Sport & PE

The Astra Learning Alliance currently has the following SLEs in this category:

James Heward (The Hemel Hempstead School)

John Deadman (Dr Challoner's Grammar School)

Richard Pontin (Dr Challoner's Grammar School)


James Heward

James Heward

School:  The Hemel Hempstead School

Position held: Head of PE Faculty

SLE area of expertise: Physical Education, Leadership of Curriculum

Current responsibilities:  In my current role, I am responsible for the leadership & management of the PE Faculty. I lead and line manage a team of seven members of staff.  My main responsibilities in this role are:

  • The design, implementation & review of our PE curriculum at KS3, 4 & 5.
  • PE assessment policy design, implementation and review.
  • Academic PE provision at Level 2 & 3 BTEC Sport, GCSE PE and A Level PE and student progress in these areas.
  • Organisation of PE extra-curricular activity provision and whole school events.
  • The form appraisal process and career development of PE staff.

Previous career history:

I have been teaching Physical Education in Hertfordshire for nearly 10 years. During that time I have worked in two different schools and I have significant experience of teaching core PE at KS3, 4 and 5 and academic PE at KS4 and 5. I have a lot of experience in the teaching and delivery of GCSE PE and A Level PE.

I have a lot of school leadership experience in both a pastoral and an academic context as a Director of House (Head of Year equivalent) and a Head of Faculty. As a Director of House in a ‘Vertical Tutoring’ system, I was responsible for the pastoral support and extra-curricular provision for approx. 250 students in Years 7-11.

What you hope to achieve as an SLE:

I am looking forward to working with others to share ideas and good practice. I believe that my skills and experience will allow me to effectively work with others to support them. I am also excited about the opportunity to bring new ideas back to my school to support our staff and students.

As an SLE, I hope to gain new skills and experience as a teacher and develop as a leader to help support the progress of others.

Specific areas of expertise, and how you might be able to help other schools:

  • PE curriculum & assessment design and review.
  • Teaching & learning strategies and approaches in a variety of activity areas in core PE/Games.
  • Outstanding delivery of GCSE and A Level PE lessons and curriculum.
  • Pastoral support, behaviour management & discipline.
  • Organisation of whole school events.
  • Leadership skills and theory.
  • Developing leadership skills for effective middle leadership.
  • Growth Mindset research and application.
  • Initial teacher training and NQT development.
  • Developing coaching & mentoring skills.

Future career goals:

I have strong aspirations to move into senior leadership in the near future and to eventually lead a school as a Headteacher. I have always been passionate about leadership and coaching in sport, business and education and the art and science of improving performance and creating effective teams.

My participation in system leadership as an SLE will provide me with new challenges which will allow me to develop my skills and experience as a leader.  I hope that this development process will allow me to apply my knowledge and passion for leadership effectively into senior leadership.


John - 8371John Deadman

School: Dr Challoner’s Grammar School

Position held: Director of Sport

SLE area of expertise: Sport & Physical Education

Current responsibilities:

I am an enthusiastic, dynamic and innovative professional who has been in post since September 2003. My role includes responsibility for the extra-curricular sports provision at Dr Challoner’s, as well as leading the Sport and PE Team. More recently, I have developed a working relationship with the PE undergraduate course at St Mary’s University, and supported Wycombe High School in the strategic re-structuring of their sport and PE programme. I am also a regular columnist for the national ‘School Sport’ magazine, my most recent contribution looks at  Sport and politics - a post-election manifesto for PE teachers (other articles also attached here: Competitive sport in schoolsWorking with primary schools outside the school partnership system; Winning trophies versus mass participationTeacher or coach?Social and emotional confidenceIntegrity, humility and professionalismParent power.)

Previous career history:

Since graduating from Exeter University 18 years ago, I have gained a wealth of experience in two schools as a teacher of PE and Science, Head of Year, Head of House, Head of PE and now as a Director of Sport. Apart from successfully coaching teams in Football, Hockey, Cricket, Cross Country, Swimming & Tennis, I have more recently gained recognition for my work in developing a proactive and forward thinking Sport & PE Team at Dr Challoner’s, which has led to the implementation of a diverse and inclusive programme of sport for all.

What you hope to achieve as an SLE:

Having created a culture of opportunity, inclusion and sporting success on all levels at Dr Challoner’s, I am passionate about supporting other schools to achieve realistic goals linked to the resources available, and maximising  the opportunities for their pupils.

I would also like to improve the provision of Sport and PE within primary schools by advising Head Teachers how best to utilise their government funding for sport, and also by developing partnerships which allow leadership opportunities for pupils

Specific areas of expertise, and how you might be able to help other schools:

  • Developing a whole school structure for sport
  • Increasing extra-curricular opportunities for pupils
  • Primary school sport, and making efficient use of government funding for sport
  • Primary school liaison and developing sports leaders
  • Improving parental engagement and developing a parents committee for sport
  • Mentoring of trainee, NQT and young teachers

Future career goals:

I would like to continue working with young teachers, Heads of department, Head Teachers and parents in order to develop and maintain opportunities for all children to enjoy high quality PE and Sport whilst at school. Through my SLE outreach, consultative and journalistic work, I would also hope to influence strategic decisions at a higher level, which shape a future ‘sport for life’ culture within our society.


Richard Pontin

School:  Dr Challoner’s Grammar School

Position held: Subject Team Leader PE

SLE area of expertise:  Sport & Physical Education and Initial Teacher Training

Current responsibilities:  My current responsibilities as Assistant Team Leader include leading the GCSE PE course, the House Sport programme and also working closely with trainee teachers from the Astra SCITT programme. I coordinate the Basketball and Tennis programmes at DCGS and work closely with Bucks Basketball, Rugby and Tennis Associations. I also coach several teams in a wide range of sports and teach several exam groups.

Previous career history:

After graduating from St Mary's University in 2003 I have been at DCGS for 13 years, taking up the post of Assistant Team Leader in 2007. I have been a mentor to trainee teachers from 3 different Universities since 2006 and have completed the Leadership course at Ashridge Business School and the Bucks Internship programme at The Royal Latin School. I have coached several teams in different sports, reaching the latter stages of national competitions.  

What you hope to achieve as an SLE:

I am hugely passionate about helping other schools to raise achievement through fresh ideas and through the use of digital technology in sport and PE.  I hope to protect the profession by continuing to mentor the next generation of outstanding PE teachers, providing a breadth of knowledge and experience both in a practical and theoretical teaching environment.    

Specific areas of expertise, and how you might be able to help other schools:

  • AQA Examination PE, particularly GCSE

  • Using technology to improve teaching and learning

  • Increasing participation in sport and PE

  • Mentoring of trainee teachers, NQT and young teachers

  • Experience in coaching a number of sports

Future career goals:

I look forward to the opportunity to work alongside colleagues from different schools as well as working with the next generation of outstanding teachers.