National Leaders in Education

National Leaders of Education (NLEs) are outstanding headteachers or principals who, together with the staff in their schools (Designated National Support Schools (NSS)), use their skills and experience to support schools in challenging circumstances. In addition to leading their own schools, NLEs work to increase the leadership capacity of other schools to help raise standards.

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Martyn Oliver is the Chief Executive Officer and Accounting Officer of Outwood Grange Academies Trust (OGAT).

Martyn joined OGAT in 2009, when the trust was first developed, having been an experienced senior leader prior to this for many years in both County Durham and Lincolnshire. Upon joining OGAT, Martyn quickly became the Principal of Outwood Grange Academy and led the school to an Ofsted Outstanding judgement. Latterly, as a National Leader of Education (NLE), Martyn has worked across all of the Trust’s academies but in particular led Outwood Academy Adwick in Doncaster from Ofsted Special Measures to Outstanding and both Outwood Academy Foxhills and Outwood Academy Brumby in North Lincolnshire from Special Measures to Good with Outstanding leadership as an Executive Principal/Regional CEO for the Trust. Martyn was appointed as CEO of OGAT in 2016.

Martyn leads one of the country’s highest performing multi-academy trusts which currently has 24 academies – 18 secondaries and 6 primaries – in the Tees Valley, Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire regions. OGAT is a System Trust, working directly to the National Schools Commissioner and is part of the Northern Alliance of Trusts. Martyn is committed to supporting not only all of the academies within OGAT but also the wider system and his team of Executives have delivered, for many years, professional development on executive leadership and multi-academy trust development for system leaders both across the country and as part of the Outwood Institute of Education.

Martyn’s vision is that the Trust places its students first and is focussed on raising standards and transforming lives.


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Sir Michael Wilkins is the Founding CEO of Outwood Grange Academies Trust, one of the highest performing academy trusts in the country.

In January 2001 he became headteacher of Outwood Grange, a large 2000+ school in the north of England. Under his leadership, the school has been transformed by his vision to always put “Students First” and Outwood Grange is now one of the highest performing academies in the country; achieving Ofsted Outstanding on the last two inspections.

He was appointed as one of the first NLEs in 2006. Outwood Grange Academies Trust currently comprises 17 secondary schools and 6 primary schools, as well as the Outwood Institute of Education which delivers CPD to schools within the Trust and beyond. The Trust stretches from Derbyshire, through Yorkshire to North Lincolnshire and Teesside.

In 2010 Sir Michael was presented with the award for ‘Outstanding System Leadership’ and, in 2014, had the honour of knighthood bestowed upon him for his services to education.

The citation read ‘Sir Michael was one of the first headteachers to be appointed a National Leader of Education in recognition of the national impact he has made supporting schools across the country since 2006. He was the driving force at Outwood Grange Family of Schools in the north of England, which he led to academy status. As an academy sponsor, he has pioneered a hugely successful and high impact model of intervention, transforming schools in special measures at pace’.

Sir Michael has spoken at various education events in the United Kingdom, Australia, China and USA. He retired as CEO of OGAT in September 2016 but continues in a leadership role, mentoring senior leaders within the trust and running MAT Conferences through the Outwood Institute of Education, supporting other MATs and regularly shares this knowledge nationally. His expertise is recognised for curriculum led financial planning and has enabled OGAT and other multi-academy trusts to create efficiencies whilst maintaining high performance.


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Julie Slater is a Chief Executive Principal, Secondary for Outwood Grange Academies Trust, and a National Leader of Education. She is responsible for all secondary academies within the Trust. Julie has a proven track record of leading an ‘Outstanding’ school as Principal at Outwood Grange Academy and has considerable experience of working in schools placed in Ofsted categories. One of these schools, under her leadership, moved from ‘Notice to Improve’ to ‘Good’ within 10 months and received outstanding judgements for Leadership and Management and Behaviour and Safety and more recently, Outwood Primary Academy Kirkhamgate moved from ‘Special Measures’ to ‘Outstanding’ in 4 terms.

Julie has led 6 academy conversions in the primary and secondary sectors and she has experience of leadership in primary, secondary and post 16 institutions. She is currently working across 6 academies in Scunthorpe, Worksop and Chesterfield.

Julie was previously Chief Executive of Outwood Institute of Education (OIE). She is a lead facilitator and subject expert for NPQH, NPQSL and NPQML, was a member of the 2014 NCTL Fellowship Commission and is instrumental in driving forward the school led system through her work across OGAT. She has worked on numerous high profile national initiatives including the System Leaders Toolkit and the Teaching School Council.
She believes vehemently that all children have the right to an outstanding education and that collaboration should always be put before competition


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Lee Wilson is a Chief Executive Principal, Primary and National Leader of Education for Outwood Grange Academies Trust (OGAT). Lee is currently responsible for the primary academies within the family: Outwood Primary Academy Ledger Lane, Outwood Primary Academy Lofthouse Gate, Outwood Primary Academy Kirkhamgate, Outwood Primary Academy Littleworth Grange, Outwood Primary Academy Darfield, Outwood Primary Academy Greystone, Outwood Primary Academy Bell Lane, Outwood Primary Academy Park Hill and Outwood Primary Academy Newstead Green.

Lee has a proven track record of school improvement. Prior to working with Outwood, he was the headteacher of a large Church of England (VC) primary school which moved from satisfactory to good under his leadership. He was the Head of a Children’s Centre which also secured good judgments in its 2013 OFSTED inspection.

Since joining the Trust, Lee has led the development of our primary model. The implementation of this has led to significant transformation of our primary academies. In May 2014, Outwood Primary Academy Ledger Lane moved from satisfactory to good. In September Outwood Primary Academy Kirkhamgate secured the judgment of outstanding having previously been in special measures. This is a significant achievement given that this was achieved in only 4 terms. Outwood Primary Academy Lofthouse Gate has also received a judgement of good with outstanding features following the inspection which took place in June 2016.

Lee is an award winning teacher (National Teaching Awards) and has led a range of training on leadership, assessment and curriculum development at local, national and international level.


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Dr Philip Smith is an Executive Principal.

Dr Smith has a degree in Theoretical Physics, a Masters in School Leadership and a Doctorate in the Transformational Leadership of Schools.

He was the Principal of Outwood Academy Portland from January 2012 to September 2017 – during this time the academy moved from Special Measures to Outstanding in every category and achieved a Progress 8 score that placed it within the top 10 schools in England.

At the same time, from September 2014 to September 2017, Dr Smith was also Principal of Outwood Academy Valley; this was graded Outstanding in every category in May 2017.

In 2016, the GCSE results placed Outwood Academy Portland and Outwood Academy Valley’s attainment as the top two performing academies in Nottinghamshire, with 88% of students achieving a Grade C or above in English and Maths at Portland and 86% at Valley.

Since September 2017 Dr Smith has been an Executive Principal for Outwood Grange Academies Trust, with responsibility for the Southern Region.


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Andrew Wappat is an Associate Executive Principal with Outwood Grange Academies Trust. He is Associate Executive Principal and Principal of Outwood Academy Bydales in Marske-by-the-Sea, North Yorkshire and Outwood Academy Redcar. He is a National Leader of Education.

He has led Outwood Academy Bydales to become the highest performing secondary school in the North East of England for 5+ E&M, with 75%, and third for progress. Mathematics is in the top 2% of schools for progress. He has been Principal since the school joined Outwood in 2014-2015, it having previously having been in special measures. In January 2018 Bydales achieved Ofsted outstanding in all categories, some three years later. The academy was awarded National Support School status in April 2018. Outwood Academy Redcar joined the Trust in November 2015. It is the second highest performing school in the local authority for progress, behind Bydales which is first.

The Bydales Ofsted report noted ‘Teaching inspires pupils to succeed’ and ‘Most teachers are masters of their craft.’ It also states that ‘Pupils’ behaviour is exemplary’, ‘Pupils take great pride in their school’ and ‘Leaders, including governors, are highly effective. Through their words, and actions, they have transformed the school in a short period of time.’
During 2015-2016, Andrew was also Associate Executive Principal of Outwood Academy Ripon, supporting the Principal, and in January 2016 the academy secured an outstanding Ofsted category.
Prior to becoming Principal at Bydales, Andrew was Associate Principal at Outwood Academy Acklam, during its first year with OGAT, launching systems and structures to rapidly improve the provision for students and move the school from special measures. In its second year, the academy was judged good with outstanding leadership by Ofsted. In 2017 it was the highest performing school in the North East for progress of students, and is also a National Support School and Teaching School.
In addition to his Executive Principal role, Andrew has responsibility across the Trust for curriculum and careers provision, working alongside Paul Sorby, Executive Director of Curriculum, ensuring that this impacts on raising standards and transforming the lives of the young people in all our schools.


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Carolyn Blundell is an Associate Executive Principal who has responsibility for Outwood Academies Adwick and Danum. She has recently been appointed as a National Leader of Education and led, with Martyn Oliver, Outwood Academy Adwick on its journey from requiring improvement to outstanding in every category.

Prior to her appointment as principal at Outwood Academy Adwick she worked closely alongside Dr Phil Smith at Outwood Academy Portland, a school going from special measures to outstanding in 23 months.

In addition to her associate executive principal role, Carolyn has responsibility across the Trust for securing high quality professional development for all colleagues – ensuring this impacts on raising standards and transforming the lives of the young people in our schools.


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Mark joined Outwood Grange Academies Trust in 2013, having been an experienced senior leader in schools in Tees Valley.

Shortly after joining the trust, Mark became the Principal of Outwood Academy Acklam; which moved from special measures to good, with leadership judged as outstanding and has recently gained teaching school status.

Now, as a National Leader of Education (NLE) and Associate Executive Principal, Mark works across the trust, leading on systems and policies and leads the trust’s academies in Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees. Under Mark’s leadership, Outwood Academy Ormesby was recently judged as ‘good’, having previously required special measures.

Mark is also an experienced Chair of Governors and a National Leader of Governance.


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Mrs Sweeten started her leadership career as an Assistant Head in Ripon College in 2008 – a school that was then ‘satisfactory’. In 2011 it became Outwood Academy Ripon and in 2011 the school was graded ‘good’. In the preceding three years she became the Principal and took the school to an outstanding judgement in 2015 – while also developing the Outwood systems and procedures at Ormesby School in preparation for its conversion in 2015.

In November 2015 she began leading Redcar Academy and was recognised by Ofsted as ‘beginning to deliver the changes urgently needed to secure better outcomes for all pupils’, in a mere 9 days. She successfully led Redcar Academy in 2016 to double the 5 GCSE A*-C score, with English and maths, in less than a year, and put a further 9% on the results in 2017. She became a National Leader of Education in 2016 and has returned to Outwood Academy Ormesby in February 2018 to lead the school towards outstanding.


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Having trained as a teacher of Geography in Sheffield I began my career as a teacher of Humanities in Derbyshire. I gained promotion to Head of Humanities at South Leys Business and Enterprise College in Scunthorpe where, over the course of 13 years, I then progressed to Director of Curriculum and Assistant Head.

My next post was as Deputy Headteacher in Valley Comprehensive School in Worksop. After conversion to Outwood Academy Valley I remained as Vice Principal and was made Acting Principal in September 2013. I have now taken the welcome opportunity to work back in Scunthorpe as Principal at Outwood Academy Foxhills.


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