Our Mentors

Julian Appleyard OBE, Anne Martin and Rowena Hackwood have joined Academicis’ team of Associate Mentors, led by Sir Michael Wilshaw.  If you would like more information on their mentoring services, please contact us at 01223 907979 or smwilshaw@academicis.co.uk.


Julian Appleyard OBE

CEO, Pontefract Academy Trust, West Yorkshire

Julian Appleyard OBE is the Chief Executive Officer of Pontefract Academies Trust, a cross phase MAT of nine schools. Since 2018, under Julian’s leadership, the Trust has been through a transformation programme with trust secondary schools now in the top 7% for progress and primary schools in the top 1%, with attainment significantly above the National average. Prior to his arrival, one secondary school was in special measures, and primary outcomes some of the weakest amongst academy trusts.

Prior to taking up appointment in Pontefract in Julian was the founding Executive Principal of Rochdale Sixth Form College and The Altus Education Partnership. Under Julian’s leadership, the College was the first sixth form college nationally to gain outstanding status by Ofsted at its first inspection. The College gained national acclaim through topping the Department for Education Performance Tables for an unprecedented four consecutive years.

Julian began his career as a teacher and has worked in a range of senior leadership roles in 11-18 schools and the sixth form college sector. A former member of the Headteacher Board and a lead Ofsted inspector, he has led leadership sessions with headteachers, senior leaders and whole school teams across the country. Julian was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2016 for services to education.


Rowena Hackwood

CEO, Astrea Academy Trust, Sheffield

Rowena is one of a small group of MAT leaders who have joined education from outside of the sector, having started her career as a management consultant, and since holding leadership positions in business, heritage charities, local government and other parts of the public sector. Over the last 7 years, she has led two large multi-academy trusts, the David Ross Education Trust and Astrea Academy Trust, with a focus on educational, financial and operational transformation. She is a passionate advocate for the transformative power of education, and the role that MATs have in driving transformation at scale and pace. Her skills have a ‘public-hearted, business-minded’ flavour, focusing on strategy development and implementation, post-merger integration, operating model development, organisational design, ethical budgeting and GAG pooling, performance and accountability frameworks, common standards and alignment (education and operations), and confident culture-building.

Rowena has a high profile as a speaker, coach and mentor, and is Vice Chair of the Queen St Group (QSG), an education thinktank. She is a leading advocate for diverse leadership pathways, and Chairs the QSG Women Into Leadership conference.


Anne Martin

CEO, QEGS MAT, Derbyshire

Anne is the founding Chief Executive Officer of QEGSMAT, a National Coach for Women into Leadership and a National Leader in Education. She served for five years on the East Midlands and Humber Headteacher Board (Advisory Board), is a Derbyshire Link Advisor, and was awarded a Fellowship by the Chartered College of Teaching. Prior to becoming CEO, Anne was a secondary school Headteacher in Stoke-on-Trent and then became the first female Headteacher in Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, in over a 400-year history.

Spanning over three decades, Anne has been involved in coaching and mentoring. She has a strong track record of school improvement, in rural and city schools, primary and secondary phases, with a focus on utilising the power of education to change children’s lives for the better. More recently, in response to the needs of the sector, Anne has worked with schools on succession planning, growing your own staff, roles and responsibilities of governance and developing the culture necessary to support this. She believes in prioritising positive relationships, embracing opportunities, surrounding yourself with others who can challenge you, and who have the expertise that you yourself do not necessarily have, whilst never compromising on your values and never forgetting to make time for yourself.