Senior Leaders

Our senior leadership team comprises our CEO, Directors and Heads, each with their own areas of expertise, experience and responsibility.

Susan Douglas

Trustee and CEO of the Eden Academy Trust

Susan Douglas is CEO of the Eden Academy and was instrumental in its founding and development.

Susan has spent over 25 years working in the educational arena including 15 years as a teacher and headteacher in West London. In 2006, she left headship and has since held key roles with a wide variety of national and international organisations including the British Council, Teaching Leaders and the National College of Teaching and Leadership.  (Read more)

Sudhi Pathak

Director for Finance and Operations

Sudhi Pathak is a qualified accountant with over 25 years experience in the public sector.  He has expertise in Accounts, Governance, Risk Management, Audit and Systems Analysis.

Sudhi joined the Eden Academy in 2013 and as the Director for Finance and Operations, is responsible for Finance, ICT, Human Resources, Health and Safety, Administration and Facilities.

John Ayres OBE

Director for Academy Development

John Ayres is the Director for Academy Development and Executive Head of School for RNIB Sunshine House School. 

He has a successful track record of school leadership stretching over 20 years and was awarded an OBE for his services to education in this year's New Year's Honours.

John was selected to be in the first ever tranche of National Leaders of Education and has maintained this status through a succession of Ofsted inspections where leadership and management were all found to be outstanding.

Jarlath O'Brien

Director for Schools

Jarlath is Director for Schools at the Eden Academy. Prior to coming to Eden, Jarlath was the Headteacher of a special school for six years and has worked in special schools for children with behavioural difficulties, severe and profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism.

Jarlath started his teaching life teaching physics in a comprehensive and is currently also the behaviour columnist for the Times Educational Supplement.

Michael Thompson

Director for Schools

Michael has spent 39 years working in special schools for pupils with learning difficulties. He was a founder member of the education charity Equals and remains a trustee of this organisation.
During Michael’s 23 years as Headteacher at Hexham Priory School the school has grown from 19 pupils on roll to the current 96. From September 2018 Michael has taken the role of Director for Schools with the Eden Academy Trust. In this role he will offer support and challenge to the schools in the northern hub, create structures to enable those schools to collaborate successfully and, alongside Jarlath, will also create those structures between hubs.

Perdy Buchanan-Barrow

Headteacher, Alexandra School

Perdy Buchanan-Barrow is Headteacher of Alexandra School, a primary school located in Harrow, for children with moderate learning difficulties.

Perdy first taught for several years in mainstream before taking up the role of a class teacher at Alexandra in 1998. Since then she has been an Advanced Skills Teacher, Assistant Head and Deputy Head, before becoming Head of School in 2013 when the school became an academy and joined the Eden Academy Trust.​

Liz Edwards

Head of School, Grangewood School

My ambition for Grangewood is to provide a clear vision and strong leadership to support the pupils and staff in a period of exciting transition, while ensuring there is coordination in outstanding provision to provide for all individual pupils needs.
Liz Edwards, Head of School

Liz Davison

Headteacher, Hexham Priory School

Liz taught at James Rennie School in Carlisle for 24 years as a class teacher, assistant head and then as a deputy headteacher before joining Hexham Priory as Headteacher in September 2018.

Her close relationship with the team at James Rennie will support knowledge sharing and liaison between the two more northern Eden Academy Trust schools.

Kris Williams

Headteacher, James Rennie School

The Eden Academy Trust is enabling special schools in the North of England to develop their ways of working together over large catchment areas, whilst drawing upon the knowledge and skills of the Trust at large. Eden provides us with the foundations on which we can only improve our already outstanding provision.
Kris Williams, Headteacher

Andrew Sanders

Headteacher, Moorcroft School

Andrew Sanders is Headteacher at Moorcroft School and has been working at the school since September 1997, when the building first opened.

He has been teaching for over 30 years and started his career as a mainstream teacher, teaching Religious Education.

At Moorcroft, Andrew started work as a class teacher and then became network manager, Head of Key Stage 5, Head of School and became the school's Headteacher in 2016.

Audrey Pantelis

Head of School, Pentland Field School

Audrey Pantelis is Head of School of Pentland Field School.  Audrey has taught in a variety of schools in both special educational needs and mainstream phases of education for the past twenty six years.  She has been a senior leader and manager for the past ten years and completed her National Professional Qualification for Headship in 2007.

Audrey has gained considerable experience in the maintained and private sector, including residential special educational needs settings. She has also become proficient in creating and delivering differentiated curriculum across the age ranges with severe and moderate learning difficulty learners, including those with physical difficulties and Autistic Spectrum Disorders.  

Mark Fuell

Head of School, RNIB Sunshine House School

Mark joined Sunshine House School in 2011 as a newly qualified teacher, before progressing through curriculum and assessment co-ordinator, to Assistant Head of School and Head of School. In this time the school roll has doubled in size, seen it’s first cohort of teenagers complete Key Stage Three and achieve it’s first Outstanding Ofsted rating.

Mark became a Qualified Teacher in Multi-Sensory Impairment (deaf blind) in 2015 and strongly promotes experiential learning that inspires and challenges pupils, with staff learning alongside them.

Hilary McDermott

Associate Head of School

Hilary McDermott is an Associate Head of School providing support to our Heads.

She has over 20 years' experience of teaching and learning in primary, secondary and adult sectors, in curriculum co-ordination, and with a particular specialism in SLD, ASD and PMLD.

Hilary is also an NSPCC accredited trainer in Safeguarding and Child Protection and has extensive experience of multi-agency work with Social Care, Health and other external agencies.

Jackie Seaman

Associate Head of School

Jackie Seaman is an Associate Head of School providing support to our Heads.

She has over 40 years of experience as a special school teacher, 24 for which were working at Grangewood School, more recently Jackie was Head of School at RNIB Sunshine House School, leading them to Outstanding status.