Academy Principals

Joanne Barton

CEO Principal

A picture of Mrs J Barton, the CEO of Leodis Academies Trust, and Principal of Woodkirk Academy.

Joe joined Woodkirk Academy as Deputy Head in 2010 and became Principal in September 2015. She was appointed full time CEO Principal for Leodis Academies Trust in September 2021.

During her career, Joe has held both curriculum and pastoral leadership posts working in five different Local Authorities. She has also led on HR and estate development. This variety and range of experiences has allowed her to develop the knowledge and skills required to be the CEO of a multi-academy trust.

Joe’s degree is in Music, and was the main subject that she taught in secondary schools. She also has a Master’s degree, the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and is committed to continuous professional development for all.

Joe is passionate about serving the needs of the community by providing a first class education for all, both in and beyond the classroom, which shapes young people to become successful adults who make a contribution to society.

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 in currently undertaking the NPQH.

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 me to develop a strong belief that children learn best when they are having fun and are engaged in practical, real-life activities. Teaching is a passion and to see children explore and thrive as they learn new knowledge and skills is so wonderful to see. I also believe that strong relationships with parents and the wider community are vital in ensuring that children are supported as they move through their school life.

Stephanie Makin

Principal, Westerton Primary Academy

Stephanie qualified as a teacher in 1993 at Leeds Metropolitan University (now Leeds Beckett University). During her 27 years at Westerton Primary Academy, she has been a Class Teacher, Subject Leader, Year Group Leader, Key Stage Leader, Assistant Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher.

During this time, Stephanie also worked closely with the University of Nottingham with the inception of its outstanding School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) programme, from 1996 until 2015. As the Key Mentor for the University of Nottingham, this national role involved the responsibility of ensuring he consistency of ITT support in over fifty schools.

Stephanie completed her National Professional Qualification for Headship in 2002, and gained her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Management at Nottingham, in 2008.

She is the Trust Leader for Safeguarding, and also the Chair for the Morley Family of Schools group for Headteachers and Principals. She is a member of the Steering Group/Governance for Reach Primary alternative provision, and represents the primary Morley Family of Schools on the South Area Inclusion Partnership. Stephanie remains committed to driving professional collaboration to benefit our community of learners, and has been a National Leader of Education, since 2016.

Tim Jones

Principal, Woodkirk Academy

Tim Jones is Principal and operational lead at Woodkirk Academy.

After training as a Science teacher (Biology), and successfully leading a large Science Department in an 11-18 Kirklees school, 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, before moving into the position of vice Principal in September 2015.

In this role, he focused on the use of data to inform school development; the school self-evaluation process; quality assurance; target setting and exams; performance management; and oversight of school accountability.

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, 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.

He is also the parent governor at a primary school in North Leeds.