Sixth Form Leadership Team
Ben Whitaker – Head of Sixth Form
Mr B. Whitaker
Associate Assistant Principal: Director of Sixth Form
St Martin’s College, Lancaster (now University of Cumbria) was my next step to do a BA (Hons) in Secondary Education – Religious Studies. I got the job at the Academy in 2007, having completed a teaching placement here in 2006 and then being offered a job. If you ask anyone, they will tell you I ‘bleed blue’ – I am the Academy and the Academy is me! Growing up in Hyndburn, I know first-hand how much of a transition we went through as an Academy and I am pleased to have been a part of that, progressing my career to my current post as Associate Assistant Principal: Director of Sixth Form.
My favourite part of the job is teaching A-Level Ethics classes, as it allows us to discuss philosophical and ethical issues, where having an opinion is vital. I love seeing how the Sixth Form is growing and how we are giving students the opportunities to broaden their horizons through trips, visits and specialist programmes.
I have a wife, Amanda, and 2 young girls, Niamh and Martha, who are my world. Out of school, I am involved in a local church as a trustee and like to play squash, as well as having a season ticket at the mighty Blackburn Rovers!
Miss H. Gregory
Assistant Director of Sixth Form
Since secondary school and a year 10 work placement, I have always known that teaching was a career that I wanted to pursue for a two main reasons: my love for sport and my fascination in how students learn. As subject leader of PE my passion lies within sport and fitness, and I gain great pleasure in teaching across both theory and practical elements that we deliver as a department.
Since delivering the Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Sport, alongside A-level PE, I have become more involved in the development, progress and welfare of Sixth Form students. I have also been passionate about teaching but these classes led me to apply for my current role as Assistant Director of Sixth Form. Working as part of the Sixth Form team, my role includes, helping students complete UCAS application, developing and delivering tutorials and subject intervention, steering teaching and learning across the whole Sixth Form and assisting with day to day tasks. I am also pretty determined when I get an idea – Mr Whitaker knows that for sure!
Out of school I particularly enjoy running, going to the gym and socialising with friends. I am a keen enthusiast for travelling and sampling various cultures throughout the world.
I have been teaching at the academy for nearly 8 years, and I continue to be driven and enthusiastic and take great satisfaction from witnessing the students’ continuing development and progression across all elements of education. I believe my energy and enthusiasm are what spur me on to make the Sixth Form the best it can be.
Mr R. Ashton
Sixth Form Pastoral Manager
Secondary school wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences for me; I moved from Rochdale with my parents and younger brother when I was 12. I didn’t like the school and found the studies boring apart from PE!! Things didn’t improve much Post-16 but my father made me apply for an electrician apprenticeship. Things quickly went from bad to worse; I was a sixteen-year-old lad thrown into the adult world of work which I truly did not understand. This was the biggest turning point of my young life.
An agreement was made with my father that if I passed my first year electrical exams I could return to college to study my one true love at the time: sport. I attended Accrington and Rossendale College to complete my Sports and Outdoor Education Diploma and from then on learning became easier due to having an interest in something.
College gave me many opportunities, one of these being spending the summer working at Camp America, where I found my calling in life: working with young people. After spending a number of years working for an outdoor activity company and travelling the world I saw an opportunity that I couldn’t truly miss.
I applied for the post as a Learning Mentor at the Academy in 2005, a new initiative that the government created and it was a role I wanted to make my own. I knew there would be hundreds of students who would be feeling the way I did about school in my teens but I could make this a different learning experience for them by providing guidance and support. Ten years on, and with the job title and role changing slightly, I still love my work as the Sixth Form Pastoral Manager, always remembering that learning is easy when you want something so bad.
My love for sport has continued and this is shared by my three children. As such I coach the Sixth Form 1st XI football team, run a range of enrichment projects and volunteer with local sports clubs. Through my experiences and the things I have learnt, I hope my own children and the students I support grasp the opportunity to learn about things they truly love and want to aspire towards.
Miss R. Lakeman
Information, Advice and Guidance Co-ordinator
The road to a profession is very rarely a straight one and mine certainly wasn't. Whilst at 6th Form a lot of my friends knew exactly what they wanted to do; I on the other hand had no idea. I think that’s why I can help students who are unsure which route to take because I can identify with that. On completing my A-levels I decided to go to the University of Lancaster to study Psychology, I always loved this subject especially Social Psychology and the analytical aspect of why people behave and act the way they do. Towards the end of my degree I went to see a university careers adviser who I have to say wasn't the most helpful, again something that influenced my current position and the way I carry out my job with our students. After completing my degree I volunteered with the Prince’s Trust and worked with young people who had various different barriers preventing them from gaining employment. This is when I realised I wanted to work with young people in a supportive role. I really loved this work but it was voluntary and I needed to earn so I went on to secure a job working for Connexions, a service supporting young people into employment. After 3 years doing this role, I was employed at Accrington Academy, in 2009.
The best part of my job is the one to one work I do with students. listening to their career aspirations and supporting them with any concerns or difficulties. It's really rewarding when you see students who come to you with no idea what to do and eventually leave Sixth Form and venture down the road that they know is right for them.
Outside of work I have a partner, Jamie, and my family has very recently grown as I have just had a baby boy and also have a 4 year old daughter. They take up all my time and my energy at the moment but they are great fun. Pre-children I did have a life! Mainly playing netball, I love reading and was into the music scene when I lived in Manchester. I am very much planning to revisit my hobbies when my kids are a bit older!!!'
Mr C. Lowe
If you asked my Grandmother I have always wanted to be a PE teacher but my mind was only made up when I get offered a Graduate Business Management place on the Kingfisher group scheme – my first placement was in charge of lighting for B&Q stores. I did not fancy the orange pinny for the rest of my working days!! So I got a place on a PGCE PE course at Leeds Metropolitan University after studying PE, Sports Science and Business Management at the University of Hull.
I have now been teaching for 13 years, with the last 7 of those here at Accrington Academy as Subject Leader for PE and currently as Director of Sport working with the School Sports Partnership, National Governing Bodies and using sport to drive other improvements here at the school.
I teach all ages across the school, including BTEC Sport at Level 3 in the Sixth Form. Enrichment and giving pupils the same opportunities I had at school are important for me, and I enjoy being a Sixth Form Tutor, seeing our pupils take the final steps in their education journey here at the Academy and then onto University.
I am married to Emma and have 2 children, Matthew and Millie. Family is the priority in life but I also like the social butterfly lifestyle taking every opportunity to enjoy life. Sport and leisure is a big part of my life, taking part in numerous activities.
Ms C. Rauf
I decided to go into teaching after initially trying out in management in a national company for 3 years. I then decided do a PGCE in Manchester, as I already had a degree in English/Drama /Film and Television from York. Unfortunately, though I had A’s in English I had to go back to college in the evening to gain a minimum C in Maths so I could apply for the course. I eventually got a B!
My first teaching post was in Darwen at ‘Moorland High School’, near to Accrington, where I progressed from Assistant Head of Y7 to being in charge of KS3 English. I then moved to a school in West Yorkshire ‘South Craven’ near Keighley - a huge school with about 1700 students including Sixth Form. I had a chance to teach A level English Literature and Theatre Studies, and I was also still in charge of KS3 and Deputy Head of Department in English. I stayed there another 5 years then I was ready to look for a Head of Department role and I came to Accrington Academy!
I came to the Academy (then Moorhead High School) in 1995; – yes I have been here over 20 years!! I had intended to stay about another 5 years and move again but I so loved it here – both the students and the incredibly supportive staff that I have never really wanted to leave!
For 18 years I was Head of English Department in the school then two years ago took a sideways move to organising transition activities from our primary schools and intervention and mentoring in the department. I am also a Senior Examiner (Team Leader) for AQA on English Literature at GCSE every summer.
I live in Colne, Pendle and have one son, Jordan, who is 28. I love live music, theatre, reading and I am interested in all areas of the Arts.
Remember: The PEN is mightier than the SWORD!
Mr D. Burrows
From the age of fourteen whilst sitting in a design and technology class at St. Augustines RC High school in Whalley I made a considered decision to become a mechanical engineer. This passion led me to complete an engineering apprenticeship at the age of 17 till 21 working in an engineering company in Accrington called TML Plastics whilst also attending Training 2000 in Blackburn. Every Friday I was given the day off work to attend Manchester University to complete a BSc (Hons) in Engineering (I was awarded grade 2:1). Following completion of my engineering apprenticeship I became a project engineer manufacturing an array of automotive components for companies such as Ford, Nissan and Landrover.
In 2005 following 10 years in engineering I suddenly had a change of mind over my chosen career path. Whilst still highly passionate to continue in the field of engineering I also wanted to embark on a career in education so took a year off work to complete a PGCE to facilitate me teaching the subject Design and Technology at high school and post 16. I have enjoyed a 12 year teaching career across three different schools teaching subjects such as Resistant Materials, Electronics, Engineering and Food Technology.
I am a massive Star Wars fan and have filled my home with figurines, artwork and sculptures related to this theme. I also am an amateur magician and die hard Liverpool FC fan. I have one daughter who attends Sixth Form at Accrington Academy; our favourite thing to do together is Saturday dinner time trips to Nandos Restaurant in Preston.
Mrs J. Evens
I always knew from Sixth Form that teaching was something I was interested in. I became involved in schemes the school was running like Buddy Readers (reading with younger year groups at lunchtime) and helping out in classrooms. When I went to University I chose a joint honours degree in History and Geography in Nottingham, however after one year I decided that it would be history that I pursued full time. During University I again became involved in teaching opportunities, having placements in primary schools and high schools to see which I preferred. I can still remember my first 10 minutes of teaching Jack the Ripper to thirty expectant eleven year olds!
After University I decided to take a year out and worked for Capital One to ensure that teaching was the right path for me. I then attended Worcester University to gain my PGCE in teaching History with Citizenship. My first teaching job, as a qualified teacher, was at Accrington Academy and I have never left! Seven years on and I feel proud to work in a school that focuses on every single child and is committed to making a difference in their lives.
My favourite part of the job is teaching GCSE and A-Level students. I enjoy teaching A-Level so much because of the relationships you form with students and the depth you are able to go into analysing the key events of history. I also enjoy that students have clear opinions and are happy to debate controversies, as my students know I love an argument, and rarely lose!
Mrs A. Mulla
It was not until year 11 that I discovered my passion for Mathematics. Maths did not always come easy to me, in fact I had to try very hard. However once I worked through the challenges of Mathematics, I was sold on to being a secondary school maths teacher. I originally thought I was going to be an English teacher!
To prepare for the responsibility of being a teacher, I attended University of Lancaster and University of Cumbria. After which I started my teaching career in a boarding school in Yorkshire where I started teaching mathematics. After a few years I moved back to Lancashire and started teaching maths at Smithills school in Bolton. In September 2014 I joined Accrington Academy.
The best part of my job is teaching my students to tackle Problem Solving questions confidently and independently. Equipping my students with the different Mathematical strategies to approach these problems is the delight of my job.
Outside of school my hands are full with my 3 young girls who rock my world and of course the man in my life – My husband! I also spend the rest of my time reading and researching to complete my Master’s degree in education.
Mrs N. Grace
I steadfastly refused to become a teacher when I left university as I thought I was only doing it because I couldn’t think of a “proper” job! In my last year at university therefore I did endless psychometric tests to find out what career I was suited for (still stubbornly ignoring teaching every time it was suggested) and landed on Human Resource Management. After graduating with a BA Hons in English and Drama, I completed a MA in HR Management and became a Chartered Member of the Institute of Personnel and Development, working first in the NHS and then for De Vere Hotels.
I enjoyed the various HR jobs I did but I desperately missed the two subjects I studied at university. Upon being offered a promotion with De Vere, I thanked my boss but at the same time handed in my resignation and went back to university to complete a PGCE in English with Drama and Media Studies. In ten years of teaching, I have never regretted my decision; every day I get to work with the subjects I love and pass on my enthusiasm to fantastic groups of students. I began teaching English with some lessons of Drama and Media Studies before becoming an Advanced Skills Teacher in English and then moving to Accrington Academy to take up the post of Subject Leader for Drama…lured by the prospect of teaching sixth form as well as key stages 3 and 4. I am now a Sixth Form tutor too.
For me, the arts and in particular drama, are absolutely vital in developing a nation of well-rounded, creative and inspiring individuals. By studying drama we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us, we can explore situations we have never been in, view the world through the eyes of people we have never met and imagine futures we don’t yet know. Who wouldn’t love my job?
Mrs S. Mahmood
Having worked in a few jobs that seemed to be taking my career nowhere, I decided it was time to return to education. I returned to education aged 22 with the responsibility for two young children. Wanting to better myself became my enthusiasm through the next few years as I studied BA (Hons) English. My studies made me passionate about allowing others the opportunity and ambition that I sought through my own schooling. It was this need that caused me to enrol on a PGCE at Edgehill University. The best part of teaching is the moment when a student ‘gets it’ whether this is through their work, facial expression or through verbal acknowledgement. This feeling is accentuated at the end of the year, when we are bringing everything together.
Mrs A. Whitaker
My career started as a nurse with people with learning disabilities and mental health. I worked in the hospital setting before moving into the community to work as part of the child and families team. I then went to UCLAN to complete a diploma in nursing: children and families in the community, followed by teaching and mentoring student nurses. On appointment as a nursing sister at Chorley hospital my role was 50% nursing and 50% teaching in the nursing training school, before moving to teach at UCLAN. I then moved to work in schools initially at Mount Carmel before moving to Accrington Academy as a cover supervisor and teacher of childcare. Outside of school I am married with 4 children and very involved in local amateur theatre.
Dr S. Mahay
My pathway into teaching took many turns before I took up my first post. I worked as a DNA Analyst for the Forensic Science Service, gained a PhD for research into the ageing process and diabetes, worked with amazing scientists in Spain, the U.A.E and New Jersey (USA), but always knew that teaching was my vocation.
I studied my PGCE at Edge Hill University and I have been teaching for eight years. I suppose as a science teacher I have been very fortunate to have been involved in some pretty cool stuff and enjoy trying to inspire students of all ages to appreciate all that science can be. My favourite quote; “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. Albert Einstein.
Mrs A. Hardy
I was always told I would be a teacher but since my mum was a teacher, I wanted to rebel and I rejected this idea until I was a bit older. When I left Leeds University with my English and Media degree, I was determined to work in the Media so I wrote to every radio station in the area and eventually landed a job doing the competitions at WISH FM in Wigan. I then decided to go into Marketing and did a stint at two theatres in St Helens and Lancaster before I managed to achieve my dream job of working at ITV.
I used to organize the competitions and votes for all the regional programmes across ITV working out of the old ITV Granada building. Eventually I realized that working in TV, although exciting, just wasn’t going to be fulfilling enough for me. My best friend was an English teacher and she very kindly let me visit her school to see what it was like and I loved it. I decided to study for a GTP programme and had a fantastic mentor teaching English and Media at Standish High School in Wigan. I then moved on to be Head of Media at Ribblesdale School in Clitheroe and then became Assistant Head of New Technologies at Accrington.
The favourite part of my job is seeing the students grow in confidence throughout the years and sharing my passion for film and television with the students. Outside of school I have two little girls who keep me busy and I’m involved with my local am dram group acting, singing and dancing.