Our Leadership Team

Here at Edstart Schools Salford we pride ourselves on finding and hiring the best team possible to deliver the best results. Check out our leadership team below.

The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.

Proprietor and Governors

James Lowe


After teaching sport, public services and social policy in different sectors across Greater Manchester, James registered EdStart Schools in 2010 and, from there, has been responsible for its growth from our original site in Salford, to a further 8 schools across the region. He has also 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.

0300 303 4414 (option 1 then option 6 for Head Office)
5 Gerald Road, Salford, M6 6DW
Find James on Linkedin

Stuart Howarth

Headteacher and Co-Proprietor (Wigan)

Stuart is an experienced member of our team who holds both BSc, MSc degree's and QTS. Stuart, who originally trained as a science teacher at St Peter’s Catholic High School in Wigan is a Biology specialist who has developed his practice over many years in both mainstream and alternative education settings and is now Headteacher and part of the proprietorial body at our Wigan school. Stuart has an unwavering passion and vision for every student, member of the team and our school, building on our values of humanity, togetherness, compassion and progression.

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 Schools leadership team with his knowledge and experience around pastoral support in schools. Peter has been with James from the start of the school and has advised throughout its growth to ensure the quality and standards have been maintained.

Mike Platt


Mike has been a Headteacher since 1998. He has considerable leadership experience as a headteacher of two very different primary schools in Salford leading them both to outstanding school status. In 2014 Mike was appointed as a seconded Team Inspector for Ofsted. He has also worked for the local authority as a seconded School Improvement Officer and also completed a role as Executive Headteacher. He is currently the serving Headteacher of a legacy National Teaching School. Mike’s particular areas of expertise are in Maths, PE, KS2 and EYFS.

Leadership team

Kevin Buchanan

Executive Headteacher

Kevin is an experienced mainstream and specialist school senior leader within safeguarding, welfare and inclusion education. He has proven experience of leading service change and building multi-agency partnerships in Third Sector, NHS, CAMHS, School Inclusion and Alternative Provision pathways. Kevin’s day-to-day work involves developing specialist provision, SEND, family and outreach work to vulnerable students and their parents/carers.

Dympna Woods

Executive Headteacher

Dympna brings a wealth of expertise in teaching and school leadership, having worked in diverse settings including some of our region’s most disadvantaged communities. Her experience also encompasses the Voluntary Aided sector, publicly funded schools and academies; she has also worked as an Educational Consultant and recently been appointed as a School Improvement Partner for one of our region’s Local Authorities. In addition, Dympna regularly participates in school inspections across the North West of England, as part of her role as an Ofsted inspector.

Micky Mellon

Director of Leadership and Culture

A successful ex-Professional Footballer who played nearly 500 games in a career that saw him represent many high-profile clubs such as Burnley, Blackpool and West Bromwich Albion, Micky also achieved great things as a Manager/Coach, winning 8 promotions over 700 games at Fleetwood Town, Barnsley, Shrewsbury Town, Dundee United and Tranmere Rovers. In addition to his work in football, Micky has also co-authored a book about effective leadership, entitled ‘The First 100 Days’, published by Reach Sport.

Zoe McCall

Lead SENCo

Zoe 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.