leeds West Academy

Leading a Journey to Outstanding - A message from the Executive Principal

Photo of Annette Hall As we embark on a vibrant summer term, I’d like to share with you the new senior leadership structure at Leeds West Academy. Our dedicated team is comprised of highly-skilled teaching professionals and subject specialists who will be advancing the school forward on its journey to outstanding.

This week, Christian Wilcocks has joined the school as Principal, bringing a wealth of leadership experience in addition to a proven history of rapid school improvement. I worked closely with Christian to transform learning and behaviour at Todmorden High School; taking the school from the bottom 5% of schools nationally, to the top 15% within a three-year period. From 2014, Christian led Colne Valley High School through an equally impressive period of significant cultural change and improvement. Throughout this term you will be hearing directly from Christian as we drive forward our Trust-wide vision, ensuring Leeds West Academy becomes Ofsted-rated as outstanding within three years.

Following his placement as Acting Principal, I am delighted to confirm that Ben Wheeler has commenced his crucial new role as Associate Principal and will be liaising closely with our development partners, The Gorse Academies Trust. Since 2013, Ben has led the implementation of a new Behaviour Policy at Leeds West Academy, created an improved Early Intervention System, introduced the Intensive Support Team and developed our alternative provision through his role in the Secondary Sub Group. He has also worked with the Cluster and the AIP to recruit new staff whilst collaborating with groups to develop relationships between agencies, ensuring effective working partnerships.

Jon Zeb joins the Academy as Senior Vice Principal. As Assistant Principal at Todmorden High School, Jon was a key element in transforming behaviour. In a similar role in Halifax, Jon also helped to ensure the school achieved an outstanding rating by Ofsted in every area of inspection. As Vice Principal within The Gorse Academies Trust, he assisted in the establishment of the country’s largest Free School and most recently, has worked closely with Christian Wilcocks as Vice Principal for Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare at Colne Valley High School.

Richard Chattoe joins us at the end of June as Vice Principal for Teaching & Learning. Richard is a highly experienced Vice Principal joining us from The Gorse Academies Trust, having worked at The Farnley Academy as Associate Senior Leader following his appointment as Director of Sport. Previously, Richard also worked at St Mary’s Menston as a PE Teacher and School Sport Partnership Development Manager.

We will also welcome David Hillary as Vice Principal for Achievement & Outcomes this June. David previously worked at an outstanding school in Doncaster as a Teacher of Science and Head of Year. He secured roles as Assistant Principal and Deputy Principal at Bruntcliffe Academy with responsibility for a number of roles, including Pastoral Care, Curriculum & Timetable, Examinations, Data & Assessment and the implementation of the whole School Discipline Policy. Bruntcliffe Academy has seen many successes over the last few years and has been regarded as the most improved school in Leeds during this period. 

A dynamic company of Assistant Principals are now fully in place, leading in specific fields whilst driving forward wider programmes for progress across the school. Our Assistant Principal for Teaching, Learning & Assessment is James Rand, who secured this crucial role following four prosperous years as Area Team Leader for Humanities.  Danny Bullock is Assistant Principal for Achievement & Outcomes - Key Groups, with a history of improving the behaviour and progress for Year 7 and Year 8 in addition to experience as a very popular Foundation School Leader. Luke Pollard is Assistant Principal for Achievement & Outcomes - Curriculum, Timetabling & Appraisals. Luke has previously worked as Associate Assistant Principal, leading on curriculum development, GCSE options and timetabling. Recently he assumed a broader role leading on data, tracking & KS4 achievement. Driving forward our thriving PSHCE curriculum is Janie Jennings as Assistant Principal for Personal Development, Behaviour & Welfare, creating a positive environment to improve behaviour and attendance, which is vital in promoting the potential of every student. Trevor Lester joins us as Assistant Principal for Data and its wider use across the school, in addition to driving forward standards in his integral role as Director of Mathematics. Trevor has taught Mathematics for 19 years in three schools, including Royds School where he was responsible for coordinating the Gifted and Talented provision and the Aim Higher initiative. As Head of Mathematics at Ryburn Valley High School, Trevor also led the department to produce consistently high results at both GCSE and A-Level.

In a Trust-wide capacity, Sam Pocock will continue to establish excellent standards of classroom practice with beginner teachers (ITT, NQT and RQT) as Assistant Principal for Training & Development. Sam works with the Gorse SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training Programme), allowing trainee teachers to spend more time in our schools to be developed by expert practitioners, in comparison to a solely university-based environment. We have an excellent record of producing an outstanding new generation of teachers through this exciting development pathway.

Directors of English, Mathematics and Science are central to our programme for subject-specific improvement, enhancing core subjects across the curriculum with a focus on outstanding teaching and attainment. I am delighted to confirm that, in addition to Trevor Lester, we will be welcoming Neeta Rai as Director of Science and Aimee Hanson as Director of English in September 2017. Neeta comes from The Outwood Grange Academies Trust and during her time as Associate Director of Science, she has rapidly advanced Outwood Academy Adwick from requires improvement to outstanding. Aimee Hanson joins us from Colne Valley High School with an equally remarkable record of raising teaching standards in addition to momentous progress; ensuring each and every student meets or exceeds their targets in English.

This year, Helen Russell will be advancing STEM as she returns to Science as an Advanced Skills Teacher, establishing firm foundations of improvement prior to Ms Rai’s arrival as subject Director. Fiona McMahon, our present Head of Sixth Form, will be leaving us after securing a new position at Darwen Aldridge Community Academy. In recent years Fiona has forged a growing and vibrant Post-16 provision at SixthForm@LWA, and we wish her the very best in her new role. Finally, Katie Sandham will be focussing on her career in writing, following several incredible years at the Academy, which has included leading a rapidly expanding Foundation School whilst inspiring a generation of students to pursue their own creative careers and higher education.

From teachers to technicians, from the classroom to the canteen; all of our staff share the outstanding ability to raise aspirations, unlock potential and secure the best possible future for the young people of Leeds. For more details about our growing provision of talented and passionate staff, please visit leedswestacademy.org.uk/our-new-staff.

May I take this opportunity to thank the remarkable staff of Leeds West Academy for the unwavering dedication to the young people in our care, in addition to the local community’s ongoing support of our thriving school.

Should you wish to arrange a meeting with any member of the Academy’s senior team, please email Sharon Hinchcliffe, Personal Assistant to the Principal at hinchcliffe.s@whiteroseacademies.org.


Yours faithfully,


Andrew Whitaker
Executive Principal
The White Rose Academies Trust




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