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Westcountry Schools Trust

Westcountry Schools Trust

Westcountry Schools Trust

School Improvement Team


Nat Parnell - Deputy Chief Executive Officer  

Nat started his career as a Maths teacher at Eggbuckland, then worked at South Dartmoor and Camborne Academies. He later became Principal of Northampton Academy with United Learning and progressed to Executive Principal and Regional Director roles. As Regional Director, Nat supervised 17 Secondary Academies, guiding Principals and teams across Manchester, Yorkshire, the Midlands, and Bournemouth.

In September 2023, Nat joined WeST as Deputy CEO. He's dedicated to unlocking potential and removing barriers for disadvantaged students. Nat also champions simplicity in education, advocating a 'Keep It Simple' approach.

Sue Costello - Director of Education  

Sue commenced her teaching career in 1990 as a further education lecturer and leader in County Durham. Sue enjoyed eleven years in this role whilst also having her three sons. In 2001, Sue decided to retrain as a primary school teacher. Whilst studying for a bachelor’s degree, Sue worked as a specialist teaching assistant in two County Durham primary schools, supporting pupils, often with special needs or those with English as an additional language. Sue graduated with an English degree and went on to achieve QTS in 2006.

A varied career in primary school teaching and leadership followed. During this time, Sue was accredited as an Advanced Skills Teacher and supported primary schools, as a member of the local authority school improvement team, to raise standards in English. As Assistant Vice Principal of a hard federation of three schools: a mainstream primary, mainstream secondary and 2-19 through special school, Sue had a wide portfolio of responsibilities, including leading assessment and specialist provision. During this time, Sue completed two Masters’ degrees. The first, an MSc in leadership and organisational change and the second, an MA in education improvement journey of schools across the SW region.

Sue relocated to the southwest in 2012 and took up post as headteacher of a primary school. In addition to this core role, she inspected schools for Ofsted. After several years, Sue joined a large academy trust as Director of Inclusion. This role involved leading a multi-agency inclusion team. During this time, Sue was privileged to become a local leader of education (LLE) and supported the Department for Education, as an inclusion expert, in creating the 2014 revised, statutory assessment tests.

In 2019, Sue was appointed as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors by Ofsted. Sue spent three happy years in this role before joining Westcountry Schools Trust in September 2022 as Director of Education. She also completed a post-graduate diploma in education policy. In addition to her role at WeST, Sue continues her role as a school inspector and undertakes commissioned work for academy trusts locally and nationally. She is also completing a PhD with research into social justice through the University of Plymouth.

Richard Woodland - Director of Safeguarding  

Having studied Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter, Richard spent three years as a voluntary youthworker before completing his PGCE. Alongside developing his teaching of science he completed a Masters degree in Educational Research and took on pastoral, and outdoor education responsibilities before being appointed to a senior leadership team in 2010.

Following ten years in senior leadership, five of them as Headteacher, he was delighted to have the opportunity to join the WeST central team as the Director of Inclusion.

A strong sense of social justice and a desire to create a more inclusive and compassion-focussed education system motivates him on a daily basis as he leads the Trust’s work in safeguarding, attendance, behaviour and inclusion.

Nathan Kemp - School Improvement Lead   

Nathan attended two schools that are now in WeST, Oreston Community Academy and Coombe Dean School. Nathan started his teaching career in Newham, East London. He taught at an outstanding school. In 2012, he was awarded the national teacher of the year. In 2013, he left Newham to return to Plymouth, leaving as an Assistant Head to take up a Deputy Head role, followed by a Headteacher position.

Nathan joined Ofsted in 2017 as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors. He was the South-West leader for Early reading and undertook weekly inspections as well as several survey and pilot inspections during his five-year tenure. Nathan left Ofsted in May 2022 to join WeST. He prides himself on getting to know all our primary schools as well as he can, as well as setting up professional networks and development.

Amy Pearce - Executive Director of Training and Learning  

Following her undergraduate degree as a performing artist with the University of Exeter, Amy completed a PGCE with the University of Worcester. She continued her teaching career into departmental leadership, before moving into senior leadership with responsibility for whole school teaching and learning. During this time, Amy furthered her study with the University of Worchester to gain an MA in Educational Leadership. Amy's love for training and developing others evolved throughout her career, first as a mentor for trainee teachers, to the oversight of the newly qualified teacher programme in her senior leadership roles. This led to her Development Lead role with TeachFirst - supporting Trusts, schools and trainees across the South West, and working closely with Bath Spa University for the delivery of their Masters content before overseeing the national early roll out for the Early Career Framework (ECF) for various teaching school hubs. Amy is thrilled to bring her training and development expertise to WeST, and our wider community. 

Jenni Bindon - Executive Director of MFL 

Jenni’s love of languages led her to read MFL at the University of Essex followed by further study at the University of Cambridge. Having successfully completed her PGCE she continued to achieve an M.Ed in Research Practice.

Her early teaching career saw her teach in Cambridgeshire and Plymouth. She was thrilled to start her role as WeST Lead Practitioner in 2019. The nature of this unique role has enabled her to focus on Teaching and Learning with a particular lens on MFL, as well as contribute to the wider picture of school improvement. 

Lauren Partridge - Lead Practitioner RS & PSHE 

Lauren studied at Cardiff University and has a BA in Religious and Theological Studies and completed her PGCE teaching qualification through Exeter University.  

Lauren has taught in Plymouth and Devon for 8 years. Prior to joining West in 2021, Lauren worked in another school in Plymouth teaching RS and History, before taking up the role of Head of RS, PSHE and History at QE Crediton. She also taught Sociology at KS5. Lauren joined the trust in 2021 in her role as Head of RS at Plymstock School. She continues to do this role alongside her role in WeST. Her other responsibilities have also included being an examiner at both A-level and GCSE for AQA and Eduqas. She has also led Gifted and Talented with a focus on KS4 and KS5.  

Lauren was an RSE Ready mentor for the DfE and supported the training and roll out of the Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education guidance created by the DfE in 2019. She also mentored schools with their implementation of their curriculum.  

Lauren is thoroughly enjoying her WeST role and HoD at Plymstock School and has started to work with primary schools on RE and PSHE.  

Nicola Dowling - Executive Director of Geography 

Nicola commenced her teaching career in the Black Country having completed her PGCE, then MA in Education at the University of the West of England (UWE). Through the experience of being a successful Head of Geography she was fortunate to embark on her first system leadership role as Trust Improvement Leader for a Multi Academy Trust in Stourport.

Nicola was delighted to become a Lead Practitioner for WeST where she is now able to draw on her prior experience to support the scaffolding of even stronger outcomes in the Trust. 

Rachael Boothman - Executive Director of Mathematics  

Rachael started her teaching career as a Teach First participant in Watford, Hertfordshire where she led on KS3 Maths and coaching across the Academy. Rachael then moved to a new free school in Waterloo, Oasis Academy South Bank, where she was Head of Faculty for Maths and Economics and Duke of Edinburgh Manager. Most recently Rachael has been working as a National Lead Practitioner for Maths across the Oasis Community Learning Trust, supporting schools in delivering the OCL Maths curriculum and improving teaching and learning.

Rebecca Bailey - Executive Director of History fgf

Becky started her teaching career studying at Exeter University and achieved a BA in History and the PGCE teaching qualification. Following on from this, Becky has taught in Devon for over 20 years. Prior to joining WeST in 2022, she started her career at Coombeshead Academy in Newton Abbott and progressed from a junior teacher to a Senior Practitioner. Her roles have included Head of Year, Gifted and Talented Lead and Curriculum Team Leader for History, Sociology and Religious Studies. She was the History Curriculum design Lead for Education South West and also became an Examiner and Team Leader for Edexcel.

Becky was also an SLE (Specialist Leader of Education) for SWIFT and established the South West History network which she has led for a number of years, arranging talks and history masterclasses for a large number of teachers. This has enabled her to establish a wide professional network across the South West.

Becky is thoroughly enjoying her WeST role and is also closely working with Primary schools, planning a KS1 curriculum and implementing a new KS2 Humanities curriculum.

Roger Hutchinson - Lead Practitioner in Behaviour & Coaching 

Roger Hutchinson is an experienced teacher of 28 years, qualifying from the University of Exeter with a BA (Ed) Physical Education and Science Degree.  Roger has developed a successful career as an educator working in a number of secondary, tertiary and adult education establishments in Devon.  As someone who leads by example, Roger has continued to develop his own expertise both within and beyond his subject area.  He has taken on roles at middle and senior leadership level, with whole school responsibility in developing Physical Education and Behaviour Management as well as strategies for enrichment and the most able. Roger recently completed an MA in Education in Professional Learning and Coaching and qualified to become an iheart facilitator.

Roger’s current role, involves working across WeST as part of the central change team, specialising in behaviour management and system development. This role creates the freedom to work with Senior Leadership and Behaviour Teams in planning and implementing effective behaviour management processes to address negative behaviour at all levels.  From working strategically with the Senior Leadership Teams, he has been able to support staff to overcome obstacles to effective behaviour strategies, and to provide student-targeted interventions in order to raise awareness and take responsibility for their negative behaviours.  Fundamental to this is Roger’s deep-rooted unconditional regard for the potential of those he works with and for creating an environment where positive behaviours are nurtured and realised.

Scott Davies - Executive Director of English 

Scott began his teaching career at Kingsbridge Community College having completed his BA in English and subsequent PGCE at the University of Exeter. Having experienced several middle leadership roles at KCC, he was appointed English Lead Practitioner for ESW.

In parallel to this, he had long held an interest in the value of evidence-informed approaches to education.  This interest partly found form in him taking on a master’s in English Studies, the dissertation for which – a study of parents’ evenings involving detailed transcription of several hours of talk – will forever stay with him.  This interest became formalised in his appointment as an Evidence Lead for the Research School Network in 2017 and, subsequently, Deputy Director of Kingsbridge Research School.  Varied in nature, these roles have involved the development and delivery of school improvement programmes – primarily literacy, curriculum, and implementation – as well as close collaboration with the EEF in various working groups and as part of the advisory panel for the Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools Guidance Report.  He continues to work closely with both the Research School Network and the EEF as Evidence Lead. Scott joined the WeST School Improvement Team in 2020 as Executive Director of English.

Simon O’Neill - Executive Director of Science 

Simon commenced the role of WeST Lead Practitioner for Science in 2020 and continues to teach Physics at Plymstock School.  Having previously pursued a successful career in the military he completed his teacher training in London.

His current role as lead practitioner for science has him focussing on how science departments across the trust can align their curricula and assessments to improve the analysis of student progress, identify best practice and share successful strategies.