St Martins Academy Chester

'An Outstanding School' – Ofsted June 2015   Read the report here

Staff Profiles


Wenda Smith BA (Hons), PGCE, NPQH


Wenda has worked a in a range of state and private primary schools in a variety of urban settings for over 20 years, many of which being here in Chester. She has significant experience at senior management level across three schools and was part of the development team for St Martin's Academy from 2012. 


Emma Boynton BA (Hons), PGCE General Primary (QTS), MLDP

Senior Teacher & Director of Pastoral Care

Emma is an experienced primary phase teacher and senior leader, having taught in two different settings prior to joining the team at St Martin's. Emma has taught in the Foundation Stage, KS1 & KS2 and is an experienced Early Years Leader having supported and moderated provision in a number of settings.  She has worked with the Early Years team at Cheshire West and Chester in supporting newly qualified or new to Foundation Stage teachers, providing advice and support in teaching, planning, assessment and developing learning environments in the Early Years. Emma was part of the original development team for St Martin's Scademy from 2013.
Emma has successfully completed the Middle Leadership Development Programme and is currently completing a Masters in Teaching and Learning at the University of Cumbria. Prior to teaching Emma was employed as a Special Educational Needs Teaching Assistant, specialising in behavioural and emotional interventions and pastoral support in KS2.

Emma has a young family and is a sports enthusiast, coaching hockey, netball and football and has experience of teaching ballet and tap at a private dance school. She has gained a Sports Leadership award and a Smartac Gym Club award. 


Elizabeth O'Donoghue BA (Hons), Primary Education (QTS)

KS1 Lead Practitioner

Elizabeth joined St Martin’s after successfully completing her BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS, with a First. In her NQT year, she was part of the talented team of teachers, in St Martin’s Academy, who were judged as outstanding by Ofsted.

Elizabeth is a trained ambassador for the IB PYP curriculum and thoroughly enjoys designing a curriculum that inspires life long learners and promotes outstanding outcomes from all pupils. Similarly, Elizabeth enjoys working with university students and is a Specialist Leader in Education for Phonics, in Chester and Cheshire West, achieving 100% pass rate in the Phonics Screening Check, which has elevated St Martin’s Academy to one of the top performiong primary schools, nationally.

Outside of school Elizabeth enjoys cooking, playing netball and socialising.


Elinor Bowler BA (Hons) Early Years Primary Education (QTS)

EYFS Lead Practitioner

Elinor Bowler BA (Hons), Early Years-Primary Education with Qualified Teacher Status.

Elinor joined the St Martins Academy team in September 2015 after graduating from the University of Chester with a BA(Hons) in Early Years- Primary Education with QTS. Elinor has always remained passionate about the Early Years and has continued to develop professionally working with other teams within the trust. Elinor is particularly interested in the power of learning through stories.

Elinor has a keen interest in travelling the world. Prior to beginning her career with St Martins she has spent time in Australia teaching. Elinor has recently inter-railed around Europe and hopes to continue to share her adventures with the children she teaches for years to come.

2:1 BA (Hons) Early Years-Primary Education with Qualified Teacher Status

Dani Take 2JPG
Danielle Lester
Class Teacher

Alex Pourghorban
Alexandra Pourghorban
Class Teacher


Shona Valentine BA (Hons), Secondary Physical Education (QTS)

 Assistant Teacher & Director of Sport 

 Shona graduated from the University of Cumbria in 2012, where she studied secondary physical education. In her first year as an NQT, Shona worked as a supply teacher in both Chester and the Wirral where she taught at a variety of state and independent schools including The Queens Upper and Lower Schools. Before joining St Martin's Academy, Shona worked for Community and Educational Physical Development, coaching a variety of sports in eight schools across Chester.

On top of Shona's PE teaching degree she also has a variety of coaching awards in athletics, football, outdoor education, rounders and sports leadership.

Shona is a keen athelete and plays hockey for Chester.


Laura Thombs BSc (Hons) Early Years Teacher Status (EYTS)

Assistant Teacher

Laura spent a Gap Year teaching in a prestigious preparatory school prior to undertaking a Sports Science and Psycohology degree from The University of Chester in 2000. After successfully completing her undergraduate degree course, she worked as a Marketing Manager for 13 years, where she gained a Chartered Institute of Marketing diploma.

Laura has always had a desire to return to a teaching environment to support the development and learning of children in the foundation stage. She has depth of experience in early years from placements in schools across Cheshire and has been with the team at St Martin's Academy sionce September 2014.

Laura has alway been a keen sportswoman and has represented England at Hockey and Sports Acrobatics. She is very keen runner and has completed many 10km events, half marathons and The London Marathon.


 Alice McMahon

Alice McMahon

Assistant Teacher & Playworker

After studying English language, philosophy and ethics and physical education at A-Level, Alice decided to join West Cheshire College in order to gain more qualifications, and to help her become a Teaching Assistant. Whilst at West Cheshire College, she studied Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools (Level 2) and Higher Level Teaching Assistant (Level 4), whilst also volunteering at a local school.

Alice is also a keen athlete who specialises in the 100m and 200m. She has been a member of West Cheshire Athletics Club since September 2004. During this athletics season, Alice has competed in the Northern Athletics Championships where she finished in second place in both the 100m and 200m. Due to finishing in second place at these particular championships, Alice was then selected to compete for England at the Welsh International Event in Cardiff.


Marcus Walker BA (Hons) Social Sciences PGCE (QTS)

Assistant Teacher


Sarah Leese BA (Hons)

Office Manager

After completing her studies Sarah started her career within marketing. Working in the chemical and financial sectors in a number of roles, focused mainly in marketing and marketing communications.

Sarah works diligently to ensure the administration of St Martin's Academy runs smoothly and efficiently. She also focuses on ensuring St Martin's Academy parents are communicated to effectively, enabling them to best enjoy their child's journey through school. Sarah is also the data protection officer.

Sarah has a BA (Hons) Social Sciences, Level 3 Award in Paediatric First Aid and Managing Medical Conditions within schools, MIDAS Trained, Level 2 Safeguarding Children, Responding to Domestic Abuse and completed Safety for Senior Executives with the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health and the BSC Level 1 Award in Health and Safety at work (British Safety Council). Sarah has also obtained a Diploma in Business Excellence along with her CIM Qualifications.

Mother-of-three Sarah enjoys distance running when she can find the time.

Niki Take one

Nicola Stansfield 

Administrative Assistant

Niki joined the team in September 2016 and works in the office on a p[art time basis supporting the Office Manager. Having completed studies in Business Administration & Finance, Niki then went on to gain experience in many different departments such as Reception, Quality & Marketing at her previous company prior to joining St Martin’s.

Niki is responsible for helping with the day to day running of the office and administration tasks and is on hand to support children in their families during the school day.

Niki has three children and outside of work enjoys spending time with her young family, as well as baking and exercising.

Robert Williams


Bob joined the team in November 2014 as Caretaker. Prior to this he had left school to start an apprenticeship and became a fully-qualified Instrument Artificer working in the petro-chemical industry in Ellesmere Port.

Around the time the Personal Computer industry was really taking off, Bob changed career paths to work for local IT businesses as an IT Support Technician. He then worked as an IT Manager for a national food retailer, a travel company and in Local Government.

After many years of sitting behind a desk, Bob decided to take up property development and renovation, he enjoyed the hands-on management role where his practical skills were enhanced and are now being put to the test at St Martin's.


Steve Fernyhough


Steve gained his NVQ level 2 in catering and hospitality at Greenbank College back in 1997. Since then he has worked in numerous catering establishments before joining St Martin’s Academy when it opened the kitchen in 2014.

As a father to 7 year old Ellie, he knows all about what kids love to eat and often tests new menu ideas out on Ellie who is his harshest critic! When Steve the Chef isn’t busy cooking in the kitchen, he likes to partake in many sporting activities, such as marathons and triathlons and his aim is to complete a full ironman before his 40th birthday!


Curriculum Enhancement Staff 

Edward Hartwell-Jones BMus (Hons)

Edward is a singing teacher and performer and a recent graduate from the Royal College of Music, London. In addition to his role at St Martin's Academy is the current vocal coach for Abbey Gate College in Chester and Chester Cathedral Choir. Edward has performed all around the world including America, Germany, France and Sweden to name a few. In the UK Edward has sung solo at the MEN Arena in Manchester, the Manchester apollo theatre and had his debut performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 2007

Edward started his musical career as a chorister at Chester Cathedral Choir under the supervision of Roger Fisher and then David Poulter. As a chorister Edward performed in many venues around the UK and abroad, including a solo performance at the MEN Arena in Manchester in front of 10,000 people and a duet at the Manchester Apollo Theatre with Sarah Brightman. He played the lead role of Amahl in 'Amahl and the Night Visitors' and reached the final of the BBC Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year. He has sung solos in St Patrick's Cathedral New York and St Paul's Cathedral London.


Andrew Huddart (AJ) has a BSc (Hons) in Applied Sport and Exercise Science

Andrew – better known as AJ – has recently completed an MSc in Sport Psychology. He has worked as a multi-skills coach in more than ten primary schools and specialises as a LTA qualified tennis coach. His passion for sport and working with children has taken him America for four summers to work at a sports camp. His latest challenge was conquering Mount Kilimanjaro, raising £3,000 for charity in the process.

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