Meet the staff
Dame Nicola Stephenson
Chief Executive Officer and Executive Headteacher Valour Multi Academy Trust
Dame Nicola has been Executive Headteacher of 2 successful primary schools serving the Newcastle community for over 20 years. She led the transformation from 2 softly federated schools to the creation of Valour MAT. Both schools are National Support Schools working closely with schools in Newcastle and further afield, whilst also running initial teacher training. Dame Nicola is highly effective in school improvement and has a proven track record in transforming schools for the good of the education system nationally.
In addition to CEO she is on the RSC advisory board supporting schools in the North of England. Dame Nicola is Vice Chair of Schools North East which provides a non-political voice for schools from all sectors in the North East, North Yorkshire and Humber regions. They have developed a manifesto to advocate for the needs of the North East and challenge the myth surrounding some of the narrative about the area. Dame Nicola’s role as a National Executive officer for NAHT enables her to further champion the work of leaders in the North East of England and try and find solutions to any regional problems that arise. She has worked in school improvement Nationally and Internationally and also been an advisor for the DFE.
All the work Dame Nicola completes is driven by the desire to provide all the children in Beech Hill with the best educational opportunities and to meet the school vision for all our pupils to feel safe, happy and loved. Beech Hill is a school she would gladly have sent her own son Benjamín to.
Dame Nicola enjoys a charity challenge, be it cycling across Madagascar or trekking the foothills of the Himalayas. She has a son at university, 2 cats and 3 cockapoos, one named Indiana Bones and the recent addition of Scrappy Doo and Boo. She believes childhood should be full of love, happiness and security, gathering memories to last a lifetime.
Mrs Jess Eatock
I am Head Teacher at Beech Hill Primary School having worked in education for over 20 years. Before joining Beech Hill, I worked in a variety of schools in the north of England before working with the Newcastle Local Authority as a literacy and assessment consultant. The role included working with schools to improve their literacy practices and individual staff development as well as ensuring summative assessment across the city was fit for purpose; this included working closely with the NCA.
In my current role, I specialise in staff development, school to school support and initial teacher training as well as ensuring that all children in school feel happy safe and loved and reach their full potential. I am a Regional System Leader, designated by the National College to offer school to school support in a school lead system. I have a Master Degree in Education and look to research to influence my own practice.
I also have a teenage son and 3 dogs who keep me active with long walks on the beach.
Mrs Jackie Manning
I graduated from Northumbria University in 2000 after gaining a 2:1 BA in Education with honours. I have had the genuine pleasure of working at Beech Hill since 2000 as a fresh newly qualified teacher and have stayed here ever since (testament to how fantastic a school we have). I have taught in Years 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and currently reside in Year 6 – where I have taught for nine years. I am one of two deputy head teachers in our school. I am a trained “Outstanding Facilitator” and an SLE (Senior Leader of Education) – which means I can deliver high quality training to other teachers. I am “Thrive” trained. In my spare time, I have young daughters, a husband and a chocolate Labrador who keeps me on my toes and I feel very lucky to have the life I live!
Mrs Kate Telfer
I graduated from Sunderland University in 2000 with BA in Education with honours. I have taught in Beech Hill since 2001. I began in year 5 when the school had just turned to a Primary but have spent the majority of my time in year 6 teaching Literacy. I am a Deputy Head Teacher and lead writing across the school. This role allows me to look at all the fantastic work that occurs throughout the school to ensure all children are receiving an enriched learning curriculum. When I’m not at work I like to spend time with my family by getting out and about with walks and bike rides.
Mrs Jen Lisle
Teacher / SENCO
Hello! Here’s a little bit about me: I graduated from Northumbria University in 2005 after gaining a 2:1 BSc in Psychology and afterwards completed my PGCE in Primary Education. I have had the pleasure of working at Beech Hill since 2007 and have worked mostly in upper KS2. I was appointed SENCO in 2008 and have completed the National Award for Special Educational Needs through Cumbria University. In my spare time, I enjoy paddle boarding, wild swimming, walking in the Lake District and spending lots of time outdoors, exploring with my family.
Miss Kayleigh Farnham
Teacher/ EYFS Lead
I studied at Leeds Metropolitan University for two years before deciding to finish my degree at Northumbria University. I gained a degree in Business and Marketing which led me to a job at Proctor and Gamble. After two years I decided that I wanted to pursue my childhood dream job of becoming a teacher. I qualified as teacher in 2010 after completing the Gateshead SCITT. I spent the first two terms of my NQT year at Walbottle Village Primary before joining the Beech Hill team in 2011. Since joining Beech Hill I have earned a National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) and taken on the role of Early Years lead. In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. I love travelling, karaoke and all things Dolly Parton.
Mrs Julie Kemp
Teacher / SENCO
I graduated from Northumbria University in 2005 with a BSc in Psychology, I then went on to complete my PGCE in Primary Education with a specialism in Early Years. I worked in North Tyneside for 6 years before starting at Beech Hill in 2011. I then worked as a Reception teacher and Early Years Leader for 8 years before moving into Year 1 in 2020 when I returned from maternity leave. I currently work part time as a Year 1 teacher and SENCO. During my time at Beech Hill I have earned a National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML), became an SLE (Senior Leader of Education), completed training in “Thrive”, and became an Early Years Moderator for the Local Authority. When I’m not at school I enjoy spending time with my family. I love holidays and seeing new parts of the world.
Mr Alan Greensitt
I joined Beech Hill in October 2017 as Chief Finance Officer and I work on all aspects of finance for both Beech Hill and Walbottle academies. I have a BA (Hons) in Business and qualified as a teacher in 1996. I worked as an Assistant Head Teacher and with responsibility for financial planning child protection and whole school ICT; I was also involved in the conversion of my previous school to an Academy. Prior to teaching I was an accountant and have returned to my ‘trade’ to work at Beech Hill. My main hobby is going to the gym, however since my marriage last year this hobby has taken a back seat (just for now!).
Mrs Sharon MacDonald BCA
Parent Support Coordinator
I attended Sacred Heart Catholic High School where I achieved several ‘O’ and ‘OA’ levels. I then successfully studied for a BTEC in Business and Secretarial studies at North Tyneside College of Further Education. I have worked for Newcastle City Council for 22 years; I started my career working for City Works as an admin officer, following this I worked at St Marys Catholic High School as a Teaching Assistant. After 6 months I applied to work for the Attendance Welfare Service. I began working for Beech Hill Primary School in 2008 and have remained here ever since supporting families through my role as Family Support Coordinator.
Mrs Sarah Bewley
School Business Manager
Originally from Fife in Scotland I moved to Newcastle in 1998. I have worked in Admin & Finance for a number of years mainly in the Leisure Industry. After having my 2 daughters I worked as a Supply Administrator in various schools in Newcastle before starting at Beech Hill in 2008. I am the School Business Manager and I love my job. In my spare time I like to socialise with friends and enjoy family holidays walking in the Lake District as well as relaxing somewhere nice & hot. I go to the gym, love reading my kindle and spending time with my family.
I joined Beech Hill in March 2020 as the school's Attendance Officer. I am married with two teenage boys. I spend a lot of my spare time watching my boys play basketball and football. When I have any free time I like to read or catch up with friends.
Mr Peter Redpath
Miss Katie Morren
I joined Beech Hill in May 2016 after completing my A levels in Business Studies and Law. I started my career at Beech Hill working for a year as an admin apprentice where I gained a business administration qualification, then continued as admin assistant until 2020 when I was promoted to Administration Officer. In my spare time I enjoy socialising with my friends, visiting the theatre, going to concerts to see my favourite artists especially Harry Styles. I also have a season ticket for Newcastle United so I go to all the home games and some away games. I love travelling and seeing new parts of the world, I hope to visit Australia at some point.
Mrs Jackie Aittus
I graduated from Sunderland University with a BA Honours in Primary Education. I’ve been teaching at Beech Hill since 2003 and have worked in all year groups, although I have spent the majority of time in year 5. Within this time, I spent 2 and a half years teaching at Walbottle Village Primary School. I am the school’s curriculum co-ordinator and lead on many extra-curricular days and fundraising events. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my husband and 2 children. We enjoy weekends away and exploring the outdoors.
Mrs Katie Skinner
I graduated from Northumbria University in 1997 with BEd (Hons) in Education. My teaching career began in North Tyneside, where I taught for 10 years before moving to Beech Hill, where I have been teaching since 2007. Since joining Beech Hill I have taught in Year 6 – delivering whole class lessons, carrying out one to one tuition as well as supporting the teaching of literacy and numeracy across both classes. I lead the teaching and learning of music across the school for staff and pupils and jointly lead the delivery of Spelling across the school to ensure all children are developing and retaining core vocabulary as they progress throughout the school. I have two cats and in my spare time, my hobbies are running, walking, reading and spending time with my husband and 2 daughters.
Mrs Fiona Donaldson
I graduated from the University of Derby in 2006 with a BA Hons in Art therapy, where I studied how the arts can be used to help people recover from trauma and find ways to communicate. Following this I worked as a Teaching Assistant in a school in Derby supporting children with social, which is when I decided that I wanted to train to become a teacher. I completed my post graduate certificate of education (PGCE) at Newcastle University in 2008 and started working at Beech Hill the same year. Over my time at Beech Hill I have worked Years 1, 3, 4 and 5 and I’ve loved every one of them. I am the Art coordinator and love sharing my love of the arts with the children I teach. I have a keen interest in mental health and another of my roles in school is to support staff and pupil wellbeing. I have 2 daughters who fill all of my spare time and we love the beach, swimming, singing and going on adventures.
Mrs Caroline Higgins
I graduated from Newcastle University in 2008 where I earned my degree in English Language. I then moved on to Northumbria University where I gained my PGCE in 2010. I came to Beech Hill in that same year and have taught in Year One, Year Two and Year Four. I am the school’s Spanish coordinator and am responsible for ensuring that the children who are entitled to the Pupil Premium are provided for in school. During my time at Beech Hill, I have earned a National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) and I completed the application when our school won the regional Pupil Premium Award. The children in school know me for my love of singing and all things Disney. Outside of school, I am always busy overseeing the social lives of my two children and can usually be found at a child’s birthday party or gymnastics class!
Mrs Emily Jobson
Year 1 teacher.
Mrs Beth McDonough
I graduated from Northumbria University in 2007 after completing my BA Joint Honours in Care and Education for Early Years and Advice, Guidance and Counselling. Following this, I spent time as a Teaching Assistant in Gosforth and had roles in Northumberland and Gateshead working with children who struggled with behaviour and attendance. I then went on to complete my PGCE in Primary Education at Northumbria University and joined Beech Hill as an NQT in 2011. I have always taught in Year 3 but as of September, I will be part of the Y5 team. In my spare time, myself, my husband and 2 children spend a lot of time outdoors and I love going out for tea!
Mrs Diane Morren
I graduated from Northumbria University in 2003 after gaining a 2:1 BA in Education with honours. I have also completed the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML.) I joined Beech Hill in 2010 after teaching in Gateshead schools. I am responsible for Religious Education and Fun Outdoor And Learning (FOAL) at Beech Hill. I am a Level 3 forest school leader and I run forest school/gardening club after school. I am also responsible for the care and well-being of the school chickens and you will often find me there before and after school. Before my teaching career I worked for the NHS for 21 years. I have 3 grown up children and our wonderful school dog Ted lives with me. I enjoy walking in the countryside and on the beach with Ted.
Mrs Jenny Mantle
I began working in schools when my children were young and soon found that I loved the work. I have worked in schools in Gateshead and Durham as a Teaching Assistant. I then graduated from Northumbria University where I earned my PGCE. I have worked at Beech Hill since 2012, working across KS1 and KS2 with some time in Reception too. I am responsible for leading PSHE and working on our Healthy School status. In my spare time I enjoy reading, gardening, and socialising with friends. My favourite place is my garden with my two cats
Mrs Katherine March
I graduated from Liverpool University in 2012 with a degree in Psychology and then went on to study at Northumbria University for my PGCE. I began Beech Hill as a newly qualified teacher and have taught here for 5 years in both Year 4 and Year 2. Within school I am also the more able coordinator, helping children who have a particular talent achieve their potential and I am currently completing my National Professional Qualification in Middle Leadership (NPQML). In my spare time I love travelling and seeing new parts of the world, spending time with friends, walking and singing (although admittedly, not very well!)
Mrs Barbra Carter
I mam to four energetic boys aged 7-16 who keep me very busy. I also enjoy running, camping and play days. I began my career as a Special Needs Nursery Nurse at a village school in Durham. On meeting my husband I moved to Gateshead and worked for St Cuthbert’s Care in the Residential Children’s Home for 6years before training to be a teacher. I completed the Gateshead SCITT in 2005 and following a year at a school in Birtley, I began working at Beech Hill in Year 1. Most recently I have worked in Reception and currently work in Nursery. I lead PE and have a real passion for gymnastics as well as co-ordinating the after school clubs.
Mr Tony Wooton
I have been working in school for the past three years in Year 5 and next year I will be working in Year 6. I trained as a teacher in many year groups but prefer to be teaching in Upper Key Stage 2.
I have a little girl and little boy. Molly is 9 and will be starting year 5 in September and Harry is 7 and will be starting Year 3. I have a love for sport, especially football. In my spare time outside of school I enjoy climbing and walking with my children.
Mr Michael Worthington
I am a graduate of Newcastle University where I earned a PGCE in Primary Education. Prior to that, I attained a First Class Honours Degree in History at Newcastle University. As a result, I am History co-ordinator in school. I teach up and down KS2, but mainly in Year 6. I also oversee the running of the School Council. In my spare time, I enjoy socialising at my favourite restaurant, Nando’s, and I am presently learning the guitar.
Mrs Paula Griffiths
I gained my joint honours degree in Geography and English Literature at Keele University and followed that with a PGCE at Durham University. I taught for 19 years in Sunderland, moving to Beech Hill in 2014. During my time teaching in Sunderland I gained ‘Reading Recovery’ teacher status; teaching children on a 1:1 basis to read and write. I have continued teaching the principles of this in our ‘Ready to read’ programme at Beech Hill. When I am not at school, I love reading, visiting the theatre and walking my dog, Lottie.
Mrs Laura Rainford
I graduated from Stirling University in 2012 with a degree in Primary Education. I spent my first year of teaching in a tiny village near Stirling where I taught Year 4 and developed forest schools and outdoor learning. I then moved back home and started at Beech Hill in 2013 where I have taught for 5 years now, in Years 3, 2 and 1. Within school I currently help to coordinate DT and Art, something I love myself, and run a talented artist club in the summer term. In my spare time (when I can find it), I love baking and cooking (and just food in general), but also have an interest in health and fitness.
Mr Craig Greenwood
I am a graduate of Northumbria University where I earned my PGCE. I gained my undergraduate degree from Leeds Metropolitan University, where I studied Business and Management Studies. I have been at Beech Hill since 2017 and have worked in both KS1 and 2. I’m currently studying for my NPQLT and as of this September will be coordinating science across school. I have a keen interest in sport with a particular passion for tennis. My love of travel has resulted in me visiting several different countries around the world. I also have 2 children who alongside my wife all love the outdoors!
Mrs Paula Dickenson
I graduated from the University of York in 2012 with a degree in English Language and Linguistics, and then went on to complete my PGCE through North Tyneside SCITT. I have worked at Beech Hill since 2013 across Early Years and Key Stage 1. I enjoy keeping fit, which is why I enjoy my role as PE Coordinator so much! I completed the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership in 2018 and alongside my role as PE Coordinator I take a lead on Pupil Premium in school. I volunteer with a lifesaving club in my spare time, having worked as a Pool and Beach Lifeguard for a number of years. I’m very passionate about all things swimming and water related and have enjoyed bringing experiences such as Coastguard and RNLI visits to Beech Hill over the years.
Miss Samantha Whitty
I am a graduate of Northumbria University where I earned my PGCE for Primary education. Before going to Northumbria, I gained my undergraduate degree from Sunderland University, where I studied Childhood Studies. I have worked in KS2 since joining Beechhill Primary, but I have experience in all year groups from Year 1 to Year 6 from my previous jobs at other schools around Newcastle and North Tyneside. When I am not working, I love to spend time with my family and travel to different cities to explore. I also love to go shopping and having some me time.
Mrs Danielle Gourley
I have worked at Beech Hill since 2016 where I started as an SEN support then spent many years in Nursery as a teaching assistant. In 2021 I started my training through Northumbria University to become a teacher at Beech Hill and I am now one of the reception teachers. How exciting! In my spare time I love to spend time with my friends and family and travelling to new places around the world!
Mr Reece Burns
I am a graduate of Northumbria University where I earned a PGCE on the Primary Education Schools Direct course here at Beech Hill. Prior to that, I attained a First Class Integrated Master's Degree in Physical Education and Sports Coaching at York St John University. My previous experiences working with children stem from my time coaching in Newcastle and York. My interests outside school include watching football, snooker, reading, walking and I have a particular passion for tennis. I can’t wait to make many special memories here at the school.
Mrs Julie Patterson
Nursery Nurse/ Assistant SENCO
Hello, my name is Mrs Julie Patterson, Assistant SENCo, and I have worked in Beech Hill since 1999. My role has greatly changed since I began as a Nursery Nurse, back in the day. My position involves delivering programmes from Occupational Therapy, Speech & Language Services and supporting children in class to meet their individual targets. It's a huge pleasure to work in Beech Hill and I've worked with so many wonderful children. The joy of witnessing a child achieve their aim is such a reward for me and has raised my love for this very special community.
Mrs Michelle Matues
In 1981 I qualified as an NNEB (Nursery Nurse) at Newcastle College (yes, the dark ages!). My first job was at Canning Street Primary where I helped set up the nursery. After 5 years I left to start a family, I have a daughter and a son. We lived in the Middle East for 3 years where I worked as a child minder. I started at Beech Hill in 1994 in Early Years, over 20 years later I am still here and loving it. I spend my spare time at Beadnell with my husband and dog.
Mrs Claire Docherty
Assistant SENCO & Teaching Assistant
I have worked as a TA for 15 years. I am a First Aider and a lunchtime supervisor. I became an Assistant SENCO 2 years ago and I love my role. I'm a married mum of two, with a 19 year old son and a 13 year old daughter. I have 3 dogs and I love football, G.O.T and reading - especially a good mystery.
Mr Paul Nelson-Taylor
Thrive Practitioner / Teaching Assistant
Mrs Karen Southern
Mrs Patricia Lynch
I originally started worked at Beech Hill as part of the lunch time staff in 2004. I became a teaching assistant in 2006 and I have a Level 3 NVQ Teaching Assistant qualification. I currently assist the teachers in Year 5. I am trained in First Aid for children and adults. Away from school, I love to spend time with my family and socialise with my friends. I especially love going on holiday to Santa Ponsa every year.
Miss Natasha Comber
I have worked as a teaching assistant in Beech Hill for almost 3 years and have worked in Reception, Year 1 and I am currently working in Year 2 and I’m loving it. Before that I was a supply TA and worked in a variety of SEN schools such as Beacon Hill and Woodlawn School. In my spare time I volunteer at a youth club for disabled adults and love going to music and comedy concerts.
Mrs Louise Knightley
I started my support teaching and learning qualification in 2014 and completed this while volunteering at Beech Hill. I then completed level 1 and 2 training in supporting children with ASD. This led to me supporting children in KS2 on a 1 to 1 basis so they can access all aspects of school life. I am currently working in KS2 and am particularly interested in supporting children with additional needs. I have 3 children, 2 of which attend Beech Hill and I enjoy spending time with my friends and family.
Mrs Janice Baird
I have worked at Beech Hill since 2000, as a level 3 teaching assistant. I have worked in different year groups across the school but really enjoy key stage 2, especially Year 4. I have a passion for times tables and love seeing the progress the children make over the year in learning their tables. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my grandchildren.
Mrs Rachel Deniz
In 2013 I completed my training to become a Teaching Assistant. I worked in Beech Hill as part of my placement for the course. Prior to this I worked for Dementia Care Partnership for 8 years. I have been working at Beech Hill since September 2013. I first started supporting children in Y1 and then moved into Reception, where I found a passion for Early Years. I am currently working towards completing a level 3 course in Supporting Teaching and Learning. I have two daughters who both attend Beech Hill. My weekends are busy with the girls and our Chihuahua Sparkles. I also enjoy spending time with my family.
Miss Kelly Leighton
In 2010 I completed my Level 3 training to become a Teaching Assistant. I worked in Beech Hill as part of my placement for the course in Year One where I found my passion within Key Stage One. I have been working at Beech Hill since September 2010. I first started supporting children in Year One and then moved into Year Two for two years before returning to Year One. I have two daughters, one of whom attends Beech Hill. The other attends secondary school. My weekends are spent with my family and friends, enjoying life.
Mrs Mandy Crompton
Mrs Elaine Pardue
Mr John Rowlands
I am a graduate of Northumbria University where I earned my PGCE and my degree in English Literature. I used to work as a bookseller before becoming a teacher in 2008. I've worked at Beech Hill since 2010. I am the school’s Computing coordinator and I'm also responsible for communicating with parents and the community through the school’s website and social media pages. During my time at Beech Hill I have earned a National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) and I led the project which earned our Basic Skills Award. I love Star Wars and Lego. Our second school dog, Daisy, lives with me.
Elli is a qualified counsellor for children and young people, who will be working in Beech Hill on Wednesdays from spring term 2023. She has worked in Primary and Secondary schools, in different roles, for the last 12 years and is very excited to be joining our community. She will be working with individual children; groups and classes; to support with mental health; wellbeing and social and emotional development.