Senior Leadership Team

James Hughes James Hughes Head Teacher

I have been teaching since 2001. I graduated Liverpool Hope University with BED Honours in English Literature and Education. I trained as a Primary Teacher during this time. However, I spent the first 12 Years of my Career as a Secondary School English teacher in East Manchester where I went on to become Assistant Head Teacher.

I joined E-ACT in 2013 as an Assistant Head Teacher responsible for Teaching and Learning and KS4 Outcomes at The Oldham Academy North. I was promoted to Deputy Head Teacher in 2015 and in 2016 we managed to achieve great GCSE success which recognised in our amazing Ofsted report.

E-ACT have invested in my professional development from the first day I joined the Trust. In 2015, E-ACT supported me to join FUTURE LEADERS where I learned what it takes to become a Head teacher. On the strength of this, I was asked to take on my first head teacher role at another E-ACT school in the South of England. During that time we achieved record exam results.

I returned to Manchester in 2019 where I was given the opportunity to become the Headteacher of E-ACT Blackley. My time here has been amazing and I am so grateful to be part of such a talented and dynamic group of teachers and for the opportunity to spend every working day with such amazing children.

Sharon Croke Sharon Croke Deputy Head

My name is Sharon Croke and I live with my husband Richard and our son Jack. I was born in a little village in County Wexford in Ireland.

I moved to London when I was eleven years old with my parents and siblings. I attended secondary school in London and went to University there too.

I moved to Manchester when I qualified as a teacher in 1999. I have worked in the academy for over 20 years. I have taught in Reception, Year one, Year two, Year three, Year five and Year Six. I have been the Deputy Head for the last seven years and my responsibilities include assessment, maths lead and curriculum lead.

I am very passionate about teaching and I believe that all children can achieve and reach to their full potential.  I love working in Blackley and I think our children here at Blackley Academy are amazing.


Rebecca Sykes Rebecca Sykes Pupil Premium Lead

My name is Rebecca Sykes, I am 36 years old. I live with my fiancé Ben and our cat who is called Puss, in Cheshire where we recently moved to enjoy more of the countryside. I was born and brought up in a small village in West Yorkshire called Holmfirth (Last of the Summer Wine country). When I am not at work, I enjoy going bike riding, cooking and spending time with my family.

In 2000, I moved to Newcastle to attend University where I studied BA Hons Primary Education with QTS. When I qualified as a teacher in 2003, I moved to South Manchester. I got my first teaching job at a Church of England school near where I lived in South Manchester, where I started as a NQT and over the 11 years taught in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 and progressed to Key Stage one Phase Leader. After 11 enjoyable years, I decided that it was time for a change and moved to the E-act Blackley Academy in 20I4, where I made the move into teaching in Key Stage 2. Currently, I teach in Year 5 but have also taught Year 3 and 4. My responsibilities include: science lead, Healthy Schools lead and PSHE lead. Recently, I joined the SLT team as Lower Key Stage 2 lead after carrying out my NPQSL (National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership).

I am passionate about teaching and strive to ensure that all the children I teach receive the best possible education to develop a love of learning and to equip them for the future. I really enjoy working in Blackley as our children are fantastic individuals who put a smile on my face everyday.

Sarah White Sarah White Deputy Head

Hi, my name is Sarah White, I’m originally from Blackpool but have lived (and taught) in Manchester for the last 16 years.   

I joined the academy in 2018 as the Assistant Head Teacher.  I love my job as it provides me with time in class, as well as working across the school due to my various roles. I am the English Lead for the academy and teach English, predominantly in Year 6.  I am also our Teaching and Learning Lead, Designated Teacher for LAC children and manage the Sports Premium budget. 

I love working here at Blackley, each day is different and our children and staff make me smile every day. 

Gemma Spence Gemma Spence Assistant Head/SENCO/Safeguarding Lead

My name is Gemma Spence. I moved to Manchester when I qualified as a teacher in 2009. I have worked in the Academy since September 2009. I have taught in Reception, Year One and Key Stage Two. I have been the Special Educational Needs Coordinator since June 2018. This role involves: Supporting the identification of children with special educational needs, co-ordinating the provision for children with SEN, liaising with parents and others outside agencies and ensuring that the records of all pupils with SEN are kept up to date.

I am very passionate about teaching and I believe that all children can achieve and reach their full potential.  I love working in Blackley and I think our children here at Blackley Academy are fantastic. I am very proud of the team that work tirelessly to support children with Special Educational Needs.

Sean Greenhow Sean Greenhow UKS2 Phase Leader

My name is Sean and I have worked at E-ACT Blackley Academy since January 2019. I started my journey with E-ACT Academy as a Year 3 teacher, but have recently moved to Year 6. I am excited to help this year’s Year 6 with their learning after working as a Year 5 teacher in another school for 3 years. I completed a 4 Year Degree in Primary Education at Manchester Metropolitan University, and before that I completed a degree in Art and Design at the University of Cumbria.

Melissa Mitchell Melissa Mitchell Curriculum Lead

After teaching in small rural schools around Norfolk for 12 years, I moved to Manchester one autumn and joined E-ACT Blackley Academy. I love learning new things and challenging myself which is why I love teaching. It is my belief that every child has the right to receive a broad and enriching education in a safe, respectful environment, so that they can grow into well rounded citizens with big dreams and the skills to reach them.

Catherine Kedward Catherine Kedward LKS2 Phase Leader

I have been a primary school teacher for over 10 years now, working at various schools across Greater Manchester. I joined the team at E-ACT Blackley back in 2019, and having grown up in Blackley myself, it’s great to be back! Throughout my career, I’ve worked across all year groups from EYFS to KS1 and KS2, but the majority of my experience has been in KS2, working with Years 5 and 6. I love being a teacher, because no two days are ever the same, and the children never cease to amaze me!

Nicole Bewley Nicole Bewley KS1 Phase Leader

My name is Nicole Bewley. I am a Year 2 teacher and this is my fourth year teaching at E-ACT Blackley Academy. Before starting at E-ACT, I studied at Manchester Metropolitan University for three years and gained a BA Honours degree in Primary Education. I am very passionate about teaching and I believe that all children should be given the opportunities to achieve and reach their full potential.

E-ACT Team

Kate Mann Kate Mann Education Director
Kate Mann Kate Mann Education Director
Adele Johnson Adele Johnson Trust Safeguarding Lead
Adele Johnson Adele Johnson Trust Safeguarding Lead
Zar Sutton Zar Sutton Executive Coordinator
Zar Sutton Zar Sutton Executive Coordinator

Academy's Regional Team

Bernadette Mather Bernadette Mather Academy Operations Lead

My name is Bernadette Mather and I have been working at this Academy since 2000. I started out as part time admin support, then moved up to Finance which eventually progressed to the Academys Operation Lead. I am a local part of the community and like to get involved in events and any kind of fundraising activities! I love my job as an events lead and so far, one of my main events has been to organise a project for the whole school to take part in raising money for 8 chosen Charities. I have had the privilege of helping our pupils get involved in exciting opportunities such as being on tv on Cbeebies, working with Manchester City on Granada Reports and taking part in Wembley!

I feel blessed to be making such wonderful memories and ensuring pupils want to come to our Academy

Dominic Bennett Dominic Bennett Academy Site Manager

Hi, my name is Dom, Site Manager.

My role is to ensure that the site and grounds are maintained at all times in a safe, clean and healthy state for pupils, staff and visitors and other users of the academy.


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