Providing infinite opportunities


Horizons Specialist Academy Trust work with a wide range of partners/organisations, both locally and nationally

Federation of Leaders in Special Education

The FLSE is an independent body which, as a registered charity and a 'not for profit' organisation, provides a framework for extensive dialogue between all those providing special education services and the DfE and local authorities. It is the organisation which relates to government and policy makers and is the voice of leaders who work within the field of special education.

Campus Stockton Teaching Alliance

School to school Support Working Group- Jo McDonagh and Paul Barton, Vice Principals

  • Scrutinise school outcome data on a half termly basis to identify issues of underperformance;
  • Source packages of intervention and potential partnership pairings to target the area of underperformance, such packages may include Local Authority Intervention Plans, school to school support accessed from the Stockton Education Exchange, support from Local and National Leaders in Education, support from Academy sponsors and national providers, support from colleges;
  • Evaluate the impact of intervention funded through the Schools’ Partnership Fund;
  • Seek opportunities to involve post 16 providers where this could have a positive impact on pre or post 16 outcomes
  • Report back to the Campus Stockton Board, Schools’ Forum and other key stakeholder groups’

ITT Working Group- Paul Steele, Vice Principal

  • Stockton has a long and successful history of collaborative, school-based ITT with a highly effective STTP, which will form the basis of this group. Schools provide for ITT trainees from Durham University and STTP and through existing arrangements lead schools co-ordinate ITT placements for trainees within and beyond our local authority boundary. In response to policy for future Initial Teacher Training (ITT), as originally set out in the “Training our Next Generation of Outstanding Teachers – Implementation Plan”, this group would oversee the move to a School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) Programme, ensuring that schools become even more involved as partners with ITT providers and lead within the Collaborative Partnership.We will identify and maximise sector expertise and use the best leaders and teachers to
  • Play a greater role in the recruitment and training of new entrants to the profession
  • Lead peer-to-peer professional and leadership development
  • Identify and develop leadership potential
  • Provide school-to-school support
  • Engage in on-going research and development
  • Provide new teachers with a wide range of experiences across all phases
  • Enable the Partnership to plan its future workforce needs to meet specific areas.
  • Grow our own teachers
  • HSAT offers ITT induction taster days to new cohorts of ITT students.
  • HSAT offers twilight sessions for Stockton NQTS themed around ‘SEN learning conversations’.

Preparation for Adulthood - Paul Barton, Vice Principal

  • This is a long established partnership that has restructured and re-energised in recent months to reflect current national and local priorities. It is chaired by Martin Clinton, Principal of Stockton Sixth Form College and has a representative membership that includes headteachers, academy principals, post 16 providers (including work-based learning) and third sector.EFA are invited to attend meetings of the Board which also contributes to Tees Valley developments through the 14 – 19 Partnership of Tees Valley Unlimited (TVU - the Local Enterprise Partnership). The current action plan has 6 strategic priorities, which are set out to:
  • Implement and improve data sharing arrangements across 14-19 partners and with key stakeholders to support and strengthen our strategies to improve progression and participation of young people in learning.
  • Support schools and other providers in developing curricula and progression routes based on real time labour market information so that young people are able to progress to being economically active.Local and regional employer need is met as young people are equipped with the right skills, qualifications and experiences.
  • Review and improve the learning and skills offer for young people with learning difficulties and / or disabilities (LLDD) in Stockton, ensuring flexible opportunities to meet demand.
  • Work collaboratively to provide appropriate additional support for targeted young people within Stockton
  • Identify a structure to support the strategic and operational delivery and development of Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) across the borough.
  • Promote the Stockton local education and training offer.

Research and Development- Rebecca Whelan (Principal of Abbey Hill Academy) & Kathryn Lindop (Leader of Professional Learning)

This group examines how schools identifies and promotes reflective practice to improve outcomes for young people.Using an action research model and working in partnership with local Universities, this group is at the forefront of academic innovation.

Workforce Development Group - Kathryn Thompson, Principal/Leader of Professional Learning


  • Examines how schools identify and promote reflective practice to improve outcomes for young people.  Using an action research model and working in partnership with local universities, this group is at the forefront of academic innovation.
  • Developing the workforce through Continuing Professional Development to meet the needs of the schools and to ensure career development
  • Strategic leadership of high quality, professional development across all phases
  • Identifying priorities: national; regional and local
  • Development of the ‘Excellent teacher programme’.

Sunderland University

HSAT has supported ITT placements in core subject areas and SEN placement days for both primary and secondary trainees.

HSAT staff member has also worked closely alongside Sarah Martin Denham of Sunderland University to contribute to several chapters in the book ‘Teaching children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities’, which was published in Early 2015.

Newcastle University

HSAT educational Psychologist has worked closely with the university on ‘Video interaction guidance’ research. This was then shared on international scale at the ‘Becoming Visible’ conference in Brazil (Funded by the British council Research links and Newton fund).

Reflective Partners

Lorna Walker

Lorna is a highly experienced and well regarded education professional who was previously Lead HMI for residential special schools.Prior to this she served as Headteacher and also Local Government Officer for Special Educational Needs and Inclusion.

Currently Lorna is a consultant for Education Policy and Development for Scottish Local Authorities and is an expert in all aspects of Quality Assurance.She has supported the Federation, now HSAT, Executive Leaders with the presentation of SEF based on robust approaches to self-evaluation.Lorna’s contribution to the process will be both valuable and valued by all involved.

David Walker

David is a highly experienced and well regarded education professional who has supported and advised teachers, Headteachers, governors and local authorities on a wide range of school improvement issues.

David’s breadth of experience includes leading Ofsted inspections, headship experience in Warwickshire and East Yorkshire, local authority senior officer roles in Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Darlington, advisory roles with the DfE and consultancy support for the Ministry of Defence. David’s contribution to the process will be both valuable and valued by all involved.

Jan Mather

Jan is the very experienced Head Teacher of Holmwood School in Middlesbrough, an average-sized primary special school for pupils with social, emotional and behavioural needs. Some pupils have autistic spectrum disorder and some, in addition to their behavioural needs, have learning difficulties.

Holmwood was rated as ‘good’ with ‘outstanding’ features in its previous Ofsted inspection.

Mandy Southwick MBE

Mandy moved into special education from mainstream in 2000. She was the deputy head of the Stephenson Centre (BESD all through provision) for five years whilst also working as an AST in behaviour for the local authority.

She then led the Stephenson Centre for a further six years before establishing Marchbank Free School in 2013 which is the first BESD primary free school in the country.

Mandy is an active member of Engage (Senior leaders in BESD education) and on the national council for SEBDA (Social, Emotional, Behavioural Difficulties Association).

Joanne Smith

Joanne is the experienced Head Teacher of Beverley School in Middlesbrough, a large all age specialist school for pupils who have an autistic spectrum disorder. The school moved into new purpose built premises in 2011.

Beverley School was rated as ‘good’ across all areas in the previous Ofsted inspection of 2013.

Alan Chapman

Alan is the very experienced Head Teacher at Catcote School, Business and Enterprise College which is a secondary special school for learners with moderate, severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties. Some of the students may be on the autistic spectrum and there is also a unit for learners with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties. There is a post 16 and also 35 learners in a post 19 base.

The school was rated as ‘good’ across all areas in the previous Ofsted of 2013

John O’Neil

John was head of the Stephenson Centre - part of Beaumont Hill special school in Darlington’s Education Village prior to his recent appointment as Headteacher of a BESD School in Newton Aycliffe . He has current, local and successful experience as a Head of an EBD centre which is part of a larger academy trust.

School Development Partner - Helen Jones MBE

Helen is the very experienced Head of Beacon Hill School and Specialist college for Business and Enterprise. The school caters for children, aged 3 – 19 who have moderate, severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties; some of the children are also have autistic spectrum disorder.

The school was rated as Outstanding in all areas in the Ofsted Inspection in March 2014

Stockton Special School Heads Group

Stockton Special School Heads Group is an information and support group for senior leaders working in the special education sector within the Stockton area.  Chaired by the Principal of Abbey Hill Academy, the group aims to met termly to discuss common themes and topical matters of interest.  The aim of the group is to share good practice and strengthen the service offered to children and young people with special educational needs in the Stockton area.

CAPE (Child Protection in Education)

CAPE is a forum for professionals who support child protection and safeguarding activities across a range of education and similar settings.

CAPE is a professional network for people who support education establishments in their safeguarding responsibilities. Its geographical base is the north of England, but a few members who do not have access to similar groups in their area come from further afield.

CAPE provides an independent voice for a range of professionals. They include trainers, officers in local authorities and voluntary organisations, independent consultants or similar and many work closely with, or are members of, Local Safeguarding Children Boards.

CAPE meets at least once a term, to develop and promote good child protection and safeguarding practice in education and to provide support and networking opportunities for people working in similar roles.

CAPE has no officers, committee, paid staff, or base: our members host, chair and administer meetings in rotation. Members work individually and in groups to share good practice, update and develop materials, respond to consultations, influence the development of current policies and practice, or organise conferences and training events as the need arises.

Whole Education

Abbey Hill Academy are partners with Whole Education. Whole Education is a national network that firmly believes that all children deserve an engaging and rounded education that supports academic achievement, but also develops the skills knowledge and qualities needed to flourish in life, learning and work.

North-East Inter-vision Forum

A forum for practitioners who use Video Interative Guidance (VIG) in their work with children and families.  Meetings take place around four times a year across the region and are aimed at sharing and developing good practice.

Future In Mind Project

The Future in Mind Project was was launched by Stockton Borough Council on 9 February 2017 and involves secondary and primary schools across Stockton on Tees and Hartlepool.  The aim of the project is to build capacity and capability across schools in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. The pilot supports an educational development model that sees the understanding of and building of resilience as key. This approach has been highlighted more recently by the Department of Health and Social Care as a preferred model for future development in their green paper, ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ (December 2017)

Volunteer Organisations