Meet the Team
Angela Sweeten, Principal
Ange Sweeten started her teaching career in Lancashire, moving to Hurworth Comprehensive School in Darlington in 1997 to become the Head of Art and Head of Year. In 2008 she became an Assistant Headteacher and SENCo at Ripon College, North Yorkshire. In 2010, Ripon College became part of the Outwood Grange Academies Trust, one of the country’s leading educational trusts, where she was rapidly promoted to Deputy Head and then Principal by 2012. Ange has steered three schools in her career, successfully leading one school to an Ofsted outstanding judgement in all categories and another from being on the verge of special measures to becoming the second highest achieving academy in the locality. She joined North Durham Academy in 2019 and has applied her extensive knowledge of school improvement to develop an outstanding education for the children of Stanley. Her vision is simple: ‘I always have children at the heart of my leadership and believe that they are the single priority of any school. My intention is to realise the vision of delivering exceptional inclusive, progressive and excellent practice in everything we do’.
Stuart Aldridge, Deputy Principal
Stuart began his career teaching English at a secondary school in Northumberland after successfully completing his Post Graduate Certificate in Education at the University of Newcastle. As a newly qualified teacher, Stuart developed a passion for teaching and learning and gained leadership responsibility by being promoted to Second in Department for English. Stuart then joined a school in County Durham where he quickly became Head of English. During this time, Stuart was part of the merger of two schools to form North Durham Academy. From here, Stuart became a member of the Senior Leadership Team with responsibility for English and Literacy and gained significant whole Academy leadership experience by being responsible for NQTs and leading on the Pupil Premium strategy. In 2018, Stuart was appointed as Assistant Principal for Deep Learning and then in 2020, Stuart was appointed as Deputy Principal for Deep Learning at North Durham Academy – this demonstrates Stuart’s commitment to the Academy and his pursuit to ensure that North Durham Academy provides good quality education and support for the community that it serves. In October 2020, Stuart was appointed as Deputy Principal and as a senior leader in the Academy, Stuart passionately believes in the Academy’s ethos of ‘Students First’ and that every decision that is made is made to improve the life chances of all students. In his role as Deputy Principal, Stuart works across the Academy to ensure that students receive high quality lessons every lesson. He also supports staff to ensure that their practice enables all students to reach their full potential.
George Dawson, Assistant Principal - Deep Experience
George trained as an Architect at the University of Newcastle before spending some time in industry. He started his teaching career at Cramlington Learning Village as a teacher of technology where his passion for innovative and reflective pedagogy was nurtured. George moved to North Durham Academy in 2014 as to lead the technology department, there were significant improvements to the results across the range of technology GCSE subjects during this period driven by redevelopment of the technology curriculum. On the back of this success George was promoted to Head of Directorate shortly afterwards, thus encompassing a wide range of subjects including computing, technology, business and motor vehicle engineering. In 2017 George joined the Senior Leadership Team and led on safeguarding and behaviour. Having successfully developed these areas he has now risen to the challenge of leading Deep Experience and is excited to implement the same level of creativity and innovation applied during his tenure in Deep Support.
Clare O’Keeffe, Assistant Principal – Deep Support
Clare began her career as a PE teacher in Oxfordshire after completing her PGCE in the University of Wales, Bangor. During her time at Banbury she focused on attendance leading to the first prosecution in the country before taking on a Head of Year role. It was here that Clare’s passion for helping the students to reach their full potential and raising their aspirations became apparent. Clare then moved back to the North East to be closer to home and in 2007 gained a promotion as Assistant Headteacher at Gilesgate Comprehensive School with responsibility for the 11-16 campus with a specific focus on raising the grades of students. By 2012 the school was graded good by Ofsted and achieved 5 A*-C grades including English and maths. In 2013 Clare joined North Durham Academy as Assistant Principal for Deep Support leading Attendance and SEND provision. As a senior leader in the Academy Clare believes that all students need the best teachers to promote excellence across the Academy and all students require the right support to ensure they achieve their best.
Rebecca Wheatley, Head of Deep Support
Rebecca began her career in Education as an Inclusion Administrator working at Outwood Academy, Acklam. It was here that Rebecca realised her true passion which was to ensure all children attend school feeling safe and happy and having the potential to fulfil their future life chances. Rebecca completed several roles within education including Education Welfare Officer, Inclusion Coordinator, Aspiring Leader and Associate Assistant Principal. Rebecca also worked for a residential home as a Team Manager where she cared for extremely vulnerable children who were in the care of the Local Authority. These experiences and challenges have driven Rebecca to be determined and ambitious in all that she does. In December 2019, Rebecca joined North Durham Academy as Head of Deep Support and is extremely proud to be a member of the Senior Leadership Team. Meeting the social and emotional needs of all students is always at the forefront of Rebecca’s mind, and safeguarding our students is paramount. Regardless of a child’s needs and background, Rebecca believes that all children should be inspired to be the best possible version of themselves.
Charlotte Ferguson, Head of English
Charlotte began her career as a teacher of English at Pennywell Comprehensive school in Sunderland after completing her PGCE at the University of York. During her time at Pennywell, Charlotte developed her teaching across a range of subjects including drama and media and supported students to GCSE success in both literature and language. Charlotte moved to Stanley School of Technology a year before the school merged with Greencroft in 2010. She worked across both sites in the first year of the Academy before moving into the new North Durham Academy building. It was here Charlotte developed her passion for promoting reading across the Academy, taking on the roles of Learning Leader for Literacy and for KS3 English. Charlotte understands the power of books and how reading can improve student’s future life chances. As Head of English, Charlotte continues to promote the importance of being effective communicators and believes no child should suffer through word poverty and firmly believes that English can give students the tools they need to be successful in every walk of life.
Rachel Mahoney, Head of Mathematics
Rachel began her career as a maths teacher at St George’s Academy in Sleaford after completing her PGCE at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln. During her time at St George’s Academy Rachel developed numeracy across the curriculum and became a lead teacher for the mathematics department. From there Rachel took up post as a head of department for Carre’s Grammar School in Sleaford. During this time Rachel developed her knowledge of teaching A-Level mathematics and developed the curriculum that was in place. Re-location brought Rachel to North Durham Academy as the Head of Mathematics where she is implementing curriculum changes to drive improvement within the Academy. Rachel strongly believes that every child deserves the opportunity to receive high quality mathematical teaching through a mastery curriculum.
Dan Dalton, Head of Science
Dan began his career as a science teacher at Oasis Academy Immingham after completing his PGCE at the University of Hull. After completing his NQT year, Dan had the opportunity to move onto become a science teacher at John Smeaton Community College in Leeds. In 2013, Dan relocated to London and joined Overton Grange School as a teacher of science and Head of Year 13. During his time there, Dan’s Sixth Form students achieved some of the best academic results in the school’s history. In 2016, Dan moved to St Marks Academy in Mitcham South London to take on the position of Head of Science. During his time in the role the science departments results improved significantly which lead to Dan gaining promotion becoming the Director of Science with the additional responsibilities of leading the Academy’s Sixth Form. Under his leadership, the Academy had its first ever students accepted onto a medicine degree at a Russel Group university. Dan moved to North Durham Academy in September 2020 after relocating from London and is responsible for the science department and STEM throughout the Academy. He believes passionately that every student deserves the best educational experience and works tirelessly with his team to improve the life chances of all the students at North Durham Academy.
Suzanne Dawson, Head of Faculty - Humanities and Languages
Suzanne began her teaching career at Park View Community School after completing her PGCE at Newcastle University. During the second year of her teaching career at Park View Suzanne was promoted to middle leadership and took up the post of Head of Geography, in which she remained and steered for a further eight years. Whilst in post Suzanne improved student progress and attainment in geography GCSE and A-Level examinations. In September 2019 Suzanne moved to North Durham Academy as Head of Directorate for Humanities and Languages and was fortunate to secure an Associate Assistant Principal post leading NQT’s, ITT and Teach First trainees in November of the same year. Since then Suzanne has developed her leadership across a whole school setting, developing impactful practitioners in different subject areas and inducting new colleagues into the teaching profession. Suzanne is resolute in improving outcomes and educational experiences for all students and in turn securing the best possible life chances for children within the community.
Laura Dryer, Head of Faculty – Sport, Art and Performance
Laura achieved her undergraduate degree in classical music performance and analysis from Newcastle University and completed both her PGCE and MA in Education at the University of Durham. She began her career teaching music and performing arts at Durham Sixth Form Centre, where she was swiftly promoted to Head of Music. Laura moved to teach at North Durham Academy as Learning Leader for music in September 2013, transforming the music department and securing above average results for each year of her tenure. She quickly gained promotion to the role of Head of Directorate for Sport, Art and Performance, a role she has successfully held for five years. Her areas of responsibility as an Associate Assistant Principal lie in NDA Habits, Rewards and Learning Environment. Laura believes passionately that every child should have the opportunity to experience high quality arts and cultural education and should experience what it is like to be a sportsman, artist, dancer, musician and actor whilst being at school.
Sarah Norman, Head of SEND
Sarah began her career as a primary school teacher in Peterlee after completing her PGCE at Newcastle University in 1998. Following this, she made the decision to specialise in working with students with additional needs and became SENCO and Class Teacher at South Stanley Junior School. In this role, Sarah was fortunate enough to gain a wealth of experience and knowledge in special educational needs whilst teaching within nurture groups. Sarah welcomed the opportunity to continue her specialism and to continue to work in the Stanley area when she was offered the role of Learning Leader of Nurture in the Academy in 2013. Sarah has continued to develop and strengthen her skills and drive to make a difference to our students and is now a successful member of the Deep Support Team as Head of Special Educational Needs. As part of her role she works closely with all stakeholders and strives to make a positive impact on our students lives.
Rebecca Pallas-Gill, Head of Technical & Vocational
Rebecca began her career as a Food & Health and Social Care teacher at Walbottle Campus Secondary School after completing her SCITT at Northumbria University. During her time at Walbottle Campus she developed a passion and enthusiasm for teaching and learning and gained her Masters in Teaching & Learning to further embed her passion in this area. Rebecca left Walbottle Campus to further her career at North Durham Academy by obtaining a permanent position of Subject Lead for Food & Health and Social Care. After gaining further leadership experience within this position Rebecca gained a promotion and became Head of Technical & Vocational Directorate.
Rebecca has continued to follow her passion for teaching and learning as a Head of Directorate. Rebecca passionately believes that all students deserve lessons of the highest standard so they can be the best they can be. As part of her role in the Academy she supports all members of her directorate in the delivery of an excellent curriculum and inspiring all students.