Our Leadership Team

Our Leadership Team

Simon Laheney, Chief Executive Officer

Simon has been Headteacher at Furness Academy since 2015, implementing a school improvement strategy which saw the school progress from ‘special measures’ to ‘good’ by October 2017.

Prior to his role at Furness Academy, Simon was Head of Sixth Form at Branston Community College, before moving back to Cumbria and taking up the Assistant Headteacher position at Millom School in 2007. Simon was promoted to Headteacher in 2013, after holding the Deputy Headteacher position focusing on curriculum and teaching and learning.

Furness Academy has seen a significant uptake in student numbers since September 2015 and has been oversubscribed since 2018. The school’s finances have significantly improved during this period,  moving from a substantial deficit to a sound financial position.

Most recently, Simon was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Furness Education Trust during the merger of Furness Academies Trust and Inspired Learning Trust. Simon brings a wealth of education knowledge and proven record of school improvement to this role.

John Rawsthorne, Chief Operating Officer

John has a degree in economics from the University of York and qualified as an accountant with KPMG. He has worked in the private and public sectors and specialised in education and health finance and consultancy, working with NHS trusts, government departments, schools, academies, colleges and universities.

John has experience in finance and funding, strategic leadership and planning and capital developments, having been an Area Director with the Learning & Skills Council and North West Regional Director for the Young People’s Learning Agency.

He has held national roles as Deputy Director, Financial Planning & Performance and Director of Assurance for the Education Funding Agency. John has considerable experience of the academy sector and has worked with academies, colleges and universities to develop multi-academy trusts.

Most recently, John steered the successful merger of Furness Academies Trust and Inspired Learning Trust and was appointed Chief Operating Officer for Furness Education Trust in 2019. He leads Trust Services covering finance, governance, HR, catering, site management, IT services and marketing and communications.

Janine Pierce, Executive Headteacher and Primary Lead

Janine has been a Headteacher for 17 years and a National Leader of Education (NLE) for the last 9 years.  She has led and managed two very different schools; the first a small CE village school (Ireleth St Peter’s) with a large teaching commitment and the second at Yarlside Academy, a single-form entry school.  Yarlside was graded Outstanding by Ofsted in January 2013 and since then the school team have worked hard to maintain that standard, placing them in the top 1% of primary schools in the country.  Janine has led schools through three successful Ofsted inspections and converted Yarlside to an academy as part of a multi academy trust.  

In September 2021 Janine became an Executive Headteacher leading both Yarlside and Victoria Academies.  Janine also moved into the Primary Lead role at Furness Education Trust, prioritising trust-wide curriculum development across the trust primary schools.

In Janine’s NLE role she has supported a number of schools within Barrow and across South Cumbria in varying situations and has achieved success in supporting schools in moving out of an Ofsted category.  Janine has expertise in strategic school improvement planning and leading quality-first teaching and learning.       

Lisa Fell, Headteacher

Lisa has been headteacher at Newton Village Academy for 9 years. As an ex pupil, she has a passion for the school and the community it serves. Raising the numbers from 28 to 80 pupils, and with the introduction of a nursery, Newton Village Academy is a strong and unique school set in a beautiful rural location.

Lisa started her teaching career, teaching in three local schools over a period of 19 years including teaching at Greengate Infants School for 13 years. She has taught all primary key stages and was an assistant headteacher before joining Newton School.

Lisa has led the school through two successful Ofsted inspections gaining ‘good’ in all areas and more recently, through an academy conversion and joining Furness Education Trust.


Fiona Doran, Headteacher

Fiona is a headteacher of a small village school, a position she has had for 9 years.  As a headteacher of a small school, Fiona also has a significant teaching commitment and has taught across both primary key stages.  Her first teaching position was at Ireleth St Peter’s CofE School where she taught a class of 31 pupils from Year 3 to Year 6.  Fiona’s current teaching responsibilities are within Key Stage 1. 

Fiona has a wealth of skills and experience within Special Educational Needs and has been a SENCO for 19 years.  Fiona’s degree specialism was SEND and she graduated from St Martins College, Lancaster with a first class degree in Primary Education.  Keen to progress, she completed her NPQH in 2014. Fiona has a passion for inclusive learning and ensuring that every child’s needs are fully catered for so that all individuals can reach their potential and achieve their ambitions. 

As well as working closely with the headteachers of Furness Education Trust, Fiona enjoys a strong partnership with heads from the Furness Primary Collaborative.  The FPC is a group of 14 schools who have successfully worked together on a number of projects to develop and enhance the educational provision for pupils across Dalton and Ulverston.  She is currently involved in a Reading Project to improve phonic knowledge, fluency and comprehension, supporting a team of English Subject Leaders and Reading Leads to improve these aspects within their own schools.


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