Headteacher Reference Groups

The Headteacher Reference Groups advise on the potential impact of policies on primary and secondary education, including any barriers to implementation. There are 2 groups - the Primary Headteacher Reference Group and the Secondary Headteacher Reference Group.

Terms of reference

The Headteacher Reference Groups help the Department for Education (DfE) by influencing and improving policy development for primary and secondary education.

The groups aim to:

  • act as a confidential sounding board for policy colleagues to test their policies, bringing practitioner voice and expertise into the department
  • offer advice on long-term strategic policy development
  • influence and impact on the rest of the system, especially through other school leaders, while retaining independence from the department
  • act as a channel of communication between schools, the department and other agencies, including local authorities, to convey issues pertinent to school policies
  • take into account and pass on the views of community partners, including primary schools and post-16 colleagues, business and industry partners
  • inform and respond to the work of other relevant stakeholder groups and panels

The groups are not representative and have no power of veto over policy decisions.

Meeting dates

The groups meet 5 to 6 times per year, during term time.


Members of the Headteacher Reference Groups are leading headteachers from a wide range of primary and secondary schools, including academies, local-authority-maintained, non-maintained and special schools across England.

Current members influencing primary education policy:

  • Oluremi Atoyebi, Headteacher at Osmani Primary School, London
  • Andy Brown, OBE, CEO/Accounting officer at Ad Astra Academy, Hartlepool
  • Kate Brunt, Executive Headteacher at Rivers Church of England Trust, Droitwich
  • Lauren Costello OBE, National Primary Director at Academies Enterprise Trust, London
  • Seamus Gibbons, Headteacher at Langford Primary School, London
  • Jo Heaton, Executive Headteacher at Federation of St. Peter’s Elwick Church of England (VA) and Hart Primary School, Hartlepool
  • Paul Lufkin, Headteacher at Wimbledon Park Primary School, London and Executive Headteacher at West Wimbledon Primary School, London
  • Jane Nolan, Executive Principal at Ormiston South Parade Academy, Grimsby
  • Kinga Pusztai, Headteacher at Newcomen Primary School, Redcar
  • Helen Quinn, Principal at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary, Coventry
  • Pat Smart, Executive Headteacher at Create Partnership, Birmingham
  • Rachel Snape, Headteacher at The Spinney Primary School, Cambridge
  • Stephen Snelson, Principal at Red Hill Field Primary School, Narborough
  • Lisa Woolley, Executive Head of Primary at The Laurus Trust, Stockport
  • Dr J Yodaiken, Principal at Yesoiday HaTorah School, Manchester

Current members influencing secondary education policy:

  • Ian Bauckham, Executive Headteacher at The Tenax Schools Trust, Kent
  • David Boyle, Principal at Dunraven School, London
  • Christopher Clarke, Headteacher at Queen Elizabeth School, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria
  • Mike Donoghue, CEO and Executive Principal at John Taylor High School, Staffordshire
  • Alan Gray, Headteacher at Sandringham School, St Albans
  • Janice Howkins, Headteacher at Bentley Wood High School, Stanmore
  • Louise Lee, Principal at Oasis Academy Shirley Park, Surrey
  • Linda Magrath, CEO/Headteacher at Cheadle Hume High School / The Laurus Trust, Stockport
  • Lesley Powell, CEO at North East Learning Trust, Durham
  • Tom Quinn, Executive Headteacher at St John Plessington Catholic College, Wirral
  • Gareth Stevens, Executive Headteacher at Hethersett Academy, Hewett Academy, Inspiration Trust, Norfolk
  • John Tomasevic, CEO at Nova Education Trust
  • Teresa Tunnadine CBE, Headteacher at The Compton School, Finchley
  • Josephine Valentine, Headteacher at St Clement Danes School, Danes Educational Trust, Hertfordshire
  • Stuart Williams, Principal at Catmose College, Rutland
  • Sarah Wilson, Headteacher at Joseph Norton Academy, West Yorkshire