Principal & CEO (DSL)
I have worked at West Heath School since September 2010 as a Vice Principal and was promoted to Deputy Principal in January 2014. I am now honoured to be West Heath School’s Principal and Chief Executive. It is such a privilege to lead the school and our multi-disciplinary team, who are passionate and determined to ‘re-build lives through education’. Prior to West Heath I have worked for over 20 years in educational settings supporting both children and young people displaying a variety of Special Educational Needs, including social, emotional and behaviour difficulties and also children with physical disability and complex medical needs. Away from West Heath I love spending time with my wife and children and being as active as I can, which includes getting involved in my local community and church.
I have worked and taught young people for over 14 years in a variety of schools. This has included both mainstream secondary and independent senior schools as a teacher and as Head of Department. I have taught a number of subjects in a variety of different departments and really enjoy being in the classroom. Before taking up a career in teaching I was fortunate enough to represent England throughout the age groups at rugby union and captained London Wasps at academy level. Serious injuries saw me turn to teaching and I have not looked back since. My time to date at West Heath has without a doubt been the most rewarding experience of my career and one I thoroughly enjoy. Outside of school I am the proud co-owner of a flock of rare breed sheep and love spending time in the countryside with my family.
Vice Principal Staff and Student Wellbeing - (DSL)
I have worked with young people for almost 30 years in a variety of educational settings. These have included working in mainstream secondary schools as both Teacher and Head of Department (History), being Head of History in a community school in Nairobi, Kenya, and subsequently, Assistant Head Teacher in a school for young people with social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties in Hastings.
I joined West Heath in as Learning Director for Upper School, a post I held until Easter 2013 when I was subsequently appointed Learning Director of HEART, our Health, Education, Assessment and Revitalising Therapy provision. Appointed Vice Principal in 2014, in addition to the leadership of HEART and staff training in NLP, I now have specific responsibility for leading and co-ordinating strategies and interventions designed to increase the wellbeing of both students and staff. In the course of 2016 – 2017 I will complete an Advanced Certificate in Executive Coaching and the Institute of Leadership and Management Level 7 qualification in Coaching and Leadership Mentoring. The development of coaching support and an effective “coaching culture” across the school will be a significant focus for my energies in the coming year.
Vice Principal Commissioning & Development
Vice Principal Commissioning & Development
My first role was as a care worker, supporting young adults with head injuries and physical disabilities, helping them develop skills to enable independent living. I took a short break, of 15 years, to forge a career as a brand consultant; returning to work with young people in 2006 when I joined West Heath. My BA Hons degree in Childhood Studies with an SEN specialism, has a particular focus on High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome and I am currently studying for a MA in Education with an ASD specialism. My roles within the school have been varied, giving me a good insight into the challenges we are most effective in helping students overcome. I now use this knowledge in working proactively with Local Authorities and parents to establish the most effective educational environment for young people.
Vice Principal - Teaching and Learning
I have worked with young people for 14 years in various settings. Before joining West Heath School, I predominantly worked in mainstream, secondary settings as a head of year, a Physical Education teacher and sports coach. I joined West Heath in 2013 looking for the next challenge in my career and for the opportunity to work in the independent SEN sector. I enjoy supporting trainee teachers and curriculum departments as much as I enjoy supporting the young people.
Deputy Vice Principal Training & Quality - (DSL)
Deputy Vice Principal Training & Quality
I began working with young people in secondary main stream schools in 1994 as a Learning Support Assistant. I found this position highly rewarding and an absolute privilege, as I was able to see young people grow and develop, while at the same time knowing that I had played, albeit a small part, of that process.
In 2004 I joined the New School at West Heath as a Teaching Assistant and very much embraced the School’s ethos of ‘Rebuilding lives through education’. Through the school’s well established CPD plan I now hold the post of Learning Director of Teaching Assistants. One of my missions is to promote and fully embed the notion of the Teaching Assistant role being that of a highly professional one, which brings with it the necessary qualifications and training, as Teaching Assistants play a key role in making the vision of the 21st century school as set out in the 2008 Children’s Plan.
Learning Director Key Stage 2 & 3 - (DSL)
Having studied Classics and Law at the University of London, I went on to specialise in Ancient Greek Drama for my Master’s Degree. I started my career in Private Banking and Law, where I had the opportunity to combine my love of languages with the subtleties of collaborating with people of different cultures. Subsequently, I worked in a company as a director of Human Resources, where I was able to appreciate the contribution of every member of staff to the success of the company. From this foundation, I have acquired a wealth of experience to draw upon for my career in education. In my 10 years at West Heath I have successfully enjoyed working from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 5. In my current role as Learning Director for KS2 & 3 I have forged a close working relationship with parents, students and other professionals in order to ensure that the quality of the provision in the Lower School makes a significant contribution to the children’s learning. I established the West Heath Poet’s Society and have felt very proud of the published poetry of our gifted students. My interests include visiting museums and art galleries, creative writing, sailing in the Aegean, swimming, tennis and walking in the countryside. I enjoy exploring archaeological sites and absorbing the diverse cultures of other countries with my family.
Learning Director Key Stage 4
I have graduated pedagogical studies at the Academy of Physical Education in the management of PE with a Masters Degree in 2006. I am very physically active, I like different kinds of sports and participate in sport fund raising events. I started my teaching career in 2008 as a supply teacher in Kent and have worked in a variety of schools covering different subjects. Having taught in a variety of settings both in primary and secondary education, I gained a great deal of experience before joining West Heath School in September 2009 as a PE teacher and soon after was appointed Deputy Head of the PE Department. More recently I was promoted to the role of Deputy Learning Director of Key Stage 3. In 2013 this role grew and developed to encompass Key Stage 4. This holistic and all involving role is one that I very much enjoy doing. I like working with young people, teaching them new and exciting things, and be part of their learning and developing processes. My passion for sport and working with young people leads me to teaching sport within my local community, balanced of course with a full and hectic family life.
Head of Residential Care and Safeguarding - (DSL)
I joined West Heath School in September 2016, as the Head of Residential Care and Safeguarding.
I am a qualified nurse (RNMH) and have a Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector, and have over 30 years experience (in health, social care and education settings) working with children, young people and adults with learning disabilities, learning difficulties, ADHD/ADD, ASC and mental health conditions, with over 15 years at senior management level.
My last role was working for a national charity where I was responsible for providing Life Long Learning (work skills & employment, life skills & learning and sports and leisure opportunities) and residential and supported living services for adults with learning disabilities/ASC. I was also responsible for after school clubs, holiday schemes and residential holiday provision for children and young adults with learning disabilities/ASC/BESD/ADHD.
Whilst employed as a Learning Director at Richmond Adult Community College I developed and delivered training for staff and students with learning disabilities on safeguarding/keeping safe. I was the lead safeguarding officer for the college representing them on the Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board, and was involved in the Pan-London safeguarding strategy. I was the lead tutor for the Level 1 Health and Social Care qualification for year 10 and 11 pupils from the local secondary schools.
Dr Mimi Kirke-Smith
Lead Professional, Therapeutic Services
After 20 years of working in marketing and PR, I changed career direction to become a child psychologist. Since 2000, whilst studying for my BSc and MSc, I have worked in primary and secondary, mainstream and specialist schools, including 6 years at West Heath. I left in 2010 as I was awarded a full academic scholarship to carry out a doctorate degree in developmental and mental health disorders, with a particularly focus on the effects of maltreatment on cognitive abilities and behavioural regulation. During this time I worked in a variety of settings, both educational and clinical, and successfully completed my PhD in 2013. After a year of working on an ESRC funded project at City University entitled ‘Access to Justice for Children with ASD’, I returned to West Heath to conduct research into various areas with a view to setting up a research and training centre in due course. Since then my role has expanded to include having responsibility for co-ordinating our therapeutic provision, carrying out psychological and cognitive assessments on our students, advising on psychological issues, and conducting staff training. I also work with a small number of students supporting them with specific difficulties. My main areas of specialism are developmental and mental health disorders generally, and the cognitive, emotional and behavioural effects of childhood trauma specifically, and I have extensive theoretical knowledge and practical experience in these areas. I have presented my research at a number of UK and European conferences, and I am also a published author in both national and international publications as well as a peer reviewer. When not working at West Heath I am a Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at London South Bank University and a consultant on several research projects.
- BSc (Hons) in Psychology
- MSc in Developmental Psychology (Distinction)
- PhD in Developmental and Mental Health Disorders
- Counselling certificate in Therapeutic Communication (Distinction)
- Chartered Psychologist status (CPsychol)
- BPS Certificate in Clinical Supervision Skills
- Diploma in NLP
I am a registered member with:
- The British Psychological Society (BPS)
- The Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH)
- The Institute for Recovery from Child Trauma (IRCT)
Learning Director Key stage 5
I have been working within the Sixth Form at West Heath School since May 2014 and was promoted to my current position in September 2016. For the 6 years prior to this, I taught young offenders within a custodial environment where I faced extreme and varied challenges. I have also held positions where I was responsible for behaviour management within a mainstream secondary school and leading outdoor education. Through my diverse and alternate educational experiences I have learnt that there is no single approach to educating students.