Leadership Team

WMS is led by Phil Needham (Principal), Val Jennings  (Vice Principal) and Jill Barrell (Business Manager). These are in turn supported by 6 Area Leaders and 5 Heads of Music Centre. 

Phil Needham – Phil has been Principal of WMEH since September 2013. He previously worked as Assistant Officer for Music and Advisory Music Teacher as part of Wakefields school improvement team. He has always had an overwhelming enthusiasm for music and teaching with the strong belief that practical music making is for everyone

He began playing the piano at the age of six and then progressed on to play in numerous bands and ensembles on percussion and guitar as a young musician. He studied music full time at Huddersfield Technical College School of Music before completing a B Mus (Hons) degree at Sheffield University where he majored in composition and music ICT. Phil trained for his Post Graduate Certificate of Education at Manchester Polytechnic before going on to teach in secondary education. He has taught in Wakefield all his working life with additional responsibilities as a Head of Department, Head of Year and Head of Lower School. In 2009 he gained his National Professional Qualification for Headteachers. Just before starting work with the Music Service and School Improvement Team, he was very proud to be one of the first music departments to gain an ‘Outstanding’ from Ofsted.

Phil feels very privileged to be in a position where he can share his passion and promote the importance of music with teachers and young people of all ages. He currently gets a great deal of enjoyment out of delivering whole class ukulele sessions, African drumming, composing and song writing and of course directing choirs and vocal groups. He provides music CPD across the country, runs workshops in schools and is co-author of a series of nationally recognised publications that help teachers deliver the music curriculum. 

Val Jennings – Val  has a wealth of experience managing instrumental services. She has successfully developed instrumental teaching and music ensemble opportunities across Wakefield for over 20 years. In this time provision has grown and a quality of teaching has been firmly established across over a team of 45 teachers.  She was proud to be part of the recent peer moderation process which concluded WMS to be “Outstandingly effective in all areas of provision. Their commitment to inclusivity enables them to work towards ensuring that all pupils are reached through a range of music services”


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