Our Staff Team


Staff list for 2022-2023 School Year

Senior Leadership Team

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Liz Smith                  












Education and background: I have BA in Music and Arts Education, and originally trained as a secondary mainstream music teacher before focusing on special education needs. I have over 12 years’ experience as a senior leader, working with students with a variety of learning difficulties. I hold a Masters in Leadership and Management, as well as NPQH, and I am just finishing my Doctorate in Education on holistic assessment for students with severe learning difficulties. I joined Marlborough as headteacher in June 2022 and I am very much dedicated to the long-term success of the school through working with the whole community.

Teaching Philosophy: I believe that learning should be exciting, creative, and meaningful, building students enthusiasm for learning and helping them to grow and develop within a safe and supportive environment where everybody’s contributions are acknowledged and valued. I believe it is essential to be a visible and approachable leader who truly champions our students and their many achievements.  

Special interests: Music and creativity, total communication, cultural development and enrichment, student voice, holistic assessment.






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Anna Coulstock






Education and background: I received a BA (Hons) in English and European Literature before gaining a PGCE from the Institute of Education in 2000.  After working in early years mainstream settings I joined Marlborough in 2009 and became Deputy Headteacher in 2016.  I have completed my NPQSL and certified training in managing students’ medical conditions.  

Teaching Philosophy: I believe that all students are able to learn when they are happy, healthy and have their needs met.  Our wonderful students deserve a highly individualised programme of study that enables them to make small step progress and to prepare for life beyond Marlborough.  Building strong, trusting relationships with students is key in enabling them to make progress as is working in unison with parents, carers and multi-disciplinary professionals.

Special Interests: Profound and Complex Needs, Communication, Teaching, Learning and Curriculum 






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Amy Donaghey



Amy is currently on maternity leave. 




Education and background

I completed a History degree in July 2014 followed by a PGCE from Canterbury Christchurch University in 2015. I developed a passion for education within SEN and achieved a Masters in Children's Autism in 2019. After gaining experience in another special needs school, I joined Marlborough as a Class Teacher in 2017. I moved to middle and senior leadership roles and was appointed Deputy Head in September 2020. I'm also Designated Safeguarding Lead here at Marlborough.

Teaching philosophy

As part of ensuring that all of our students thrive and achieve their full potential, I am passionate about the PBS (Positive Behaviour Support) approach. I believe in working with our students individually to tailor their own PBS plan to enable them to have better lives and experiences in school and throughout their futures.



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Carol Walker










Education and background: I gained a BSc in Psychology in 2011 and have worked in SEND education since then - working initially as a Teaching Assistant, then completing my teacher training and gaining QTS in 2015. I joined Marlborough shortly after and have trained as a MOVE trainer, Manual Handling trainer and Team Teach trainer. I also had the opportunity to complete NPQML and am currently undertaking a Masters in Educational Leadership with the University of Coventry. 

Teaching Philosophy: Positive Behaviour Support is integral to my teaching and ensuring that students have a wealth of positive proactive strategies to support them to be happy and ready to learn is vital. High levels of engagement from pupils is at the forefront of my teaching at all times. As assessment lead I believe that accurate assessment data can support teachers to know what the next steps for learning are for each student and therefore best promote progress. 

Special interest: Assessment/Recording/Reporting, Evidence For Learning, Behaviour for Learning, Positive Behaviour Support, ICT


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Candice Smith








Education and background: I have a BA in Primary Teaching Studies with Maths and over 17 years’ experience working with students with a variety of learning needs.  I originally trained as a primary teacher before focusing on special educational needs.  After completing my NPQML in 2013, I have moved from middle leadership roles to senior leadership roles. I joined Marlborough in 2019 and completed my Careers Lead Level 6 training; I was awarded the Careers Leader of the Year 2022 for London. 

Teaching Philosophy: Marlborough’s HEART values encompass many of my own philosophies around education. I believe every student should be empowered to achieve their full potential and learning should be fun and meaningful for the individuals.  I also believe it is important to value pupil voice and support the emotional, physical and social wellbeing of our students. 

Special interests: Careers and preparation for adulthood.  Pupil voice and cultural development and enrichment.  Working with professionals in order to establish a holistic approach.  


Class Teachers

Class Pathway Teacher
Bluebell class Orchard Phoenix Gibbs
Daisy class Orchard Katie Toal
Sunflower class Orchard Kessa Beddington
Daffodil class Orchard Anna Kyrgeridov and Maryam Ghadache
Lavender class Meadow Gemma Jones and Maria Eleni Dimopoulou
Snowdrop class Meadow  Rachel Russell
Tulip class Meadow Ellis Hopkins-Bain
Orchid class Legacy Toni Hooton
Poppy class Legacy Cheryl Hollands
Lotus class Legacy Lynne Walker


Class Higher Level Teaching Assistants

Chris Rizzi

Jill Page

Jade Casey


Staff Biographies


Maria Eleni Dimopoulou


Subject Area: Food Tech


Education and Background: I gained a BSc in Psychology at the University of Crete in 2007. Whilst completing my placement in a special needs school, I became interested in working with pupils with autism; therefore I pursued and completed a Master's degree in Autism at Strathclyde University. I then went on to complete a MSc degree in Psychological Research Methods: Child Development. I have over 10 years of experience working with special needs, first as a support worker, then as a teaching assistant and lastly as a qualified teacher since gaining my QTS in 2017. I joined Marlborough School in January 2021.

Teaching philosophy: I believe that teaching should be enjoyable and stimulating for both pupils and staff! The most exciting and fun lessons are the ones that the pupils can remember. Working with parents and allied health professionals is of utmost importance when working with pupils with special educational needs.

Special interest: Autism, TEACCH, Attention Autism, Positive Behavioural Support (PBS), yoga and mindfulness

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Gemma Jones


Subject Area: Humanities



Education and Background:  I joined Marlborough as a Teaching Assistant in 2015 before becoming a High Level Teaching Assistant and an Unqualified Teacher and now am a Teacher. I applied to join Marlborough as a TA after being in the same role in a range of mainstream primary schools and private day nurseries, it was while I was in those roles that I discovered my passion and pride in seeing those who needed additional support succeeding in tasks they believed themselves unable to achieve. During my time at Marlborough, I have achieved a BA (Hons) in Childhood Studies with Special Educational Needs as my specialism and have also gone on to achieve my PGCE with Qualified Teacher Status. I am also a MOVE Senior Practitioner.

Teaching philosophy:I believe that learning should be accessible for everyone no matter what. I feel that any adaptations that are relevant to the students as individuals is what will help them achieve their full potential and strive to build this into our daily routines in class. I also believe that having a playful approach to teaching and learning will encourage students to engage with new and unfamiliar experiences.

Special interest: Multi-sensory learning, Supporting communication for those with more complex needs, Supporting students with complex medical needs and PMLD, MOVE, Intensive Interaction, Sign Language and Supporting adults and students to learn through play.

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Ellis Hopkins-Bain

Subject Area:  PE





Education and Background: My passion for sports and physical activity growing up led me into working with young people in a sports coaching capacity. After completing a BSc in Sports Coaching and Development in 2020, my passion for supporting young people to express and develop themselves drove me to completing my PGCE in Physical Education in 2021. I have recently joined Marlborough as an Early Career Teacher and look forward to developing my skills further whilst working at Marlborough.

Teacher Philosophy: I believe that happiness is the greatest motivator and that students must enjoy their learning in order to feel confident to express and challenge themselves. Building positive relationships with my students is paramount, as I believe that students need to feel supported to encourage them to be independent
and explore. I try to incorporate movement and physical activity as much as possible as I have a firm belief that social, mental and physical development occurs through physical activity.

Special Interests: PE, Physical Activity, MOVE and Sensory play.

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Chris Rizzi

Subject area: Drama


Education background: I completed my studies in Acting and Performing Arts at college in 2014, with areas of training including theatre in education/children’s theatre performance, improvisation, physical theatre and storytelling to name a few. I joined Marlborough as a Teaching Assistant in 2019 and directed the Shakespeare play ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ at the Shakespeare for Schools festival that year. I am now a HLTA aiming to start my teacher training.

Teaching philosophy: It has always been my belief that students learn the most through play. Teaching should be entertaining and fun to all ages and abilities with the focus on developing key skills.

Special interests: Attention Autism, Positive Behavioural support (PBS), Sign language, Zones of Regulation and Performing arts.

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Kessa Beddington

Subject Area: PSHE/RSE

Education and Background: I earned a BA in English Literature and a B.Ed in Inclusive Education in 2019, and moved from Canada to join Marlborough in September of that year. I worked as a support worker and interventionist for children with SEN in Canada for many years before channelling my passion for the field into a teaching career.

Teaching Philosophy: As a teacher, I believe that it is my responsibility to create an environment in my classroom where all students feel respected, valued, and cared for. An environment in which they feel confident to explore, make mistakes, and learn and ensures an education that meets their individual needs.  

Special Interests: Lego Therapy, Emotional Regulation and Wellbeing, Heuristic Play, Social Stories, Attention Autism and RSE.

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Lynne Walker

Subject area: English



Education background: I received a BA in Film studies and English from London Southbank University 2013. I went on to further studies and received a MA in Modern and Contemporary literature from Birkbeck the following year. Once I finished my Masters, I worked as a TA at a special school, and then went on to complete a PGCE in Secondary English from Goldsmiths in 2017. I taught English in a mainstream comprehensive secondary school for 3 years before I made the decision to return to SEN and started at Marlborough 2020.

Teaching philosophy: I believe the foundations to good learning is built on strong and positive relationships with students and parents. Building from those relationships, nurturing high engagement in their own learning as well building their independence in whatever task they are attempting.

Special interests: Literature, film and media and social stories.

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Toni Hooton

Subject area: RE

Education background: I joined Marlborough School as a teaching assistant in 2014 with the aim to learn about and understand autism. Within 2 years I qualified as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) and began taking a lead within the classroom. In 2019 I began training to gain QTLS.

Teaching philosophy: I believe that every child should have a voice no matter what their ability and that adults around them should encourage this. Children should also be given opportunities to explore the world around them however possible in a way that suit their needs.

Special interests: Understanding Autism, Positive Behavioural support (PBS), Zones of Regulation and communication.

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Cheryl Hollands

Subject area: Art & Enterprise 





Education background: I have a degree in Surface Design from the University of the Arts London. I joined Marlborough as a midday meals supervisor shortly after finishing my degree in 2010. The following year I took a teaching assistant post, and around two years later was employed as a HLTA. I worked for several years as the Food Technology lead before moving over to Post 16 as a class teacher. I began my teacher training in late 2020, and in January 2021 I moved to an unqualified teacher post while continuing training. On moving to Post 16 I took responsibility for Accreditation and Enterprise due to my creative background. I have previously trained as a Duke of Edinburgh assessor.

Teaching philosophy: I believe that the role of the teacher is to capture the imagination, create irresistible opportunities to explore, foster a love of learning and endlessly champion their students.

Special interests: Autism, Preparing for adulthood, Attention Autism, Imaginative play, Arts & crafts, Gardening & Horticulture, Cooking, Ecology and Environmentalism.


Office/ Premises and Support Staff

Admin Team

Sally, Heather and Sam

HR & Admin 

Ciara Mitchell

Premises Manager

Dominic Milne


Teaching Support Staff

We have a brilliant team of specialist support staff at Marlborough. Please contact your class teacher if you want to find out more.