Leeds East Academy

Our New Staff

 Leeds East Academy People

"Our teachers and support staff are the most important people of the moment - because they inspire and drive forward the leaders of tomorrow." - Andrew Whitaker, Executive Principal, White Rose Academies Trust.

This year, Leeds East Academy is greatly expanding its family of education professionals. We're welcoming outstanding new teachers, in addition to subject specialists and experienced leaders with a record of transformation in education. We're also expanding and enhancing our support services to ensure our school delivers an exceptional service to parents, carers and the local community.

From teachers to technicians, from the classroom to the canteen; all of our staff share the outstanding ability to raise aspirations, unlock potential and secure the best possible future for the young people of Leeds.

Passionate about education. Soaring to Success.

Introducing Leeds East Academy's new people of 2017:

Mr Stokes - Academy Principal

Senior Leadership

Joined: December 2016

In 2013 Mr Stokes began working for White Rose Academies Trust as Director of Mathematics, successfully taking Leeds West Academy from 50% to 66% in his first year in post and Leeds City Academy from 23% to 51% in 2016. His blueprint for improvement was latterly applied across the wider Trust in his role as Director of Assessment & Achievement, alongside his role as Senior Vice Principal at Leeds East Academy.

Mr Stokes became Acting Principal of Leeds East Academy in October 2016 and secured the role of Academy Principal in December 2016. Within his first terms in post, he has initiated a rapid programme for school improvement, expanding teaching, learning and pastoral provisions whilst pioneering a new curriculum model which will be launched in September 2017. Mr Stokes is a keen cyclist, recently completing a charity bike ride from Land’s End to John O'Groats in just ten days. He also enjoys developing his DIY skills on a weekend and travelling to exciting cultural locations around the world during the holidays.

Mr Heys - Assistant Principal

Senior Leadership

Joined: January 2017

Mr Heys graduated from Lancaster University in 2001 with a BSc and MSc in Biological Science. He spent a year in industry working in a laboratory in Bury, Greater Manchester before returning to Lancaster to complete his PGCE. Alastair took up his first teaching post at Accrington Academy before quickly moving on and spending the next 12 years at the Hollins Technology College, also in Accrington. During this time he held a variety of different roles, including Assistant Subject Leader for Science.

In September 2014, Mr Heys was successful in obtaining a post at Todmorden High School, a rapidly improving school which become a model for successful practice in the area. Todmorden was so successful in its improvement, that it found its way into the Parliamentary Review. During his time at Todmorden, Alastair thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of teaching A-Level Physics and Physics at Triple Science - with 90% of the Triple Science Physicists attaining a C grade or better in his final year as Head of Department. Mr Heys states that he was drawn to his position at Leeds East Academy because he knows the success that is on the horizon, and wants to be part of a team working hard to improve the education and chances for the young people of the region.

Ms McMillan - Assistant Principal

Senior Leadership

Joined: April 2017

After completing A-Levels, Ms McMillan was undecided as to a career path and instead of attending university immediately took a variety of roles, including working with adults with learning disabilities and acquired brain injuries, and working with children in care. In amongst this was a period as a manager in a busy British Gas call centre.

Realising that teaching was her chosen path, Ms McMillan returned to education as a mature student, achieving a First Class Honours degree in English and Sociology from Leeds Trinity University, followed by a PGC in English. In 2008, she started her teaching career at Carr Manor High School teaching English. She worked in various roles at Carr Manor, including Key Stage 3 Manager, NQT mentor and Senior Manager for SEND. Ms McMillan was appointed to Leeds East Academy as Assistant Principal for Key Stage 3 Achievement and Transition in April 2017.

Outside of work, Ms McMillan enjoys attending live music events, walking in the countryside and spending valuable time with family and friends. She has also spent time in voluntary roles including volunteering in ‘The Jungle’ in Calais and working with a voluntary organisation in Leeds to support the wellbeing of homeless people.

Ms Widnall - Assistant Principal

Senior Leadership

Joined: April 2017

Hailing originally from the Brecon Beacons in South Wales, Ms Widnall graduated from Leeds University in 2005 with a BA Hons in Spanish Language and Literature. It was during her year studying in Granada in the south of Spain as part of her degree that she realised she wanted to pursue a career in education and as such obtained her PGCE in Spanish and French, choosing to stay at the University of Leeds and then starting her career at Cardinal Heenan’s Catholic High School in Meanwood. Keen to gain experience in different schools, Ms Widnall  moved to Silcoates School in Wakefield and then to Westholme School in Blackburn where she secured the role of Head of Spanish and raised the profile of the department, significantly improving uptake and working hard to change students’ views of Modern Foreign Languages.

In 2014 Ms Widnall moved to Todmorden High School to become their Head of Languages where again numbers at GCSE and A Level were increased and results improved with each year – Ms Widnall firmly believes this is a direct result of the embedding of high standards within the MFL department and improving the Teaching and Learning profile from Requires Improvement to Outstanding in the 3 years she was there. She is thrilled to join the White Rose Academies Trust and is really looking forward to working with the Teaching and Learning Team.

Outside of school, Ms Widnall has a passion for travelling and seeing the world and last summer she walked the Camino de Santiago (one side of Spain to the other) which was a huge achievement. She likes to keep fit and is running the Leeds Half Marathon this year for charity.

Mr Harlow - PA to Academy Principal

Management Support Service

Joined: April 2017

Mr Harlow graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University in 2012 with a degree in Events Management. Following five years working in conferencing and operations management roles within theatres and museums, he looked to apply his organisational skills within a different setting. Mr Harlow joins Leeds East Academy with excitement for Mr Stokes’ vision, and looks forward to assisting the Academy in achieving their goals. In his spare time, Mr Harlow enjoys running, going to the theatre and spending time with his family.

Mr Gershaw - Data and Systems Leader

Wider Leadership Group

Joined: April 2017

Mr Gershaw graduated from The University of Manchester with First Class Honours in History, before completing a Master’s degree in 2008. Having worked in a variety of roles across Leeds City College for seven years he moved to The White Rose Academies Trust in August 2015 as their Data Co-ordinator. His most recent appointment is Data and Systems Leader at Leeds East Academy, assisting the Principal and leadership groups with all things data and timetabling. Away from the Academy, Mr Gershaw can be found at Elland Road supporting his beloved Leeds United, scoring cricket matches and participating in pub quizzes.

Ms Kilburn - Advanced Skills Teacher for English


Joining: September 2017

Miss Kilburn graduated from The University of Liverpool with a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Language before completing a PGCE at Leeds Trinity University College. Following three years at Colne Valley High School as an NQT and then KS3 Coordinator for English, Miss Kilburn has joined the White Rose Academies Trust as an AST across the trust while being based at LWA. Miss Kilburn endeavours to deliver a rigorous and enjoyable curriculum for all with the aim to enable students to achieve the best that they can achieve. In her spare time, Miss Kilburn enjoys cinema, television and baking.

Ms Smithson - Learning Mentor


Joined: September 2016

Ms Smithson graduated from Leeds Beckett University in 2016 with a degree in Psychology. She has a great passion for learning and has always wanted to work in the education sector, inspiring others to see the importance of education. Currently, Ms Smithson works with small groups of students delivering study plus sessions in Maths, English and Science across Key Stage 4. Next year she will be returning to teach Maths.


Mrs Impey - Community Attendance Liaison Officer


Joined: March 2017

Mrs Impey has worked with families for most of her working life. Married for 32 years, with two daughters, Mrs Impey is very much a family-orientated person. Being involved in community cohesion has always been an important part of Mrs. Impey’s life; she has previously volunteered as a company director for the Community Partnership in her own hometown, bringing together a diversity of people from different backgrounds who worked together to make their community a better place for all. Mrs Impey worked as a Youth and Community worker for twelve years, before taking up a post of Cluster Support worker with The Seacroft and Manston Cluster. While in the post, Mrs Impey supported students on a one to one basis, as well as working with the more challenging students, supporting them through to their GCSEs. Mrs Impey also supported families in the area.