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

Jon is a National Leader of Education and is a former 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.


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. 


Nicki Hodges, Associate Headteacher

Nicki started working for Westlands School in 2001, having previously taught in a challenging school near Dartford.  At Westlands School, she taught History and Sociology among other subjects at both GCSE and A level. She had many leadership roles including learning leader and later Director of the Sixth Form.

Following 13 years at Westlands, she went onto support the development of leadership at Sittingbourne Community College, during which the school achieved a ‘Good’ rating by Ofsted.

From 2013, Swale Academies Trust, with Nicki as Headteacher, went onto support The North School in Ashford. The Trust took the school out of special measures and later went on to double the schools results, achieving the best results the school had ever had.  Recently the school achieved a well-deserved ‘Good’ rating by Ofsted.

Nicki now works as an associate head taking responsibility for various projects; ranging from writing bids to support the Trust and vulnerable schools, support for SEN leadership, developing and supporting the Teaching School Alliance, and has a whole Trust developmental role in supporting History and Geography at all of the secondary schools.


Secondary School Headteachers 

S Cox - Headteacher  Y Peden - Headteacher S Dickinson - Headteacher
V Stevens - Principal   A Gibson - Headteacher


'Swale Academies Trust has provided well-considered strategic and operational support. This has helped school leaders at all levels to develop well. These leaders now support colleagues at other trust schools.'

Meopham School, Ofsted report January 2019

'Governors have an accurate view of the school's strengths and weaknesses. They work well with the school's proposed sponsors, Swale Academies Trust, who provide very strong support to the school.'

The Whitstable School, Ofsted report March 2018

'This is a rapidly improving school, because of the effective partnership between leaders from the school, the interim executive board (IEB) and Swale Academies Trust.'

Peacehaven Community School (Trust partner school), Ofsted report November 2018

'Expertise from other schools within the Trust has been astutely drafted in by the executive headteacher. It has contributed to the rapidity with which the school has improved.'

The Sittingbourne School, Ofsted report December 2017

'The Swale Academies Trust provides high-quality support and challenge for leaders and teachers. This has helped the school to improve.’

The North School (Trust partner school), Ofsted report October 2017

'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 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