Our latest news

May 11, 2023 in Events, General news, Our people

New partnership for Undershaw’s Professional Development Programme

As part of our work as a Centre of Excellence for SEND education, we are excited to have partnered with the Bohunt SCITT programme. SEND training is a compulsory part…
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March 7, 2023 in COINS, Fundraising, Our people, Student life

Let’s talk about nature

In recent years we have seen an increased focus on wellbeing, with access to nature being a top priority for many community funding projects.  This philosophy is gradually seeping into…
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August 31, 2022 in General news, Our people, Student life

Undershaw celebrates Results Day success

The students and staff at Undershaw Education celebrate a wonderful set of GCSE, BTEC and Functional Skills results. 70% of GCSE grades awarded are grade 4 or above with 50%…
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From our gallery


Our People

We actively recruit dedicated staff who are committed to providing an unrivalled SEND education. Our people are the backbone of the school and live the vision every day. They form child-centric partnerships with each student and each family, and work tirelessly to provide a safe, supportive and happy environment for all our pupils.


Here are some of the people that make Undershaw tick…


Emma West

I became a teacher 22 years ago and have been very lucky to have had such a varied and interesting career. I have worked in a wide range of schools including inner-city schools, outstanding academy schools, independent mainstream schools, an international school in Dubai, schools with specific SEND provision, secondary phase schools, primary phase schools and now Undershaw.

I have been an Advanced Skills Teacher, a Head of Faculty, an Assistant Headteacher, A Vice Principal, a Head of Prep and now a Headteacher! I am really excited about the future at Undershaw, we have an incredibly strong team of staff that care deeply about the students and are passionate about ensuring that each one of them is supported to aspire and achieve. We are continuing to develop our provision in all areas and we are striving to become a Centre of Excellence for SEND Education. We’re already well on our way!

I spend most weekends on the side of a football pitch… which wasn’t what I expected when I had two daughters. As a keen ‘sight see-er’ I try to plan visits to fit in with game locations…not always popular with my family but one day they will thank me for their knowledge of castles and botanical gardens, I am sure! Planning a holiday is also something that I love to do…having spent many years as a Geography teacher planning school trips with schedules, timelines and a well-considered itinerary …I apply this well-honed skill to family holiday planning too. What is a holiday without a spreadsheet anyway?

I feel very privileged to be the Headteacher of Undershaw and work with an incredible staff team and our wonderful students. There have been so many highlights of my time at Undershaw, it’s difficult to choose a favourite….Perhaps, Founders Day when we welcomed back some of our Alumni and heard about how Undershaw had given them the confidence to become socially and economically engaged young adults, World Book Day where the school came together as a community to dress up, have fun and celebrate books, or perhaps the fabulous Talent Show where there was barely a dry eye in the house to see the confidence and courage of the performers and the overwhelming support that was shown by the school community for every single performer.

Undershaw is just such an incredible place.

Deputy Headteacher (Academic)

Vic Walker

As Director of Education I have the privilege of working with young people across the school community to ensure that they are individually supported and cared for whilst achieving the qualifications that will lead to their chosen next steps. This is a very exciting role at Undershaw, and I have a wealth of professional experience that I draw on to work with students and their families to ensure that we put the young person’s best interests at the centre of everything we do.

I qualified as a secondary teacher 18 years ago and I have a wide range of experience as a teacher, Head of Faculty and Assistant Headteacher. Completing an MA (Ed) is one of my proudest achievements to date; this focused on school leadership and perceptions of creativity in secondary education, and I am always excited about the possibilities that creative arts education offers to all, and how through the arts, young people can express themselves and overcome the barriers to communication that they might otherwise experience.

I am also very passionate about teacher development and training. I have led and presented on a range of topics for best teaching practice at a number of conferences and training events over the last 5 years, including how teachers use cognitive theory in teaching practice. I am a qualified leadership coach and seek every opportunity to enable others to develop their own practice and professionally grow. I am looking forward to the opportunities to work with the staff at Undershaw so that we can collectively provide an outstanding education which meets the needs of the young people in our care.

Outside school I most enjoy spending time with my small family trying new outdoor activities and going to see live music performances. We walk a lot (usually looking for geocaches), love to go camping and when we are at home, we play a lot of music together.

I am very excited to join the team at Undershaw and to play my part in ensuring that the students and adults at the school thrive in all that we do.

Deputy Headteacher (Pastoral)

Gemma Briggs

As Deputy Headteacher (Pastoral) I am responsible for ensuring that all students at Undershaw feel safe, happy and are involved fully in the school community. This includes monitoring attendance and supporting students with their Personal Behaviour Support Plans. I am also the designated Teacher for Looked after Children and have the opportunity to teach some of our wonderful students in their Personal Growth and Wellbeing lessons.

I joined Undershaw in September 2022 but have been a teacher for 19 years. I have worked in Primary schools in South London and Surrey for most of my career. I have always had an interest in inclusion and became a Special Needs Coordinator after 5 years of being a Class Teacher. I have the National Award for Special Needs Coordinators and am I feel incredibly grateful to be working with a team for whom inclusion is a shared passion.

Before teaching I worked in sales and marketing, and I have a marketing degree. I also coached sports at the weekend and during holidays before I became a full-time teacher. I love being outdoors and enjoy all sports that don’t require hand eye coordination! In the holidays I often travel to interesting and beautiful places where I can explore and learn about different cultures. My favourite activity is ski touring and my dream is to ski the volcanoes in Chile.

Assistant Headteacher, Safeguarding and Health

Nicola Frankcom

I have always enjoyed working with children and young people. My first job was as a summer holiday Day Camps leader when I was 16! I went on train to be a primary teacher 21 years ago and for the last 18 years I have been very privileged to teach across the whole school age range in a hospital school in London. This has involved me teaching children by their hospital bedside, in ward-based classrooms, in students’ homes, and in the community.

I am passionate about helping young people to overcome the barriers that they may face in engaging in education and supporting them to achieve their true potential. I became a qualified SENCO in 2018 and since then I have advocated for the rights of students with a very wide range of needs, from applying for statutory assessment through to managing their multi-disciplinary provision in school and updating their EHC Plans through the Annual Review process.

I believe that all learning should be meaningful, interactive, and fun and from what I have seen this happens every day at Undershaw, so I am really excited about joining the school community and getting to know all the students, staff and parents.

In my spare time I enjoy being with my own children and family, spending time in the countryside, playing games, baking and going on train adventures.

Transition Coach

Sharon Setterfield

My role as Transition Coach means I am heavily involved with our students at both ends of their Undershaw journey. I take care of students on their way into the school, whether they are joining us from another specialist setting, a mainstream school, or from home schooling. I also work closely with our Employability Team helping students navigate their pathways once they leave Undershaw, whether that is to a Further Education college or employment.

I feel immensely privileged that I get to know each young person and help each family in their time with us. Each transition is bespoke and it takes the team here at school to work in a tight partnership with parents and carers, to ensure the student is on a path that they choose, and at a time that is right for them. We have a great set of people here. We are all specialists at what we do and I am proud of the fact that each student is enveloped by a team of people who support them, their quest for the right path, and that they know we’ll all pull together to ensure we can make that happen.

My next project is to create an Alumni community for Undershaw. We have so many great stories from students who have left us and gone on to do some amazing things. I hope to build a village where our alumni can come together, share those stories, find new friendships through their connection with the school, and perhaps inspire our current students with their experiences. Watch this space!

Head of Employability and Life Skills

Leilah Sheridan

The heart of my role is establishing a connection with our students, their families, and staff to fully understand each individual and tailoring my support to suit the student and their circumstances. I provide bespoke coaching, creating Ready For Work opportunities whilst also promoting greater employer and Further Education College awareness and engagement. Critically my role is to help our young people to connect with themselves in order to grow in confidence, resilience and create transferable Work Ready Life Skills essential for transition beyond school.

I hope to light the fire of aspiration by bringing Employability Skills to life, inspiring our young people to set goals and equip them with the experiences and knowledge needed to achieve them. I am passionate about our students being given the opportunity to reach their full potential and confidently transition from education into paid employment.

My best moment at Undershaw to date is watching one of our Alumni perform his own song at College, looking so confident and exactly where he should be. Knowing that we helped him in a small way to get ready to fly, it made my heart sing.

I love being part of the school community, give me anything creative and I will get stuck in!

Admissions Co-ordinator

Camilla O’Hare

I look after the administration of our admissions process. I enjoy helping our prospective families find the right school and the right fit for their child. I understand the challenges involved in researching schools, navigating processes with the Local Authorities and the emotional rollercoaster parents and carers are involved in – I hope I can help and make the process as straightforward as possible.

I believe Undershaw is a unique and wonderful school, and I am so proud to be a part of it. It is wonderful to see children’s faces light up when they realise they are coming to a school where they feel they fit in and can be happy.

I love the theatre and the countryside. I take great pleasure in making the most of our lovely forests, lakes and heathland.

Family Liaison

Maddy Annis-Wilkinson

Hi, my name’s Maddy and I work at Undershaw. My job is to be everyone’s friend! So even before you start at school, you already have a friend! That’s amazing, right?

I support you with whatever you need while you’re at school – and even if you don’t necessarily need anything, I love hearing how your day is going so please tell me.

We take your wellbeing and welfare very seriously – which basically means it’s my job to make sure you’re happy at school – and if for whatever reason you’re not, then the deal is that you come and find me and we’ll sort it out.

I share my room at school with Gemma who is in charge of all the pastoral (friendly) bits about school so we’re really nice people and we want you to be happy. My room is a place where the door is always open - you can always come in and chat to me – or not if you don’t want to. You can just come and sit quietly for a while if you want to be alone and away from it all.

We’re also here for your family too so they can contact us anytime. We know your schooling in the past might not have been happy for any of you but Undershaw’s very different, I promise. So we’re hoping we can change that for all of you and show you that school can be very different with loads of opportunities to do some really great stuff!

I’m really lucky that I get to spend my days doing my job – I love it and I don’t see it as a job at all, I just get to make lots of friends. I’m really happy at Undershaw and I hope you will be too.

We have a high staff:student ratio to ensure we are achieving all our aspirations for well-being and pastoral care. Our team consists of specialist staff within all the pillars of our offer:

  • Specialist SEND class teachers

  • Faculty heads (curriculum)

  • Pastoral Teaching Assistants

  • Specialist subject Teaching Assistants

  • Speech and Language Therapists

  • Occupational Therapists

  • Physiotherapists

  • Emotional Therapists

  • Job coaches

  • Employability and Transition specialists


She’s made friends and really looks forward to coming to school.

Post 16 parent

At all times our family felt supported.

Post 16 parent

J has felt able to put her trust in the school from her very first day.

Post 16 parent

E has many years ahead of him at Undershaw and I am excited about the opportunities he is going to get.

Year 4 parent

The world is kind, because I have now found a better school.


Whilst supporting the students with such a fantastic provision, we have certainly felt encouraged as parents too

Year 4 parent

I absolutely have my trust in the leadership team, the wonderful staff and the vision for the school going forward.

Current parent

The emotional support and advice has been wonderful

Year 4 parent

I’m thrilled both my children get to reap the benefits of such a high quality education

Year 4 parent

Our daughter commented to me after her first day that the difference in atmosphere was enormous.

Post 16 parent

Eliminating the impossible