Our People

Chair of Trustees: Dr Kathleen Johnson

Kathleen is a senior lecturer in the School of Physical Sciences at the University of Liverpool. She became Chair of Trustees December 2022.

Headteacher: Mr Damian Haigh, MA NPQH

Damian Haigh is an experienced Teaching and Learning, and School Leadership specialist from South Yorkshire. He gained his Bachelor’s Degree from Cambridge University, before returning to Sheffield to take a PGCE in Mathematics at Sheffield Hallam University. He started teaching in Staffordshire in 1997 and became a Head of Mathematics in Cheshire in 2004. He is the first Headteacher of the school and joined the school in 2019, a year before the school welcomed its first students.

Damian is interested in neuroscience and cognitive psychology as well as mathematics.  He has more hobbies than time and might be found sewing, knitting, cooking, gardening, cycling, hill walking or sailing when he’s not at work.  Recently he has been enjoying learning Italian in the University of Liverpool’s Open Languages programme.

School Business Manager: Lynda Stott

Lynda is a chartered accountant with a wealth of experience gained from working in both the public and private sector. Lynda has held a number of senior financial positions in SME businesses involved in the property, leisure and retail sectors with overall responsibility for the delivery and interpretation of financial results. She joined the University of Central Lancashire Students’ Union in 2003 and until recently held the position of Director of Finance and Performance.

Lynda has been a Trustee of the National Association of Student Employment Services since 2016, promoting the education and employment of students. The changing educational environment continues to capture and retain Lynda’s interest as education and employment are crucial elements for our future economy and the generation to come. Her eye for detail, extensive experience of educational finance and her experience of working in SME’s made her an ideal Trustee for a small school.

Lynda joined us as the School Business Manager in October 2023.

Deputy Headteacher: David Hemsley

David is our Deputy Headteacher and teaches physics as well as being the lead for our Personal and Pastoral Enrichment Programme, which includes Progression and Careers. He is also designated safeguarding lead and is in charge of the pastoral team. David has always had a passion for physics and the amazing concepts it covers. His love of science fiction from a young age helped to fuel his desire to know what was possible in the realm of physics. David studied Astrophysics at The University of Edinburgh and then a PGCE in Secondary Education/Physics at The University of Cambridge. He is also a keen sportsman, playing club rugby and tennis where his fitness allows! David is a keen advocate of a healthy lifestyle and personal education beyond the curriculum. We are very pleased with our extracurricular visits which help enrich studies, David is one of the school’s Extracurricular Visit Coordinators.

David has been teaching since 2002 and has a wealth of experience teaching and leading STEM subjects and schools. He has been a physics teacher, head of physics, head of science and a senior leader as a head of sixth form before his current position at the Maths School.

Head of Mathematics: Colin Thomas

Colin is our Head of Mathematics and leads our outreach initiatives. He studied Economics and Mathematics at the University of Liverpool and returned to the University campus when the Maths School first opened. He has enjoyed the opportunity to combine both of the A level Maths and Further Maths curricula in order to create a unique and challenging experience for our students. The development of our Go Further outreach programme has allowed him and other staff to work with a large number of schools across the North West region, launching other initiatives such as our team challenges and KS3 Root to STEM community. Colin helps deliver our sports lessons on a Friday afternoon drawing on his coaching qualifications and his experience as vice-captain of the University football club.

Head of Physics: Dr Aurora Gutierrez-Sosa

Aurora is our Head of Physics.  She completed her PhD in Surface Science at the University of Liverpool after her Master’s Degree in Physics at the Complutense University of Madrid. She was a research scientist at Oxford and Manchester before, luckily for us, discovering that she is a natural teacher. She has done research on catalysts, plasma physics and nanotubes using both particle accelerators and field electron microscopy. During her teaching career, she has organised trips to CERN, Gran Sasso and to see the Northern lights, along with many other activities.

Head of Computer Science: Steve Wentworth

Steve is our Head of Computer Science and also deals with the technical side of IT at school, as well as all sorts of fun projects on electronics and robotics.

He was a natural choice for this role, with almost 40 years programming experience beginning with self-taught coding in Basic on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum and progressing to significant professional experience in the financial sector in software development roles. He achieved a Masters degree in Microelectronics and Information Systems following a 1st class BSc. in Applied Electronics and Computers at John Moores University. Steve has been teaching Computer Science GCSE and A-level since 2014.

Head of Programmes: Niall Thompson MA Camb MSc FSET QTLS

Niall is an outstanding mathematician who was accepted to study the subject at the University of Cambridge when he was just 14, before returning to the North West to complete a Masters in Applied Maths in Manchester.

In his role as Head of Programmes, Niall is responsible for supporting academically gifted young people across our region through applying his unique expertise to support them on their mission to become exceptional mathematicians and gain entry to the most competitive university courses. As a current postgraduate student on a Doctor of Education (EdD) programme, Niall is conducting his doctoral research into the application of social learning as motivational teaching and learning methods for high-ability mathematics students in 16-19 provision. We are pleased to host this research at ULMaS, and to be the first maths school to be the subject of a piece of academic research published in a scholarly journal. Additionally, Niall is the school’s SENCo, having qualified with Distinction in 2021, and is Lead Mentor for initial teacher education partnerships and early career teacher inductions.

Teacher of Mathematics: Michael Prescott

Michael has been teaching Mathematics for over a decade in Merseyside, and has mainly spent that time developing cross-curricular puns and perfecting enthusiastic sarcasm. In his degree, he discovered a passion for number theory and, unfortunately, statistics, but was determined not to apply this knowledge to the real world and so went into teaching. At ULMaS, as well as being a vital cog in the Maths department machine, he covers PSHE, PE and the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award.

Teacher of Mathematics and Computer Science: Samuel Canham

Samuel is a maths and computer science teacher. He studied mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge then gained an MSc in Computing at the University of York where he became a research associate working in formal methods and verification. He did his PGCE at the University of Sheffield in 2019. As a teacher, he is particularly interested in combining the teaching of mathematics and computing, stretching students beyond the curriculum, including preparing students for STEP and olympiads, linking mathematics with other curriculum subjects and giving students tastes of university mathematics topics. He also promotes hobbies, extracurricular activities and clubs, running the school’s anime club, cryptography club, recreational maths club and the role playing games and board game Friday enrichment activities. He has recently started keeping a colony of ants, learnt how to make ice cream and is devising a phonetic alphabet for describing dialects of English.

Teacher of Mathematics: Johnathan Birkett

Johnathan has recently joined the Maths Department after being with us since February 2021 in various roles. He is a recent graduate of the University of Liverpool having studied in BSc and MSc Mathematics. As well as undertaking his PGDE in Further Education at Liverpool Hope University where he first worked with ULMaS during his second teaching placement. Given his connection to the city, his new home, Johnny is an avid proponent for STEM in the region and is keen to work with the young Mathematicians coming to School and those we speak to through our outreach programmes. At ULMaS he is keen to develop the sustainability of the School through his environment club, and also coach the next generation of engineers through the F1 in Schools programme. He is looking forward to seeing our students grow both as mathematicians and people during their time at ULMaS and can’t wait to see all their successes in the future. Outside of school, he likes to go for climbs at the local climbing hangar, walks around the North, and the football. If wanting a more relaxed evening you can find him cooking a good meal or reading a nice book.

Teacher of Physics: Jamie Hall

Jamie is the newest addition to the already stellar physics team here at ULMAS. His favourite field of physics is quantum mechanics and he runs the weekly Quantum Club, introducing students to mathematics and physics not usually seen until degree level! He also has a keen interest in creating brain teasers, setting the weekly physics problem challenges.

After obtaining a first class master’s degree in theoretical physics from the University of Leeds, he returned to his home city of Manchester to train as a physics teacher. It was within his master’s degree that he discovered his passion for teaching, helping his lecturers to compile notes and deliver workshops to first and second year students. Jamie enjoys snooker, chess and brain teasers.

Teacher of Computer Science: Tracy Birkett

Tracy completed a BSc in Computer Science at the University of Chester in 2008 and worked in network support for 6 years before completing a PGCE in Computer Science in 2014. She is enthusiastic about her subject area and in the constant evolving world of technology, she loves to keep on learning. Throughout her teaching career she has enjoyed going beyond the curriculum with her students, always on the lookout for new opportunities to share with them to help broaden their experiences outside of the classroom. In school she is involved with the Women in STEM club and retro games club.

Office Manager: Mary Higham

Mary has a BSc in Environmental Management and Geography and has worked in schools across Merseyside for fifteen years, covering a huge variety of non-teaching roles. At ULMaS she has applied this experience to admin, pastoral work, safeguarding and outdoor adventures. She is excited in our pupil’s successes, commiserative in their hardships, and enthusiastic about the mission of the school.

Senior Administrator: Kerry Wilde

Kerry has worked at ULMaS since its opening in September 2020. She has a BSc in Mathematics and PGCE in Secondary Mathematics from Sheffield Hallam University.

Her role includes leading Outreach and Admissions administration as well as becoming a Form Tutor in 2023. Kerry also helps to coordinate the school’s advertising and marketing. She has been pivotal in creating a student facing administration team; students value the advice and support she provides, as well as her artistic talents.

Data and Exams Officer: Ruth Crispin

Ruth has a background in Graphic Design and worked for a number of years in the print industry. She started working in schools whilst living in North London and after moving to Liverpool looked to extend her experience. She has taken on many roles in a variety of schools including reprographics technician, learning mentor, receptionist, PA and attendance officer to name a few. She enjoys the challenge and variety of the Data & Exams role and is enjoying working in a school with such talented staff and students.

Administrator: Rhiannon Page

Rhiannon has recently joined the team here at ULMaS as Sixth-Form Administrator. She has a BSc in Psychology and completed a MSc in Research Methods with Advanced Statistics. This is her first role within a school and she is excited to work with such talented students and staff. Her role involves putting her focus on the maintenance of general administrative tasks as well as ensuring the wellbeing of the students. She is also enthusiastic in supporting the students to help them reach their full potential.

Support Teacher: Nick Blanchard

Nick graduated with an MMath in 2020 before taking a role at an educational charity providing small group mathematics support for students who had been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This position led him to the maths school, which inspired him to pursue a career in teaching, and so he undertook a PGDE with a placement at ULMaS. Nick now provides individual and group support for students, both academically and pastorally. Outside of school he has an ever rotating list of hobbies, with current interests being coffee, mechanical keyboards, and chess.

Corporate Member of the Trust: Julie Ann Gillespie

Julie Ann is a Relationship Banker (Mid Markets) with 20 years’ experience of relationship/stakeholder management, strategy, change, general management, operations, conduct, leadership/management, HR/Learning and charities/third sector. She has strengths in shaping and executing plans; delivering strategic and operational change; stakeholder management disciplines and interpersonal skills. With 15 years’ experience in supporting Third Sector organisations as a Chair of Trustees and mentor, she is an asset to our Trust.

Corporate Member of the Trust on behalf of the University of Liverpool: Nicola Davies BSc, MSc, FCA

Nicola was appointed as Director of Finance at the University of Liverpool in October 2017, and is responsible for all finance and procurement activity at the University, along with Strategic Planning and the Strategic Change team. Prior to her role at Liverpool she held a number of roles at the University of Manchester, most recently Deputy Director of Finance. Over the last five years her roles have been focused on delivery of change projects, including two finance restructures, and the design and implementation of new planning and reporting processes. She has been working within the HE sector for the last 15 years, and is passionate about this sector. Nicola has a keen interest in staff performance and development, and promotes continuous improvement as a way of working.

Before joining the HE sector, Nicola qualified as an ACA chartered accountant and worked in a number of accounting firms including Ernst and Young and Grant Thornton. She has a BSc in Mathematics from Newcastle University and an MSc in Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics from The University of Manchester. Her strong STEM background, broad HE experience and financial expertise make her an ideal Member for our trust.

Member: Professor Carsten Welsch

Carsten studied physics and economics at the Universities of Frankfurt (Germany) and UC Berkeley (USA) and completed a PhD in accelerator physics at the University of Frankfurt. After some years as Postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg (Germany, 2003-2004) and as Fellow at CERN (Switzerland, 2005-2007) Carsten founded the QUASAR Group in 2007. He has been a member of the academic staff at the University of Liverpool and a member of the Cockcroft Institute of Accelerator Science and Technology since 2008. In 2011 he was promoted to Full Professor of Physics and has been Head of the Physics Department since September 2016.

Carsten is also Head of the Accelerator Physics and QUASAR Groups. Carsten has initiated and is coordinating the EU-funded research and training networks DITANET, LA3NET, oPAC, OMA and AVA. He is also Director of Liverpool University’s STFC CDT on Big Data Science, LIV.DAT. With a combined budget of more than 20 million pounds these are the largest research and training initiatives ever realised in this research area. Carsten has organised dozens of international schools and topical workshops for Liverpool University students, staff and the wider scientific community. As a member of various scientific advisory committees he contributes to defining future research trends and the advancement of physics in general.

Prizes and Honours awarded to Carsten include the Helmholtz-University YIG Award (Helmholtz Society, 2006) and the CERN Fellowship (CERN, 2005) and REES Fellowship (JISTEC, 1999). As Head of Liverpool University’s Physics Department, Carsten sees particular value in ULMaS for future generations of students and for positioning Liverpool as a destination of choice for physical sciences in the UK and around the world. His experience in the design of teaching practice at undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as numerous outreach activities communicating cutting edge science to GCSE and A-level audiences will be an asset in defining the strategic direction of the School. Carsten’s experience in attracting significant funding from a large range of funders will also be beneficial to the long-term growth and stability of ULMaS.

Member of the Trust and Trustee: Professor Kurt Langfeld PhD, Dr Habil, PD

Kurt Langfeld is a Professor in Theoretical Physics, and Head of Department for Mathematical Sciences at the University of Liverpool. Prior to this he was Professor of Theoretical Physics at Plymouth University. He was a researcher at Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen and took his Masters Degree and PhD at Technische Universität München. His expert knowledge of mathematics and theoretical physics as well as extensive experience of educational leadership make him an ideal Trustee of a maths school.

Trustee: Catherine McClennan

Catherine has enjoyed a varied and successful career in education, skills and health improvement as well as running her own businesses. She is currently Director for Women’s and Children’s services for the NHS in Cheshire and Merseyside. She is an advocate for Children and Young people and has lobbied nationally and regionally throughout her career for opportunities which help them to realise their academic potential as well as to thrive in all other aspects of their life. She has led collaborations and partnerships to improve services which support women, children and families and is passionate about reducing inequalities and improving life chances for all. She is a post-graduate of Yale University, has experience in inspection and quality improvement and is particularly interested in ensuring that the voices of pupils, parents and staff are heard, and their feedback is actioned. She is originally from Liverpool, a working mum with three children including a daughter at ULMaS.

Trustee: Christopher Nicholson

Christopher is a parent trustee who joined the board in October 2022. He is a senior manager in the National Health Service and also chairs the Finance Committee in another Academy Trust.

Trustee: Dei Harries

Dei joined the University of Liverpool in 2019 as in-house employment counsel. He provides support and advice to the University on a broad range of contentious and non-contentious issues impacting on organisational performance, services, external contractual relationships, research projects and partnerships. He also advises on student issues including fitness to practice, discrimination and regulatory matters. He is a trustee director of University of Liverpool Pension Fund Trustees Limited, and therefore understands the role, key duties, and responsibilities associated with being a trustee director.

Dei studied architecture at the University of Liverpool before qualifying as a solicitor, and prior to his current position was an Associate at Weightmans LLP where he advised a wide range of corporate and public sector clients, including schools and universities, on a broad range of employment and pension issues.

Trustee: Dr Mohammad Rahman

Mohammad holds a post graduate diploma in medical education (Royal College of Physicians and UCL) and is a Fellow of Advanced HE. Mohammad regularly delivers teaching to medical students, and practising doctors. His educational expertise has been recognised by the University of Liverpool with an appointment as a clinical tutor (2008 – 2010) and tutor prize (2008). He is keenly interested in education and is a Fellow of Advanced HE.

Having chosen medicine to escape mathematics, Mohammad has found a renewed sense of joy in the subject during his time in research with the National Confidential Inquiry in Manchester. He is a practising psychiatrist and one of the Deputy Medical Directors for Nottingham Integrated Care Board, and Designated Doctor for Adult Safeguarding.

Trustee: Anthony Rooney

Anthony Rooney gained a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Liverpool Hope University in 2007. Since graduating he has held senior roles within the facility and project management industry, delivering projects across education, healthcare, local and central government.

Anthony is currently Sector Director for delivery to a number of large central government departments across the UK and Europe delivering facility management, energy and sustainability and capital projects. A Liverpool local, Anthony is keen to see all children within the city have the opportunities to grow and develop into the best they can be, with well maintained surroundings and experienced, passionate teachers. Anthony brings experience within facility and estate management as well as health and safety to the Board of Trustees.

Trustee: John Thompson BEd (Hons), NPQSL , NPQH.

John came from Newcastle to study Physical Education & English in 1990 and has been here ever since!

John has worked in all settings and phases in education, with all levels of ability ranging from children as young as 3 through to mature university students who at the time were twice his age. He moved from being Head of PE in a Specialist Sports College (where his A Level class was made up of 12 students of whom 6 were county standard, 3 internationals and a World record holder who went on to win an Olympic Silver Medal) to Special Needs Education which has, as his knees have given up, become as big a passion for John as sport ever was. His passion for education has led him to become Head of School at an Outstanding Merseyside SEN School.

In John’s free time he is a fan of Newcastle United, enjoys cinema, reading, current affairs, cycling, sport and cooking. Cooking almost became John’s profession at one point when he appeared in the TV Show – Iron Chef UK and following his experience went on to work in Michelin Starred kitchens becoming at the time the only amateur to have been invited to cook at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck. John is dyslexic and finds the differences in the way people learn fascinating and as a result he has a very creative approach to developing teaching and learning to meet the individual needs of the students. He hopes that his experience will serve and support the University of Liverpool Maths School well.

Danielle Parle

Danielle is a parent trustee.  She is Head of Centre of Maxam Training Limited, a private training provider offering Level 3 – Level 5 Education and Training, Assessor and IQA qualifications. She previously worked at colleges in the Liverpool City Region working with 16-18 year olds and adults, many of whom came from areas of high social deprivation, and was also Head of Education at a local training provider specialising in adult education for women, providing a safe and supportive space for them to learn.