Secondary Education 

At Swale Academies Trust we recognise that every child is capable of outstanding achievement. All of our academies provide safe, happy learning environments which celebrate and promote the production of beautiful work.

High aspirations, hard work and quality first teaching ensure that achievement remains at the very core of our provision for each and every academy.

Our Secondary Academies combine traditional values, strong discipline and presentable uniform with the very best modern teaching and technology. We follow a broad and balanced curriculum with a wide range of extra-curriculum activities and experiences.

Key features across our Secondary Education provision include:

  • Well trained, highly resourced teachers who are ambitious for every student
  • Close tracking and monitoring of individual student progress
  • Focus on core subjects; English, mathematics and science
  • Targeted intervention and support, either in small groups or on a one-to-one basis for students who need it
  • Pastoral care of the highest order, engaging parents fully with their child’s education
  • Regular communication with parents and termly reporting


Jon Whitcombe, Trust Principal, CEO Swale Academies Trust, NLE, Ofsted Inspector

Jon is a National Leader of Education and is a practising Ofsted Inspector. In his role as Trust Principal of Swale Academies Trust, Jon oversees the education of schools within the Trust as well as the extensive school improvement work the Trust undertakes on behalf of Kent and East Sussex Local Authorities.

Prior to becoming Trust Principal, Jon was the Headteacher of Westlands School, a post which he held between 2004 and 2012. During this time the school was judged twice by Ofsted as Outstanding.


Secondary Improvement Team

The Secondary Improvement Team's key focus is to work with all Trust and Partner Secondary Schools in the Trust - developing and supporting leaders through challenging conversations to ensure rapid progress, innovative teaching and learning and shared good practice. It is comprised of Secondary Headteachers within our Trust and Partner Schools and Educational Advisors from around the county. 


Derek Trimmer, Director of Secondary, NLE

Derek is an experienced leader in education with over 12 years working as a Headteacher of secondary schools in challenging circumstances. Prior to this, he was a Head of English in Croydon and then a Deputy Headteacher leading a school out of special measures before taking up his first headship in Portsmouth in 2004, where once again he led a large troubled school out of category.

Derek went on to lead Hove Park in 2004 and was responsible for making it one of the most improved schools in the country as well as a leading school internationally in the use of technology in the classroom.

Derek acted as Executive Headteacher of a primary school in Hove before taking up his current position as Directorof Secondary in Swale Academies Trust.

Derek is a National Leader in Education.


Seamus Murphy, Executive Headteacher

Seamus is an experienced leader in education with a strong track record of improving schools.

Seamus began his career in London in 1996 in a challenging inner-city school as Head of History, as well as working with senior leaders to  improve literacy across the school. As a result, standards rose rapidly and the school was judged outstanding.

Since 2000,  Seamus has worked as a senior leader in a variety of demanding schools, including two stints working for London Challenge supporting schools that required rapid improvement in Greenwich and Tower Hamlets.

As a headteacher, Seamus led a school in Kent  that was judged as inadequate to a good Ofsted judgement within 13 months. Standards at the school rose year on year and as a result the school has recently retained its good Ofsted  judgement.

Seamus has also worked for Ofsted as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors, supporting primary, secondary and special schools to improve across the South East.


Rachel Gough, School Improvement Partner

Rachel graduated from the University of London. She taught English for eighteen years in several large comprehensive schools, a Further Education College and overseas. After five years as Head of English in a Kent grammar school, she joined Kent Local Authority as County Adviser for English and Lead English Consultant for the National Strategies.

Prior to joining the Trust, she worked for eight years as a Senior Lead Improvement Adviser for secondary schools in Kent. She has extensive experience of supporting schools in serious weaknesses and challenging circumstances. She has successfully led local authority teams taking schools out of special measures. 

Rachel is Ofsted-trained and is a qualified coach. 



Secondary School Headteachers 


S Cox - Headteacher   S Murphy - Interim Headteacher S Dickinson - Headteacher





V Stevens - Interim Principal



'The Eastbourne Academy is supported by a representative of the Swale Academies Trust as a partner in school improvement. This support has successfully provided a framework for improvement in mathematics. Governors are in discussion to further develop this positive relationship.'

The Eastbourne Academy, Ofsted report February 2017

'The ongoing support from Swale Academies Trust has been invaluable in highlighting, brokering and sharing good practice.’

Peacehaven Community School (Trust partner school), Ofsted report March 2016

'The Swale Academies Trust has brought highly effective leadership to the school. Rapid improvements have been made to all aspects of school life.’

The North School (Trust partner school), Ofsted report June 2015

‘The Swale Academies Trust provides regular and helpful support to the academy. It carries out regular external reviews of teaching to corroborate the findings of school leaders. The trust’s Principal visits the academy weekly to provide valuable support for the Headteacher. Leaders and teachers have opportunities to learn from others in the trust.’

Meopham School, Ofsted report November 2014

‘The Trust principal is relentless in his drive to ensure students succeed. He sets exacting standards for all and will settle for nothing but the best.’

Westlands School, Ofsted report October 2012