National/Specialist Leaders in Education

We have an NLE and SLEs in the following areas:

  • Teaching and Learning
  • Physical Education
  • Learning in the Natural Environment
  • Mathematics
  • English
  • SEND
  • Design and Technology

Please click through the dots below for a synopsis on our NLE and SLEs and the areas they cover. If you would like more details then please click their email addresses to get in touch.

George Croxford (National Leader in Education)

George Croxford has been teaching for over 30 years with 20 years in Senior Leadership.

Before moving to Royal Wootton Bassett Academy he was an AHT in Weston Super Mare then DHT and Headteacher in Bristol.  George has been Headteacher at RWBA since January 2010 and the school has had two Outstanding in every category Ofsteds since then.

RWBA became a Teaching School and a National Support School in 2013.  As a National Leader in Education, George has led the support of three secondary schools out of Special Measures to Good in 18 months.   He has also led the support of two primary schools from RI to good.

George Croxford

Paul Day (SLE Physical Education and Teaching and Learning)

I have been teaching for over 15 years and have had the privilege of working in a variety of roles. My main areas of expertise are within Teaching and Learning, Leadership and Coaching and, subject specifically, Physical Education.

I have taught Physical Education throughout my career, having held specific responsibilities for KS5 PE including A Level and BTEC courses. This has involved curriculum development, theoretical teaching and the implementation of practical assessments across both courses, as well as the development of the curriculum for KS3 and KS4 PE. I see PE as a way of engaging all pupils not only in the physical aspect of the subject, but also in terms of developing socially, morally and culturally to become well rounded and successful individuals.

The other side of my work has seen me fulfil the role of Leading Practitioner for Teacher Development for Royal Wootton Bassett Academy and the RWBAT Teaching School Alliance. This has involved examining whole-school and partnership-wide strategies for facilitating the very best in teaching and learning, leadership development and coaching opportunities. These have included facilitating the full suite of OLEVI programmes as well as developing structures and systems for self-sustainable internal CPD that all staff have access to. Such systems have proven successful in an ever cost-conscious landscape so that all staff have access to high quality and impactful development. I have also worked within consultancy and quality assurance roles to ensure that standards across networks of schools are maintained and are driving at the same moral purpose; the provision of an outstanding education for every child.

I see the impact of my work as giving schools an opportunity to grow their very best practitioners and allowing them the autonomy to then develop self-sustaining systems of growth for all staff. Focusing on ‘growing the top’ allows schools to utilise their very best practitioners to act as leaders and role models for everyone. This allows aspirations to grow whilst instilling the positive qualities of confidence, assertiveness and resilience in all staff, and therefore raising the expectations of every individual in an institution.

Paul Day

Claire Coverley (SLE Learning in the Natural Environment)

I have been teaching in Wiltshire primary schools for over 17 years and during that time I have developed a love for Outdoor Learning. I am lucky enough to be a Forest School Leader with my Level 3 qualification achieved under the tutelage of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Presently I take Forest School sessions on a weekly basis working with children on building their confidence and self-esteem as well as developing language and expression. My own children are used as guinea pigs for the many new ideas which pop into my head, and my family can regularly be found sitting in a new den design idea or trying to eat whatever I have decided to try cooking over the campfire at a weekend.

In my role as Outdoor Learning Lead, I have introduced Outdoor Learning across the school for the past five years. During this time we have established ourselves as a school with Outdoor Learning as an Area of Excellence – a title we are all very proud of. I continue to work hard with staff, governors and SLT to give Outdoor Learning a highly visible profile as a valued method of teaching and learning.

I am extremely lucky because I have the opportunity to work with all age groups as I lead learning studies with staff members, and by regularly welcoming visitors into the school and taking part in team teaching sessions I teach outdoors myself regularly.

Outdoor Learning is a fantastic way to engage children in learning without the constraints of four walls. It allows us to take National Curriculum statements which might otherwise be delivered in a run-of-the-mill fashion, and add a lease of life to them as the children are encouraged to take chances, test their resilience, and apply abstract learning to real situations. I firmly believe that there is not a subject in the Curriculum which can’t be taken outside and enhanced.

During the past five years I have worked with the whole school community including governors, parents, children and support staff to ensure that they see the benefits of Outdoor Learning. This is absolutely key if it is going to be a success across the school and is an ongoing priority for me.

I am also the English lead (and the RE lead!) and have been working to develop the whole of the English curriculum through growing the children’s love of reading. We have introduced Whole Class Reading and I oversee the implementation and impact of that.

I very much look forward to working with schools as they begin their journey into new and exciting methods of teaching and learning.


Claire Coverley

Ben Moss (SLE Maths)

I have been the Head of Maths at Wyedean for 3 years and in that time I have made it my aim to continually develop our curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. My philosophy is always to continue doing what we are doing, but do it better year on year.

I started my career at St Julian’s School in Newport where I worked for 2 years before moving on to become Second in Maths at Wyedean, with responsibility for Key Stage Three. I will always believe that if you get provision right at Key Stage Three then Key Stage Four will be significantly easier! I have completed both my NPQML and NPQSL which I found thought provoking and allowed an opportunity to reflect on my practice and that of my team.

As a department we have spent time planning a coherent 5 year scheme of learning that is sequenced logically with the right emphases on key threshold concepts that form the basis for future learning. Retention is a key issue for all students and so we also plan when to revisit certain topics. Every year I encourage my team to reflect upon our curriculum, with our enhanced results analysis in mind, and make minor tweaks to ensure that it is optimal for learning.

I am wholeheartedly committed to continuing to improve pedagogy and so we invest meeting time to this where I, and other members of the team, have presented on retrieval practice, variation theory, pictorial representations, desirable difficulties, cognitive load theory and teaching for mastery and the implications for our teaching. One thing I am hugely passionate about in maths is avoiding short cuts in teaching that do not lead to long term learning. I am very committed to collaboration and being outward looking and our department has benefited a great deal by engaging with programmes such as the national reasoning project and we currently have a member of staff being trained as a mastery specialist with a maths hub. I, and the member of staff, ensure that this is disseminated in an effective way and it has already begun to make sustained improvements to our practice.

Assessment is something that I have been committed to simplifying as the most useful function of it is in the teacher’s plans for what they do next. I have introduced regular low stakes quizzes to the department which help to identify areas that students have struggled. Teachers then plan to re-teach at a class level, or in some cases a student level, in lessons. Assessment must be the bridge between teaching and learning and we must not ever assume that what has been taught is the same as what has been learnt (however much we hone our explanation skills).


Ben Moss

Simon Gunstone (SLE English)

Simon is also a CPSL (Challenge Partners Subject Leader), which involves working with colleagues across the community on curriculum design, teaching and learning and subject reviews.  Simon has worked extensively with the Institute of Education on sharing practice-based knowledge about middle leadership and developing tools to track change and create impact.  Simon is an inspirational teacher and leader and seeks to empower and motivate students and staff.  His teaching and leadership have been consistently graded ‘outstanding’ and the department ‘an area of excellence’.

Areas of Expertise include, Creative Teaching and Learning strategies, Leadership and change, and Teaching of writing and language.  As Lead Practitioner for whole school teaching and learning, Simon has led best practice groups and demonstrated what outstanding teaching is and how to get it.  He has designed and led ‘Learning Forums’ based on whole school needs which have shaped new strategies on areas such as marking and feedback.

As part of the research project with the IOE, Simon has worked extensively with middle leaders within and outside the Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Trust. This has involved coaching and co-constructing new tools to track and secure impact on student outcomes.

Simon has supported new Heads of English in Wiltshire and Wales.  Training has involved teaching strategies for KS3 writing and examination skills at KS4.  He has helped design new curriculums to promote transition and progression and has led on self-evaluation and effective Quality Assurance.  He has presented at Post 16 conferences on ‘Creative Teaching and Learning Strategies’ with a particular focus on how to develop independent learners.  Challenging thinking and experimentation is key to Simon’s success:  connecting vision, collaboration and impact so that students achieve the very best.


Simon Gunstone

Martin Yeo (SLE Maths)

My name is Martin Yeo. I have over 25 years of teaching experience and have taught every year group within the primary age range. I am currently the deputy head teacher at Longleaze Primary School in Royal Wootton Bassett where I work closely with my head teacher on driving up standards throughout the school.

Over the last five years, I have been responsible for leading mathematics within my own school. Within that time I have initiated several highly effective improvement strategies e.g. a chilli-challenge approach to differentiation, a marking and feedback policy and a new scheme of learning for mental maths. I am a Maths Specialist Teacher (MaST) and have recently been accredited as an OLEVI Outstanding Facilitator.

Within my role as a deputy head, I have coached several new subject leaders, helping them evaluate standards and initiate school improvement strategies, through joint monitoring activities and action planning.

I deliver the maths element of the primary courses for the North Wiltshire School Initial Teacher Training (NWSCITT) and Pickwick Learning Teaching School Alliance.  My work within the Challenge Partners organisation has involved being part of teams that have quality assured a range of primary schools in the London area.  As part of the Challenge Partners local maths cluster, I have worked alongside others schools in the local area, sharing outstanding practice and working on inter-school projects.

In recent years, the teaching of primary mathematics has undergone some dramatic changes.  The increased expectations of the 2014 curriculum and the mastery approach to maths teaching are leading to challenges for all of us working in primary schools. I strongly believe that the key to meeting these challenges begins by empowering those around us to be the best leaders they can possibly be. Every member of an organisation has the responsibility to lead and should be equipped with the tools and given the opportunities to do so.

I have a passion for developing the leadership skills of colleagues within my own and other schools.  I firmly believe that the coaching model is the secret to unlocking the potential of our leaders and in turn, meeting the challenges of the modern educational landscape.  My experience of working with leaders in other schools has demonstrated that providing a fresh pair of eyes and refocusing the lens on standards can often provide them with a clearer picture of the strengths and the areas that need developing within their subject. Once a leader has identified these areas, asking the right questions (within a coaching conversation) can help to give them a deeper understanding of how they can be improved.


Martin Yeo

Emily Russell (SLE SEND)

I am an SLE with a specialism for Special Educational Needs. I was a Teacher and SENCO within a mainstream school for four years where I was a keen advocate for inclusive practice. In 2015 I began teaching at my current school which is a specialist provision for children with SEND. When I joined, the school was for children aged 11+ but in 2016 opened a new Primary provision for children aged 5+. I was appointed as the new Head of Primary and took the lead in setting up every part of this new provision. I have had a lead role in employing staff, writing curricula and policies, completing action plans, setting up a robust assessment system, monitoring and training staff and writing and implementing the SEF. On starting my current role, I made it my ambition to ensure that provision for our children focused on developing their core skills and, as an integral member of the SLT, I have implemented new initiatives that support our school’s ethos of Learning for Life.

I regularly visit primary schools to assess the needs of children and work with the local SEND team and others to ensure we are able to meet the needs of SEND pupils.

During my visits, I am often asked for advice on how to support individuals and adapt the curriculum for those with SEND within a mainstream environment. I was fortunate enough to lead the writing of my school’s whole Primary curriculum. Adapting (and sometimes re-designing) a curriculum is not a quick process; to be exciting and engaging, schools need time to plan and the confidence to take risks. I have a keen interest in working in partnership with other schools to develop a school curriculum to meet the needs of all students. In preparation for the new Ofsted framework, focusing more on curriculum, I feel my wealth of recent experience developing a range of curricula has put me in a strong position to be able to share my skill set in this context.

I also deliver training on a wide range of SEND topics including assessment, differentiation, autism, communication aids and social skills. Upon doing this, I have successfully developed understanding and respect within and beyond my own team to enhance the delivery of teaching and learning of children with SEND.

As an SLE, it is my vision to provide others with a support network and work in partnership to reach individual school goals. To be a specialist in any area of education, I believe you need to be a listener, a thinker and a proactive supportive leader, which I believe myself to be. I have a real ambition to support children who have barriers to their learning and I enjoy the challenge and reward of influencing the development of colleagues, for the benefit of those they teach. My ultimate aim is to focus on positive outcomes for SEND pupils by supporting schools’ visions and ethos and helping to drive them forward.


Emily Russell

Joanna Ferguson (SLE Design and Technology)

I have been teaching in Wiltshire Secondary schools for over 20 years in a variety of roles with responsibility for leadership and management; most predominantly as a Head of Department for Design & Technology. I am fortunate that I teach all Key Stages and have experience across all major disciplines including Graphic Design, Food, Textiles, 3D Design and Engineering. I am also the Lead Internal Verifier for the EDEXCEL Level 1-3 BTec in Engineering, the Growth Mindset co-ordinator at the Academy, as well as the NWSCITT subject mentor for Design & Technology.

My main areas of expertise are Teaching and Learning, Behaviour Management and Assessment for Learning, and I am very passionate about delivering innovative solutions to improve and revolutionise education in order to ‘make a difference’. I am a keen advocate of action-based research and with the ever-changing landscape of education alongside social and curriculum changes, I find great value in engaging with new educational philosophies. This often benefits the progression of effectual Teaching and Learning and supports colleagues in developing their own pedagogy and educational ethos.

Every young person’s needs are at the heart of all I do, and I promote that potential is unknown and intelligence is not fixed. As we to prepare our young people for a highly competitive and global job market, the development of a positive mindset is a critical aspect of a child’s education. As such, in July 2014, I developed a series of Growth Mindset programmes which have been shared and employed in other schools including those affiliated with Challenge Partnerships, the North Wiltshire Federation and our Initial Teacher Trainee programmes. I am a keen advocate of developing the ‘whole child’ through our monthly ‘Values’ programme which contributed to the academies Bronze UNICEF Right Respecting Schools award, and I also deliver bespoke presentations to students from our academy and beyond as part of the Holocaust & Genocide Programme. I have also recently completed a one-year secondment in the role of Associate Assistant Headteacher with the remit of reviewing and implementing a revised behaviour system. This was effectively embedded across Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 at the beginning of September 2018 and saw an immediate reduction in the number of students late to school, as well as a decrease in low-level behaviour in the classroom and the quantity of late homework submissions.

As the Design & Technology Specialist Leader in Education, my subject specific experience and leadership skills continue to support colleagues both at our academy and beyond to challenge the status quo. Seeking innovative solutions to complex educational contexts though action based research, courageous conversations and 360° reviews leads to sustained change and I welcome the opportunity to support others in achieving more than they thought possible.

Joanna Ferguson