Part of

  • Blacko Primary School
  • Colne Park High School
  • Laneshaw Bridge Primary School
  • Lord Street Primary
Pennine Trust

Trust Central Team

The Trust Central Team provides the core business functions to ensure that the Trust complies with its statutory responsibilities and supports the operations and educational performance of our academies.

The team operates under the leadership of the CEO; working with staff and Governors in schools to ensure that the required outcomes and priorities of the Trust are achieved in accordance with the Trust’s Mission and strategic priorities as agreed by the Trust Board.

John Tarbox - Chief Executive Officer 

John has worked in Lancashire schools for 32 years, joining the Pennine Trust as CEO in April 2021. He was Headteacher and then Executive Headteacher at Bowland High, near Clitheroe from 2012 until 2021. The school was judged to be outstanding in all areas following the most recent Ofsted inspection at the end of 2016. Subsequently, John helped form a multi-academy trust, Achievement through Collaboration, serving as Deputy CEO. From 2018, he worked at the request of the Local Authority, to support schools in challenging circumstances; Most recently, supporting Rhyddings Business and Enterprise School at a time when that school was forced to relocate on a temporary basis to Burnley from Oswaldtwistle.


Claire Ferguson - Chief Financial Officer

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with Price Waterhouse, Claire spent 15 years working in industry and charity before moving into education, working as Chief Financial Officer at two other Multi Academy Trusts before joining The Pennine Trust in July 2021.

Ben Walker - Head of Governance and Communications

Ben has worked in education for eight years and originally worked at Laneshaw Bridge Primary School before supporting with the administration associated with the formation of the trust.  Ben is currently responsible for governance, policy management, communications and admissions throughout all schools.  He works with trustees, the chief executive and headteachers to ensure that all layers of the trust’s governance arrangements operate as a coherent model.  A key priority that Ben is focussing on is the development and leadership of the trust’s marketing and communications strategy.  Ben has recently completed a level seven qualification in Schools Financial and Operational Leadership which he hopes will further develop his knowledge and skill set in supporting the trust achieve its priorities.  Prior to embarking on a role in education, Ben worked in several senior leadership positions at Tesco and British Airways and believes these roles have contributed to a deeper understanding of successful business operations.

Helen Scholey - Head of Business Development

Helen has over 26 years of Business/Administration Management experience, with the past 13 years based in Education. 

Helen has been involved with the trust schools since 2009, having worked at Blacko Primary as Bursar from 2009 to 2017, moving to Trust Business Manager in 2017 to assist with the formation of the Trust and then as a Central Team member since Sept 2018.  Currently, Helen’s role as Head of Business Development incorporates the management of the Trust ICT Team, Trust Estates, Health and Safety, Bid Generation, and growth strategies.  To compliment Helen’s role, she achieved her Level 7 Diploma in Schools Financial and Operational Leadership in 2020.

Both of Helen’s children attended Trust schools, first Blacko Primary and then Park High school, Helen also served as a school Governor at Blacko for over 12 years.

Karen Dobney - Head of Human Resources and Payroll

Karen is the Head of HR and Payroll for The Pennine Trust. She was instrumental in the formulation of the Trust from 2016.  Karen has worked in education for sixteen years, beginning her career within the admin management function at Park High School. When Karen joined the central trust team, as well as working full time, she completed a HR degree with the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.  Karen is committed integrating HR systems and processes which  support leadership and management within the schools whilst ensuring a Trust wide culture that promotes wellbeing. In her spare time, Karen enjoys visiting historical sites the length and breadth of the UK and is passionate about how fitness, exercise and diet can support mental health and wellbeing.  As a long-time resident of Colne, Karen herself attended Lord Street and Park High as did her two sons. 

Alex Burrows - ICT Manager

Alex has been working in educational ICT in the Northwest for the last 16 years and has experience in both primary and secondary settings. In his most recent post as ICT Network Manager at Park High school, Alex has led and implemented the roll-out of Microsoft 365 across school. Working alongside the quality of education team, this new technology has ensured quality first teaching and improved provision for students. Moving forwards as part of the Trust central team, Alex will now look to prioritise ICT provision and the implementation of new technology Trust wide. This will include professional development for all staff to ensure confident delivery in classrooms and thus a smooth and seamless learning journey for students across all key stages. In addition, Alex will play a pivotal role in the leadership and development of the new central ICT team to ensure efficient and robust support across the Trust. 


Ged Isherwood - Trust Maths Curriculum Lead

Ged Isherwood is the Mathematics Lead for The Pennine Trust. He has worked in education for eleven years and has spent the majority of that time at Laneshaw Bridge Primary School. Prior to completing his PGCE, Ged was awarded a Degree in Sports Science and secured a role coaching football for the New York Red Bulls in New York. Ged is passionate about mathematics teaching and early in his teaching career recognised how problem-solving and reasoning can deepen conceptual understanding and wished that this approach was used during his own education. Ged has completed both the NPQ Middle and Senior Leadership and is currently a Local Leader for Mathematics Education (LLME) for the NCETM and leads several work groups in East Lancashire including the Year 5 – 8 Continuity Project.  When not immersed in mathematics, Ged is an avid golfer and Burnley FC season ticket holder following the Clarets both home and away.


Katie Atherton - Partnership Director

Katie has 19 years experience in education, remaining committed to improving outcomes for children across East Lancashire and beyond since joining the teaching profession in 2004. Based on site at Park High, Katie has extensive experience in all aspects of School Leadership ranging from pastoral care and safeguarding to quality of education and staff development. As part of the Central Team, Katie’s role centres around the development of links and partnerships; working in collaboration with other schools, Trusts and Training Hubs to enhance quality of provision across Pennine Trust as it continues to grow and support staff and student development across the Northwest. Katie is a Lead Associate for Star Institute for both the ECF and NPQ programmes, overseeing both the implementation, delivery and quality assurance of the programmes across Lancashire. In addition, Katie sits on the Quality and Management Board of the Star Institute’s outstanding initial teacher training programme (SCITT) supporting the development and quality assurance of training programmes for new professionals as they lay the foundations for a successful career in the profession.