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Academy Committee

Margaret Armstrong - Chair of the Academy Committee

I have a long and happy association with Belsay School having lived in the area for over 36 years. Both my children attended Belsay continuing their education through the Ponteland schools. Over the years I have been a parent helper, an active member of the PTA and a Governor at both Belsay and Richard Coates Middle School. All my working life has been in education, initially as an English teacher and then as the SEND Coordinator at Ponteland High. I am now retired and a very proud Granny of four pre-school children.

I hope I can help to support Belsay in providing the highest quality education for all students and celebrate their success. I would also like to be part of ensuring that Belsay continues to serve the local community in its own unique way as part of the Pele Trust.

Margaret is our link Academy Committee Member for SEND and Curriculum.

Paul Woodford - Vice Chair of the Academy Committee

Parent Member

I am Northumbrian born and bred.  We moved to near Belsay in 2009.  Our children Ralph (yr 5) and Otis (Rec) started their Belsay lives first at the pre-school before progressing to the main school.  I am keen to promote the diverse activities that rural schools have to offer in order to help ensure their future viability.  I want to ensure that, as much as possible, all of the children get the most out of their education in a safe secure setting.

Professionally I am a Partner and Head of Department at a Solicitors firm in Newcastle.

Paul is our link Academy Committee Member for Equalities, Staff Well-being and Health & Safety.


Demi Houghton

Staff Member

I started my journey at Belsay on a university placement what feels like many years ago. I then completed my degree in BA (hons) Early Primary Education and was lucky enough to apply for a job with Team Belsay. I work in the Reception class and enjoy every day as it is always so different. I feel lucky to be able to work with such fantastic young people who amaze me every day with what they set out to achieve.

Demi is our link Academy Committee Member for Pupil Premium and Attendance.

Tory Dodd

Emily Moffatt

Parent Member

I grew up in Northumberland and attended Belsay School, you can still spot some of my art work on the hall wall! I graduated from The Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester in 2012 with a BA(hons) in Agriculture and returned to work on the family farm near Capheaton. You will generally find me herding cows, lambing sheep, sorting horses or rushing around after my husband and children.

I have three children, who attend Belsay School.

I joined the School Governing Body as a Parent Governor and look forward to being supportive and part of the decision making of our unique, rural school.

Emily is our link Academy Committee Member for RHE.

Paul Laidler

Parent Member

Born in Northumberland and with farming roots, I have lived most of my life here and particularly enjoy our wonderful countryside and friendly people.

I have previous family who attended Belsay school and currently a grandson there, with special needs. I am delighted with the school environment and the support he is given in working through his challenges.

Based in Ponteland, I am a business consultant with a keen interest in education/learning, wellbeing, renewable energy and sustainability. I also have experience in project management, finance, strategy and people.

Along with my previous involvement as a governor at another Northumberland school, I feel that my broad-based experience may be useful to support the school on its future journey.

Paul is our link Academy Committee Member for Safeguarding.

Interested in joining our Academy Committee?

If you are interested in joining our Academy Committee, or would just like to find our more about what that entails and how you can support, please contact either:

Margaret Armstrong -

Craig Shaw -

Kieran McGrane -

Former Academy Committee Members who have served in the past 12 months:

Peter DeWesselow - 2 March 2023 to 29 February 2024 (when appointed to Pele Trust Board of Directors)

Steven Symons - 5 November 2021 to 30 September 2023

Sarah Peto - 5 November 2020 to 5 November 2024