About SCHOOLS NorthEast

Set up by schools for schools, we are the first and only school-led regional network in the UK.

In 2007, a group of Head Teachers came together to establish SCHOOLS NorthEast. Their aim was to create a unique culture of collaboration and mutual support amongst North East schools to ensure the best possible outcomes for all of our region’s young people. Ten years on, SCHOOLS NorthEast is stronger than ever.

Over the years, we have worked to facilitate new projects and additional support, connect schools to each other and external organisations such as business, provide a strategic voice for our members and promote a wider understanding of the issues facing education in the North East.

SCHOOLS NorthEast is governed by our 11 Trustees, 3 co-opted Trustees and 26 strong advisory board of local Head Teachers, elected by their peers in each area, who provide SCHOOLS NorthEast with direction and support. We also have a core team of 8 based in Newcastle.

With a well-established annual calendar of events, a Weekly Update with a distribution of over 3,000 readers and over 3,000 Twitter Followers, SCHOOLS NorthEast’s influence is growing both locally and nationally!

Mission and Vision

SCHOOLS NorthEast is an inclusive network led by Head Teachers creating unique culture of collaboration and mutual support and bringing the expertise of our members to benefit developments within our region.

Our Vision

Our young people are confident, enterprising, skilled and aspiring; learning and developing within well-resourced, nurturing and purposeful school environments.

Our school leaders, governors and staff demonstrate exceptional professionalism enjoying the resounding confidence of students, parents, communities, employers and decision-makers.

Our Head Teachers have a powerful voice regionally and nationally. By working collaboratively and creatively with their peers and external partners, they develop expertise, shape policy and drive change. We are recognised as a centre for innovation and the bench-mark of excellence.

Our region is vibrant, self reliant and outward looking, featuring a dynamic economy, healthy environment and distinctive culture.


Our Trustees 

Our Board

Advisory Board Members

Sunderland John HallworthSecondaryThornhill School
SunderlandClaire SmithPrimaryHill View Infant School
SunderlandColin LofthousePrimaryRickleton Primary School
Stockton-on-TeesJulia ArmstrongPrimaryHartburn Primary School
Stockton-on-TeesCraig WalkerSecondaryNorthfield School & Sports College
Special schools Lynn WatsonNon-maintainedPercy Hedley School
South TynesideGemma JeynesPrimaryValley View Primary School
South TynesideLiz HayesSecondaryBoldon School
Redcar and ClevelandGrant HopkinsPrimaryLockwood Primary School
Redcar and ClevelandLinda HalbertSecondaryFreebrough Academy
Redcar and ClevelandCarl FaulknerPrimaryNormanby Primary
NorthumberlandAndrew HudsonPrimaryMickley First School
NorthumberlandAlexis Widdowson SecondaryBerwick Academy
North TynesideJim CrinsonPrimaryCollingwood Primary
North TynesideIan WilkinsonSecondaryGeorge Stephenson High School
Newcastle upon TyneVacantSecondary-
MiddlesbroughPhil LathamSecondaryMacmillan Academy
MiddlesbroughCherry DiemozPrimaryBreckon Hill Primary School
Middle schools Caroline PryerMiddle SchoolsPonteland Middle School
Independent schoolsHilary FrenchIndependent schoolsNewcastle High School for Girls
HartlepoolJohn HardyPrimarySt John Vianney RC Primary School
HartlepoolMark TillingSecondaryHigh Tunstall College of Science
GatesheadSteve HaighSecondaryWhickham School
GatesheadMatt YoungerPrimaryColegate Community Primary School
DurhamMichael WardleSecondary Durham Johnston Comprehensive School
DurhamDavid PriestleySecondaryGreenfield Community College
DurhamAnnette SowdenPrimarySt Mary's RC Primary School
DarlingtonWendy AitkenPrimaryHigh Coniscliffe C of E Primary School
DarlingtonSusan JohnsonSecondaryLongfields School


Our Team

Mike Parker


A former journalist and external affairs specialist, Mike recently joined SCHOOLS NorthEast as the new Director. Mike worked for the Press Association as a national journalist and Business Editor. He headed up media and external affairs at the North East Chamber of Commerce and one of the UK’s largest social housing providers, Home Group, and previously ran his own public relations business.

Chris Zarraga

Director of Operations & Development

Prior to joining SCHOOLS NorthEast, Chris worked with over 165 schools in the North East and various education organisations including local authorities, Excellence Partnerships, 14-19 Groups, the Specialist Schools & Academies Trust, and School Improvement Officers. He led a large scale culture change project in education across the North East and was the development consultant for the LEGI funded Wansbeck Enterprise Education Network. Chris has 12 years of strategic and business development, consultancy and client-management experience at a ‘Big Four' accountancy firm and various financial institutions and an MBA from Durham University Business School.

Erin Doughty

Accounts Apprentice

Erin joined SCHOOLS NorthEast in September 2016. Before this she was a student at Boldon School, one of our Partner Schools.  She is currently completing an AAT Level 2 Certificate in Accounting with Access Training.

Sam Murray

Events Co-ordinator

Sam joined SCHOOLS NorthEast in March 2017. Sam has an extensive background in events; before joining SCHOOLS NorthEast she worked as a leisure centre supervisor providing a wide range of in house events. Previous to this, she was an Assistant Entertainments Manager for Bourne Leisure. Sam is very passionate about providing a better future for children and young people, which is what drew her to SCHOOLS NorthEast.

School Business Manager Council

Our School Business Manager Council was founded in 2013 to build upon the existing local SBM networks, and provide a platform in every type and phase of school in the region. 

The Council aims to: 

Enable colleagues from across the region to meet and share intelligence and Best Practice with each other and their local networks;

Develop a powerful voice for the North East’s SBMs and raise their profile with Head Teachers to ensure they fully understand the contribution that SBMs make to North East schools;

Provide local and regional support, bespoke to each local area/ network.

The Council is comprised of School Business Managers from across the different sub-areas of the North East. The complete list of council members can be found here.