Meet the Senior Leadership Team

The Senior Leadership Team have the overall responsibility for the strategy of the school and target setting.

Gill Shirt

Gill Shirt

Headteacher

Responsible for the day-to-day leadership of the school.

I came to Todmorden High School eight years ago after spending three years at a school in Preston and ten years at Wardle High School. I am an English teacher and I consider myself lucky to work with the young people of Todmorden. I am always proud of our students, their behaviour and the work they do, which is the best I have ever seen.

Andy James

Andy James

Acting Deputy Headteacher

My teaching career began many years ago in Hull as an Art teacher, before I moved into the world of Leader of Art Design and Technology at Withernsea High School. In 1999 I became a senior leader at Rhodesway School and Visual Arts College, (now Dixons – Allerton Academy in Bradford). One of the joys in working there was leading its Specialist Art Status which brought me into contact with many talented and passionate artists and designers.

Since then I’ve worked in a number of other schools including The Farnley Academy in Leeds (Ofsted Outstanding - 2013/14).

I am passionate about how education can change a young person’s life; it certainly changed mine. Inclusion is central to my educational philosophy and I think that the most important thing we can give children is achievement.

Claire Connolly

Claire Connolly

Assistant Headteacher for Community Engagement

I started at Todmorden High school in 2002 as an NQT and teacher of art and technology.
Todmorden High School is a remarkable school, so much so I am still here 17 years on!
My passion and dedication to the school has provided me with a wealth of experience and wonderful opportunities that has made me the confident and passionate professional I am today.
I have enjoyed every opportunity; Head of Year 7, Primary liaison art co-coordinator, introducing graphic design to the art department and it becoming an area that Ofsted recognised as outstanding. Second in Art, Head of Art and Associate Assistant Head teacher for teaching and learning, Assistant Headteacher in charge of teaching, learning and assessment and now a further bow to my arrow - Assistant Headteacher for Community Engagement.
My new role as AHT for Community Engagement has been inspirational. Leading the way on Transition and being given the opportunity to utilise all my skills from all previous roles has supported my enjoyment and leadership qualities in this area. Working with parents, students, teachers and local businesses - securing a family ethos and a community spirit where all succeed and flourish.

Emily Rawlinson

Emily Rawlinson

Assistant Headteacher for Teaching and Learning

Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)

I joined Todmorden High School in September 2014. I am Assistant Headteacher for Teaching and Learning and the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) for Todmorden High School. The progress, safety and well being of all students at our school is my ultimate priority. If you need to speak with someone in school about the safety and well being of any of our students then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Prior to coming to Todmorden High School, I worked at Blessed Trinity in Burnley joining in 2004 as a teacher of Geography. During my time there, I worked my way up through the Humanities department, as well as becoming an ‘Advanced Skills Teacher’ in 2011. I moved onto a whole school role in September 2013. I enjoy teaching today as much as I did when I first started and can’t imagine wanting to get up in the morning and do any other job.

Melissa Wells

Melissa Wells

Acting Assistant Headteacher for Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare (SMSC)/Director of Post 16

Responsibility for SMSC and British Values

I’ve been a member of the teaching staff at Todmorden High School for over 20 years now. I love the students we have here and find it a really rewarding place to work. I’ve held a wide range of roles over the years but I am currently seconded to the position of Acting Assistant Headteacher as well as being Director of Post 16 for our final cohort of students. I am heavily invested in every single student at the school and want to help everyone develop a wide range of skills and aptitudes whilst there are a member of the THS family; in my short time in post I’ve already devised a new ‘Respect, Care and Honesty’ programme which is designed to help students who are struggling to get the most out of their education to engage more positively so that they can secure the very best outcomes. I am interested in the whole person, and not just their academic prowess, and will strive to ensure that every student is supported in the most appropriate way on their journey so that they develop essential life and employability skills and become active young citizens, not just of Todmorden but of the wider world.

Debra Todd

Debra Todd

School Business Manager

I am a graduate of the University of Huddersfield and a Chartered Member of the CIPD. I am currently part way through Management Accountancy exams with the AAT, and newly recruited to the role of School Business Manager. I have worked in the education sector since the millennium in a variety of roles within both Secondary and 6th Form (outstanding) establishments at a senior level encompassing duties connected with compliance, finance, governance, legal and human resources.

I have also served five years as a parent governor at Lightcliffe Academy where I Chaired the Compliance Committee, heard exclusions and assisted with employee relations. I have also represented the region for many years as a board member of the Governance panel for the Sixth Form Colleges Association in Westminster, London, where I co-authored training materials that went on to be used widely throughout the UK.

Todmorden High School embody what it means to belong to a ‘second family of staff’, it truly is a great place to be.

Meet the Extended Senior Leadership Team

The Extended Senior Leadership Team lead key academic areas of the school and also work closely with the Headteacher in ensuring that the strategic priorities of the school are achieved.

Paul Milnes

Paul Milnes

Director of Maths

I have been teaching for 14 years and have spent the last 10 years as Head of Mathematics at a couple of different schools.

After completing my teacher training in Manchester and working in a couple of schools in Oldham, I moved to Essex for a few years working in a school in Redbridge, North London. The lure of home, in Lancashire brought me back five years ago and I was the Head of Maths at Saint Monicas Roman Catholic High School (OFSTED Outstanding 2012/13) in Bury for the past few years.

Gemma Cooper

Gemma Cooper

SENCO

I started teaching at Todmorden High School in September 2004 in PE. I have a huge interest in sports and enjoy both playing and spectating, watching my team Blackburn Rovers most weekends! I undertook the role of SENCO in January 2013 and I have since completed my National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination. Whilst growing up my parents fostered young people with a variety of different needs. This fuelled my interest and passion for ensuring young people achieve their potential in all aspects of their learning despite the barriers they may face

Ben Riding

Ben Riding

Director of Science

Having completed my degree, I worked briefly in construction before realising that teaching was the path that I wanted to pursue. Consequently, I enrolled on the Secondary Science PGCSE course at Edgehill University where I specialised in teaching Physics. Having completed my teacher training in Rossendale and Burnley, I was appointed as Teacher of Science at The Hollins Technology College, in Accrington. I spent 10 years there and enjoyed a variety of roles, primarily as a Head of Year and whole school mentoring coordinator.

The opportunity to lead a strong Science department and join the Extended Leadership team at Todmorden was too good an opportunity to let pass me by. I am thoroughly enjoying my role as Director of Science at Todmorden High and have been overwhelmed by the community feel and positive attitude of the students that I teach.

Ruth Wookey

Ruth Wookey

Director of English

Before I qualified as a teacher of English in the UK, I taught English as a second language is Seoul, South Korea and Tamil Nadu, India. Back home in rainy Rochdale, I tried a few different careers before realising that the classroom was the place I longed to be! In 2011 I joined the Teach First programme, working and training to become a teacher at Sir John Thursby Community College in Burnley, whilst studying for my Masters in Education. I came to Todmorden High School as an Assistant Leader of English in 2014, and really enjoy working in a school with such a strong community feel.

In my current role as Director of English, I hope to ensure our students’ experience of English is enjoyable, challenging and eye-opening, and am committed to helping them gain qualifications that will ensure they have a range of opportunities available to them when they leave secondary school. I love being a teacher because I am surrounded by inquisitive, thoughtful and very honest people every day!

Paul Duerden

Paul Duerden

Director of Pupil Premium
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