Voyage Headteachers

Sarah Gray

Headteacher, Park Academy

Sarah studied at Lancaster University, which included a year abroad at Wellesley College in Boston, Massachusetts, to gain her BA History (Hons) degree. In 1997 she achieved her PGCE at the University of East Anglia, before teaching in the secondary sector initially, then moving to the primary sector in the year 2000. Sarah has taught pupils from ages 4 to 18, from Reception years to ‘A’ Level. She has been a literacy lead, EYFS and phonics lead, Sendco Head of School at 4 different schools in Lincolnshire – and has a history of working in schools judged by Ofsted as moving from ‘Requiring Improvement’ to ‘Good’. Sarah gained her National Professional Qualification for Headship in 2013. Born and raised in Lincolnshire, Sarah’s career has seen her teach in London, Somerset, Warwickshire, and over the past 16 years in her home county. She is passionate about improving pupils’ life chances – and giving children and staff opportunities.

Jo Bland

Headteacher, Boston Pioneers Academy & Fishtoft Academy

After studying for her Post Graduate Certificate in Education in York, Jo returned to her home county of Lincolnshire and has worked in the education sector there for the last 20 years. In 2003 she was appointed as one of the youngest Advanced Skills Teachers in the country and, alongside her teaching role, provided outreach for other schools in relation to curriculum development and quality first teaching. In 2006 Jo was appointed Head of School at Park Academy and her relentless focus on creating engaging learning opportunities led to her receiving the ‘Judge’s Distinction’ for ‘Primary Teacher of the Year’ award at the National Teaching Awards. Passionate about changing children’s life chances through providing them with an innovative curriculum model, Jo has undertaken research into a variety of cutting-edge instructional strategies, about which she has spoken at regional and national level. In 2013, after leading several local academies to success, Jo orchestrated the opening of Lincolnshire’s first Free School.

Matthew Van Lier

Headteacher, Haven High Academy

Matthew leads an excellent team to support over 1,300 students in achieving their academic potential. Prior to joining the teaching profession he was Managing Director of a large produce company. He has also worked as Retail Manager and Food Buyer for Marks and Spencer, and, after looking for a new challenge, was encouraged by his wife to join the teaching profession. He has a degree in Chemistry from Cardiff University and still loves teaching chemistry to the Triple Science students at Haven High Academy. He has taught science and mathematics in several different schools in Lincolnshire, and his vision to become a Headteacher and make a difference for students was supported by the Future Leaders Trust. Following success in gaining the National Professional Qualification for Headship, Matthew was appointed as the leader of Haven High Academy. The Leadership Team has transformed Haven High into an ‘above average’ academy where students are at the centre of all decisions and their education is the total priority. Matthew is determined to continue the improvement agenda to provide all students with a world class education, with his ethos based around core set values gained in a variety of settings – including the military – and all of which underpin his commitment to high standards and opportunities for all, regardless of background or heritage.

Rachel Hydes

Headteacher, Staniland Academy

Rachel is entering her 20th year as an educator, having started her career as a class teacher with a PE and Science degree. She went on to develop her senior leadership knowledge and became Deputy Head, then Headteacher at Staniland Academy. Rachel’s understanding of the education system and supportive, holistic, approach to headship has enabled her to drive improvements and raise standards. At Staniland, together with the leadership team, she took the school from special measures to the grading of ‘outstanding’. In recent years Rachel has been recruited to support and develop two further schools, with the focus on rapid school improvement and providing stability for growth. Rachel has also become a Local Leader of Education, focusing on driving school improvement and raising standards in the quality of education children receive. She is committed to ensuring all children achieve, with access to high quality education daily, believing the root to success is creating strong relationships between school and family, promoting excellence for all. In any setting that Rachel has worked in it has been recognised that her humour and power of collaboration ensure children have been at the heart of everything she does. She strongly promotes a curriculum that is relevant to the world children live in, and that has authentic outcomes and high expectations for all.

Craig Early

Headteacher, Wygate Park Academy

Craig studied Medicinal & Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Loughborough University before embarking on his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry. Following a spell in Bournemouth as a Sales Executive, Craig moved into teaching after successfully completing his PGCE at the University of East Anglia. His first teaching job involved improving science teaching at a large 3 form entry primary school, taking the school through numerous awards and being recognised as a ‘hub of science excellence’ within the area during his 8 years there. He was awarded Primary Science Teacher of the Year in 2015 and has written numerous primary science materials for websites, such as for the BBC and Teachit Primary. Craig has also written supporting documents for 137 primary resources on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Learn Chemistry platform, and articles for Association of Science Education publications. Craig leads the science vision and implementation across the Trust’s 7 primaries, and is involved in delivering training for ITT students – as well as being an SLE in Science Education for the Teaching School Alliance. He has presented at numerous conferences, as well as delivering CPD through the STEM learning network. Craig sits on the strategic vision group for the Science Learning Partnership in Lincolnshire, as well as being an elected member of the Education Division Council within the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Tom Baxter

Headteacher, Gosberton Academy

Tom joined the Trust in 2008 as a Teaching Assistant, before starting his teacher training while continuing to work at Carlton Road Academy. Upon achieving his qualified teacher status, Tom started working as a class teacher at Carlton Road Academy. In 2015 Tom was appointed Maths Lead at Carlton Road Academy, before the expansion of the Trust in October 2016 saw Tom move to Gosberton Academy as Key Stage 2 and Maths Lead. After two years of working at Gosberton Academy, Tom was appointed as Head of Academy there. Tom is an SLE for Connect Teaching School and has supported a number of schools through the LAMP Project, as well as working alongside the Maths Hub to deliver Bar Model and Manipulatives training.