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About us



Mark Featherstone-Witty RNOM OBE, Founder, LIPA - Governor

Mark is devoted to teaching and learning and, for example, recently joined the ‘Reassessing Assessment’ initiative. His background includes acting, editing and journalism. He has the usual clutch of qualifications, including a Master in Education. He was responsible for a variety of start-ups either on his own or with friends, which included three private vocational FE colleges and a TV production company for Channel 4. After watching Alan Parker’s film Fame, he decided his next step was to start a performing arts high school without appreciating quite how hard it was going to be and the years it took. With the support of Richard Branson, the British Phonographic Industry and the UK government, he created The BRIT School, near London, with its fresh, institute wide curriculum. George Martin had introduced Mark to Richard and went on to introduce him to Paul McCartney, who was concerned about the empty, decaying building that once housed his secondary school in Liverpool. So, with Paul’s help, he restarted the arduous job of raising money to turn a 19th century building into a facility that could house the major skills that needed to be taught to put on an event. He went on to be Principal/CEO of LIPA’s HE provision since inception. He then created LIPA Primary School and then LIPA Sixth Form College. His latest work has created a LIPA High School to complete a youngster’s learning journey from 4 to 22, realising again the dream he had when he first saw Alan’s film.


Dr Joanna Moriarty – Chair of Governors

Jo taught at St Paul's Girls School, a top independent day school for girls, where she was formerly Director of Careers and Higher Education. She was a Founding Trustee of The Schools for Performing Arts Trust and so was involved in the founding of The BRIT School in London and later LIPA. Jo was a Director on the LIPA Council for nine years and continues to support LIPA in her role as a Member. Jo is also Chair of LIPA Sixth Form College.


Sue Doherty, Theatre Adjudicator & Mentor - Governor

Sue’s experience and dedication to arts education spans four decades, including as Head of Performing Arts at St Julies High School, where successful post-16 courses were firmly established in dance, drama and music, leading to an award of Artsmark Gold. In 2008, as Creative Network co-ordinator, Sue played a key role in Liverpool City of Culture events, working alongside leading practitioners and companies including The Royal Shakespeare Company. A full member of The Guild of Drama Adjudicators, Sue’s other projects include consultancy work in schools and scriptwriting.


Ree Hopkinson McNay - Governor

Ree is passionate about education and how it shapes and transforms the lives of individuals in society. A teacher for almost 20 years, she has a wealth of experience in the post-16 sector.Ree is committed to ensuring that every learner has an equal chance of success and works hard to ensure that barriers to potential success are minimised, so that every learner thrives and achieves.Ree is currently an Art & Design Foundation student, and finds that becoming a student again reinforces the impact that good teachers and organisations like LIPA Sixth Form College have on individuals, the community and society as a whole and how these should be valued and supported at all times.


Chris Smith - Governor

Chris was formerly Headteacher of St Margaret Ward Catholic Academy in Stoke-on-Trent, having retired in December 2017. He has a strong commitment to social justice and equality of opportunity for all, which has inspired and influenced the whole of his professional life. He enjoys the arts, especially the theatre and believes they are essential to civilized society, not only for pure enjoyment, but for reflecting and commenting on our world and as a vehicle for change.


Peter Atherton - Governor

Peter is currently Partnership Quality Officer and tutor at Edge Hill University, having previously been Head of Media and Film Studies at King George V College in Southport. Committed to the arts, he is highly creative, having created and launched a college radio station, delivered a creative arts festival and co-organised an annual short film festival.


Simon Piasecki - Governor

Simon has enjoyed a connective career as an educational manager of departments, an academic, innovating and leading curriculum, as well as a researcher, published writer, illustrator and performer. For the previous two decades, his research and practice has considered notions of identity, migration and belonging in socio-political and cultural contexts. As a professional artist, he has exhibited, directed and performed in international contexts and as a manager he has two decades of experience leading projects, shaping teams and planning strategically at a high level of the institution, currently as Professor and Subject Head of two departments at Liverpool John Moores University. Simon also has six years of experience as a Governor, across two institutions.


Cherise Weaver - Governor

Cherise is a Higher Education Progression advisor, a role in which she plans and delivers ‘Shaping Futures’ impartial Higher Education aspiration raising and information, advice and guidance service for eligible 14-18 year old learners attending Priority Schools within the Liverpool City Region. She has previously worked as a facilitator with AFTA thought and a mentor for 18-24 year olds. She is currently Community Producer for National Museums Liverpool. With a degree and background in performing arts, Cherise has extensive experience of directing and facilitating performance, with a particular emphasis on local engagement.


David Criddle - Governor

David is a passionate believer in the enormous benefit that the creative and performing arts bring to our society, quality of life and well-being. He has worked in higher education for over 30 years, in both UK and Brazilian universities, acquiring wide experience in diverse leadership roles and settings. Currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Cell Signalling at the University of Liverpool, he is engaged in translational research to elucidate critical mechanisms of pancreatic disease. Outside of work he is a musician, composer and home-recording enthusiast who occasionally performs with local bands.