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Great Academies Education Trust

Inspiring Greatness

Our Support




What Support does Great Academies Education Trust provide?


The Trust provides efficient and effective business support to allow the academy leadership teams to concentrate on education.



Our Team


Brendan Loughran - Chief Executive Officer

Brendan is the Chief Executive Officer of the Trust, joining us in September 2019. He has 35 years successful experience as a teacher and school leader, working in several schools and academies across the northwest. After teaching in Kirkby, Knowsley and Haslingden, Rossendale, he became a headteacher in 2001 in a DfE national pilot working in ‘schools facing challenging circumstances’, based in Trafford and London.


As headteacher, he improved outcomes at Westhoughton High School in Bolton from 2002 to 2007, moving the school from a position of risk of Ofsted category, to securing a Satisfactory Ofsted outcome in 2003.


In 2007, he was appointed Principal and Chief Executive of a new Single Academy Trust, establishing a new sponsored academy, and replacing a long-term underperforming school in Blackburn with Darwen. Provision was transformed in the town and outcomes improved significantly from the previous school, gaining good Ofsted judgements in 2013 and 2017.  In this academy, he established new post-16 provision in 2008, which for the last three years achieved significantly positive value-added outcomes including national top 10% outcomes in 2018 and 2019.


He was instrumental in establishing a Multi Academy Trust through the creation of an innovative, new partner 13-18 Studio School in 2013, which gained a good Ofsted judgement in 2015, and is now a fully-viable and thriving studio school provision. He had wide involvement in establishing other new schools for the MAT, including in 2015 what has become an oversubscribed and successful 14-18 UTC in Salford. As a member of a national MAT executive team, he was involved in supporting a number of schools joining the MAT in Darwen, London and Brighton, and contributed to their programmes of school improvement.


In 2016, Brendan was appointed as MAT Executive Principal in the north west region, with responsibility for four schools in Darwen, and in 2018 growing to a cluster of five schools due to the re-brokerage of the UTC into the MAT. He appointed new principals in each school, worked with them in developing their leadership teams, created a successful cluster school improvement team and implemented school improvement measures across the cluster.


In December 2017, he was involved in securing an improved Ofsted grade of an 11-16 academy from Inadequate (inherited from BwD LA), to Requires Improvement. In 2019, all schools improved their performance, and four of the schools achieved their best ever academic outcomes including significant improvement in the national curriculum assessment results of a primary school (2018 EXS combined 37% to 2019 72%, 2018 EXS maths from 56% to 2019 92%) and the long-term underperforming 11-16 school increasing its Progress 8 score by +0.4 from 2018 to 2019.


Brendan has extensive experience as a governor in several schools including an Ofsted outstanding secondary school from 2010 to 2019.


Great Academies Improvement and Support Team


Andrew Thelwell - Commercial and Marketing Manager 


For the past 15 years Andrew has been working within the School, Further and Higher Education marketing and communications environment. This has been supported by his involvement in networking groups such as UCAS, Association of Colleges, Chartered institute of Marketing, and the Institute of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE). His background consists of numerous achievements from developing UK and International markets to analysing student recruitment activities and coaching and managing teams.


Over his last three roles in strategic marketing he has developed an effective toolkit to be able to provide strategic leadership and both internal and external communications guidance to market a portfolio effectively. Andrew has implemented regional, national, and international marketing plans and campaigns across print, broadcast, customer relationship management and digital platforms whilst facilitating interviews with journalists, social media influencers and bloggers, preparing and distributing media releases and liaising with media representatives. Throughout his professional career, especially within education, Andrew has worked closely alongside Headmasters, Principals and Vice-Chancellors to make data informed recommendations and actions, concerned with the academic governance of admissions within Schools, Colleges and University recruitment teams.


Phil Smith - Education Director

Phil is a qualified teacher and has postgraduate qualifications in management and education. Phil has a range of middle and senior leadership experience. He worked as a local authority senior school improvement officer and an accredited school improvement partner in both secondary and special school phases.


Before that, he worked in a number of secondary schools across the North West. Philip has particular expertise in the development of teaching and learning, leadership and management and was Ofsted’s national lead for history. He was also Ofsted’s national lead trainer for schools and regularly led training and development for inspectors.


Gary Miller - Teaching and Learning Consultant

Gary has 15 years’ experience in education having previously taught in schools and university based initial teacher education at the University of Nottingham. Previous positions have included Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for training and staff development and Director of National Teaching School for a national multi academy trust. Throughout his career Gary has chosen to work in areas of disadvantage.


Gary has particular expertise in initial teacher education, coaching, mentoring and system leadership. Most recently Gary has been involved in coordinating school to school support and in the development of leadership programmes as part of the Greater Manchester LLE Collaborative.


Gary has taught History, Citizenship, RE, Geography and English.


Katie Alford - Teaching and Learning Consultant

Katie has 14 years’ teaching experience centred in secondary schools in Manchester, Salford and Stockport. She is an English specialist and has been Assistant Principal for Teaching, Learning, CPD and Leader of Initial Teacher Training for eight years in two schools in communities of high deprivation and challenge. Katie has developed strategies and systems to improve teaching and learning including fronting teams of coaches to deliver bespoke CPD for teachers at all levels and working closely with middle leaders to support them in improving practice. She is experienced in leading strategies for quality assurance and heading curriculum and whole-school reviews. She has coordinated school-to-school support and supported with mock inspections in various secondary schools in Greater Manchester.


Katie has taught English Language, English Literature, Drama and Media Studies. She has line-managed English, ADT, Business, Humanities, ICT, MFL as well as pastoral directors.  



Michelle Rathor - Teaching and Learning Consultant

Michelle is the currently the Induction Tutor who runs the induction and training programme for all Newly Qualified Teachers in schools across Tameside. She teaches at GAA and has been working with the academy leadership team, and the English department, since September.


Prior to this, Michelle was the Strategic Lead for Tameside Secondary Schools of English, and later Maths and Science. Prior to joining Tameside Local Authority, Michelle was a Director of Teaching and Learning in a Manchester secondary school. She is also a qualified Advanced Skills Teacher of English and a certified Kagan school trainer and has been a Head of English and Media Studies. Michelle has taught English Literature, English Language, Maths, Citizenship, History and Media Studies at GCSE and has been a teacher for 13 years.


Barry Young - Teaching and Learning Consultant

Barry has 20 years' experience working in Secondary Education in Edinburgh, London and Manchester. He is a mathematics specialist steering the Rochdale Heads of Maths over the past 4 years. He has also been the Maths advisor for 12 United Learning Schools across the North of England.


Previous positions have included Head of Maths where academic outcomes and progress were consistently outstanding, Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for developing KS3 curriculums and tracking across the school and Professional Mentor with responsibility for Newly Qualified Teachers and Initial Teacher Training.

He has worked with a number of schools across Rochdale, Oldham and Kirklees improving mathematics provision and outcomes.


Recently Barry delivered the Teacher Subject Specialism Training Mathematics Course in collaboration with Plymouth University.


Barry has taught Mathematics and Statistics over the past 20 years


Human Resources Team


Elizabeth Fletcher - HR Manager 

Mel Cunningham - HR Business Partner

Janine Hall - HR Coordinator


Governance Team




Finance and Estates Team


Khalil Mohammed - Director of Finance and Estates

Sadia Rulal - Finance Controller

Matthew Wilde - Trust ICT Manager

Simon Nicholson - Estates and Safety Manager

Kate Maher - Finance Manager

Jayne Brocklehurst - Finance Officer

Louise Elsworth - Finance Officer


Data Team


Sam Barnes - Trust Data Manager

Contact Details