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Acorn Trust

Acorn Trust

Meet the Board

The Board of Directors assume full responsibility for the strategic direction of the Multi Academy Trust. The Directors will be accountable for the entire business operation of the Trust. The Trust will take responsibility for the financial and resource management of the schools so they can concentrate on the education of its pupils. The strategic direction of each school will be set through the Local Advisory Board to whom the Directors have delegated responsibility. Although the Board holds overall responsibility and control it is important that each school is able to self-govern through the local advisory board. This self-governance will look different within each school dependent on their journey and the individual challenges of the school. It will include holding the school to account for standards, curriculum and pastoral care. It will be strategic in the development of the school improvement plan and holding the school to account for it.  This will be set out in the scheme of delegation which may vary from school to school.





Rev Paul Martin

  • Trustee and vice-chair of the Methodist Academies Schools Trust (MAST) Chair of the Rochdale and Bolton District

Mr Graham White

  • Trustee/ Director
  • Chair of the Trust
  • Chair of the Local Advisory Board (LAB) at Westleigh School with almost 30 years experience as a governor with a significant number as chair of governors.
  • Worked for British Gas for 42 years, Technical Gas Support Engineer duties included leading teams of engineers, on the job training, assessing and monitoring.

Mr Kevin Meredith


  • Trustee/ Director
  • Vice-chair of the Trust
  • Chair of the Local Advisory Board at Bedford Hall School with governance experience for 8 years.
  • Member of the Methodist Church. A current Methodist Church Treasurer for over 20 years and former Methodist Circuit Treasurer for 15 churches, responsible for financial accountability to Church and Circuit.
  • Employed over 38 years for a large cable manufacturer, positions held included Head of Process Development and Product Development responsible for managing engineers, coordinating development of new processes/products and appraisals.
  • Employed over 9 years in a Property Management Company, responsible for Property Maintenance, issuing and managing contracts and contractors.

Mrs Dawn Lancashire

  • Governor for 17 Years
  • Headteacher at Light Oaks Infant School
  •  Bolton & Rochdale Methodist District Day School Visitor & Secretary of the Schools Forum
  • Methodist Education Officer representing the District at Methodist Connexional
  • Involved with Headteacher Performance Management for number of years



Trustees/ Directors



Mr Graham White


Chair of the Trust
(please see additional information above)

Mr Kevin Meredith

Vice-Chair of the Trust
(please see additional information above)

Mrs Julie-Ann Hewitt


  • CEO of the Trust
  • Headteacher since 2009
  • Executive Headteacher at Bedford Hall and Westleigh Methodist since 2013
  • Centre Lead for the Westleigh Start Well Centre
  • Trustee for the Methodist Academies & Schools Trust (MAST) 


BA (hons) Theology 2:1

Mrs Jo Buckley

  • Trustee/Director
  • Finance Director of the Trust
  • LA Governor at a primary school - 5 years
  • Business Manager at Special Needs High School (11 to 19 years) 
  • Investment Delivery Manager (Design, Construction & Delivery, Sainsburys Supermarkets)


BSc in Operations Management with a minor in Marketing 
Diploma for Accounting Technicians (AAT level 3)
IAM Certificate of School Business Management

Mr Paul Blackburn

P Blackburn.jpg

  • Trustee/ Director
  • Chair of the Finance Committee
  • Member of the Local Advisory Board at Bedford Hall
  • Finance Director at M Logan & Sons Ltd for 13 years
  • Previously a Graduate Computer Programmer at British Airways                       


Part Qualified CIMA Accountant
Degree in Accounting & Finance

Mr Ken Baxter

  • Trustee/ Director
  • Vice-Chair of the Local Advisory Board at Bedford Hall. Involved in governance at Bedford Hall for almost 20 years, having previously held the role of chair for 10 years.
  • Previously Operations Manager for Metrofresh for 17 years, which is the Council’s department providing facilities management support through a range of services including building cleaning, caretaking support and catering. Being involved in the strategic leadership for organisation with a focus on finances, HR and operational success.

Mrs June Todd

  • Trustee/ Director
  • Educational consultant – providing support nationally and internationally. School improvement officer at a wide range of schools. Specialises in safeguarding and literacy
  • Director: Teaching and Learning Consultancy - providing consultancy support for schools across the UK and internationally to raise attainment and ensure 'outstanding' provision.  
  • Previously - Headteacher Mab Lane Primary School, Liverpool
  • Mentor for newly appointed Headteachers
  • Developed ECM Quality Mark for Raising Achievement for vulnerable learners and additional Standards including Safeguarding; Leadership and Management; Investing in Achievement.
  • Headteacher Performance Management  Partner and School Improvement Partner in many schools across the North West


Chester University College-Certificate of Education
HOPE University-Advanced Diploma in Education
NCSL-Consultant Leadership Programme


Local Advisory Boards

Westleigh Methodist Local Advisory Board– Karen Aspinall; Lindsay Burgess; Renee Cadman; Angela Clarke; David Clayworth;  Gemma Hill; Dawn Lancashire; Emma Rothwell; Elizabeth Smith; Jane Smyth; Graham White; Cathy Whalley.

Bedford Hall Methodist Local Advisory Board – Ken Baxter; Paul Blackburn; Amy Burkes; Lauren Day; Anna Ganley; Elaine Gregson; Kevin Meredith; Paul Nicholson; Suzanne Pierce; Val Pownall; Philip Rothwell;  Elizabeth Skull.


The Headteacher for Westleigh Methodist is Cathy Whalley

The Headteacher for Bedford Hall Methodist is Amy Burkes