Leadership Team

Dominic Wall – Headteacher

A northerner by choice, I studied archaeology at university in Manchester and spent a few years digging holes around the country, before realising that I wanted to spend my working life making an impact on the future rather than the past. As a teacher I have spent 30 years working with children with special educational needs, and the great teachers and support staff who keep them safe and happy, learning in special schools and PRUs in Manchester, Blackburn, Oldham and Bradford.

An experienced headteacher of a range of special schools, I have been designated by the DfE as a National Leader in Education, and participate in a number of networks that exist to improve outcomes for children and their families across the special education sector. This has included working as a Regional Leader with the NASEN Whole School SEND partnership and as an Education Topic Adviser for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Away from work I spend as much time as possible outdoors, still looking down at the floor for flints or pottery – my best recent find was a Roman coin sticking out of a molehill!

Michelle Farr – Head of School

I have worked as a senior leader in special schools since 2012 working in a range of generic special schools, alternative provision and SEMH.  I originally qualified as a mainstream secondary religious education and sociology teacher but prior to this held a career in HR.   

My degree is in psychology and I studied this through the Open University whilst living in the USA. I have a masters degree in teaching and learning and I am a qualified SENCO. 

I have always preferred working with children who need additional support and I’m delighted to be at Southfield – its a school full of wonderful young people.  

Outside of work I like being active and outdoors and really enjoy cycling (on an electric bike!).

Viki Clough – Senior Deputy Headteacher

I began teaching in 1997 where I started out as an Art teacher. I have since spent 21 years within special schools in Lancashire and Greater Manchester mostly with young people with severe learning difficulties and a wide range of autistic spectrum conditions. 

I have been at Co-op Academy Southfield since 2013.  

As Senior Deputy Head I am responsible for curriculum and standards in the P2I and PIMD Pathways as well as staff performance and recruitment. I am a DDSL and GDPR lead. Most importantly I am responsible for Skye, our school dog!

Outside of my job I devote time to the study and practice of yoga. 

Alison Read – Deputy Headteacher

I began my career with 8 years teaching English in secondary mainstream schools. With the exception of teaching in Dubai for one year, I have always opted to work in schools situated within socio and economically disadvantaged areas. Improving the opportunities and quality of life for young people who face the biggest challenges has always been the main motivator for me and therefore inevitably led me into working in the special educational needs sector.  

I began my SEN teaching career in a special primary school that catered predominantly for young people with complex autism. I then moved to a special secondary school in Wakefield which catered for the full range of special educational needs and where I became Assistant Head Teacher. I joined Co-op Academy Southfield in 2018 as Deputy Headteacher.

I have a fascination with the challenge of identifying and understanding pupil progress in its infinite different forms within a special school, and how we can use that information to improve outcomes and opportunities for the students.  However, most importantly, I am passionate about young people being excited about the learning and enriching experiences they encounter. In my spare time I love finding opportunities to see, do and experience new things.  As an educator, working hard to ensure all young people have those opportunities too makes my job the most rewarding job in the world.

Rachel Hodgson – Pathway Leader, Pathway towards Independence (P2I) Pathway

I have worked in Special Education all my career, beginning as an unqualified Art teacher in 1997 at Haycliffe School. I have been part of the journey of Southfield School seeing the school grow and develop over the years. During this time, I have achieved the status of Specialist Lead in Education with a focus on Relationship, Sex and Health Education and have more recently been awarded the National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership where I researched the impact of Mental Health interventions on SLD students. I am also a Designated Safeguarding Lead.

My interests, experiences, and career development have led me to the role of Assistant Head Teacher of the Pathway Towards Independence. The personal development of students is central to my leadership and in my teaching, preparing students for a valued future.

Having started my teaching career as an art teacher and having a Foundation Degree in Art Therapy I enjoy the chance to be creative in and amongst family time! This combination has led me to enjoy opportunities to paint inspired by the images drawn by children of family and friends.

Adam Medlock – Pathway Leader, Profound Impairment with Multiple Disabilities (PIMD) Pathway

Being the son of two teachers, it was a certainty that I was always going to follow in the family vocation. Since qualifying as a primary teacher, I have spent my entire career working within special education, at both a primary and secondary level. Prior to starting at Co-op Academy Southfield, I was the Head of Data and Monitoring at a generic special school in Calderdale. I am highly invested in ensuring all students have full access to a broad curriculum which is tailored to meet their needs. My original specialism was autism with SLD, however throughout my career I have  worked with all disabilities and supported our mainstream counterparts in their SEN teaching in both primary and secondary settings

Having a degree in music, I am passionate about using the subject as a vehicle for all learning. As well as my teaching here, I work for the Amber Trust, a charity aimed at providing music lessons for children with visual impairments and also support my wife, who is a specialist teacher for Music and the Deaf. 

In my spare time I try to keep active by training Brazilian Jiu-Jitu, which I am currently a brown belt at, looking to compete as much as possible when the time allows!

Oonagh McNee – Pathway Leader, Vocational (Voc) Pathway

I always wanted to become a teacher, and throughout my career have been a passionate and committed champion of vulnerable students.

I have had the privilege to work in a number of different settings since starting my career as a teaching assistant. During this time, I have undertaken a variety of roles including leading whole-school initiatives, such as Mental Health and Enterprise/ Vocational Learning as well as having responsibilities as a pastoral, SEND and EAL, and subject curriculum leader successfully.

I am a qualified SENDCo, and have previously completed Teaching Leaders training, as well as being a Designated Safeguarding Lead. All of this has led to joining Co-op Academy Southfield as Assistant Headteacher for the Vocational Pathway. I am particularly interested in teaching and learning and staff development.

Alongside family time I enjoy travelling, collecting handbags and reality TV!

Tom Gilbody – Pathway Leader, Communication and Interaction (C&I) Pathway

I began working in education in 2011, initially as a Teaching Assistant having completed a BA Hons in Sport, Leisure and Culture at Leeds Metropolitan University. I gained Qualified Teacher Status in Secondary PE through the Graduate Teacher Programme in July 2013. Although I enjoyed my time in a mainstream school, I felt my passion was in supporting students with SEND and I joined Co-op Southfield in September 2013 as a Specialist Teacher. Since then I have undertaken a number of middle leadership roles, including overseeing off-site and residential visits and Physical and Sensory Development before taking on the role of Pathway Lead for the Communication and Interaction Pathway in January 2021. 

Professionally, I am always looking to develop my practice and have recently started a postgraduate study in the field of Autism through the University of Birmingham. This has become a particular area of interest to me and has introduced me to new ways of thinking in order to improve outcomes for students. Outside of school I like to keep active, particularly through football, running, rock climbing and walking my mischievous Beagle, Benton.

Tim Rushworth – Leader of Digital and Remote Learning

I came into education later in life after a successful career as a hotel manager and head chef. A change in career saw me working as an assessor at Bradford College and then at a local vocational centre.

I have been teaching for the last 13 years, 10 of those at Southfield at the Pathfinder Vocational Centre where I qualified and gained my QTS.

I studied my degree at Leeds Metropolitan University in media technology and completed my teacher training at Grange Technology College – specialising in Design & Technology. I am also the lead quality assurer for accreditation across school and a qualified SENDCo. These qualities and my expertise have lead me to this emerging and exciting role within school. My passion is equipping students with skills and knowledge to become successful and enjoy and a valued lifestyle as they prepare for adulthood.

When not in school I enjoy time with my family, walking and producing music in my spare time. I have released singles, DJ’d at festivals and won TV’s ‘Name that Tune’.

Taslim Afzal – Director of Care and Wellbeing

I have worked in schools in Bradford for over 20 years after completing a BA Hons Degree in Education studies at Leeds Metropolitan University. I began my career in a primary mainstream school and moved to Co-op Academy Southfield in 2017 as the Head of Pastoral Care before starting my new role as the Director of Care and Wellbeing in 2020.

I am responsible for implementing suitable provisions to meet the medical and care needs of students across the academy. I am also the Designated Safeguarding Lead and I’m currently studying a postgraduate degree in child protection and safeguarding.

In my spare time I enjoy traveling, gym, yoga and trekking. I like to set myself challenges and work towards achieving them. I have trekked the three National peaks, In 2015 I trekked the Great Wall of China, and I’m working towards trekking the Inca Trail next, before I take on the biggest challenge yet of trekking Mount Kilimanjaro.