Leodis Academies Trust

'Forging Young Futures'


Academy Principals

Julie Coulson

Principal, Blackgates Primary Academy




Julie has worked at Blackgates Primary for 16 years. She previously worked at Blackgates Infant School and in Doncaster. She began as a class teacher, moving to become Assistant Headteacher to Co-Headteacher and then Principal.

For over 30 years, she has taught across the full range of 3 to 11 year olds. Julie still loves being in the classroom, and teaches Year 6 each week. Her motivation for teaching comes from seeing how rewarding it is to bring joy to a child by enabling them to learn skills and acquire knowledge.

Julie has a BEd degree with honours. She has lead subjects including PE and English, as has also completed part of a Master’s degree in PSHE. Julie is currently studying for a Master’s degree – Leadership in Education. She is also becoming an attachment leader as part of a new initiative led by Leeds City Council, which will enable her to understand children who have experienced trauma and have attachment difficulties.

Sarah Talbot

Principal, East Ardsley Primary Academy




Sarah joined East Ardsley Primary Academy in September 2015, just as it was becoming a part of Leodis Academies Trust.

Throughout her career, she has worked in a range of different primary schools, of different sizes and in different Local Authorities. Prior to joining East Ardsley Primary, Sarah was Headteacher of a school in Wakefield. Having been teaching for thirty years, she has a wealth of experience of how children learn, and how to manage the expectations and demands of running a school.

As well as a BEd with Honours, and NPQH, she has a number of other qualifications, including a certificate in managing Special Educational Needs (Bradford University), a Diploma in Mentoring and Coaching (Newcastle University) and a Diploma in Marketing (CIM). These are all courses she has undertaken to support and develop her role as a teacher and Principal.

Sarah came into teaching because she believes that education is the key to equality and that every child has the right to a high quality education. These are the principals that she leads by, and ensures that we strive to meet the needs of every child at our schools, to ensure that they make good progress in their learning, and leave us with the skills that they need to manage in the next stage of their education.

Joanne Lancaster

Principal, Hill Top Primary Academy




Joanne joined Hill Top in September 2014 as an Assistant Headteacher moving up to Deputy then Principal in September 2021. She began her teaching career in Durham after receiving a B’Ed degree with Honours at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle. Joanne has also achieved the National Award for SEND in 2020 and achieved the NPQH qualification in 2023. Joanne has a keen interest in supporting children with SEND and ensuring they receive the best outcomes whilst in school.

Throughout her career she has taught in a range of primary schools and has loved every second of it. Seeing children learn and develop has led her to develop a strong belief that children learn best when they are having fun and are engaged in practical, real-life activities. She also believes that strong relationships with parents and the wider community are vital in ensuring that children are supported as they move through their school life. Teaching is her passion and to see children explore and thrive as they learn new knowledge and skills is what drives the continuous improvement of Hill Top.

David Livie

Principal, Westerton Primary Academy




Since qualifying with a BA Hons in Early Years Education in 2008 David worked in outer London schools becoming an Assistant Headteacher in 2012 in a 4-form entry primary school in Waltham Forest. Alongside the leadership team, David supported the school from Special Measures to Outstanding in 2014. Subsequently, the school became a Teaching School providing David with opportunity to support schools and colleagues across the country in his role as a Specialist Leader of Education.  

In 2015, David became Director of Early Years for Arbor Academy Trust, leading the Early Years provision across 3 primary schools and becoming the Head of Acacia Nursery school which had been judged Inadequate by Ofsted. David quickly secured a Good judgement in 2016 and continued in his role as Head of School until 2019, when he moved on to take up the same position at a three form entry Primary school. This role provided David with many challenges as he successfully navigating the school through the COVID pandemic, maintaining standards of education and wellbeing throughout lockdown periods. Through adjusted and adaptive learning strategies the school secured an Outstanding judgement. Soon after, David relocated to Leeds and since September 2022 David has been Principal at Westerton Primary Academy, quickly becoming part of the Leodis team. David strives to ensure that the children at Westerton become global citizens of the future and are well prepared for each phase in their education and personal development. 

Tim Jones

Principal, Woodkirk Academy


After training as a Science teacher (Biology), and successfully leading the large Science Department at the Mirfield Free Grammar in Kirklees, Tim joined Woodkirk Academy in September 2013. As Associate Assistant Headteacher, he worked as part of the progress team focusing on closing the gap at Key Stage 3 and supported local schools as a Specialist Leader of Education. 

In September 2015, Tim moved into the position of Vice Principal where he focused on school self-evaluation and development planning, including quality assurance, the use of data, target setting and performance management.  Tim also took oversight of school accountability and exams.

In Spring 2019, Tim was appointed as Associate Principal at Woodkirk Academy. He took responsibility for the day to day running of the Academy and continued his focus on school improvement and curriculum development.  This remains a passion for Tim and, since being appointed as Principal in September 2021, he has remained determined that students have the necessary knowledge and character to make the most of life in the 21st century, as reflected in the Academy’s curriculum intent.