Lighthouse School

  • Search
  • Translate
  • Facebook


Katie Parlett MBE – Chair of Trustees


Date of Appointment – November 2012

Date of Appointment to Chair of Trustees – October 2019 

Appointed by - Academy Members

Roles & Responsibilities – Vision, Values and Strategy, Post 16

Sub Committees – Teaching, Learning & Assessment Committee, Finance Committee, Chair of Student Family & Staff Support Committee.

Katie has strong expertise related to project management and leadership, stemming from her background as an entrepreneur, founding, developing, and selling several businesses in the Digital and technology sector. She is the founder and Director of Answer Digital, a £15m digital technology business.

Katie adopted 2 children with SEND which led her to become one of the core founders of Lighthouse School. She then went on to create and run Lighthouse Futures Trust, a 16 to 25 employability college gaining some of the highest outcomes in the country into paid employment. Both the School and College have stemmed from her belief that families and young people deserve to access a high-quality provision that brings out the best in every young person. As a strong believer in fairness and equity, Katie understands the need to enable children and young people to have a personalised journey that develops their mental resilience, self-esteem, talents, and abilities, therefore successfully preparing them for adulthood.

Katie was both a governor and chair of governors at a local primary school, whilst being the acting Principal at the Lighthouse School for one year. She was instrumental to the building of the school, and ensuring children have access to the most suitable learning environments, despite financial constraints.

Emma Sullivan – Principal

Ex Officio Trustee

Date of Appointment – September 2018

Appointed by - Ex-officio by virtue of office as Principal

Sub Committees – Teaching and Learning & Assessment Committee Committee, Student, Family & Staff Support Committee and Heath and Safety Committee.

Emma is the current Principal of the Lighthouse School Leeds. She has over 20 years of experience working in schools, including further, and higher education within SEMH provisions. She also supported students with High Needs to attain qualifications, including post-16 study programmes, GCSEs, vocational, and functional skills. 

Emma also has strong pre-opening experience, having established a successful new, 210-place secondary school. She also led several school improvement initiatives which achieved an Ofsted grade of “Good with outstanding features”. 

Emma was also a senior director at the third largest college in England (14-19 & SEN), prior to becoming the Principal at Lighthouse. Emma has extensive experience of leading GSCE, A level, BTECs, NVQs provisions. Alongside SEMH, EAL and alternative provision. Emma is currently studying to complete her NPQEL in September 2024.

Emma is a governor for a local secondary school and served as a governor for over 5 years on the Pupil Referral unit board. She has a degree in communication arts and is a qualified teacher.  Emma is passionate about changing young people lives.

Matt Cryer - Vice Chair of Principal

Appointed by Governing Body for four years.

Term Started: March 2021

Term Ends: March 2026

Date of Appointment to Vice Chair of Trustees: March 2021

Sub Committee - Chair of Teaching, Learning & Assessment Committee

Matthew has over 16 years of teaching experience within the UK, having worked as a GCSE English, ESOL teacher. He has strong expertise in curriculum development, stemming from his previous role as a Curriculum Coordinator for Literacy, Numeracy, and ESOL, and as a Curriculum Area Manager for ESOL at the Leeds City College.  Matthew holds a BA in Social Policy and Administration, Cert Ed (FE), Trinity Diploma in TESOL and the Training the (ESOL) Teacher Trainers Qualification.

As the current Vice Chair of Trustees at the Lighthouse School Leeds, Matthew has a strong passion to ensure that autistic children have access to opportunities that will hold them to grow and reach their fullest potential. 

Matthew is currently a stay-at-home dad to 2 teenaged sons.  He loves the great outdoors and enjoys getting away to music festivals in his VW campervan. 

Adele Darlington - Co-opted Trustee

Appointed by Governing Body for four years.

Term Started: March 2022

Term Ends: March 2026

Sub Committees – Teaching and Learning & Assessment Committee Committee and Student, Family & Staff Support Committee

Adele is Head of Education at Lighthouse Futures Trust (A 16 to 25 Specialist Employability College – not connected to Lighthouse Learning Trust) & Designated Safeguarding Lead as well as Designated Teacher (CLA). Adele is qualified Teacher, SENCO as well as Qualified Careers Lead. She has been Designated Safeguarding Lead for over 10 years & worked with & for young people for 20 years. Previous roles include Alternative Provision Pastoral Manager, Engagement & Partnerships Manager & extensive work with the third sector across the city to support, create and deliver programmes to young people in under resourced areas.  

Her role includes significant liaison and multiagency work with social care, CAMHS, Adult Services and many other third sector providers. At LFT she is the Designated lead on Early Help, Designated Teacher and lead for CLA, and the lead for EHCP’s. Adele’s also manages attendance and specifically around safeguarding. 

Adele is the Safeguarding Trustee.

Alan Dunwell - Co-opted Trustee


Appointed by Governing Body for four years.

Term Started: October 2020

Term Ends: October 2024

Roles & Responsibilities: - Finance and Internal Scrutiny,

Sub Committee: - Finance and Resources, Chair of Audit and Risk Committee

As well as a Trustee, Alan is the Chair of the Audit and Risk sub-committee. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant, supporting the school with matters regarding finance and internal scrutiny.  Alan has also has extensive volunteering experiences related to the education sector as the chair of governors, and free school director.  As an Audit Partner, Alan has provided audit and advisory services to over 60 schools.  

Ian Hughes - Co-opted Trustee

Appointed by Governing Body for four years.

Term Started: March 2021

Term Ends: March 2025

Sub Committee – Chair of Finance and Resources Committee

Ian is currently the Head of Democratic and Partnership Services, as well as a Solicitor at Calderdale Council. Therefore, Ian has extensive 45 experience relating to governance, legality, and probity.  Ian is strongly committed to providing opportunities for all autistic students and removing barriers to learning.  

Ian has a busy family life with four sons, although only the youngest remains at home.  He enjoys getting out in the Fells either walking or cycling. Ian has a strong commitment to opportunity for all and to the removal of barriers preventing that and is proud to be associated with Lighthouse School.

Rebecca McDonnell - Co-opted Trustee

Appointed by Governing Body for four years.

Term Started: October 2022

Term Ends October 2026

Sub Committee – Student, Family & Staff Support Committee

Rebecca’s expertise primarily lies in HR, within recruitment, employee relations, operations. She has also serviced as the Head of Talent and Head of HR operations within the Utilities sector.  Rebecca is the founder of her own HR consultancy and Executive Coaching business.  She is also a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD and an ILM Level 7 Executive Coach.  

Rebecca enjoys sport and spends most of her weekends coaching junior netball or transporting her children to various other sporting events.

Rebecca is very proud to be part of such an inspirational school that is continually working to ensure the best opportunities for its students. She has a particular interest in supporting student and staff wellbeing.

Michael Alderson - Co-opted Trustee

Appointed by Governing Body for four years.

Term Started: January 2024

Term Ends January 2028

Michael (Mike) began his career as a police officer for West Yorkshire Police before retraining to be a mainstream primary teacher. Mike moved into teaching in student referral units before working as a Senior manager in the Health, Safety and Wellbeing team in Leeds City Council. Mike is the Lead officer in Leeds for the Violence and Aggression strategy and the LA expert for training staff in positive behaviour management. Mike provides expert witness advice to LADO complaints in addition to providing advice around risk management, positive behaviour support plans and developing staff wellbeing

Victoria Coyle - Co-opted Trustee

Trustee photoAppointed by Governing Body for four years.

Term Started: January 2024

Term Ends  January 2028

Victoria is Head of SEND at Calderdale MBC, and former Director of Special Educational Needs in an outstanding Leeds special school.  Previous roles include SEND Lead in Leeds City Council and London Borough of Hillingdon. Victoria has extensive strategic and operational knowledge of the SEND framework accumulated from 18 years of leading and managing large multi-agency teams within an LA and school context. Expert knowledge in Children and Families Act 2014, specialising in expanding special schools, EHC planning, SEN provision, School budgets, Equalities Act 2010, safeguarding and attendance. 

Nicola Joyce  - Co-opted Trustee

Trustee - Nikki Joyce

Appointed by Governing Body for four years.

Term Started: January 2024

Term Ends  January 2028

Nicola (Nikki) is an inspirational leader focused on improving outcomes for children and young people with SEND. She has 21 years of experience in the NHS including: redesigning Speech and Language Therapy services, co-ordinating Sure Start input, implementing SEND reforms in an NHS foundation Trust and developing the award-winning BLAST programme. Her experience also includes 4 years as Local Authority Head of SEND, with a focus on quality and outcomes through staff development, quality assurance, streamlined systems, co-production and partnership working.

Nikki now runs her own business consultancy, SEN-Experts.

Kim McDonnell  - Co-opted Trustee

Appointed by Governing Body for four years.

Term Started: March 2024

Term Ends: March 2028

Kim has over 30 years of experience in working with children within Early Years provisions, from which she developed a strong passion for ensuring the best outcome and life chances for each child. She specialises in social care and safeguarding, having worked across different settings across North and West Yorkshire, for the development of children’s independence, selfbelief, and resilience.  

Outside of Kim’s work life, she has 3 adult children (2 still living at home) and a large and busy extended family. Kim supports local charities and enjoys running and spending time outside enjoying the benefits of living in such a beautiful part of the country.

Daniel Cohen - Co-opted Trustee

Date of Appointment - March 2022 for four years

Date of Resignation - May 2024

Matthew Hirst - Co-opted Trustee

Date of Appointment - July 2020 for four years

Date of Resignation - December 2023


Our Governing Body at Lighthouse School

Our Governing Body at Lighthouse School is made up of a group of skilled individuals who are passionate about the students, highly engaged with the school and totally bought into the vision and values for the school and all within it. They are generous with their time and bring experiences to support and challenge the leadership and staff of the school.

Our skilled professionals bring a breadth and depth of experience and includes Educationalists, Finance, Legal, HR and Leadership Development, Business and Enterprise. They also share their network of contacts to further community and business partnerships. We are all on the same journey of great outcomes for all continues improvement and a strong sense of team!

Please see the Funding Agreement (including Memorandum and Articles of Association) for full details of the school’s governance arrangement.

2023 to 2024 Table of interests

Attendance record at board meetings over the last academic year 2022/23 was as follows:


Matthew Cryer 75%

Dan Cohen 25%

Alan Dunwell 100%

Matthew Hirst 75%

Ian Hughes 50%

Katie Parlett 100%

Rebecca McDonnell 100%

Emma Sullivan 100%

Adele Darlington 75%


The Trustees of the school believe it is important that boards reflect the diversity of the school communities they serve. Diverse boards promote inclusive school environments and provide diverse role models for staff and young people.

The governors have collected data on the diversity of the board, including data on age, gender and ethnicity. They will use this data to inform their recruitment and training needs and ensure there is always a diverse range of perspectives around the table to support robust decision making.

Due to our relatively small governing board we do not publish this diversity data online as individual governors could be identified and we have a legal obligation to protect their personal data.