About us

Our staff

To contact a member of staff please phone 01325 430 250 or email office@utcsouthdurham.org.

Senior Leadership Team

Tom Dower

Tom Dower

Principal

MA (Hons) PgDip, QTS, NPQH – Principal, Designated Safeguarding Lead and Teacher of Product Design

I graduated from Cambridge University in 1995 with a 2:1 in Engineering (MA Hons) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Computer Science.  I then worked for ICI on Teesside for 5 years as a chartered mechanical engineer, project manager and manufacturing consultant.

I then joined Gemini Consulting based in London, leading organisational change projects for 4 years in industry, telecoms and retail for clients such as Corus, Railtrack, Vodafone and Boots.

In 2002, I trained to be a teacher with a PGCE at Goldsmith’s College in London and worked at an outstanding school in south London as Head of Design and Technology.  I moved home to Northumberland in 2005 and to Ashington High School, initially and Head of Department and then as a senior leader.  I led teaching & learning, safeguarding, curriculum/timetable development and drove a culture change across the school through significant improvements in behaviour, attendance and safety.  I also project managed the design phase of a £3.5m expansion to the school which was excellent preparation for my role in setting up the UTC.  I have acted as a leadership consultant with other schools, presented at national conferences and developed materials for the National College of School Leadership middle leadership programme and on-line modules.  I completed the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) in 2013.

With a background as an engineer, business consultant and school leader, the opportunity to lead the UTC combines all of my professional interests and passion for the development of young people and supporting businesses in the North East.  I now live in Durham with my wife and three boys, enjoy tennis, woodwork, and designing with my children.  I am also a governor at Aycliffe Village Primary School.

Jenny Trapp

Jenny Trapp

Deputy Principal

MSc, BA (Hons), QTLS – Deputy Principal, Teacher of ICT and Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

I have been working in education since 2000, specifically, with KS5 students over the past seven years.  As well as being in differing leadership roles, I teach IT and the Level 3 Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).  I have a BA (Hons) First Class degree from Northumbria University and an MSc in Educational Leadership from the University of Leicester.  I am a Fellow of the Education and Training Foundation as well as The College of Teachers and hold an Advanced Diploma in School Business Management from the National College of School Leadership.

I previously worked at Queen Elizabeth High School in Hexham, Northumberland, one of the top performing state schools in the NE region, where I was an Assistant Headteacher.  I have led pastoral teams, been a Designated Safeguarding Lead as well as being responsible for student attainment, progression and careers at both KS4 and KS5.  I have also been the UCAS coordinator in two previous schools.

Prior to my education career, I initially gained my commission in the RAF and qualified as an Air Traffic Controller Officer in 1991.  I was stationed / deployed in both the UK and overseas, where I safely controlled both military and civilian fixed-wing and rotary aircraft in UK and European airspace.  From my diverse military experiences and demands of this complex role, I developed my team-working and leadership skills as well as my clear, calm and honest communication style.

I transferred into civilian life and worked for the John Lewis Partnership for several years.  Firstly, as a fast-track graduate manager and then later as a training and recruitment manager being based in stores in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.  My insight into the recruitment practices of a successful national employer is extremely useful when working with secondary students getting ready for the world of work.

I have two teenage sons, so I completely appreciate the demands of supporting children (especially boys) through their GSCEs and Post-16 education and progression Post-18.  When not at work I enjoy gardening, circuit training and tracing my family history.

Jean Bell

Jean Bell

Business Manager

MBA, BSc (Hons) – UTC Business Manager

I am an experienced manager and leader having worked across the public and private sectors.  I have been lucky enough to always have challenge and independence in the roles I have undertaken.  After leaving sixth form and a brief spell working in a school for the deaf, I went self-employed at the age of 20 working in the retail and off-licence trade with my brother managing two shops and a warehouse.  After 9 years I had become a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ so I decided to undertake my first degree in 1990 where I gained a BSc (Hons) in Business Quantitative Methods (Statistics, economics, accounting and business). 

I then spent 5 years working in the higher education sector at Teesside University where I developed a love of all things complex such as timetabling, MIS, cost benefit and statistical analysis and programme administration among others. Unusually I was able to move around many of the university departments and gained a valuable insight into the working of the organisation.

In 1999, I was head hunted to work for the Polar explorer Robert Swan OBE.  As part of a small team I worked on a project to remove one thousand tons of waste from a Russian research base in Antarctica, all sponsored by some of the largest companies in the world.  I managed Robert’s speaker agency and did the bookkeeping for his three companies. This was one of the most interesting jobs I have held, one minute talking to Jessica Schroder of Schroders bank trust or Bear Grylls and the next sending expedition crew to the company Yacht 2041 in the Antarctic (armed with a regular supply of Haribos for the Skipper!), or writing risk assessments for the Foreign Office before designing and sending a certificate to Vladimir Putin to present to Roberts friend a ‘Russian Hero’.

On leaving Mission Antarctica, I went into secondary education at Freebrough Specialist Engineering College.  This was a new merger of three village secondary schools and here I worked my way up to the Leadership team managing 89 support staff, having responsibility for finance, administration, IT, estates, data and exams.  I was involved in leading two school moves and one new build, working closely with the project team on specifying IT and telephony before planning the final move. 

In 2007, I left there to complete a Masters degree in Business Administration before starting a company delivering Education Consultancy.  By chance I heard an enthusiastic interview with Tom on the radio and decided to apply and commit myself to a new challenge at UTC South Durham.

Dan G new

Dan Glasbey

Faculty Director, Sciences

BSc (Hons) QTS – Faculty Director for Science Faculty, Teacher of Physics and Science and NQT supervisor

I graduated in 2001 with a Physics degree from the University of York and then with a PGDip in Computing from Napier University in 2004.  I have worked in both Finance and IT.  I started teacher training in 2005 and achieved a PGCE from the University of Nottingham in 2006.  I have been teaching ever since, with the exception of a year out to travel the world 2008-2009, during which I worked for three months in Sydney Australia.

In that time, I have worked in two Ofsted rating ‘Outstanding’ schools in North London, delivered exceptional results at both GCSE and A-Level, and been a Head of Physics, Student teacher-co-ordinator and a 2nd in Science.  I have delivered Building Learning Power and Literacy showcase lessons to visitors from across London and been rated Outstanding for my teaching on several occasions, most notably by 'Challenge Partners'.

I have also successfully completed an NPQML (National Professional Qualification for Middle Leaders) and the OTP (Outstanding Teacher Programme).

Jak Heslop

Jak Heslop

Faculty Director, Core and Inclusion

BSc (Hons) QTS – Faculty Director for Core Subjects, Teacher of Chemistry and Science and PSHE / SMSC Coordinator

I have been qualified as a teacher for 20 years, teaching GCSE Sciences and A Level Chemistry at a variety of schools across the North East.  Until moving to the UTC, I had been Head of Science at a local Ofsted Outstanding school for the previous 12 years.

I graduated from the University of Sheffield in 1992 with a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry and then moved on to do some post graduate research for the Ministry of Defence at Cranfield Institute of Technology.  I have strong links with the University of Durham and other County Durham schools developing the profile and up take of Physics Post-16, and encouraging girls to continue with their study of Science.

I also run here, as I have at a previous school, a group of students who promote the enjoyment of Science to primary school students, both in school and at public events.

Neil McGrath

Neil McGrath

Faculty Director, Engineering

BEd QTS – Faculty Director for Engineering Faculty

On completion of my secondary education, I started a four-year craft apprenticeship in Toolmaking.  This consisted of day-release, at what was then Darlington College of Technology, plus four days of training at work.  Over the next eight years, I continued this day-release training to complete my full craft apprenticeship qualification, plus an ONC and HNC in Engineering.  Over that period, I worked for a number of engineering companies- manufacturing photocopiers, manual and automated transmissions, televisions and superheaters for offshore companies.

I had by then, developed a real interest in learning, so to continue this I enrolled on a teaching degree and soon successfully completed a BEd at York University.  I returned to employment working locally in childcare for two years. This was within a secure unit working with some of the UKs most challenging children, working alongside psychiatrists and psychologists.  The knowledge I learnt there has been invaluable in my teaching career.

My teaching took another change in direction, working for two secondary schools in County Durham.  One enabled me to work with sixth-form students, both as a tutor and teacher of A level courses.  I also held the post of Subject Leader for Technology in one school for six years.  Promotion quickly followed to a larger school in Sunderland leading the Technology Faculty, delivering a wide range of GCSE courses.

The opportunity to work at the UTC was a massive attraction to me. It has enabled me to work with well-motivated students who have a real interest in engineering, maths and the sciences.  The work based skills and excellent education on offer, will give our students the perfect start to employment or further education.

Catherine Purvis-Mawson

Catherine Purvis-Mawson

Business Engagement Manager

MA, BA (Hons) – Business Engagement Manager

Working with young people has always been the focus of my career. I completed my Undergraduate Degree in English and History from Sunderland University in 2001 and went on to study a Post Graduate Certificate in Gender, Culture and Development in 2002, which allowed me to travel to the Canadian Arctic to study Inuit culture and settlements.

I was then successful gaining a job with an environmental charity, Groundwork North East who supported me to complete my qualifications in youth work. I worked in a number of areas across County Durham and Darlington supporting young people to develop their personal and social skills. 

After doing detached youth work for 6 years I then moved to working for Newcastle and Durham Universities on a public engagement project encouraging community and academic staff to co create research together that had the aspiration to create social change. During this time, I gained my Masters in Youth and Community work from Durham University.

Working with young people however was always my motivation, so moved to work in a secondary school in County Durham as their Enterprise and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Enrichment Manager in 2008. Here my role was about inspiring young people to enter into a STEM career. Developing relationships with business and industry to allow students to see what was available to them and gain access to a large variety of career opportunities was key to their personal development.

Here at the UTC, I am able to use all of my knowledge and skills of young people as well as my significant network of business and industry partners to allow our students to gain knowledge from an extensive variety of careers and people to ensure they have the best start to their futures.

Faculty of Sciences

Dan G new

Dan Glasbey

Faculty Director, Sciences

BSc (Hons) QTS – Faculty Director for Science Faculty, Teacher of Physics and Science and NQT supervisor

I graduated in 2001 with a Physics degree from the University of York and then with a PGDip in Computing from Napier University in 2004.  I have worked in both Finance and IT.  I started teacher training in 2005 and achieved a PGCE from the University of Nottingham in 2006.  I have been teaching ever since, with the exception of a year out to travel the world 2008-2009, during which I worked for three months in Sydney Australia.

In that time, I have worked in two Ofsted rating ‘Outstanding’ schools in North London, delivered exceptional results at both GCSE and A-Level, and been a Head of Physics, Student teacher-co-ordinator and a 2nd in Science.  I have delivered Building Learning Power and Literacy showcase lessons to visitors from across London and been rated Outstanding for my teaching on several occasions, most notably by 'Challenge Partners'.

I have also successfully completed an NPQML (National Professional Qualification for Middle Leaders) and the OTP (Outstanding Teacher Programme).

Faculty of Core and Inclusion

Jak Heslop

Jak Heslop

Faculty Director, Core and Inclusion

BSc (Hons) QTS – Faculty Director for Core Subjects, Teacher of Chemistry and Science and PSHE / SMSC Coordinator

I have been qualified as a teacher for 20 years, teaching GCSE Sciences and A Level Chemistry at a variety of schools across the North East.  Until moving to the UTC, I had been Head of Science at a local Ofsted Outstanding school for the previous 12 years.

I graduated from the University of Sheffield in 1992 with a BSc (Hons) in Chemistry and then moved on to do some post graduate research for the Ministry of Defence at Cranfield Institute of Technology.  I have strong links with the University of Durham and other County Durham schools developing the profile and up take of Physics Post-16, and encouraging girls to continue with their study of Science.

I also run here, as I have at a previous school, a group of students who promote the enjoyment of Science to primary school students, both in school and at public events.

Laura McAllister

Laura McAllister

English Teacher

BA (Hons) QTS – Teacher of English

Following my Secondary and Further Education, I spent some time as a customer services representative for an energy company.  Whilst this role was very useful for helping me to develop workplace skills, (such as, problem solving and communication), it was not a role that I felt truly fulfilled in.

When an opportunity arose in 2004 to work in education as a Teaching Assistant (TA) at Hurworth School, I was very keen to apply.  Employed initially to work across the school to support students with Special Educational Needs, my strengths in English, Media and Drama meant that I soon became an integral part of supporting students through their GCSEs in these subjects.  Over time, I worked my way up to become a Level 3 TA and was given the responsibility for delivering and co-ordinating the ASDAN programme with KS4 students.

Early on in my time as a TA, I found a love for teaching and learning and realised that I wanted to be leading English lessons.  In order to achieve this, I studied with the Open University for six years, whilst continuing as a TA, before graduating with BA (Hons) in Literature.

Having gained my degree, I was successful in gaining a placement with Redcar and Cleveland Teacher Training Partnership in 2011. Following their yearlong ITT course allowed me to gain Qualified Teacher Status whilst placed in the English department at Sacred Heart RC School in Redcar. At the end of the course, I was deemed an outstanding trainee and offered a permanent post at Sacred Heart RC School as a Teacher of English.  I continued to teach here for two years - gaining excellent results.

Before joining the UTC, I also taught at DSMS School in Darlington where, as well as fulfilling the role of Teacher of English, I was also responsible for mentoring a trainee English teacher and two newly qualified English Teachers (NQTs).

Throughout my teaching career, I have been committed to providing the best possible learning experiences for my students and have been given several ‘Outstanding’ lesson grading’s by both senior colleagues and Ofsted inspectors.

Faculty of Engineering

Neil McGrath

Neil McGrath

Faculty Director, Engineering

BEd QTS – Faculty Director for Engineering Faculty

On completion of my secondary education, I started a four-year craft apprenticeship in Toolmaking.  This consisted of day-release, at what was then Darlington College of Technology, plus four days of training at work.  Over the next eight years, I continued this day-release training to complete my full craft apprenticeship qualification, plus an ONC and HNC in Engineering.  Over that period, I worked for a number of engineering companies- manufacturing photocopiers, manual and automated transmissions, televisions and superheaters for offshore companies.

I had by then, developed a real interest in learning, so to continue this I enrolled on a teaching degree and soon successfully completed a BEd at York University.  I returned to employment working locally in childcare for two years. This was within a secure unit working with some of the UKs most challenging children, working alongside psychiatrists and psychologists.  The knowledge I learnt there has been invaluable in my teaching career.

My teaching took another change in direction, working for two secondary schools in County Durham.  One enabled me to work with sixth-form students, both as a tutor and teacher of A level courses.  I also held the post of Subject Leader for Technology in one school for six years.  Promotion quickly followed to a larger school in Sunderland leading the Technology Faculty, delivering a wide range of GCSE courses.

The opportunity to work at the UTC was a massive attraction to me. It has enabled me to work with well-motivated students who have a real interest in engineering, maths and the sciences.  The work based skills and excellent education on offer, will give our students the perfect start to employment or further education.

Mike Reid

Mike Reid

Engineering Teacher

BSc (Hons) QTS – Teacher of Engineering and Product Design and Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme Lead

On completing my secondary education, I completed a two-year national diploma BTEC course in Electronic and Electrical Engineering. I went onto study at Hull University and the University of Huddersfield. After my degree, I spent around seven years working in industry before going onto teacher training.

I have an honours degree in Science / Engineering, and have been a qualified teacher since 2005.  I trained on the SCITT course at Macmillan Academy in Middlesbrough and I have worked in a variety of schools in the Teesside area and have held positions including Head of Outdoor Education (Thornaby Academy), Assistant Faculty Leader of Science (Hummersknott Academy) and School Governor at both Ingleby Mill Primary School and now at the UTC.

During the UTC week, I run electronics club for our students and coding club. These both use my specialist knowledge of science and engineering to help students develop robotics, electronics and design projects.  I enjoy developing skills in new equipment such as 3D printers, virtual welders and laser cutting equipment as well as being qualified with the DT Association to safely operate and instruct on a wide range of workshop power and hand tools.

I specialise in the teaching of electronics and physics, but also enjoy opportunities involving the outdoors.  I hold the summer mountain leader and Level 4 kayak coach qualifications; I have used these to qualify as a Duke of Edinburgh Expedition Assessor at Gold expedition level.  I am also affiliated with the Scouts where I use my teaching and coaching skills to train volunteer staff in safe practice and education in dealing with up to 100 young people in kayaks over the course of a weekend.

At home, I enjoy using my engineering skills to develop my own projects and maintain my knowledge and equipment.  I am now also a qualified foster carer.

John Reynard

John Reynard

Engineering Teacher

BA (Hons) QTS – Teacher of Business, Product Design and PE

My educational background includes GCSEs, A level and GNVQ Advanced Business studies followed by studying a BA (Hons) in Management and Design Technology from Leeds University in 2003. 

Following a number of years in industry, I have gained a breadth of relevant experience working for Atkin’s Rail Ltd and a specialist twist-lock organisation, Duraloc Ltd, as well as working for Boeing, Charleston Marine and Ferrari on specialist projects as well as international experience in Australia.

Following this, and after a period of retraining at Sunderland University, I completed a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) in Design and Technology, specialising in Resistant Materials and studying an additional unit in Engineering.

I have mainstream education teaching experience as a Lead Teacher of Engineering and national curriculum technology subjects at Keystage 2-4 including, Resistant Materials, Computer Aided Design, Product Design and Graphics.

I have subsequently worked in Further Education for four years as an Engineering Lecturer and Course Leader, undertaking teaching across a varied curriculum including HNC Design and DND Project and Business Studies.

Professional Support Staff

Jean Bell

Jean Bell

Business Manager

MBA, BSc (Hons) – UTC Business Manager

I am an experienced manager and leader having worked across the public and private sectors.  I have been lucky enough to always have challenge and independence in the roles I have undertaken.  After leaving sixth form and a brief spell working in a school for the deaf, I went self-employed at the age of 20 working in the retail and off-licence trade with my brother managing two shops and a warehouse.  After 9 years I had become a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ so I decided to undertake my first degree in 1990 where I gained a BSc (Hons) in Business Quantitative Methods (Statistics, economics, accounting and business). 

I then spent 5 years working in the higher education sector at Teesside University where I developed a love of all things complex such as timetabling, MIS, cost benefit and statistical analysis and programme administration among others. Unusually I was able to move around many of the university departments and gained a valuable insight into the working of the organisation.

In 1999, I was head hunted to work for the Polar explorer Robert Swan OBE.  As part of a small team I worked on a project to remove one thousand tons of waste from a Russian research base in Antarctica, all sponsored by some of the largest companies in the world.  I managed Robert’s speaker agency and did the bookkeeping for his three companies. This was one of the most interesting jobs I have held, one minute talking to Jessica Schroder of Schroders bank trust or Bear Grylls and the next sending expedition crew to the company Yacht 2041 in the Antarctic (armed with a regular supply of Haribos for the Skipper!), or writing risk assessments for the Foreign Office before designing and sending a certificate to Vladimir Putin to present to Roberts friend a ‘Russian Hero’.

On leaving Mission Antarctica, I went into secondary education at Freebrough Specialist Engineering College.  This was a new merger of three village secondary schools and here I worked my way up to the Leadership team managing 89 support staff, having responsibility for finance, administration, IT, estates, data and exams.  I was involved in leading two school moves and one new build, working closely with the project team on specifying IT and telephony before planning the final move. 

In 2007, I left there to complete a Masters degree in Business Administration before starting a company delivering Education Consultancy.  By chance I heard an enthusiastic interview with Tom on the radio and decided to apply and commit myself to a new challenge at UTC South Durham.

Julie Bushby

Julie Bushby

Student Support Co-ordinator

Student Support Co-ordinator and Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead

After completing my Secondary Education, I did not follow the traditional route of going to College but embarked on a Clerical YTS – the equivalent today of an apprenticeship.  I gained a placement working in a solicitor’s office beginning on reception.  Through my training and qualifications, I became a Legal Secretary for one of the Partners in the firm, often representing clients at Court Hearings and remained there for 13 years.

As a career change, I relocated to work for Abbey National in their Customer Complaints department for five years and changed to working part time when my son was born in 2000.  Once he became of school age (now a Sixth Form Student at College), I was able to secure a position in the Education Sector.

I have worked within Secondary Education for 14 years, firstly at Branksome Comprehensive Darlington as the Principal’s PA / Cover Manager and then Hummersknott Academy Darlington.  This latter role involved working more closely with Students pastorally and I gained qualifications in Level 3 and Level 4 Careers Information Advice and Guidance along with First Aid.  I was also responsible for the delivery and administration of CEIAG interviews to Students in Years 10 and 11 along with the co-ordination of the yearly Work Experience Programme.  Furthermore, I played a large part in discussions and engagements around Student’s futures be it FE College, University or Apprenticeship.

Working at UTC has enabled me to put my extensive skills into practise to assist Students to engage positively with their learning to achieve their goals.

 

Steve Bell

Steve Bell

Caretaker

Caretaker

After completing my secondary education at the age of 16, I started working for the National Coal Board (British Coal) as an apprentice mechanical fitter.  Training in all the practical aspects of mechanical engineering on site at various mines and training centres, as well as studying the theory side at Framwellgate College, Durham.  After completing a five-year apprenticeship and seven years studying at college I graduated as a time served Class 1 Grade 1 Mechanical Fitter, qualified to Assistant Mechanical Engineer level.  I worked as a Mechanical Fitter (covering all mechanical disciplines e.g. hydraulics, pneumatics, fabrication, repairs and installation) for a further seven years until I was made redundant due to closure of the mines.

I then started working for Her Majesty's Prison Service. Starting as a Prison Officer, I worked my way up through the ranks to become an Officer Instructor and then eventually completing my 25-years’ service as a Senior Officer Instructor.  In these roles, I was regularly involved in training or delivering training to staff and prisoners in numerous specialised training courses.  I chose to take voluntary redundancy as eventually my role as Senior Officer Instructor required me to train New Entrant Prison Officers at the Prison Service Training College in Rugby, Warwickshire, and I did not want to re-locate.