About us

Mrs Debbie Buckingham, Director of Teaching and Learning

I was a Head since 2000 across a range of schools. Prior to my appointment at Alphington in 2007, I was seconded to a school in special measures. The school was identified as Outstanding three months after I left.

Since 2003 I have been a designated Consultant Leader and a Local Leader. I have supported a range of schools across Devon. Working closely with the LA has enabled me to work with schools in categories and gain first- hand knowledge of strategies such as PP reviews. I have been a lead for the ‘NAHT’ Instead programme undertaking three reviews in Exeter and regularly work with colleagues on a range of projects and exchanges abroad.

Working as the School Improvement Officer is and believe that the planned opportunities for working together, providing support and challenge will have an impact on outcomes across all our schools.

Personally even after thirty years of residing in Devon I still feel extremely fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. I have two grown up sons and am shortly to become a grandmother.

Brian Cook M.Sc, B.A(Hons), A.C.I.B., Dip.F.S.

It’s a privilege to contribute to the work of ELAT. I joined the Board because I have a strong family interest in primary education, a desire to give something back to a local community and a wish to challenge myself in new areas.

My professional background is in finance and after a career working with commercial and corporate businesses all around the UK, I returned to the West Country and now live on the edge of Dartmoor. I want to bring to ELAT not only my financial and business experience but also an objective, commonsense support and challenge to our leadership, to help to optimise the opportunities for our children. We need to make sure that we make the most of all of our resources to support the quality of our teaching and learning.

As well as serving on the ELAT Board I am also a director of a multi-academy trust in Cornwall and I chair the governing body of a small maintained primary school. Both of these roles help to bring a hands-on understanding of the issues facing our schools.
My relaxation comes from my ongoing interest in sport (sadly less and less active!), walking my dogs and trying to keep my large garden under control.

I really look forward to continuing to work with a talented and committed leadership team as we build the future of the ELAT schools.

Sharon Tarr, Headteacher at Alphington Primary School

I started my career as a teaching assistant at a local school and quickly realised that I wanted to take the next step so I began my teaching training. I have been fortunate enough to love my job at every stage and progressed from teaching into assistant head and, as I currently am, head at Alphington Primary School.

I became Headteacher at Alphington in September 2018 and am very proud of our school. I strongly believe that school should be a place that develops children as a whole and we offer a curriculum and environment that enthuses and motivates children.

I am excited by the opportunities open to our children that being part of Exeter Learning Academy Trust offers.

I was born and raised in Exeter and as it is such an amazing place to live and work I have never ventured very far for it!

Caren Brooks, Headteacher at Bowhill Primary School

I have lived in Devon since I was a child. I love travelling and I have been lucky enough to visit lots of places in the world but I always love coming home to this lovely county.

I trained to be a teacher at St Luke’s in Exeter and starting working as a teacher in 1996. After gaining experience in the classroom (from Foundation Stage to year 6), I became a Deputy Head teacher, and then the Head teacher of another local school.

I have been proud to be the Head teacher at Bowhill since 2012 – it’s a great school which continues to get better and better! When I’m not thinking about school, I love walking my dog, team rowing on the river, watching films, and eating!

Alice Purcell , Headteacher at Ide Primary School

I am delighted to be taking up the Headship of Ide, embracing the vibrant community surrounding our lovely village school.

After teaching at Alphington for several years, I was appointed at Ottery St Mary as Assistant Headteacher . In my spare time I enjoy amateur dramatics and running.