Councillor Ryan Stephenson

Councillor Ryan Stephenson

Chair of the Governing Body

John Smeaton Academy has been on an exciting journey of transformation, providing exceptional educational opportunities for local families here in East Leeds.

Since joining The GORSE Academies Trust in September 2021, a dedicated team of educationalists, led by our Chief Executive Officer, Sir John Townsley, and our Principal, Mr Moncur, have been driving this change: raising attainment, attendance and aspirations.

As Chair of Governors, I’m delighted to lead a Governing Body that brings a wealth of experience both within and outside of education, providing scrutiny and challenge to decision-making as ‘critical friends’. In our roles, individually and collectively, we are active in the life of the academy, contributing to the overall strategic vision and improvement plans, as well as programmes that are intrinsic to and characteristic of all GORSE academies such as the 100 per cent attendance club and Enrichment ++.

Together, we have high expectations of our pupils, overshadowed only by the aspirations we hold for their futures.

French novelist Victor Hugo wrote:

He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the most busy life. The orderly arrangement of his time is like a ray of life which darts itself through all his occupations. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incident, chaos will soon reign.

At John Smeaton Academy, our staff work tirelessly to ensure that every pupil is prepared for the labyrinth of life. We leave nothing to the chance of incident. Our steadfast focus on standards and attainment, complimented by enrichment activities, gives our pupils a well-rounded education with a skillset they’ll need for further education and work. It is this focus that marks The GORSE Academies Trust out as the best-performing multi-academy trust in the region.

Finally, I know that choosing the right school for your child is a critical decision for any parent. You shouldn’t be forced to transport your child to a school miles away to access a good education. You want your child to attend a local community school on your doorstep, where standards of education are the highest they can be, so your child can leave school and enjoy a most busy life that is bursting with opportunity and fulfilment.

Here at John Smeaton Academy, we call this the ‘Gift of Choice’ and I’m delighted that you have chosen, or are in the process of choosing, to gift that opportunity to your child.


Councillor Ryan Stephenson

Chair of Governors

If you wish to contact the Chair of Governors, please contact [email protected]

Please mark your email ‘FAO Chair of Governors’.

Please find the link to the Complaints Policy here

The role of the Local Governing Body

The role of the Local Governing Body at John Smeaton Academy is to help the academy fulfil its main aim: to provide the best possible education for all of its students.

The Governing Body at John Smeaton Academy gives the strategic direction and acts as a critical friend to assist the academy in improving the standards of education and opportunities for all students.
This includes:

  • Setting the vision, ethos and clear ambitious strategic priorities and targets for the academy.
  • Making sure that all young people, including those with special education needs, have access to a broad and balanced curriculum.
  • Engaging stakeholders and ensuring statutory duties are met.
  • Holding the senior leaders to account for teaching, achievement, behaviour and safety.
  • Challenging and strengthening leadership and contributing to the school evaluation.
  • Ensuring financial solvency and effective management of financial resources, including pupil premium to raise standards.
  • Appointment of staff.
  • Serve on panels for disciplinary matters, appeals and grievances.

The governing body meets regular during the academic year. During these meetings they systematically challenge leaders on all aspects of the academy. This includes, but not exclusively, the effectiveness of:

  • Attainment and progress
  • Finance and estates
  • Personal development, behaviour and welfare
  • Safeguarding
  • The quality of teaching and its impact over time
  • SMSC and MBV
  • The use of pupil premium funding
  • Catch up funding

Becoming a Governor

Governors are a diverse group of committed, hardworking people who offer support, not only through their attendance at meetings but through their presence, within the academy.

Anyone over the age of 18 can become a governor. Being a school governor can be very rewarding and a good way of helping your local community, as well as having a positive influence on the quality of children’s education. Governors play a vital role in shaping the education of young people by helping to set the ethos, vision and strategy to raise school standards so all students reach their full potential.

John Smeaton Academy’s Governing Body welcomes people from all walks of life as each person brings their unique experience and talents to the work of running an academy.

If you would like any more information on the role of a governor, or becoming a governor here at John Smeaton Academy, please contact us.



Date of Appointment

End of Term of Office

Specific Responsibility

Voting Rights

Business Interests

Other establishments they govern

Relations within the Trust

2021/22 Attendance

2022/23 Attendance

2023/24 Attendance

Catherine Capewell Staff 26/01/2022 25/01/2026 Policy Committee Yes None None None 3/5 1/4 2/2
Jessica Duffy Parent 23/11/2021 22/11/2025 SEND Yes Employed by the trust as an invigilator Co Chair of the Leeds Parent Carer Forum. This is a voluntary role working with parents of children with SEND and with the Local Authority regarding Education, Health and Social Care. None 4/5 3/4 2/2
Paul Forbes OBE (Vice Chair) GORSE Appointed 01/09/2021 31/08/2025 CEIAG Yes None Director at The GORSE Academies Trust
Richmond Hill Academy Chair of Governors
Mount St Mary’s Catholic High School Deputy Chair of Governors Sept 2016
Angela Cheyne Vice Principal Morley Newlands Academy – daughter

Alastair Cheyne – son-in-law governor at The Morley Academy

6/6 4/4 1/2
James Lamb GORSE Appointed 05/10/2022 04/10/2026 Safeguarding Yes None None None 4/4 2/2
Ryan Stephenson (Chair) Community 01/09/2021 31/08/2025 Pupil Premium Yes Member Leeds City Council Shares with BT Group plc
Member, West Yorkshire Pension Fund Investment Panel (July 2023)
Director, Leeds Grand Theatre & Opera House Ltd (July 2023).
Director of The GORSE Academies Trust None 5/6 4/4 2/2
Andrew Moncur Principal N/A N/A Yes None None Partner – Curriculum Leader MFL – Bruntcliffe Academy

All company documentation relating to The GORSE Academies Trust, including the scheme of delegation, can be found on our trust website at


Date Left

Governed At

Laura Edwards

July 2023

Steve Bland

November 2023

Fiona Robertson

January 2024

Elizabeth Laing

February 2024