Heads of Educational Provisions
At Brunel SEN MAT we are proud to have an inspiring and dedicated team of Head Teachers of our schools and Principal of our College that lead our teams. Below are the biographies of the HOEPs which we hope you will enjoy reading.
Alison Paul OBE - Head of Brimble Hill School
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Education in 1986, Alison moved to Swindon to take up a post as a class teacher at Brimble Hill School. During her time at the school, Alison has been a class teacher, Department Leader and Assistant Head Teacher, before becoming Head Teacher in 2008. Alison was awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to Education in 2020. Alison feels honoured to be able to work with the amazing students and staff at Brimble Hill.
Helena Knight - Head of The Chalet School
My multi-cultural upbringing and educational background has definitely helped to shape the person and the professional I am today. My early years and primary education took place across schools in Malta and London.
I completed my secondary education at a mixed state school in West Yorkshire before emigrating with my family to South Africa in the early 80’s, where I attended a private girls school and learnt to speak Afrikaans. I experienced first-hand the human injustice of the apartheid system and my time there has left an indelible mark on my conscience and outlook to treat all humans equally regardless of their differences and stand up for those overlooked by society.
I returned to the UK to complete my A levels & BA honours degree in English and Inter Arts at Bretton Hall College, West Yorkshire with the view to become a broadcast journalist. However, fate took me in another direction and I went on to work as a residential social worker and teaching assistant at a residential school for CYP in care where I also studied to gain a PGCE in Primary Education at Christchurch College, Canterbury. It was during my time at the Coldecott Community Childrens Home and School; that I found my vocation to teach and after gaining teaching experience at home and abroad while travelling in India and Nepal; I settled into a teaching post at The Chalet School in 1999 as an SEN classroom teacher.
I said I would probably only stay a few years and here I am 21 years later after progressing into senior management and now privileged to be the Headteacher since 2017, of this very special school community for pupils with autism and additional learning needs.
I am a child-centred, person-centred leader and have actively equipped myself with the necessarily skills to help others by gaining a Level 2 in Counselling and attending training to be the school MHWB Lead- a title & role I am proud to hold.
I am an experienced Yogi and bring mindfulness into my daily life to help me ‘ride the waves’ and stay strong for others around me inside and outside of work. I am a keen gardener and find it very satisfying to watch my plants grow from my own seed collection. Both of these hobbies have found their way onto the school curriculum to the benefit of the whole school community.
My greatest professional achievement is to see the pupils that I taught in reception, grow and develop and thrive into valued young people and to know I have played an active role in supporting them and their families along the way in my various roles. I don’t have any children of my own, so I live out my parenting vicariously through the pupils in my care.
In more recent years, my greatest personal achievement is to become the proud owner of a husband, a cat and a motorhome.
Im excited to see what the future holds for me personally & professionally and if the clock stops tomorrow my headstone will read Non je ne regrette rien (Song by Edith Piaf).
Dave Dearsley - Head of Churchward School
Having completed a degree in sport and physical education, Dave started working as a teaching assistant in a specialist provision for students with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Dave found working with hard to reach children incredibly rewarding and decided that he wanted to complete his teacher training whilst continuing to work in special education. From there Dave has worked in a range of special school settings including pupil referral units, SEMH provisions and independent autism specialist schools fulfilling a range of roles through to his current position of Head Teacher at Churchward School.
As a teacher, Dave specialised in PE and Maths but also taught a range of other subjects including Science and English to a range of students. Throughout his career he has encouraged students to believe in themselves and has used outdoor education as a key part of this, using the countryside as a vehicle to build confidence and self-esteem. He has set up and run Forest School programmes and taken students climbing, mountain biking and kayaking as well as completing a residential sailing trip to the Channel Islands.
Whilst in various Senior Leadership positions Dave has been responsible for pastoral, safeguarding, teaching & learning and assessment as well as always taking responsibility for developing new areas whether that be introducing a range of therapeutic interventions or supporting the growth of a school and ensuring consistency and high standards.
Always looking to challenge himself and the team around him, Dave has relished the chance to set a new school up from scratch and is looking forward to whatever the future holds for Churchward School.
Outside of school Dave looks forward to spending time with his partner and their new son whilst also continuing with his enjoyment of being outdoors including taking care of their horses.
Megan Stratton - Head of Uplands School
I am very proud to be head teacher of Uplands School which is part of the Brunel SEN MAT. I have a long-standing history of successfully working with children who have additional needs and am passionate about finding innovative ways for all children to attain their potential, be happy and equipped for the next stages of their lives.
I have been a head teacher for many years and have held leadership roles for over 20 years. I have a keen interest in developing future leaders and I have successfully led schools through four outstanding Ofsted inspections. I am a passionate coach and thoroughly enjoy fostering a collaborative approach to promote teams to perform well and harmoniously. I love my job and the people I work with.
In my spare time, I also love to be with my fabulous family and my animals including my three much adored horses.
Bill Rigg - ARC Services Manager, BASIS
I began my career as a mainstream primary school teacher where I was lucky enough to work with some amazing children with autism and communication and interaction difficulties. Inspired, I embarked upon a move into a specialist autism setting. For the next seven years I taught children with autism in London and Bristol across a range of key stages and abilities. While teaching I was able to undertake post graduate study into autism and education and also took on a range of roles including Communication and Interaction Lead.
I joined the Swindon Autism Advisory Service as ARC Teacher in 2014 and have loved working with schools, parents and most of all children and young people to develop our services to what they are today. I believe that building positive relationships and a collaborative approach is key in getting the best outcomes.
Outside of work I like messing about and being silly with my young family. I enjoy playing my ‘cello and piano and I sing in a small chamber choir. I have a passion for watching and playing sport, I enthusiastically play football and cricket as often as I can with very limited ability.
I am really proud of the ARC, working with such an amazing and dedicated team and seeing the impact of what we do for our amazing children and young people.
Genti Mullilau - Principal of Horizons College