Our Leadership Team

Our Leadership Team

Simon Laheney, Chief Executive Officer

Simon has been Headteacher at Furness Academy since 2015, implementing a school improvement strategy which saw the school progress from ‘special measures’ to ‘good’ by October 2017.

Prior to his role at Furness Academy, Simon was Head of Sixth Form at Branston Community College, before moving back to Cumbria and taking up the Assistant Headteacher position at Millom School in 2007. Simon was promoted to Headteacher in 2013, after holding the Deputy Headteacher position focusing on curriculum and teaching and learning.

Furness Academy has seen a significant uptake in student numbers since September 2015 and has been oversubscribed since 2018. The school’s finances have significantly improved during this period,  moving from a substantial deficit to a sound financial position.

Most recently, Simon was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Furness Education Trust during the merger of Furness Academies Trust and Inspired Learning Trust. Simon brings a wealth of education knowledge and proven record of school improvement to this role.

John Rawsthorne, Chief Operating Officer

John has a degree in economics from the University of York and qualified as an accountant with KPMG. He has worked in the private and public sectors and specialised in education and health finance and consultancy, working with NHS trusts, government departments, schools, academies, colleges and universities.

John has experience in finance and funding, strategic leadership and planning and capital developments, having been an Area Director with the Learning & Skills Council and North West Regional Director for the Young People’s Learning Agency.

He has held national roles as Deputy Director, Financial Planning & Performance and Director of Assurance for the Education Funding Agency. John has considerable experience of the academy sector and has worked with academies, colleges and universities to develop multi-academy trusts.

Most recently, John steered the successful merger of Furness Academies Trust and Inspired Learning Trust and was appointed Chief Operating Officer for Furness Education Trust in 2019. He leads Trust Services covering finance, governance, HR, catering, site management, IT services and marketing and communications.

Janine Pierce, Executive Headteacher and Primary Lead

Janine has been a Headteacher for 17 years and a National Leader of Education (NLE) for the last 9 years.  She has led and managed two very different schools; the first a small CE village school (Ireleth St Peter’s) with a large teaching commitment and the second at Yarlside Academy, a single-form entry school.  Yarlside was graded Outstanding by Ofsted in January 2013 and since then the school team have worked hard to maintain that standard, placing them in the top 1% of primary schools in the country.  Janine has led schools through three successful Ofsted inspections and converted Yarlside to an academy as part of a multi academy trust.  

In September 2021 Janine became an Executive Headteacher leading both Yarlside and Victoria Academies.  Janine also moved into the Primary Lead role at Furness Education Trust, prioritising trust-wide curriculum development across the trust primary schools.

In Janine’s NLE role she has supported a number of schools within Barrow and across South Cumbria in varying situations and has achieved success in supporting schools in moving out of an Ofsted category.  Janine has expertise in strategic school improvement planning and leading quality-first teaching and learning.       

Caroline Walker, Headteacher

Caroline has held various roles in education, both in schools and within local government. During her teaching career, Caroline has taught in all primary key stages and was Acting Headteacher at two primary schools before taking on the headship at Greengate Infants.

Caroline led the school through academy conversion and also successfully agreed an age range change at Parkside Academy, developing the infant school into a primary school. Parkside Academy is the lead school in the local area for the teaching of phonics and Caroline is a recognised Local Leader in Education.

Caroline has also held local authority and county council roles, as a Primary IT and Literacy consultant and Early Years and Childcare Manager.

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