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We are a team of education professionals. We are committed to improving the life chances of young people through our values driven organisation.



Carolyn took the Headship of Smithills School in September 2023.




Paul started working at Youth Challenge Pupil Referral Unit in 1997 and held numerous positions there. He started as a voluntary mentor before becoming a class teacher and eventually the Teacher in Charge in 2003. During his time as Teacher in Charge, Youth Challenge was twice judged to be Outstanding by Ofsted. Paul became the Manager of the Bolton Pupil Referral Service in 2010 and supervised the federation of all of Bolton’s PRUs. In 2014 he also become the Interim Executive Head teacher of Lever Park School. He worked with the staff team on a Rapid Improvement Plan which eventually resulted in the School being moved out of Special Measures in 2016.


Paul has advised the DfE, Local Authorities and Schools on Leadership, Behaviour Management Strategy, Alternative Provision funding and Governance. In 2016 he became the new Executive Principal of the Bolton Impact Trust. In 2019 Paul was elected to the National Executive Board of the Association for Alternative Provision and Pupil Referral Units and also became the Chair of the Bolton Learning Alliance. 

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Sonja Oyen is a qualified teacher, holds a Masters degree in education and was one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (Schools) for eleven years. She has extensive experience in inspecting nursery, primary, secondary and special schools as well as initial teacher education. Appointed initially to the School Improvement Division, Sonja has particular expertise in working with schools deemed to require improvement and with schools placed in special measures. Since her retirement in 2015 she has carried out consultancy work for several local authorities and trusts, been a member of two Joint Executive Boards and been external examiner for a north west initial teacher training provider. She has also continued to work with Ofsted in assuring the quality of inspection reports and in inspecting initial teacher education. 

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Rebecca is the head teacher of an outstanding pupil referral unit who now supports other PRU’s nationally. Youth Challenge PRU is now a class leader in the way that PRU’s should be run, often advising ministers in London on improvements that need to me made on education for children with challenging behaviour. She has sat on the governing body at Smithills for two years before moving on to become a trustee.

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Deborah qualified as a  Teacher in 2001, since then she has worked in the primary education sector, predominantly as a Key Stage 2 practitioner. She joined the Senior Leadership Team at her previous school over ten years ago.  She started at Church Road school in 2013 in the role as Deputy Head and has been the Head teacher there since April 2018.  In February 2018 she gained the National Professional Qualification of Headship award.  She has been a Governor at Smithills school for just over 12 months, this is a very rewarding role, especially as Church Road is one of the main feeder schools to Smithills. The two schools have a fantastic relationship, and it is great that they can work in partnership so closely.

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I am a former pupil of Smithills School and both my children have attended the school. I am passionate about children receiving a broad and balanced curriculum, in an environment that supports academic achievement whilst caring for the wellbeing of every child. I have worked in environmental conservation, particularly in the training and development of volunteers for most of my career, but have always had an interest in education and now deliver forest school sessions as part of my role at a local primary school.

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Ian was the Principal Engineer for an international aerospace manufacturing company for many years and brings a wealth of business management knowledge to the Trust. He specialised in emergency response and senior level health and safety within the company.


As nominated trustee attending the schools Premises, Health and Safety meetings, Ian also chairs the Trusts Risk and Audit Committee.


An ex primary school governor, keen swimmer and qualified lifeguard, he is also a member of the schools Sport Centre Committee encouraging the development of a wide range of ‘after school’ sporting activities for both primary and secondary age children.



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