Barnsley Schools' Alliance

The mission of Barnsley Schools’ Alliance is to promote a joined-up approach to improving education.

Our goal is to ensure the very best educational outcomes for children and young people in Barnsley and we'll achieve this by working together through collaborative and partnership arrangements.

We're very fortunate in Barnsley that all members of the alliance are truly committed and meet regularly which shows the power of our partnership working approach.

Education Improvement Strategy 

Whatever a child's background or circumstances, our children and young people deserve the most positive educational experience possible and to achieve their full potential. That's why we've worked to create our co-produced Education Improvement Strategy 2022-2025 that shows how we'll work together to make this possible.  

About us

Our structure

Barnsley Schools Alliance Board: Executive group

  • Ken Merry - Secondary (Co Chair)
  • Lee McClure - Primary (Co Chair) / Primary Heads Executive Group Chair

Quality of Education Group

  • Matthew Harris - NLE (LA Maintained) / Quality of Education Group Chair

CPD Working Group

  • Dee Marsh - Director, Tykes Education Alliance / CPD Working Group Chair

Networking Group

  • Alison Wilks - Darfield / Wombwell Cluster Lead / Networking Group Chair

Secondary Heads Group

  • Paul Crook - Secondary Heads Group Chair

Primary Heads Executive Group

  • Lee McClure - Primary (Co Chair) / Primary Heads Executive Group Chair

Leadership Capacity Group

  • Theresa Smith - Leadership Capacity Group Chair


  • Rebecca Paddock - Worsbrough / Stairfoot Cluster Lead
  • Rachel Ward - CARM Cluster Lead
  • Jayne Winnard - Dearne Cluster Lead
  • Alison Wilks - Darfield / Wombwell Cluster Lead / Networking Group Chair
  • Karen Dobson - Town Centre Custer Lead
  • Gillian Clark - Hoyland Cluster Lead
  • Jane MacKay - Darton Cluster Lead
  • Karen Brown - Cudworth Cluster Lead
  • Simon Tabbner - Penistone Cluster Lead

Download our structure (PDF 237Kb)

Secondary Co-Chair Ken Merry

I'm really excited to have taken up the role of Secondary Co-Chair of the Barnsley Schools’ Alliance in May 2022 and am looking forward to working closely with school leaders to support the young people of our borough to have the best possible educational experience.

My 'day job' is at Barnsley College where I am the Vice Principal for Quality. Barnsley College was recently inspected by Ofsted and graded Outstanding, making it one of only a handful of further education colleges in the country to achieve this grade. I’m keen to facilitate the sharing of best practice across all secondary schools in Barnsley, support the Barnsley Council Education Improvement Strategy (2022-2025) - leading on the secondary phase, as well as looking to share best practice from the work that we do as a college where it would support schools to improve.

I strongly believe that every child in our borough should be studying at a school that is graded good or better by Ofsted. The challenge to the Barnsley Schools’ Alliance is to rapidly make this happen.

I also sit on the board for the Adult Skills and Community Learning board of Barnsley Council and represent the Schools’ Alliance at the Barnsley 2030 board.

Primary Co-Chair Lee McClure

I've been a Headteacher for over 10 years now and a Local Leader of Education for 4 years. I've always enjoyed and had a passion for working with other settings and across other phases of education too - nurseries, secondary schools, etc. I would like to think of myself as a 'values driven' leader who has a track record for high standards in education - be that attendance, behaviour and attitudes to learning or educational progress and achievement.

I'm from Barnsley and have always lived and worked here, minus 4 years at university in Sheffield and York - never too far away! I've worked in various schools across the Borough as a sports coach, TA, teacher, curriculum lead, Assistant Head, Deputy Head and now a Head/LLE. I love working with children and see my role as not just leading a school but supporting an entire learning community to thrive.

Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed my new role as Co-chair of the Barnsley Alliance, representing the primary settings. I was involved in many networks and learned so much from the SEND local area inspection and other formal inspections of the Borough.

We've so many talented and committed professionals working in Barnsley and part of my role moving forward is to ensure that they are working together as effectively as possible. My main goals remain to ensure that all schools engage with the Alliance and receive the levels of support and challenge that they individually require to thrive and also to engage with the relevant services to improve the early intervention strategies that are deployed across the town and across all services so that all children and families, especially the most vulnerable, get the best possible start in life.

The first year in post has seen many changes to how we work in terms of systems, processes and partnerships. We're proud that we're now well placed to deliver local area work through strong clusters of schools that allow each school and their leaders/governors to have a voice.

All schools, regardless of their Ofsted grading, have strengths and areas in need of development and the quicker we create a fair, honest and transparent system where schools are celebrated for those strengths and supported to address their weaknesses, swiftly and effectively, the better for our children and the future of our Borough.

I look forward to building on the work that has already been done to see the impact of our development work so far in my second year in post.

Primary Headteacher, Springvale Primary

Our priorities

Principle 1: Educational opportunities

To champion world class education opportunities for all children, young people and  families. Ensuring we meet the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups of children and young people.

  • To ensure that all educational settings deliver a quality of education that enhances the life chances of all Barnsley children and young people.
  • To improve outcomes for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups of children and young people, including a focus on those pupils who have special educational needs, looked after children and young people and pupils in receipt of free school meals as well as those for whom their school receives pupil premium funding.

Principle 2: Inclusive provision

To secure high quality inclusive provision, widen local opportunities and promote equality.

  • To promote a culture of excellence through aspirational social expectations, including good attendance, punctuality, personal behaviour and learning standards.
  • To promote equality and inclusion to equip our young people to become productive citizens ready to make a positive contribution locally and in the wider world. and learning standards.

Principle 3: School-led improvement

To continue to strengthen Barnsley’s system-wide school- led improvement, working closely with key partners.

  • To build leadership capacity which empowers leaders at all levels to develop a sustainable model of continuous improvement across all Barnsley schools.
  • To ensure that all settings offer a curriculum that is dynamic, engaging and aspirational so that it caters for the breadth of interests and talents across the locality.
  • To deliver the highest quality of teaching and learning to drive curriculum delivery and embed the necessary skills and knowledge in all subjects.
  • To achieve the highest possible attainment outcomes; through rapid rates of progress from all starting points.
  • To provide teachers with regular, relevant and high-quality access to Continuous Professional Development opportunities at all levels.

Principle 4: Improve health and wellbeing

To promote, safeguard and improve our children and young people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. Recognising that this ultimately underpins the ability for us to achieve all other priorities.

  • To enable all services to be collaborative and effective in supporting children and young people to feel safe and secure in our Borough whilst promoting physically and mentally healthy lifestyles to all.

Our CPD offer

We work in partnership with Tykes Teaching Alliance to provide Continual Professional Development (CPD). You can access the full schools and academies offer on the Tykes Teaching Alliance website.

Key dates

April 2023

Date Event Time Location
20 April Barnsley Schools' Alliance Executive Group meeting 10am to 12pm Microsoft Teams
27 April Quality of Education Group meeting 10am to 12.30pm Microsoft Teams

May 2023

Date Event Time Location
18 May Leadership Capacity Group meeting 10am to 12pm Microsoft Teams
22 May Primary Headteachers' Executive Group meeting 10am to 12pm Microsoft Teams

June 2023

Date Event Time Location
5 June Barnsley Schools' Alliance Executive Group meeting 10am to 12pm Microsoft Teams
15 June Quality of Education Group meeting 10am to 12.30pm Microsoft Teams
22 June Barnsley Schools' Alliance Board meeting 10am to 12pm Microsoft Teams
29 June Leadership Capacity Group meeting 10am to 12pm Microsoft Teams

July 2023

Date Event Time Location
3 July Primary Headteachers' Executive Group meeting 10am to 12pm Microsoft Teams
10 July Barnsley Schools' Alliance Executive Group meeting 10am to 12pm Microsoft Teams