Our latest news

February 10, 2022 in General news, Post 16, Student life

Undershaw – where soft skills have hard value

Undershaw is awarded the Skills Builder Silver Award for coaching Skills for Life across the Curriculum. We utilise the Skills Builder Programme throughout the school in order to identify, coach,…
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December 1, 2021 in DFN Charitable Foundation, Post 16, Student life

Undershaw Partners with Disability Rights UK

Through our work with DFN Project Search, Undershaw has been approached by Disability Rights UK as the national charity looks to our young people to represent the voice of a…
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November 11, 2021 in Fundraising, General news, Post 16, Student life, Trips

Undershaw Remembers

'They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in…
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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…

Director of Safeguarding (DSL), Welfare and Pastoral Care

Julie Goodyear

The wellbeing of students is key, and the fact that the student voice is heard is vital to guarantee the students are happy and ready to learn. I am responsible for ensuring that there are appropriate policies and guidance in situ and all staff have sufficient support, training and guidance for their roles. I am also responsible for ensuring that PHSE is delivered to all students. As a member of the Senior Leadership Team, my role is to help the students and staff feel safe whilst at school.

My main role as DSL is to enable staff and students to report concerns and that these are acted on and monitored accurately and appropriately, that all staff training is in place, and all Government guidance and legislation is adhered to. I lead on Governor and Local Authority safeguarding audits and ensure all relevant data is submitted each term.

I love that I get to work in lovely grounds with children who would not receive an appropriate education if they were in mainstream school. The students feel empowered, confident, and can speak out about their concerns. Every day is different, and the ethos here is always child centred.

My happiest moment at school was when students began to seek me out to speak to as a trusted adult, and in particular one student who was struggling to return. They chose to seek me out each week, despite having not known me for long, and when one student told another student (in front of me) that ‘if you have any concerns speak to Julie’. It’s those moments I always remember. It makes me happy knowing we make a difference here.

My professional experience is rich and varied. I am a qualified nurse (RNMH) and have a Diploma in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector, and have over 30 years’ experience working with children, young people and adults with learning disabilities, learning difficulties, ADHD/ADD, ASD and mental health conditions, and I have spent over 20 years at Senior Management level. In my most recent role I was the Vice Principal Care & Safeguarding at an Independent SEMH Residential school.

In my spare time outside school I enjoy going to the gym (but I only to attend classes as I need to be strongly encouraged to do anything!), walking my dogs (but not in the rain), spending time with my friends and family, listening to music and going concerts, going out for meals. I am also trying to learn Spanish.

Acting Director of Education

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.

Head of SEND Education

George Pickersgill

As Head of SEND, I coordinate the processes and information regarding the Educational Health Care Plans. I have worked in SEN for nearly 10 years and understand the frustrations and complexities involved with EHCPs. My aim in my current role is to create a unique process that is family and learner centric, emphasising transparency and communication among all the parties involved. I tell myself every day that a young person deserves the updated plan they are entitled to, paving the way to achieve their aspirations. Through our processes, I know our school will be an integral part of this journey.

My absolute passion is supporting young people with SEN into meaningful, competitive employment. I truly believe that every student who passes through the front door should have an opportunity to develop employment skills and equal access to employment opportunities. If the EHCP of the young person is up to date and accurate, this should act as a crucial tool to support these opportunities.

I have not been at Undershaw for long. However, in my second day here, I saw a young man with a guitar in his hand sitting on one of the outside benches. I had a brief chat about what music he likes, and I asked him if he could play me a tune. Without hesitation he played me a short piece on his guitar. Later, I learned that this student has severe anxiety. I felt incredibly privileged that he felt confident enough to play his guitar for me after I had only just met him. Those types of moments push you on throughout the day!

My first true love was Sport, and I had a fairly mediocre run as a semi-professional rugby player many moons ago. After a few bangs to the head and many broken noses, I now coach the Cobham first team in my spare time. I come from a big family and they are everything to me. The values I harbour now are the ones I bring into my role and stem directly from my parents. They believe in a strong work ethic and creating an atmosphere where everyone feels appreciated.

Head of Employability and Life Skills

Leilah Sheridan

My title is Progression Coach and at 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!

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!

‘Front of House’ Undershaw Reception

Sara Davey-Turner

I run Reception at Undershaw, so I get to work in the heart of the school. My day is full of students, staff, parents and visitors – and no day’s ever the same as the day before. Undershaw is a small school with a family feel, so it’s lovely to see everyone going about their days, relaxed and happy.

I feel very lucky to work here. I feel like I’m part of the furniture! I know Undershaw makes such a difference to the lives of the students and I’m very privileged that I get to watch their confidence build, their friendships develop, and their well-being grow through their time here.

I split my time between Surrey and my home in Northamptonshire, so I’m definitely a fan of a more rural life. I love my garden, it’s definitely my sanctuary. I love spending time with friends and I have a lovely little puppy called Patrick who definitely keeps me on my toes (when he’s not chewing my shoes!).

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.

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