Staff and Governors

The Staff and Governors at Ghyll Royd School and Pre-School are just one of the reasons we have such a wonderful school. Many have been with us for a number of years which provides excellent continuity for the children and our specialist teachers offer a unique learning experience.

Teaching Staff

Headteacher – Mr David Martin BA (Hons) and MA in Business, PGCE (QTS), PGCE (QTLS)

After spending 13 years in the business sector, Mr Martin began his teaching career at Craven College and within Professional Sports Associations where he taught Sports Science. He has been at Ghyll Royd School for 16 years, firstly as a Physical Education Specialist, developing the PE curriculum, then as Form 2 and Form 3 Class Teacher. For the last eight years Mr Martin has been our Headteacher who has overseen three inspections in February 2015, 2017 and 2019. Mr Martin has also completed the SLQ ‘Leadership Course’ with the National Teaching and Leadership College. Mr Martin is the Designated Safeguarding Lead for the School and Pre-School.

Key Stage 2 Team:

Form 6 Teacher, Mrs Ruth Woodham BA (Hons) German, PGCE
Mrs Woodham has a BA (Hons) in German from Birmingham University and PGCE from Leeds Trinity University. She spent 17 years working for various Government departments in Britain and Germany then took a career break to bring up her family. She spent much of this break volunteering in primary schools focusing above all on children’s literacy and oracy. She enjoyed her voluntary work so much that she decided to retrain as a teacher and was lucky enough to get to know Ghyll Royd School during her placement here.

Form 5 Teacher, Mathematics and Computing Subject Leader and Deputy Headteacher – Mr Hadley NicholsonBA (Hons) PGCE Primary (QTS).

Mr Nicholson has a BA (Hons) in Applied Psychology and Philosophy from Liverpool John Moores University. He completed his MA in Education, specialising in ‘Child Development’ and ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’. Prior to teaching, Mr Nicholson worked as an expedition leader in the Colorado Rockies and as a freelance travel journalist. In the past he has also been an England U19s Basketball player and before joining Ghyll Royd taught at Malsis School as a Form and Physical Education Teacher. Mr Nicholson has also completed the MPQ ‘Leadership Course’ with the National Teaching and Leadership College. Mr Nicholson has worked for school for eight years.

Form 4 Teacher, PE & Games and Humanities Subject Leader – Mr Richard LaycockCertificate in Education, BA (Hons) Education (QTS).

Mr. Laycock has been a teacher at Ghyll Royd School for 17 years and has taught classes from Forms 3 through to 5.  He is our Humanities specialist and has developed this area of the curriculum over several years.

Form 3 Teacher – Miss Katie Sheldon, BA (Hons) Sport and Physical Education, PGCE Primary

Miss Sheldon joined us from Wharfedale Montessori in 2021, starting as Room Leader in our Pre-School. Having trained as a teacher before a move into Early Years, Miss Sheldon has been looking at returning to teach in Key Stage 2. Miss Sheldon has a particular interest in Year 3 and 4 having enjoyed placements and teaching positions in those years prior to starting with Ghyll Royd. A big advocate for more opportunities in women’s sport, Miss Sheldon represented England Netball at Under 17 level and supported our children in their Netball coaching last year. Miss Sheldon hopes for the role are to bring her specialities in Sport and Maths to the school.

Mrs Claire Neild – Form 2 Teacher – MA (Hons) in Sociology, Higher Level Teaching  and Learning Support Assistant

Mrs Neild started at Ghyll Royd as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant in Key Stage 2. In 2019, she started her teacher training and is now has Qualified Teacher Status and has made the move to Key Stage 1. Mrs Neild is also our PSHE specialist, working throughout the School.

Mrs Rebecca Picken – Form 1 Teacher – BA (Hons) in Primary Education

Mrs Picken qualified as a Teacher from Bradford University in 2003 before going on to teach at Girlington Primary School in Bradford. During her thirteen years at the school Mrs Picken taught from Reception to Year 6, specialising in English in the lower Key Stages where she became the Co-ordinator for this level. Mrs Picken’s role also involved in the development and improvement of Mathematics and Physical Education at the school. Mrs Picken joined Ghyll Royd in November 2019.

Reception Teacher – Mrs Helen Hudson BA (Hons) in English (QTS)

Mrs Hudson has worked in Early Years settings for over 28 years and holds a BA (Hons) in English and Primary Education with Qualified Teacher Status. Before moving to Ghyll Royd Mrs Hudson taught at Westville House School for 16 years where she was head of Early Years for seven years. Mrs Hudson has worked at Ghyll Royd School for six years.

Mrs Sue Beeson – Teacher – Diploma in Teaching (Australia)

Mrs Beeson began her teaching career in Australia and has taught for over thirty years in the primary sector.  During her eighteen years at Ghyll Royd School she has taught Forms 1, 2, 3, and 6 and for seven years she was Head of Key Stage 2 and Deputy Headteacher.

Specialist Staff

Modern Foreign Languages Subject Leader – Mrs Keeley Smith BA (Hons) PGCE Primary

Mrs Smith has been teaching for thirteen years and previously worked at Malsis School for five years and prior to that Christchurch C of E School in Skipton. During her time at Malsis Mrs Smith was KS1 co-ordinator and class 2 teacher. Mrs Smith has ‘A’ Level Spanish and spent a year living in Barcelona to further her language skills.

Art and Design Subject Leader – Mrs Keeley Smith BA (Hons) PGCE Primary

During her time at Malsis Mrs Smith accepted the role as Head of Art. She has a degree in Art Therapy, later practising for five years before going on to complete her Post Graduate Certificate in Education.  Mrs Smith is a keen Ceramicist and also runs her own adult Ceramic club at Ilkley Grammar School.

Music Subject Leader – Mrs Elizabeth Evans – BA (Hons) Music and English and PGCE Primary Music

Mrs Evans joins Ghyll Royd this September, bringing over 25 years of teaching experience with her. Previously working as the Music teacher at Oatlands Junior School and Westville House School, Mrs Evans has enjoyed exploring creative ways of adapting music to support young players. In her previous employment, she has lead children’s choirs, orchestras and organized productions. Mrs Evans holds a Grade 8 in Piano, accredited by the ABRSM.

Mr Nicky Wilce – Physical Education Teacher – BA (Hons) and MA in Sports Science   Mr Wilce continues to deliver high quality PE for Ghyll Royd School and Pre-School. He has a wealth of experience teaching PE and Sport in both the US and UK and holds a variety of Level 2 coaching awards, along with a Masters Degree in Physical Activity, Exercise and Health.

Early Years Staff

Nursery Manager, Mrs Jenny Johnson BA (Hons) in Combined Arts which included Early Education, MA in Art History, International Diploma in Montessori Pedagogy (Level 5)

Mrs Johnson has worked in Early Years for 10 years, following a career break from the Art World to start a family.  Mrs Johnson retrained as a qualified Early Years Montessori teacher, who passionately believes in child-led education and using the outdoors as a valuable classroom extension.                Mrs Johnson has previously worked at Bankfield (Harrogate Ladies College), Spicey Gill in Ilkley and Rigg Farm Montessori Nursery in North Rigton. Mrs Johnson is currently working towards obtaining an Early Years Teachers Status

Early Years Practitioner – Mrs Emma Tighe, BA (Hons) Sociology and PGCE Primary

Mrs Tighe joined Ghyll Royd in 2021. She holds a PGCE and is instrumental in preparing our children for their transition to primary school, particularly with her love for early phonics. Mrs Tighe joined us from Abacus Nursery and Pre-School, following a move up North from London.

Early Years Practitioner – Ms Wendy Small, Level 3 Early Years Practitioner

Ms Small joins us from Chapter One Nursery in Farnley. She loves working with children and began training for her career change several years ago.

Early Years Practitioner – Miss Annabel Gibason, Level 3 Early Years Practitioner

Miss Gibson delivers fun and engaging activities for our children, showing great care. She has several years experience working in Leeds in private nurseries and nurseries attached to primary schools, so knows the importance of preparing children for the years ahead.

Teaching and Learning Support

Mrs Stacey Ellis, Degree in Early Childhood Studies and holds the NNEB qualification

Mrs Sally Portz – Higher Learning Teaching Assistant

Mrs Julie Tomkinson, Level 3 Early Years Practitioner

Miss Katie Barker

Peripatetic Music Teachers

Mr Alistair Pryde – Drum and Guitar – BA (Hons), L.MusLSM, NABBC

Mrs Clare Richards – Violin and Piano

Support Staff

Mrs Sarah Langan – PA to the Headteacher / School Secretary

Miss Rebecca Wilson – Marketing Manager

Mrs Emma Smeaton – Bursar

Mrs Bev Kitching – Finance Officer

Mr Dave Machell – Chef

Mrs Coco Leake – Catering Assistant

Mrs Zofia Wiacek – Cleaner


  Name of Governor Skills and Experience Responsibilities
David Cunningham Chair
Michael Picken  

As a former pupil and now having a daughter that attends the school, I am passionate about joining the governing body and supporting the school to achieve key objectives to the benefit of all pupils, teachers, staff  and Parents.

My background is in the insurance industry and I run a division within a Global Broker after the previous business I was a Director at was acquired by them in late 2017, I am looking forward to using my skill-set to contribute to the development of the school.

I have 3 children and enjoy various sports such as running and squash and spend my spare time, other than taking my girls to their various activities, by supporting the local community and charity fundraising through Ilkley Roundtable who organise events such as the Ilkley Half Marathon and Ilkley Beer festival.


Finance and Resources and Health and Safety
Anna Bedford Collins I am a Mother to 2 children who both attend Ghyll Royd. I am a Director at The Purchasing Agency that specialises in the delivery of Purchasing Support Consultancy Services in both the private and public sectors. I have been with the company for 18 years. I shall be working across both areas of the Resource committee and using my experience in Procurement to assist the Finance team. I like to believe that I have developed both robust and lucid management and organisational skills in relating to project work and events.

I am very passionate about my new role as a Governor at such a thriving school and will support the the staff, parents and pupils wherever necessary. As a parent Governor communication between the school and parents I believe is the key and I will offer support to anyone within our school community.

I am also the current Chair of the Ghyll Royd School PTA which was set up in April 2019 – we have hosted a number of fundraising events for the school community and also strengthened our community links with Burley In Wharfedale, along with ensuring the children have some fun too!

Our fundraising so far has funded 9 seats in the Theatre of Dreams, the transporting and installation of the Kiln donated by Ilkley Grammar School and other equipment.


Anna Wood Education
Victoria Wood · EYFS / Safeguarding
Ben Thomson Finance