DfE announce funding bursaries and scholarships for 2024-25.  -  

Find out which subjects are supported by clicking here.

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

Felicity Ackroyd - Ripley ITT Director
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.
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.
Dave Chapman - Ripley ITT Assistant Director (secondary) 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.
Matt Armstrong - Ripley ITT Assistant Director (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. During 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. He is now Assistant Director of Ripley ITT.

Our secondary course subject lead tutors

Claire Monaghan - Secondary 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.
Angela Backhouse - Secondary 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 - Secondary 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 - Secondary lead tutor: Psychology
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.
Don Gillthorpe - Secondary 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.
Catherine Tipton - Secondary lead tutor: D&T
In 1996 Catherine started her career as a teacher of secondary Food Technology and Design Technology, working in St. Wilfrid's CE Academy and is currently the Learning Area Coordinator for Design and Technology. She is passionate about her specialisms, the opportunities these present to children connecting and developing value in real world learning, designing and making. She has a wealth of experience which has led to her writing a GCSE textbook for Edexcel.  Catherine has coached and mentored teachers, delivered training and CPD to middle leaders and her team, worked with Primary settings and is a staff governor. She is currently working towards an NPQ in Behaviour and Culture, while leading GCSE/A Level Design Technology and GCSE Food preparation and nutrition qualifications.  Catherine uses her experience beyond the parameters of her learning area to improve the outcomes for all learners. In recent months she has piloted SEND audits within the Academy.
Stephen Fern - Secondary assistant lead tutor: Maths
Upon graduating from Lancaster University, Stephen trained to teach through Ripley ITT and then secured his first teaching post at a partner school. In the years since, he has successfully mentored students through their training to the point of employment.
Since qualifying, Stephen has worked hard to create a classroom culture where students 'Love Life, Love Maths' and has a drive to give back into the teacher training process and help others discover the joy and love of teaching. This has led him to deliver many training sessions in both general teaching practice and mathematical subject specific practice.
Stephen has experience leading in schools and designing curriculums that support students in making progress and uses this experience to deliver practical training across a range of setting, but in particular to those at the start of their teaching career.
Matt Wallace - Secondary lead tutor: Geography
Matt started his teaching career in 2003 as a Teacher of Geography at Baines School in Poulton Le Fylde. During his 12 years at Baines he held various positions such as Assistant Head of 6th Form, Subject Mentor for Geography and ICT group coordinator where he led on developing the use of ICT within the classroom. Matt arrived at Ripley in 2014 assuming the role of Subject Leader for Geography. In this time, he has overseen significant curriculum developments, completed the Lead Teacher Development programme, mentored trainees through their teacher training from both the University of Cumbria and Ripley ITT. More recently, he has taken on the role of Subject Lead Tutor Geography for Ripley ITT and is currently working towards his NPQSL.

Our primary course lead tutors

Rachel Shields - Primary lead tutor: Art and DT
Rachel began her teaching career in 2001 after graduating from the University of Hull with a B.A. (Hons) in English Language and Literature and a P.G.C.E. (Art specialism) from St. Martin's College, Lancaster (now the University of Cumbria). Rachel secured her first post at Moor Park Primary School in Blackpool and spent the next 18 years teaching across both key stages in this large, urban two-form entry school. In 2019, Rachel moved to St. Michael's on Wyre Primary School, a small, rural school where she now teaches a Year One class. This position is in contrast to her previous role and Rachel now leads many subjects throughout the school. Rachel is passionate about providing children with high-quality creative experiences and she has enjoyed leading Art - beginning the process of leading the school in gaining the Arts Mark award. Rachel also leads Design Technology. As well as Art and Design Technology, Rachel is Science lead. In 2022, Rachel took on the role of English lead and has already begun DFE funded CPD to develop reading for pleasure across the school. Rachel has mentored several Ripley ITT trainees during her time at St. Michael's and finds supporting their teaching journey rewarding.
James Austin - Primary lead tutor: SEND
James began his teaching career in the primary sector in a large school in Knowsley, teaching across upper key stage 2. In his NQT year, he was made MFL lead and given responsibility for end of KS2 outcomes. As part of this role, James conducted a research project into language acquisition, focusing specifically on learners with SEND. After two years working in a primary setting, James moved into secondary special education and was appointed as Head of Mathematics. He was then promoted to a Senior Leadership role, taking on responsibility for the curricular areas of: Mathematics, Science and Technology. James has a passion for research-based approaches, with a specific focus on inclusion and engagement of learners with SEND.
Josh Dixon - Primary lead tutor: PE
Upon graduating from the University of Cumbria with a degree in Sports Coaching and Development, Josh returned to the university a year later to complete his PGCE in Primary Education. In 2012, he began working at Bolton-le-Sands C of E Primary School and ten years later, he is still part of the furniture. During his teaching career, he has taught across all three key stages and currently teaches in a mixed Y5/6 class. Throughout his time at Bolton-le-Sands, he has led Maths & Physical Education alongside extra-curricular activities as a Primary School Sports Specialist. He has built many key partnerships leading to Bolton-le-Sands becoming a two-time School Games Platinum Award holding school, the only school to achieve this prestigious award twice in the locality.
Geoff Carter - Primary lead tutor: History
Geoff started his career as a Primary in a school in Surrey after completing a SCITT training course the previous year. Since then, he has moved to Lancaster and has worked at a local Primary School for the last 5 years. Geoff has been History and PSHE lead since joining the school. He has a passion for both subjects and has led training sessions for the last few years in both areas. Geoff is also Behaviour and Pastoral Lead in his primary school, and recently took on the role of Acting Assistant Head Teacher. He is currently completing a National Professional Qualification in Primary Leadership. Geoff is passionate about supporting teachers in the first their professional development and has taken on the role of mentor within school.
Rebecca Walton - Primary lead tutor: PSHE
Rebecca graduated with a PGCE General Primary from the University of Cumbria in 2016. Prior to teaching, she worked as a community support worker, supporting adults with learning disabilities. Following her graduation, she worked as a supply teacher across Lancaster and Morecambe before joining Ellel St John’s CofE Primary School as a class teacher. Whilst at Ellel, she has taught across KS1 and KS2. She currently holds a TLR for assessment and leads Maths and PSHE. She also has responsibility for co-ordinating volunteers and student teachers in school. She is currently undertaking the NPQLTD.
Sally French - Primary lead tutor: Mathematics
Sally began her Teaching career at Anchorsholme Academy in Thornton Cleveleys after graduating with a BA (Hons) Music with QTS from St Martin’s College, through Lancaster University. After five years at Anchorsholme, leading Music and the Creative Arts, she went on to become a class teacher at Lancaster Road Primary School in Morecambe where she continued her leadership in Music and then went on to Lead Maths for the school in 2014. After two years in a Senior Leadership Role and Maths Lead at Sandylands Primary School in Morecambe, Sally began her current post as Deputy Head Teacher at Bolton-le-Sands C of E Primary School. Here at Bolton-le-Sands she leads Key Stage Two, Curriculum, Trainees and ECTs as well as Maths. She has worked with students, both mentoring and acting as a lead mentor for the University of Cumbria for over 20 years and now enjoys her role as Maths Tutor for Ripley SCITT. She has been part of many Maths development programmes through the NNW Maths Hub, Lancashire Maths Networks, leading changes in Maths in different schools and working closely alongside a National Maths Lead for the AET Academies Trust. Sally is passionate about supporting trainees in their journey to becoming great teachers.
Emma Pollitt - Primary lead tutor: EYFS

Emma began her teaching career at Ladybarn Primary School in Manchester after graduating with a BA (QTS) and specialism in English from St. Martin's College. After spending two years at Ladybarn teaching a mixed Year 1 and 2 class, Emma then taught for Year 2 for a year at Sacred Heart Primary (Chorley), followed by 8 years teaching Reception at St. Gregory's Primary (Chorley), where she held a TLR for EYFS/ KS1 Lead and NQT mentor. During this time, Emma was also employed as AST of Early Years for Lancashire - she supported schools developing EYFS and also presented courses for Lancashire. Following this, Emma taught Year 2/3/4 for one year at Scorton CE Primary. Finally, she taught EYFS/ KS1 at Scorton Primary for ten years until present date. She is a Leading Foundation Stage teacher for Lancashire and leads EYFS across the collaboration of Scorton and Calder Vale alongside Art and Music.