Oakwood Academy Senioe Leadership Team




Senior Leadership Team

Amanda Nicholson - CEO of KIngs Academy Trust

Amanda Nicholson - CEO of KIngs Academy Trust

Amanda Nicholson

In my role as CEO I sit on the LAB as a Governor with specific responsibility for SEND. I am also the CEO of the King’s Academy Trust. I have led Oakwood Academy through academy conversion in 2012, outstanding Ofsted inspections in 2013 and 2017, opened a 6th form and lowered our age range so we can facilitate smoother transition to secondary education. I became a National Leader of Education in 2015 and Oakwood was designated a National Teaching School in 2016. We are now working hard to train the next generation of SEND teachers and undertake school to school support in a variety of settings.

My specialism is education, especially SEND, but I work across mainstream in both primary and secondary. I have led my schools through 3 outstanding Ofsted inspections and I am a trained Ofsted Inspector.

Lisa Southwood - Headteacher

Lisa Southwood - Headteacher

Lisa Southwood

For over 20 years I have worked in education in both Primary and Secondary Mainstream and Special Needs Sectors. It is really important to me that all pupils with SEND fulfil their full potential and I have the passion, commitment and vision to help to ensure that all pupils succeed. I have gained valuable experience working in an Outstanding Special School during this time.

I spent my first 3 years as a teacher in a Mainstream Primary School in Salford teaching within KS2 to Year 5. I then spent the rest of my teaching career working in Special Education here at Oakwood Academy developing the Year 7 Foundation Provision, progressing to joining the Senior Leadership team as Outreach Manager, SLE, helping to lead the school to achieving Teaching School status.

My role then progressed to Deputy Headteacher/Director of Teaching School, then moving on to becoming Headteacher. Through these roles I was able to be influential in setting up our Teaching School, forming great networks and partnerships with our alliance of schools and HEIs. Through these roles I have extensive experience of ITT, being able to recruit and train our next generation of SEND teachers through School Direct and undertake school to school support in a variety of settings. I have also been developing CPD opportunities for colleagues in school and wider to ensure that all pupils with SEND receive the best opportunities to succeed and thrive.

Amanda Ellis - Deputy Headteacher

Amanda Ellis - Deputy Headteacher

I have worked in educational settings in both EYFS, Primary and SEND secondary over the fifteen and in this time has held the posts of classroom teaching assistant, classroom teacher, Head of year, Head of Department and currently hold the position of Assistant Headteacher for Teaching and at Oakwood Academy. I became a SLE for teaching and learning three years ago and have supported the development and improvement of teaching and learning both internally and externally.  

I am passionate about SEND and the development of a Curriculum inclusive for all and in raising the bar for SEND pupils to allow them to achieve their full potential within a supportive environment. I work in conjunction with teachers and teaching assistants to strive to continuously improve the standards of teaching and learning.

David Donnelly - Chief Operating Officer

David Donnelly - Chief Operating Officer

My current Position is Director of Inclusion and I oversee the Inclusion Team and Teaching Assistants.

I have worked within special education for over 20 years. Although I have had many different roles within schools, my specialism is in the pastoral care of children and young people and working teachers to support and engage with pupils with complex learning difficulties and disabilities such as Autism, ADHD and FASD.

Over this time, I have developed and maintained provision within schools to support pupils’ social, emotional, behavioural and mental health needs and put in place, facilities and alternative education programmes for children with complex needs which has enabled these pupils to fully engage in learning and school life.

Liz Capell - Head of Sixth Form

I have been working at Oakwood Academy for the last 21 years. I started my career at Oakwood as a TA supporting students within the classrooms. I soon found a passion for supporting young people with SEND and through working with amazing and inspirational staff I then completed my HLTA. This gave me experience of teaching KS3 and 4 for four years. I progressed onto the role of Transition Advisor, this jobs ensured all students had the opportunity of continuing their education after year 11 at Oakwood.

While working as the transition advisor I completed a BA Honours Degree in Teaching Learning and Mentoring at night school. I then complete the Assessment only route and qualified as an English teacher.

Through my teaching / transition role I worked with the students as they moved through the school, I saw how they gained confidence in their abilities and developed their academic careers very successfully. Unfortunately, there wasn’t always the provision suitable to build on the amazing work that had been put in by Oakwood when the students left in year 11. To make sure the students continued to progress successfully I suggested to the Head teacher the possibility of Oakwood having its own Sixth Form. From this conversation we quickly established out own Sixth Form which has grown from strength to strength. Starting with twelve students in September 2012, we have now grown to over 66 students to date.

Due to the growth of the Sixth Form we have now successfully relocated to the heart of Media City where we are able to build on the work experience and employability opportunities in one of the most popular locations in the country.

We are continuing to grow to offer a five-day provision, a range of vocational qualification, work experience and academic qualifications to 100 students.

Darren Jones - Assistant Headteacher

Darren Jones - Assistant Headteacher

Darren has been working at Oakwood Academy since 2009 and he is the Assistant Head Teacher. He started the school as a Newly Qualified Teacher and has held roles including; Head of PE and Director of Teaching and Learning. 

His passion and drive comes from seeing the unique personal development that young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities have made in Physical Education and across practical subject areas.

During the last few years, Darren has worked successfully with the Youth Sport Trust on various projects to raise the profile of inclusion in Physical Education across the UK and abroad. More recently he has had experiences working collaboratively with other schools and local authorities regarding teaching and learning and SEND. 

Michelle Navin - Inclusion Manager & Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead

Michelle Navin - Inclusion Manager & Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead

I have worked for Oakwood Academy since 2010 and held many positions within this time. I started as a 1.1 worker progressing to Teaching assistant, learning mentor, lead learning mentor and inclusion manager/ Deputy safeguarding lead. I am also the staff governor, representing both staff and pupil voice to all governing bodies.

More recently, alongside my role as Inclusion Manager I have taken up the position of the Director of Trust Safeguarding, working for Kings Academy Trust, overseeing the safeguarding practices and procedures for all trust schools working in collaboration with them to ensure outstanding practice throughout.

From the moment I began my career at Oakwood, I realised my passion for supporting the most vulnerable young people in the community, being an advocate for them and their families to ensure their safety and inclusion, not just within an education environment but for their future lives.