Latest SBMAT Newsletter

Double Celebration for York Family of Schools

Three York primary schools and two secondaries are preparing to welcome Carr Junior School as the newest member of the South Bank Multi Academy Trust. They are also celebrating three years since the Trust was formed to allow local schools to collaborate more closely together.

Pupils from Knavesmire Primary School, Millthorpe School, Scarcroft Primary School, Woodthorpe Primary School and York High School are welcoming Carr Junior School as it joins the South Bank Multi Academy Trust on 1 May this year. The Trust, which is three years old today, celebrated with a cake baked especially for the event by the Chair of Trustees, Edwin Thomas.

Jo Edwards, the Trust Principal, said, ‘Since starting at South Bank MAT in September 2018 I have been impressed with the close links that have continued to be developed between the schools at every level. The equitable and collaborative approach of the Trust ensures that the school communities maintain their unique identities whilst benefiting from working closely together.’

Edwin Thomas, the Chair of Trustees, said, ‘We formed this Trust three years ago because we believed that local schools, working collaboratively, could provide the best possible education for the children in our community. In the last three years we’ve built up links between the schools to enhance learning opportunities for our children and staff. We’ve been able to invest over three million pounds in improved facilities, and put more money into frontline teaching through economies of scale. We’ve also developed an innovative model of collaborative leadership so that every school is an equal partner in the Trust’s achievements. I’m delighted to be celebrating this milestone, and looking forward to many more years of the schools’ success.’

If you are interested in knowing more about South Bank MAT please contact Jo Edwards at:

South Bank Academy Trust
Woodthorpe Primary School
Summerfield Road
York YO24 2RU

01904 553760

Appointment Of The New Trust Principal

Following a rigorous and extremely competitive recruitment process, we’re delighted to announce that the Trustees have appointed Jo Edwards to be the next Trust Principal of the South Bank Multi Academy Trust.

Jo brings an extraordinarily broad wealth of experience.  She has deep knowledge of the whole learning journey your children go on, having been a headteacher in both primary and secondary phases, as well as in a 3-18 through school.  She has worked at a senior level in multi academy trusts, opening new schools and mentoring new headteachers.  She has a strong history of building collaborative networks between schools, both within and across phases.  Everywhere she has worked, she has delivered school improvement, developed staff and improved outcomes for the pupils in her care.  Equally importantly, in the time we spent with her she showed she was firmly committed to our values and ethos.  She is determined to do everything she can to make sure our Trust succeeds on its own terms.

Jo will take up her post on 1 September, subject to the usual pre-employment checks, when Anna Cornhill’s current contract as Trust Principal ends.  As many of you know, that is also the date when Anna will retire as Headteacher of Scarcroft Primary School.  In her eighteen years as headteacher, Anna has made an incalculable contribution to the lives and achievements of staff and young people.  She was a key architect of the Trust, and the first author of the values and ethos that are the bedrock of everything we do.  In her year as Trust Principal, she has established robust processes that will lay the foundation for our success well into the future, while making the Trust a compelling destination for local schools looking to join a MAT.  We owe her a vast debt, and we will look forward to celebrating her many successes and achievements as the end of term approaches.

All the Trustees are looking forward to working with Jo to make sure that the Trust continues to provide the strongest platform for our schools to thrive, and deliver the best possible education to every one of our pupils.


Consultation on the admissions policy for September 2020

This year’s Admissions Consultation is being jointly held by all admissions authorities in the City of York between 08 October and 07 December 2018. The consultation includes the admissions policies and planned number of places available at each school in the year(s) of entry. The views of parent/carers, schools and other interested parties are being sought during this consultation.
To respond, you can write to City of York, email or complete this short survey at

Following the consultation, the South Bank Multi Academy Trust and other admissions authorities will formally set (‘determine’) their admission arrangements for admission in 2020/21 by 28 February 2019. Determined policies will be on all admissions authorities own websites by 15 March 2019 after which objections can be raised.

You can find more information, regarding our schools, here.


On 1st May 2018 we were delighted to welcome York High School into the South Bank Academy Trust. York High joins us as a sponsored academy, with South Bank leader Trevor Burton taking on the role of Executive Headteacher across York High and Millthorpe Schools. Mr Burton is ably supported by Head of School Rod Sims. Although school staff have been working closely with the South Bank Trust sincce September 2017, the school’s official conversion has finally taken place this month. York High School has set out on an improvement journey that will be completed over the next few years and will bring improvements for students at the school. The journey will no doubt be a two-way process, with benefits for both secondary schools in this new partnership arrangement. A special ‘meet and greet’ event has been organized for early May, where Trust Principal Anna Cornhill will officially welcome York High School staff over tea and cake. Teachers will be able to take part in the Learning Networks for senior leaders and SEND straight away and we look forward to embarking on further partnership work between the staff of the two secondary schools.


On 1st October 2017 we were delighted to welcome Woodthorpe Primary School into the South Bank Academy Trust. Although Headteacher James McGann has been working closely with the Headteacher Group within the Trust for the past 12 months, the school’s official conversion has finally taken place this month. Woodthorpe has been on a successful improvement journey over the past two years and will bring many strengths into the MAT. A special ‘meet and greet’ event has been organized for mid-October, where Trust Principal Anna Cornhill will officially welcome Woodthorpe staff over tea and cake. Teachers will be able to take part in the Learning Networks straight away, which start later this month, focusing on key areas such as EYFS, Y2, Y6, SEN and Senior Leadership. Woodthorpe Deputy Head Ash Atherton will be taking the lead for the Y2 Network and we look forward to hearing how these new Networks impact on teaching and learning.

New team for York High School

The South Bank Multi Academy Trust has announced three new senior appointments for York High and Millthorpe schools. The move is part of the Trust’s plan for a major improvement in standards at York High, after the school was placed in Special Measures following an Ofsted inspection in January. York High is due to become and academy and join the Trust by Spring 2018.

Under the new arrangements, Millthorpe headteacher Trevor Burton becomes Executive Headteacher of both York High and Millthorpe. He will be responsible for the schools’ strategic direction and overall school improvement. He will be assisted by two new Heads of School, who will take on responsibility for much of the day-to-day running of the schools.

Rod Sims will be Head of School for York High. Rod has been at York High for ten years, currently as Associate Headteacher, with responsibilities including pastoral care and achievement. A former pupil at Westfield Primary school who grew up in Acomb, Rod is a well-known, popular figure in the local community. In his current role, he was responsible for 20% year-on-year improvement in GCSE results in 2016, and for a pastoral care system which was recognised as ‘strong’ and ‘effective’ by Ofsted.

The team is completed by Gemma Greenhalgh, who has been appointed Head of School at Millthorpe. Her role is to ensure that Millthorpe retains the strong performance of recent years and continues its journey towards an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ grade. Gemma is currently Deputy Head at Bacup & Rawtenstall Grammar School in Lancashire, and was previously at Blue Coat School, Oldham. During her time at both schools, the schools improved from Ofsted ratings of ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’.

Trevor Burton said, ‘We’ve made two excellent appointments and I feel really confident that working together we will improve both schools. Gemma and Rod will be outstanding Heads of School. I know their help will make both schools great places to learn and to teach so our students have an outstanding foundation for their lives.’

Rod Sims said, ‘This is the job I have always dreamed of. My vision for York High is for a happy confident school at the heart of the community, recognised by all as a bold and proud centre of educational excellence. I want to demonstrate that there are no limits to what we can achieve together.’

Gemma Greenhalgh said, ‘I’m delighted to become the Head of School at Millthorpe. The school has made great progress over the last few years but wants to get even better. The sense of community spirit, warmth and happiness, alongside an aspiration to achieve the best for all, is palpable; I feel exceptionally privileged to be working with such impressive staff, students and governors. I’m looking forward to making my contribution to excellence at Millthorpe.’

Maxine Squire, Assistant Director Education and Skills at City of York Council said, ‘Until the academy conversion is complete, the South Bank MAT will take on responsibility for the management of York High in partnership with school governors and the Local Authority. This will allow Trevor Burton and his team to begin the work of school improvement without delay. The development of the arrangements to support school improvement at York High School demonstrate the strong relationships that exist between the local authority and all schools in the city. The council is pleased to be working closely with the South Bank Trust to achieve the best outcomes possible for the students at York High School.’

Edwin Thomas, Chair of Trustees at the South Bank MAT said, ‘Great schools start with the right leadership. We’re thrilled to have people of the calibre of Trevor, Gemma, and Rod to guide York High and Millthorpe on the next stages of the schools’ journeys. The Trustees are looking forward to working with them to deliver the best possible education to all our pupils.’

The new roles will start from 1 September.

York High School seeking to join South Bank Academy Trust

York High School has approached the South Bank Academy Trust about providing sponsorship as it converts to an academy.

York High’s recent Ofsted report placed the school in Special Measures which requires the school to be converted to a sponsored academy as soon as possible. After consulting the staff and local governing boards of its academies and City of York Council, the Trust has agreed to welcome the application from York High School. The Trust has now applied to the Department for Education to act as a sponsor and a decision is expected before Easter.

Edwin Thomas, Chair of Trustees said, “The South Bank Trust exists to provide an excellent education for all children in our community. We would like to support one of our local schools in difficulty, and we believe we have the capacity to do this. There is a strong tradition of schools supporting each other in York, and we are in discussions with the Department for Education about how they will help us to return York High to being a good school as rapidly as possible. Millthorpe School, which has improved itself substantially in recent years, will be a key source of expertise in delivering school improvement. We are currently drawing up plans for this work, and we hope that all academies in the trust will benefit from meeting this shared challenge.”