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Meet the Staff

Mrs Abigail Clay - Headteacher
Ba hons, AST, NPQH


Abigail became head at Topcliffe C of E Academy in September 2015. Prior to becoming a headteacher she was an assistant head at an outstanding school where she taught across the primary age range from reception to year 6. Abigail has also worked as an Advanced Skills Teacher supporting modern foreign language development across the county. Abigail has written a book to support teachers in delivering languages to young children. Abigail enjoys sport, reading and spending time with her husband and three children.

Mrs Nicky Hartley - School Office Manager


Nicky became School Office Manager at Topcliffe C of E Academy in September 2009.  Prior to starting a family, she worked in the publishing industry first in Battle, near her home town of Hastings, East Sussex and then for a publishing company in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire after she married her husband and moved to Yorkshire.  During her years in publishing, she has gained experience in Marketing Management, Circulation & Distribution Management and Sales. Nicky has 2 children who both enjoyed their primary school years at Topcliffe School. 

Mrs Kirsty Costello - Willow Class Teacher

Kirsty studied Early Childhood Education at Leeds Beckett University and graduated in 2018. She has worked within Elevate Multi Academy Trust since September 2018 and joined Topcliffe in September 2020. Prior to teaching, Kirsty was a Teaching Assistant for 8 years. Outside of school Kirsty enjoys spending time with her family and friends, often trying out new places outdoors. 

Mrs Alison Massey - Ash Class Teacher


Alison joined Topcliffe Academy in September 2015 after her first year of teaching at Carlton Miniott. Prior to becoming a teacher, Alison trained to teach at the University of Chester gaining a First Class Honours Degree and worked as a Nursery Assistant across York during University holidays. Alison enjoys spending her weekends and holidays visiting family and friends around the country, going to music concerts and to the theatre. 


Mrs Hannah Parsons - Advanced Teaching Assistant  

After a successful 13 year career in Financial Services, Hannah joined Topcliffe Academy as a Teaching Assistant in September 2015.  She spends time in all the classes in school.  Her interests are literature and writing.  She is currently studying an Honours Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and she would like to inspire children to develop a passion for reading. 

Miss Rosie Dale -Silver Birch Class Teacher Class

Rosie joined Topcliffe Academy in September 2020 after completing her teacher training in the Lake District. Prior to this Rosie studied Biomedicine at Newcastle University, transferring the knowledge that she gained in her studies to inspire her teaching of the STEM subjects. Outside of school Rosie enjoys an active lifestyle regularly playing hockey, competing at running events or spending time in the outdoors with her family and friends.

Miss Chantel Parish - Willow Class Teacher

Chantel joined Topcliffe CofE Academy in January 2022. Prior to teaching, Chantel worked in both nurseries and schools as a support assistant. Chantel studied a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies at York St John University before carrying out her PGCE with North Star Teaching Alliance. Chantel specialises in the Early Years and has experience of working with children aged 2-8. Outside of school Chantel enjoys spending time with her friends and family, trying new things and visiting new places- especially visiting the cinema.

Mrs Helen Trueman - Learning Support Assistant 

Helen has been an ATA and MSA at Topcliffe Academy for many years. Mainly working in kS2 but now enjoying new challenges in KS1,  as well as delivering Art skills throughout all the year groups. She has enjoyed a varied fun-filled time over the years from residential trips to the proud moments leading the blue team (Neptune) to win on sports days. Helen is happily married to John, a farmer and has two grown up children, Andrew and Catherine. Booking holidays and gardening are her specialty, along with the pride she gets from her displays around the school.

Miss Sophie Howard - Maple Class Teacher


Sophie only recently joined Topcliffe in September 2017. She studied for a BA hons in Childhood Studies, gaining a first-class honours degree, before undertaking her teacher training. Prior to teaching, Sophie has worked for many years as a sports coach, responsible for many aspects of athlete development and guidance, working with a range of different abilities from the complete beginner, to two Olympians! Sophie was also a competitive diver herself before she became a coach. Sophie enjoys nothing more than spending time with her two boys outside of school; walking, cycling or just relaxing and watching a film.

Mrs Gillian Weightman - Higher Level Teaching Assistant 

Gillian Weightman works as a HLTA, her son Sam previously attended Topcliffe CofE Academy. Prior to having her son she graduated from Leeds University and worked in PR and Marketing. After having her son she changed her career and started working with Early Years until joining the school in September 2015. Gillian loves to run and is currently training for the Manchester Marathon in April.

Miss Katie Watson - Learning Support Assistant (Seedlings Class)

Katie is a level 4 Advanced Practitioner in Early Years who has worked at the nursery for 5 years and is also part of the After School Club team too. Prior to this she spent many years working in a care home. She has lived in Topcliffe her whole life and is a former pupil of Topcliffe school. Katie is a mum to her teenage son who enjoyed his time both at the nursery and school too. Katie enjoys learning about children’s mental health and wellbeing, completing courses to support her learning within this area. She is from a large family, so enjoys spending time with them, as well as reading, watching films and enjoying long walks with her dog.

Mrs Cat Cowton - Learning Support Assistant (Seedlings    Class)

Cat first began working in Early Years in 2001 where she began my NVQ level 2 at the age of 18. Since then she have gained my level 3 in Early Years Education and an NCFE level 2 teaching assistant.  Cat joined Topcliffe Academy in the summer of 2017 where she is currently working in Seedlings Class. She has 2 sons, Dylan who is 6 and Oliver who is 2, both of whom attend the school. Cat has a real passion for baking which she does in her spare time and also likes to attend music concerts and festivals when she can.

Mr Freddie Eastham - Learning Support Assistant

Freddie was a previous pupil at Topcliffe CofE Academy and now works in the Early Years department and the Before & After School Club as a General Teaching Assistant Apprentice. 

Mrs Cari Parker - Before & After School Club Play Leader & Learning Support Assistant 

Cari’s early career was in the retail industry, gaining experience of supervisory and management roles.  After her two children were born she transitioned into self employment to allow her to be with them.  She joined Topcliffe in June 2013, working in the kitchen before joining the B & A club team.  In her free time, Cari runs her businesses as well as studying for a degree in Education Studies (Primary).  She has a keen interest in learning through play and maintaining good mental health, and hopes to start mindfulness training as part of her personal development.

Mrs Emma James - Learning Support Assistant


Mrs Marsha Figg - Learning Support Assistant

Mrs Laura Griffiths - Higher Level Teaching Assistant

Mr Matt Cocker - Learning Support Assistant

Matt spent four years working as a teaching assistant, often as one-to-one support for children with complex needs, before joining Maple class as a class Learning Support Assistant. He has two decades of experience, in the voluntary sector, of leading and coaching young people in outdoor activities, including climbing, sailing and canoeing. Matt spends his free-time obsessing over cricket and comic books, as well as going backpacking and mountain biking with his daughter and dog.

Mrs Danielle Torkington - Cook