School Improvement

Jonathan Britton

Trust CEO

Jonathan is Chief Executive Officer and Accounting Officer of the Wonder Learning Partnership (formerly the Wolds Learning Partnership). As Headteacher at Woldgate School he led the school from Requiring Improvement to Good, transforming the quality of education, outcomes, raising the number on roll and addressing an historic deficit. It was identified by the Department of Education as one of the ‘top 100’ most improved schools in the country in 2016 and is now heavily oversubscribed. The improvement journey was published in a national journal and resulted in an invitation to parliament. In 2018 he became a National Leader of Education. He was appointed to work with a junior and secondary school at this time by the Department of Education. The junior school (now part of the Trust) under the leadership of a dynamic headteacher was graded as ‘Good’ in 2019 – the first time in the school’s history. The secondary school had successive ‘Requires Improvement’ judgements. The resulting secondary intervention led to improved GCSE outcomes, and it was regraded to ‘Good’ in 2022 following the pandemic. In 2019 Jonathan was also appointed Executive Headteacher of Longcroft School following GCSE results that placed the school in the bottom 10% nationally. The Progress 8 score increased from minus -0.5 to be in line with National and the school is currently, with a new Headteacher, awaiting inspection.

He was previously Deputy Head at an Academy graded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and experienced the transformation of that school from it being one parents actively sought to avoid due to its reputation, into one that was highly successful and oversubscribed. Throughout this period, he was closely mentored by three highly successful and dynamic Headteachers, completing his NPQH at Manor School in York. As Academy Lead, he oversaw the academisation of Archbishop Holgate’s School and the creation of inhouse procedures for finance, personnel and operations. He had also, in this time, contributed to the design, creation and construction of a new Sixth Form that would be recognised by the Department of Education as the highest performing vocational centre in the country, it would also achieve ALPs 1 for A-Level and BTEC provision. As the founder and Head of the Pathfinder Teaching School, he has led on school improvement, staff development, leadership and teacher training, establishing one of the most successful Teaching Schools in the region.

Jonathan was also made a Lay-Canon by the Archbishop of York and appointed to the Chapter of York Minster as a non-executive Trustee in September 2023.

Outside of work, Jonathan is a father to his three children, a Formula One fan, enjoys cycling, reading and is an amateur gardener. 

Christopher Pearce

Trust Director of the Institute of Education

As an experienced primary headteacher, he has held three highly successful headteacher posts. Each headship has brought very different challenges and opportunities. He has led an outstanding school in York and held two headships within North Yorkshire. He has secured proven, rapid improvement in all the schools he has led. This resulted in a ‘good’ Ofsted judgement after joining two schools in a position of historically weak educational outcomes and increased vulnerability.

Prior to being appointed as the Director of the Institute of Education he was able to influence education for pupils on a wider stage as one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI). This role has given him an invaluable insight into Ofsted’s inspection practice and pedagogy across a wide range of different settings. He has significant inspection experience across a wide remit, including the inspection of Initial Teacher Training providers. This has sharpened his understanding of the CCF (Core Content Framework), Teaching Standards and the nuances associated in the many different teacher training pathways. He was a link HMI to a large local authority in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber region and supported and developed a group of nine Ofsted inspectors in their day-to-day work with Ofsted.

Kirsty McMurdo

Trust Head of Teaching and Learning

Before being appointed as the Trust Head of Teaching and Practitioner Development Kirsty was employed at Archbishop Holgate School in York and during her time there was a Head of Department, Assistant Headteacher and part of a Teaching and Learning Team. She delivered whole-school training on effective reading strategies, exam techniques, and marking and feedback; implemented a whole-school marking and feedback policy; worked with members of staff to improve their planning and teaching; led ITT training sessions; and mentored both ITTs and NQTs.

As Head of English, she was responsible for curriculum design from Year 7 to Year 13. She developed a cross-phase approach from Key Stage 2 and 3 to effectively manage pupils’ academic transition. She designed a rigorous Key Stage 3 curriculum that built on the principles of Key Stage 2 and worked with the Primary Consultant for York to quality assure individual schemes of work. The department remained high performing throughout her tenure and achieved a Progress 8 of +0.8.

She was involved in delivering whole-school training; meeting with Heads of Department to create bespoke departmental policies; delivering ‘effective marking’ sessions to ITT students, NQTs and staff who were new to the school; and providing teachers with practical strategies to improve marking. She also led on the school’s involvement as a control school for a FLASH marking trial, which explores the effectiveness of coded marking.

During her employment for the Trust Kirsty has led on a whole Trust reading strategy which has resulted in one school ranked as one of the top 5% of the country.

Gareth Davies

Trust Head of Curriculum and Assessment

Gareth has been a senior leader since 2009, having held roles leading teaching and learning, intervention, and curriculum across three different secondary schools. Gareth has been a Deputy Headteacher and stepped into the role of acting Head of School at Woldgate during the pandemic before being appointed as the Trust Head of Curriculum and Assessment.

At the Joseph Rowntree School, he built a team to share responsibility and ensure that improvement in teaching could contribute to a rapid cultural change. Under his leadership at Joseph Rowntree School the Ofsted report commented that the school was “focused relentlessly on improving the quality of teaching… As a result, pupils are making better progress across the curriculum and differences between groups of pupils are diminishing rapidly.”   He also led CPD and ran shared training with Huntington School, feeder primaries, local TeachMeets, as well as delivering school-to-school support of Driffield School and Cannon Lee.

At Millthorpe School, as Head of English, he began with a baseline of results that was ‘significantly below expectations’ building the department up to three consecutive years of results that were significantly above expectations.

He has worked on a project for the Trust to review and re-write the long-term curriculum planning for every subject at Longcroft School and Woldgate School.

Kirsten Russell

Trust Assistant Director of the Institute of Education

After graduating from the University of Leeds Kirsten worked abroad as a voluntary teacher in state run schools in Eastern Europe, teaching English. On her return she entered industry as a graduate management trainee for a large corporation and worked as a department, and senior manager before becoming a trouble shooter for failing departments.

After seven years Kirsten decided to return to her love of teaching and enrolled to study for her PGCE in Business and Economics at the University of Hull. Her teaching career began at Driffield School, where she was a Business and Economics teacher, with responsibilities for whole-school Enterprise and the EPQ. During her time at Driffield, she completed her Certificate in Continued Professional Development before studying part time for her MEd in Leadership and Change at the University of Hull.

Kirsten moved to Woldgate School and Sixth Form College in 2014 to take up the role of Head of Business and within just two years had moved the lowest performing department in the school to one of the highest. Business Studies GCSE grades rose by 30%, with the Business BTEC ALPS outcomes increasing by 5 levels and the 2015 Ofsted report commended the sixth form business students for their strong progress.

Kirsten has continued to take on additional responsibilities as Head of Psychology and as an Associated Assistant Headteacher, where she introduced Enterprise into the school via the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy and whole school Enterprise events. Before joining the Institute of Education, Kirsten performed an associate role in the Wonder Teaching School and continues to lead on ITT, intern recruitment, CPD and marketing across the trust.





Our Vision


We Educate

We are committed to educating the whole child and believe that every child should reach their potential. We enable leaders and schools to be ambitious in the education we offer.



We Empower

We will empower our whole school community through support, development and value in the pursuit of excellence.


We Engage

We will engage in best practice to develop the personal qualities and aspirations of pupils and staff whilst supporting each school’s ethos and values and embracing each local community.


We Enrich

We will ensure our children and colleagues are exposed to a wealth of experiences and opportunities that broaden their understanding of the world, building both character and confidence.


Telephone 01759 302395

Email office@wlp.education

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Wonder Learning Partnership is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales with Company Number: 10518602