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Governance & Leadership

Our Leadership Team

Here at Edstart we pride ourselves on finding and hiring the best team possible to deliver the best results. Check out our leadership team below.
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The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.


James Lowe

Head Teacher

After teaching sport, public services and social policy in different sectors across Manchester, James registered the school alongside Chris Irwin and a small team. From there he has been responsible for the growth of the school from its original site, to the several centres across Greater Manchester. Having led the school to successive 'Good' Ofsted inspections his aim is to further strengthen the offer to the region's young people. James has supported several local authorities in developing the landscape of alternative provision, most recently working on the successful DfE 'Alternative Provision Innovation Fund' bid for Salford City Council.

Chris Irwin

Managing Director

Chris Irwin is Founder and Managing Director of the EdStart Group. A former professional rugby league player, Chris channelled his love of sport into the world of teaching. Chris has taught across Secondary and Further Education before establishing EdStart in 2007.


Kathryn Verycken

Chair Governor

Kathryn Vereycken is a qualified Social Worker who worked for 28 years for Wigan Council in Children's Services. During her career with Wigan she worked in Residential Care, After Care, as an Independent Reviewing Officer, going on to manage the Independent Reviewing Officers Service including Child Protection Conference Chairs. Prior to retiring from Wigan Council, I worked in Safeguarding managing the Safeguarding Board, also taking the lead in Serious Case Reviews, managing allegations in the role of the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). Since retiring four years ago from Wigan Council she has gone on to work in Fostering, Chairing a number of Fostering Panels. In addition, she delivers training and Safeguarding consultancy work to a number of other organisations including, Schools and the Rugby Football League.

Stuart Entwistle


Stuart's professional background is within social work, specifically youth justice, safeguarding and fostering. He has previously been a local authority Governor at a secondary school, and more recently became a Trustee of a Multi-Academy Trust and co-opted Governor of another secondary school close to where he lives. He also sits on Fostering Panels within the independent sector. His specific interest on the board of Governors is around student welfare and safeguarding. Stuart Is currently employed within the private fostering sector, focusing on the quality, development and compliance of the Agency. It is these skills and experiences that he hopes can benefit the board of Governors at EdStart.

Peter Irwin


As a retired Senior Leader and Headteacher, Peter is still heavily involved in Education. He is Chair of Governors at a Salford Primary School and supports the EdStart leadership team with his knowledge and experience around pastoral support in schools. Pete has been with James and Chris from the start of the school and has advised throughout its growth to ensure the quality and standards have been maintained.

Leadership team

Adam Wilson

Regional Head of Centre

Adam Wilson,, joined EdStart leadership team in September 2018. Having qualified as a teacher in 2006 he has 13 years’ teaching experience in both mainstream and behavioural settings. Between 2006 and 2008 Adam worked in mainstream at Runshaw Sixth Form College, Leyland and Royton and Crompton School, Oldham as a teacher of ICT and Business In September 2008 Adam joined The Pupil Referral Unit in Oldham which was later renamed Kingsland School. While at Kingsland he held the post of caseload teacher delivering a number of subjects and this was followed by 2 years as Head of Mathematics. Adam’s most recent role was as assistant head teacher with responsibility for teaching and learning and curriculum, a role which he which he held since 2015. In addition to his role as at Edstart Adam is also a Team Teach tutor and often delivers training on De-escalation, Positive behaviour handling and physical intervention.

Marc Thomas

Quality Assurance Lead

Marc has been working with EdStart for over five years having previously spent 20 years in a management role in the media industry. Marc successfully managed the Bolton centre when it opened and has led by example in setting high standards for teachers and managers alike. He is responsible for the quality of teaching and learning at EdStart and regularly feeds back to the management and Governors.

Zoe Blurb


Zoe recently joined Edstart in 2019 and has an extensive career within Special Needs, both in the Social Care and Education Sector. Zoe holds an English PGCE has been a SENCO since 2013 (with NASENCO) and has further specialist professional qualifications associated with Additional Needs. Zoe has worked with young people in residential settings (Registered CQC Home Manager), therapeutic environments (CBT practitioner), alongside teaching in Special and Mainstream Education (Secondary and Post 16 Provision). Zoe has managed departments/teams of staff and assisted to raise standards in various settings recognised by CQC and Ofsted. A most recent post was Head of Additional Needs in the Bolton Borough. Zoe is extremely passionate about inclusion and ensuring young people with Additional Needs are quickly identified, positively recognised and provided with the support they need/are entitled to; alongside ensuring they have a personal pathway and achieve their potential. Zoe works closely with students, families and the LA.