Pen Portraits

trust school improvement team 

Community First Academy Trust                             

Rivington Ave, Platt Bridge, WN2 5NG Tel: 01942 487999

Executive Trust Leadership Team
Chief Executive (CEO) | Executive Headteacher | National Leader of Education Sue Darbyshire
Chief Operating Officer (COO) Craig Holden
Chief Finance Officer (CFO) Carol Brockbank 
Director of Safeguarding, Inclusion and Behaviour Martin Haskayne
Director of Professional Learning   Carly Bozdoğan
Director of Curriculum  Laura Farrell
Director or Research  Charlotte Hindley
Director or Initial Teacher Training  Jen Machaj 

Special Educational Needs Coordinator 


Nicola Wood


S Darbyshire  

Chief Executive Officer | National Leader of Education | Executive  Headteacher  

Sue Darbyshire is CEO at Community First Academy Trust. Sue is also a National Leader of Education and supports school improvement nationwide. She started teaching in 1992 and has been in leadership positions for over twenty years, seventeen of these have been as Headteacher or Executive Headteacher.

Sue is the founder of Westbridge Teaching School Alliance and CEO of Kingsbridge EIP SCITT; an outstanding provider of initial teacher training for both primary and secondary trainees. Sue is totally committed to raising standards and to providing all pupils, staff and trainee teachers with opportunities to excel.

Sue successfully amalgamated two failing schools into a new primary school and took it to ‘Good’ in 12 months and ‘Outstanding’ in its next inspection. She specialises in schools within disadvantaged areas. 

Sue delivers middle and senior leadership training locally, nationally and internationally to both primary and secondary colleagues. She is a qualified coach and NLP practitioner. Sue has completed the UCL MAT Leaders programme and The Future Leaders Trust’s Executive Educators Programme. She has a Master qualification in Educational Studies.

Sue continues to work with her Local Authority at a strategic advisory level, serving on the Wigan Education Partnership Board, the System Leadership Group and as a School Improvement Lead on the School Improvement Board.

In 2018 Sue served as an Interim Executive Board member for a school that was placed in special measures focusing on strategic direction, school improvement and providing a sustainable future for the pupils at the school. The school made exceptional progress and HMI praised the school for a series of rapid improvements.

M Haskayne - Director of Safeguarding,Inclusion and Behaviour

Martin qualified as a teacher in 1990 and worked for 10 years in a school for children with Severe Learning Difficulties aged 2-19 years as the coordinator for Design Technology and Information Technology across the school.

Martin became an instructor in the Team-Teach Physical intervention system in 1997 and introduced this within the school; Martin remains an instructor to this day.

In 2000 Martin was appointed to the newly formed Behaviour Support Team in Wigan and then in 2005 took up the post as National Training Manager for the Nurture Group Network where he developed the ‘Theory and Practice  of Nurture Groups’ training and the ‘Marjorie Boxall Quality Mark Award’.

After returning to Wigan in 2010 as coordinator within Targeted Education Support Service (TESS), he completed a Chartered Management Institute: Management Development Programme (2011) and the National Programme for Specialist Leaders of Education (NPSLBA – 2011).

Martin joined Platt Bridge Community School in 2013 and is the Deputy Head, SENCo, Designated Safeguarding Lead and Designated Teacher for Looked After Children.

In addition to the work within school, he also supports with training delivered within the SCITT and Teaching school whilst also sitting on the LA EHCP and ASC panels.

He successfully completed the Postgraduate Certificate in SEN at Edge Hill University in 2015. Martin is a Specialist Leader of Education for SEN and Inclusion.

C Bozdoğan - Director of Professional Learning and SCITT

Carly is a highly experienced School Improvement Partner with a track record of  school turnaround with particular strengths in supporting schools in challenging circumstances. Carly believes in improving the quality of teaching and learning and supporting teachers to improve their pedagogical delivery is the most important aspect of school improvement.

Carly is also experienced in delivering training both locally and internationally. Carly provides support, coaching, and bespoke training for trainee teachers and NQTs right through to experienced teacher and leaders. This has covered themes including; quality interactions, developing outstanding environments, outstanding practice in primary and secondary educational settings, outstanding progress and parental partnership, across countries including UK, Germany, Egypt, Prague and China.

C Holden - Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Craig Holden is Director of HR at Community First Academy Trust who has responsibility for HR Operations across the academy trust. Craig is a HR and business management specialist with substantial operational experience. With in-depth experience of designing and implementing employee related solutions, offering pragmatic advice to businesses and educational establishments of all sizes, he enables them to comply with their legal obligations. 

Prior to joining Community First Academy Trust, Craig held senior management positions and directorships for over 15 years most recently working with a leading firm of solicitors and prior was Operations Director for a multipurpose HR/recruitment consultancy.

Craig has extensive operational experience in human resource management which includes negotiations with unions at local and regional level. In addition to providing advice and assistance on National Agreement, Craig has also been involved in the provision of statistical data in relation to manpower and salary surveys.  

Craig is experienced in multi-site operations, TUPE, the development of policies and procedures and a wealth of experience of solving tricky employment issues. Craig is a robust and creative negotiator who seeks a negotiated solution to a problem and his experience takes the worry out of any HR issues than can arise and effect business operations. 

Craig is also well experienced on leading smooth, stress-free academy conversation including academy re brokers.

From start to finish, Craig make academy conversions/re-brokerage easy to understand, helping trust boards iron out legal complications and navigate a potentially complex field.

C Brockbank - Chief Finance Officer (CFO)

Carol Brockbank is Chief Financial Officer at Community First Academy Trust with responsibility for ensuring the financial accountability and long term viability of the academy trust.

Carol has a wealth of experience working at a senior management level in finance and administration across a range of local authority services and all school sectors.  Carol has worked in local government finance and administration for 30 years and has experience in HR, premises management, Health and Safety, financial accounting, debt management and grant administration.  Carol managed the LA Schools Finance Team providing advice and support to all Wigan schools.  More recently Carol worked for 6 years as a School Business Manager in the maintained secondary school sector. 


N Wood - Special Educational Needs Coordinator 

Area of expertise: Reading and Spelling and SEND

Nicolas teaching experience is predominantly within KS1 but Nicola has taught within Lower Key Stage 2 and EYFS. Nicola has led KS1 as Key Stage Lead and over the past 2 years, Nicola thas been the lead teacher for the Teaching School (Westbridge) for five years. As part of this role Nicola has developed a systematic approach to both reading and spelling. This has involved consultation with staff, schools, parters and developing purposeful proformas and action plans being developed that are linked directly to the school improvement plan and departmental implementation plans. Having recently qualified as a KS1 SATs moderator, Nicola have thoroughly enjoyed working with other schools and staff, sharing ideas providing honest and appropriate feedback to the assessments. A personal key strength is the coaching style which I use as part of Nicolas own practice and is an area that she is passionate about to making improvements in teaching. 


C Hindley - Director of Research  

Charlotte qualified as a teacher in 2010, at Edge Hill University and later completed an MA in Education whilst working at Platt Bridge Community School, enabling her to investigate and research pedagogical strategies within her own classroom that had the most impact on pupils’ progress. Charlotte's career at Platt Bridge Community school spans 10 years: she has experience of teaching in all classes from EYFS to Y6, and has a passion for providing engaging, stimulating experiences for pupils across the curriculum to encourage them to develop a passion for learning whilst making effective progress. In addition, she has also led departments in KS1, LKS2 and UKS2 which has resulted in her having an excellent understanding of the different statutory assessment requirements at the end of each respective key stage and also the transition between curricula and children’s different start points. In her role as Assistant Head, she has supported other members of staff through coaching, to reflect upon and develop their practice to become outstanding practitioners. She has also provided guidance for teaching staff from other settings through school to school support and in her role as an SLE. She has also facilitated a range of CPD both in the UK and internationally.

Charlotte's role as Director of Research and Development, allows her to explore new initiatives and innovative practices in order to maintain high expectations and maintain the school's strive for relentless improvement. She believes that it is essential that decisions in school are evidence informed and based upon research. Charlotte has engaged with National research projects as part of the ‘Closing the Gap’ study and the Wellcome Trust’s Neuroscience in Education studies and has developed, implemented and ran Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) with a focus on identifying best practice in retrieval practice, vocabulary and spelling. She works collaboratively with Blackpool Research School too.