Our expertise

The experience of our leadership team and core course tutors is one of our strengths, ensuring that trainees receive the very best support and input with the benefit of years of extensive practice in school contexts.

Find out about our expertise

Our core leadership team

Sue Farrimond - Ripley ITT Director
Sue started her career as a teacher of secondary English in Knowsley. She has almost 30 years’ experience of teaching and leading in the education sector. Sue has experience of senior leadership, including headship, across primary, secondary and HEI. More recently, she has focused on initial teacher training and teacher development, leading provision for Star Academies and more recently The Bay Learning Trust. Benefiting from involvement in practitioner research and innovation throughout her career, she is determined that teachers should continually reflect, question and remodel their practice so that our children and young people get the very best education.
Nick Walmsley - Ripley ITT Deputy Director - Secondary
Nick has worked in secondary education settings for the past 16 years and prior to this for a number of years in HE. He qualified with a PGCE in Modern Foreign Languages from St. Martin’s College, Lancaster and has held a variety of senior leadership positions during his career, most recently serving as Principal within the Bay Learning Trust. His other senior responsibilities have included leading Teaching and Learning, staff development and behaviour. Prior to his career in secondary education, Nick worked as a seminar tutor at the University of Sussex whilst completing his PhD and as a language assistant at the University of Geneva, where he also worked at the International School. Nick has delivered training sessions with Ripley ITT and previously with the Ripley TSA for the last ten years and is now Deputy Director at Ripley ITT.
Felicity Ackroyd - Ripley ITT Deputy Director - Primary
Felicity began her career as a primary practitioner in a large inner-city primary school teaching across the primary year groups. She then moved to Stonyhurst College as the KS2/3 leader and gained experience in the independent and boarding sectors for two years. After four years as an Assistant Headteacher at a convent school, Felicity was promoted to Deputy Headteacher at Bury Grammar School. She then moved into Higher Education, leading the PGCE programme at Liverpool Hope University for three years. Felicity was then invited to work with Star Academies as a Deputy Director to establish the SCITT from year 0. Felicity has now joined Ripley ITT as a Deputy Director to focus on the primary programme and development of the outstanding partnership.
Dave Chapman - Ripley ITT Assistant Director and Lead Tutor: History
Dave began his teaching career as an NQT in the history department of Central Lancaster High School in 2008, becoming Head of Humanities in 2011. In 2016 he became Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for Sixth Form provision. In 2019 Dave became Senior Assistant Principal, and in 2021 Acting Vice Principal. Over the course of his career in secondary education his areas of responsibility have been varied and have included timetabling, curriculum design and implementation, assessment, recording and reporting, exams, staff performance and educational visits. He has been active outside the classroom, setting up and leading the Duke of Edinburgh's Award in the school.

Our course lead tutors

Matt Armstrong - Lead Tutor: Primary
Matt began his teaching career at Westgate Primary School in Morecambe after graduating with a PGCE and specialism in French from the University of Cumbria. After spending three years at Westgate teaching across KS2 and leading French, he moved to St Michael’s-on-Wyre Primary School where he now teaches in a mixed age Year 5/6 class. In school, he holds a TLR for assessment and leads English, French and geography. He has worked for Ripley as a SLE for four years, mainly being tasked to help NQT’s requiring support in the partnership schools. Over the past three years, he has been seconded part-time to Ripley to support their Primary ITT programme, developing the curriculum, over-seeing the primary programme and acting as a lead mentor for students.
Claire Monaghan - Lead Tutor: English
Claire started her career as a teacher of secondary English at Our Lady’s Catholic College in Lancaster. During her fifteen years at OLCC she has held numerous middle leadership positions and is a graduate from the Teaching Leaders, Aspiring Middle Leaders Programme. She has delivered middle leader training sessions both for Teaching Leaders and for the local Middle Leader Development Programme focused on development leadership and management skills. In 2017 she was promoted to Subject Leader of English. In the past, Claire has also been a Specialist Leader of Education for the Catholic Teaching Alliance, supporting the development of English provision across Lancashire and more recently has taken on the temporary position of acting Assistant Headteacher in charge of teaching and learning.
Ruth Anderson - Lead Tutor: English
Ruth Anderson is an experienced English teacher and leader across London, the midlands and the North West and is currently Lead Practitioner at Morecambe Bay Academy.
She holds a Master's in Education from the University of Birmingham and was previously a Head of English in a North West London comprehensive until 2018. In addition, she has mentored and lead at various levels across the Ripley SCITT, Teachfirst Programme and Institute for Education providers.
Ruth loves all things English and is very passionate about diversity and equality in schools – ensuring all learners have every opportunity to succeed in life. She is currently focusing on provision for early-stage English language learners within her setting.
Angela Backhouse - Lead Tutor: Mathematics
Following a successful career in marketing and PR in the financial sector, Angela set up and ran her own party booking agency business for a number of years. A career change then saw Angela return to university to follow her passion for mathematics, gaining her PGCE in mathematics teaching in 2014 after following the Ripley SCITT programme. Angela then led KS3 mathematics at Ripley and has been delivering the mathematics pedagogy SCITT programme to new teachers for a number of years. As Lead Practitioner, her role also extends to wider Teaching and Learning responsibilities, including Coaching and Mentoring and exploring, developing and delivering CPD. Angela is most passionate about unlocking the potential of teachers in their own classroom to drive student engagement and a lifelong love of learning.
Kim Swift - Lead Tutor: Science
Kim has worked in secondary education for the past 18 years. She qualified with a PGCE in Secondary Science from St. Martin’s College, Lancaster after obtaining a Masters in Chemical Engineering and has held a variety of leadership post during her careers including Head of Science in two big 11-18 schools and Whole School Leader Practitioner for Improving Teaching and Learning. Most recently Kim has worked for STEM Learning and the Carmel Leadership Academy, leading the Science Learning Partnership in the Lancashire and Cumbria region and working with Senior Leaders, Headteachers and Governors on the EEF’s Leadership Lite trial, whilst working with teachers and departments to improve outcomes for pupils in very diverse settings. Kim has taught all three sciences across the 11-18 range and is passionate about science education working with teachers to realise their talents in all ITT programmes from the SCITT programmes, Researchers in Schools, Teach First and University based initial teacher training courses
Dan Vernon - Lead Tutor: Post-16
Dan has 12 years’ experience in teaching as an A Level specialist. Moving into teaching from his professional background in Forensic Psychology, he has attained recognition from the SSAT as a Lead Practitioner. Currently working towards his National Professional Qualification in Leading Teacher Development, he is also the resident Head of Psychology at Ripley Sixth Form.
Tricia Semeraz - Tutor
Tricia has worked in the education sector for over 40 years fulfilling a variety of roles. Her most recent post saw her working as a Senior Leader responsible for staff development and trainee teachers whilst teaching English and working within the SEND department. During this post she was also seconded to a local secondary school to develop the Preston Teaching School Alliance. Over the previous 16 years, Tricia worked across 5 different secondary schools carrying out the role of Head of English and Head of Curriculum Development amongst many other responsibilities. Following this, Tricia spent 8 years working in HE and FE in teacher training which included designing and developing the Foundation Degree for Teaching and Learning Support. For the last 7 years she has worked as a teacher trainer consultant and personal tutor for Ripley ITT, principally mentoring and assessing trainees. She is a well-being coach and mental health first aider.
Don Gillthorpe - Lead Tutor: Music
Don trained as a singer and conductor at Lancaster University, graduating in 2006 and winning the Denis McCaldin performance prize for that year. Currently Assistant Principal (KS3) at Ripley St Thomas CE Academy, Don was previously Director of Music and Lead Practitioner there, establishing and leading a thriving department which boasts seven choirs, including a robed Chapel Choir. In 2017, Ripley won ‘Music Department of the Year’ at the annual Music Teacher awards.  As well as being Lead Subject Mentor for the Ripley SCITT, Don is also in demand as a choral animateur, leading workshops and residential courses nationwide with singers of all ages. He founded and directs the highly successful Vox Boys’ Choir, is Director of Church Music for the Morland Choristers’ Camp, and a senior choral conducting tutor for Sing for Pleasure, with whom he also works as Head of Publications. Don is active as a singing teacher, specialising in boys' changing voices, and is also a Specialist Leader in Education, supporting Music departments across the North West. Don is the current President of the Music Teachers’ Association and has been involved with a number of national initiatives to improve music in schools.