National leaders of education (NLEs) are strong school leaders, who have experience of effectively supporting schools in challenging circumstances. NLEs work alongside teaching schools and other system leaders to provide high quality support to those who need it most.
Northern Saints Teaching School Alliance current NLEs
Mr Brendan Tapping Executive Headteacher
Brendan has worked for over 24 years in Catholic Education within the North East of England. He is currently the Executive Headteacher of three large secondary schools – St. Wilfrid’s RC College in South Shields, St. Bede’s Catholic Comprehensive in Peterlee and St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Hebburn.
Prior to this Brendan spent ten years as an Assistant Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher at Cardinal Hume Catholic School where he had responsibility for the development of Teaching and Learning.
He has dedicated his career to supporting schools, children and their families in some of the most deprived areas of the country, who often face many barriers to learning. Under his headship, St. Wilfrid’s was named as a winner in the national Pupil Premium Awards for two consecutive years.
Brendan has a strong focus on whole school improvement. As a result of changes he instigated at St. Wilfrid’s, the school moved out of Special Measures in record time and is now Outstanding in every category.
In January 2015 Brendan was appointed as an Executive Headteacher of both St Wilfrid’s RC College and St Bede's RC School. Within two years St. Bede’s moved from Requires Support to Good. In April 2017 he was appointed to the role of Executive Headteacher of St Josephs’s Catholic Academy.
In September 2014 as Headteacher of St Wilfrid's, Brendan was the co- founder of Career College North East, which has a focus of Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing.
Brendan is a strong advocate for the children he works with having access to the best possible education and ensuring that the schools plan for the progress of all pupils to ensure that no child is left behind.
Mr Nick Conway Executive Headteacher
Nick is an enthusiastic leader who is keen to work with outward looking schools. He is currently an Executive Headteacher at another school. He has wide experience of working in primary schools with different socio-economic backgrounds.
Rated as an outstanding leader of an outstanding school, Nick is driven and focused on developing whole school systems and strategies that underpin successful schools. He has mentored newly appointed Headteachers as well as using the experience and talent in his own school to support schools in special measures to rapidly improve.
Nick's passion for clarity, developing whole staff and distributive leadership enable him to develop strong teams across a school, improving communication, expectations and raising standards quickly.
Within his own school, he has a number of skilled professionals that excel in each key stage and also individuals who lead with great knowledge and commitment in both core and foundation subjects
Mr Ken Smithson Headteacher
Ken has a long standing and well deserved reputation as a leader, with a wealth of experience and knowledge of the Primary Sector. Currently the Head Teacher of St Gregory’s in South Shields, with previous Headship experience in County Durham and as a Deputy Headteacher in Sunderland.
Ken has been a National Leader of Education for a number of years, and was one of the first Beacon School Head Teachers in 2000. He has delivered several flagship programmes for the National College across the Region, including “New Visions” and “Transformational Leadership in Schools”, courses that emphasised the leader as servant and enabler, able to both transform and embed school improvement, something that sits well both with his own and the Catholic philosophy.
He has supported schools across South Tyneside and the Diocese as a SIP and is currently SIA for two local schools. He has mentored many new Head Teachers, several of whom now lead outstanding schools. Ken enjoys working with schools and with new and aspiring leaders as they have so much to offer.