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EXCEPTIONAL IDEAS STAFF

We have a small family tree when it comes to staff. We all work tirelessly to bring education to life, from doing experiments in science, to preparing for exams in English and other subjects.

As well as that, we make education fun. We like to think of education as something that is more than just looking at text books, and include fun, hands-on methods to help students understand something in an interactive, therapeutic way.

To find out more about someone listed here, simply click on their profile for more details.

DIRECTORS

Our directors work hard to make sure all the processes we undertake to teach are carried out safely, with the correct training, and also the right materials we need to be able to teach students with.

Brett Runchman, Director

Brett Runchman

Director for Operations and Therapeutic care

Having qualified as a Registered Nurse in Learning Disabilities in 1995 and completed the post registration course ENB 997/997 (Teaching and Assessing in Clinical Practice), I completed a degree in Specialist Community Practice BSc (Hons) in 2002.

From the beginning of my nursing career, I worked with adults and children with complex health, psychological and social problems. I have worked in residential care, secure provision and children’s behavioural outreach and always looked for ways to develop new practices to benefit those in my care. I also believe it is crucial to value and develop those staff delivering education and care.

I made the move into education in 2005, working in the independent education sector to develop practice aimed at improving the outcomes of school leavers with complex needs. It was at this time that I was able to integrate my nursing skills into the educational setting, paying attention to measurable outcomes and evidence-based planning.

It was whilst working for this school that I met Hazel and found that our knowledge bases and skills complemented each other and our philosophies matched. We realised that we worked in the same way and had a very similar dream for children who were otherwise excluded from, or couldn’t cope with, mainstream provision. Together, we decided to create a unique service for children and their families, delivered through a unique school.

We believe that engaging with family and other professionals is of paramount importance in our quest to change student’s lives forever. We believe students should own their challenges, shaping and putting into action the solutions that enable them to progress in life.
I believe with the appropriate research- based practice and enriched environment that we can assist these young people to realise a life that they themselves can be proud of.

Hazel Bunting, Director; Headteacher

Hazel Bunting

Director; Headteacher

I believe that all students deserve a differentiated curriculum that will enable them to work towards independence and encourage them to hold high ambitions and expectations of themselves, while working towards achieving these aims in a calm and supportive environment. Since Exceptional Ideas began, it’s been my aim to ensure that we provide that environment for our students to the best of our ability, both in school and through our Outreach Service.

I qualified and worked as a nurse in the early 1980s before I returned to full time education and completed a degree in Psychology (BSc(Hons)) and a PGCE, becoming a qualified teacher in 1992.

From the beginning of my teaching career, I gravitated naturally toward my work with students with behavioural problems, ADHD and ASD. After spending some time as a teacher, I made a move to Suffolk Education Authority where I worked as a Special Needs Officer for four years.

In 2000, I began working for a national education company, setting up their Eastern team and working with Looked After Children and children with Special Educational Needs all over the UK. During this time, my focus was bringing previously excluded students back into mainstream provision. After eight years with this company, I left to set up Exceptional Ideas Ltd, initially providing training and consultancy for mainstream staff and helping a small independent school through their OFSTED inspection.

It was whilst working for this school that I met Brett and we realised that had the same passion for enabling children who were otherwise left out of education or educated away from their families and communities to achieve educational success. We shared a philosophy and a drive to see these children succeed, supporting them and their families whilst ensuring they remained at home and in the heart of their family and community.

Since joining forces, we have grown from one to three schools and developed an Outreach Service for those who cannot immediately access provision in school. I’m very proud of our achievements and the culture of unconditional support and respect we’ve created at Exceptional Ideas and am eager to see where our talented staff and students take us next.

Jenny Carson, Deputy Director; Head of Examinations

Jenny Carson

Deputy Director; Head of Examinations

I began my educational career in 2012 when I joined Exceptional Ideas, seeking work that would align with my strong social conscience and desire to help children overcome barriers. Since then, I’ve risen from Student Mentor to my current role as Deputy Director and Examinations Officer. I have already earned a degree from the Open University which focused heavily on education and working with children and families.

Exceptional Ideas has come a long way in the last decade, taking on new schools, new students and new staff members, but one thing has remained the same: our commitment to providing children of all backgrounds and needs with access to education. Helping to give students the support they need to thrive in school and out in the real world is my favourite part of my job.

SENIOR STAFF

Our senior staff help with day-to-day running of the three school sites. This includes teaching, managing parents and external individuals, as well as other roles within the company.

Kelly Carter, Senior Student Mentor for Teaching, Learning & Recruitment

Kelly Carter

Senior Student Mentor for Teaching, Learning & Recruitment

I have worked at Exceptional Ideas for just over two years, starting as a Student Mentor before moving into my current role. The role is wonderfully varied and allows me to travel to all of our school sites, building relationships with both staff and students and helping them achieve their very best. My favourite part of my role is being able to see student’s progress and achieve things they never thought possible at the beginning of their school journey. Seeing them become confident, independent individuals, overcoming any barriers to their learning, makes my job the most rewarding in the world.

Before working with Exceptional Ideas, I worked as a Progress and Destination Tutor and Welfare & Safeguarding Officer, supporting 16-18-year-old students through their chosen college course. I have also worked as a Speech and Language LSA, supporting 11-16-year old students in mainstream education. I found both roles very rewarding, and both roles helped me to understand that all students and their learning needs are diverse and that our teaching methods must reflect this.

Daniele Fairbrother, Deputy Operational Senior, Therapeutic Lead, Teaseldown School

Daniele Fairbrother

Deputy Operational Senior; Therapeutic Lead, Teaseldown School

Though I have held a variety of roles throughout my career – most recently working as a receptionist in an accountancy firm – I have always had an interest in care and supporting children with special needs. To support this interest, I earned an NVQ Level 2 in Health and Social Care.

I love every part of my job, whether that’s taking students out to the park or overseeing their learning in a classroom. At Exceptional Ideas, everyone is supported in a way that works for them from the day they start with us, so that they can achieve something they are proud of each day. In my five years at Exceptional Ideas, I have supported a wide variety of students, seeing some progress from being unable to leave home alone to being able to get on a bus to college unsupported.

Lucy Faulkner, Senior Student Mentor for Curriculum

Lucy Faulkner

Senior Student Mentor for Curriculum

I began working for Exceptional Ideas in 2010 and am currently the longest-standing staff member! I have gained so much experience in the last ten years working for the company. Before working for Exceptional Ideas, I was a Grade 5-approved driving instructor, but also previously worked as a support worker and within the hospitality industry.

Working for Exceptional Ideas means that I learn something every day, whether it’s a new way to teach the curriculum or a new strategy to help support our students’ education.

Alison Goode, Senior Student Mentor for Transition and Safeguarding

Alison Goode

Senior Student Mentor for Transition and Safeguarding

Before joining Exceptional Ideas in 2014, I spent the first twenty years of my career in a variety of admin and non-clinical management roles for the NHS. Now, I am responsible for transition and safeguarding at Exceptional Ideas, advocating for students and helping them work towards a brighter, more focused and fulfilling career path.

I am a Level 6 Diploma-qualified Career Advisor and have previously trained others in adult safeguarding for the NHS.

Ashlie Jadeja, Senior Student Mentor, Teaseldown School

Ashlie Jadeja

Senior Student Mentor, Teaseldown School

As a firm believer in diversity and equality, I feel that everyone is entitled to work towards their own dreams – and, most importantly, that the right support can help anyone achieve those ambitions. I left my role in mainstream education six years ago to look for a position with people who shared those beliefs and values.

I started at Exceptional Ideas as a Student Mentor, was then promoted to Therapeutic Lead, and two years ago became the Senior Student Mentor at Teaseldown. I love working with and supporting talented, gifted and very special students, all of whom make my job one of the best in the world.

Emma Moore, Senior Student Mentor, Primrose Hill School

Emma Moore

Senior Student Mentor, Primrose Hill School

Before Joining Exceptional Ideas over 5 years ago I worked in a children’s nursery aswell as being a volunteer leader of a boy’s youth club. Exceptional ideas has provided me with the opportunity to follow my passion. I thoroughly enjoy working with children; especially in a way that promotes being unique.

I believe that everyone should be entitled to be different and education should reflect this practice. I started of as a student mentor, then got promoted to Therapeutic lead and now have the honour of being the Senior Student Mentor at Primrose Hill. I love being able to be part of an amazing, supportive team that all work towards differentiating plans therapeutically to give each and every student the best possible chance to succeed.

Karen Nash, Senior Student Mentor, Deputy Safeguarding Lead

Karen Nash

Senior Student Mentor, Deputy Safeguarding Lead

Before working at Exceptional Ideas, I worked in Primary schools as a 1-1 Learning Support Assistant and as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant for seven years. During this time, I worked with children with additional educational needs and completed a qualification to help me better support children with autism. Prior to moving into education, I was a nurse in the Royal Air Force.

In addition to supporting students’ education as a Student Mentor, I’m also responsible for writing individual education plans for students and monitoring their progress. My priority is always ensuring that each child is taught according to their own unique requirements; seeing the students using that support to develop and manage their own complex needs is my favourite part of my job.

Christy Russell, Senior Student Mentor, Brook View School

Christy Russell

Senior Student Mentor, Brook View School

Before joining Exceptional Ideas in December 2016, I worked for a company that provides domiciliary care for children with additional needs, overseeing respite care packages and staff training.

Having spent the majority of my career supporting children, particularly children with special needs, I’m a firm believer in differentiation; every person’s care needs are completely individual. Working for Exceptional Ideas has only confirmed that belief, pushing me to find creative solutions that help every student overcome barriers be the best they can be. Making students feel safe in school and giving them access to a tailored education that is not limited by their additional needs is my passion – and being surrounded by staff members with the same passion is one of the best parts of my job.

Paula Stacey, Senior Administrator

Paula Stacey

Senior Administrator

I started at Exceptional Ideas as an Admin Assistant, splitting my time with a small architectural practice specialising in church conservation. When we began to open more schools, I made the decision to take on full-time work with the organisation and became Senior Administrator.

I like being organised in my work, which fits very well in administration. I am quite often the first person that people contact when they reach out to us; I like to think that I make them feel welcome and show them what a friendly company Exceptional Ideas is.

CROSS ORGANISATIONAL STAFF

Our cross-organisational and deputy operational seniors help with the day-to-day running of each school, and also work across the three schools.

Helen Gilbey, Deputy Operational Senior, Assessment Lead

Helen Gilbey

Deputy Senior Student Mentor and Assessment Lead, Brook View

I joined Exceptional Ideas in November 2020 having Previously worked in a range of roles from a Workshop manager, to a crazy Scientist performing shows in primary schools and a teaching intern.

I have a degree in drama and love using creative, outside the box methods to help build confidence in young people. My passion has always been to work within the education industry and I always find myself being drawn back to it.

I love working at Exceptional Ideas with others who share the same values as mine. Seeing the gradual change in each student as you work with them is extremely rewarding and I have already learnt so much about myself since starting.

SUPPORT STAFF

Our support staff work in the background, and are often based at home. They help deal with general administration purposes, exams and the running of process.

Hannah Nunn, Admin Assistant

Hannah Nunn

Admin Assistant

As an Admin Assistant, my job is to keep Exceptional Ideas running smoothly, coordinating administrative tasks from across the business. Before I joined Exceptional Ideas, I worked in horseracing and spent some time as a professional jockey. My favourite part of my job is knowing that my work makes a difference, whether it be big or small. Sometimes you never know what your day will consist of at Exceptional Ideas, but that’s what makes it so unique!

Diane Russell, Admin Assistant

Diane Russell

Admin Assistant

Before joining Exceptional Ideas in 2017, I worked at Tabor Academy in Braintree as a Special Educational Needs Administrator.

I have found working with Exceptional Ideas immensely rewarding; staff are very friendly and the encouragement and nurturing of students and staff alike is second to none; I am proud to be part of the team.

Becky Smith, Specialist Administrator for Exams and Training

Becky Smith

Specialist Administrator for Exams and Training

I worked in payroll and accounts before joining Exceptional Ideas – now I get to pass on my love of maths to the students at Brook View as a Student Mentor. My daughter has ASD and ADHD, so I also have lots of personal experience in supporting children with these needs.

I love everything about my job, particularly working with kids to help them reach their full potential. I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past years, mostly from the kids themselves; no two of them are alike and being able to teach them all according to their individual needs and watch them grow is very rewarding.

TEASELDOWN STAFF

Staff at all three schools provide a varied education package.

Cheryl Ballantyne, Student Mentor, Assessment Lead

Cheryl Ballantyne

Student Mentor, Assessment Lead

I have been working in the education sector for just over 30 years in one role or another, from working in a pupil referral unit to acting as a parent helper in a nursery and teaching in the Adult Community Learning sector. I came to Exceptional Ideas in 2018 after working in mainstream secondary school as a SENCO 2iC for seven years.

Working with a varied cohort of special educational and emotional needs has given me a wealth of experience and useful ‘tools’ for the job. I have been a very keen participant in training and like to keep my skills up to date. I have qualifications in Speech, Communication and Language, ASD, Supporting Young people with Mental Health, PTTLS and a host of other ‘in-house’ training.

I love working for Exceptional Ideas, as each day often brings a different or unique challenge and we all work as a strong and supportive team.

Jessica Greenaway, Student Mentor, ASDAN Co-ordinator

Jessica Greenaway

Student Mentor, ASDAN Co-ordinator

I started working for Exceptional Ideas in February 2021 and have joined the Teasledown school. Prior to this I supported adults with learning disabilities, ASD with challenging needs and a mental health diagnosis; this experience has given me skills that have already helped me in my role as a Student Mentor.

I am studying Psychology part time at the Open University and feel this will help me develop in my role. I love that I work alongside a team who share the same values as me to help children reach their full potential and have a positive impact on children’s lives.

Mia Jadeja, Student Mentor

Mia Jadeja

Student Mentor

I joined Exceptional Ideas in September 2020. After finishing my last year of Sixth Form in May of 2020, Exceptional Ideas was my first job after leaving full time education. Since joining, I have loved working in a team that shares the same passion as me, helping children to grow into successful young people. Working with young people has enabled me to utilise both my practical and academic skills especially with my love of sport. I strongly believe that everyone no matter what should be treated as an individual and working as a Student Mentor has helped me to this.

Julie Jones, Student Mentor

Julie Jones

Student Mentor

Having had limited schooling myself, my academic education didn't really start until my mid-forties when I undertook an Access Course, followed by a degree in History and English and a PGCE. I then taught English and Functional Skills for nine years in a male prison. It was an enormously eye-opening experience, one which confirmed my belief in the importance of an inclusive, equitable and holistic education for everyone, regardless of their physical, emotional or social challenges. Previously, I also started and ran a playschool in my local community (which is still thriving) and worked as a teaching assistant in a local primary school.

Barry Lee, Student Mentor, Induction Co-ordinator, Website Coordinator

Barry Lee

Student Mentor, Induction Co-ordinator, Website Administrator

I have worked for Exceptional Ideas since 2018, and in that time I’ve seen both our students and myself develop significantly.

Before moving into education, I worked in care for almost five years, supporting adults and young adults on the autism spectrum. I’ve found that working for Exceptional Ideas gives me the freedom to use both my inner child and practical mind to plan lessons that support our students' development. Developing a rapport with students and putting together plans and new ways to support their learning is a challenging process, but seeing it come to fruition is very rewarding.

Lydia Prime, Student Mentor, Transition Co-ordinator

Lydia Prime

Student Mentor, Transition Co-ordinator

As Induction Coordinator, I’m one of the first faces that new students see when they join Teaseldown School. It’s the perfect role for me, because seeing our children flourish and grow under our mentorship is one of the things I love most. I wholeheartedly believe that any child can achieve their goals, given the right environment – and it’s our responsibility to make that happen! Having previously worked for seven years at an independent school for children with special educational needs and gained several qualifications in teaching and teaching support, I have significant experience in educating children with additional needs.

Victoria Raven, Student Mentor

Victoria Raven

Student Mentor

I joined Exceptional Ideas in October 2022, before that I was a full-time mum of four.

Before I had my children, I worked a variety of jobs giving me various life skills. I have a family member who has special needs who has been let down by mainstream schools.

Exceptional Ideas is incredible in wanting the best for all the children who need more understanding and compassion. I was welcomed by a fantastic and supportive team, which I believe sets a wonderful environment for children who deserve the right to learn.

Beata Sedlacek, Student Mentor, Deputy Safeguarding Lead

Beata Sedlacek

Student Mentor, Deputy Safeguarding Lead

Even though my journey with Exceptional Ideas Ltd only began at the end of January 2022, it has already been eventful. Upon joining Brook View School, I learnt right from the beginning that no two days at work would be the same and that I would certainly not be bored.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to work alongside a team who share the same values as me and who all want to help the students reach their full potential and have a positive impact on their lives. Teaching students according to their individual needs and seeing that they’re learning to manage their own behaviours and responses, reflect on their actions and take ownership of their learning and attitude is a very inspiring and rewarding part of the job.

PRIMROSE HILL STAFF

Staff at all three schools provide a varied education package.

Daniella Beswick, Student Mentor, Transition Co-ordinator

Daniella Beswick

Student Mentor, Transition Co-ordinator

I joined Exceptional Ideas in October 2022 having moved from Greater Manchester to Essex. Prior to Exceptional Ideas I gained a degree in Photography at The University of Salford. Whilst completing my degree I worked in retail for 8 years which allowed me to work abroad.

In my last job I worked as a support worker in residential care with young people with complex health needs, learning disabilities and autistic spectrum conditions. I found the job rewarding helping to encourage progression in the young people and to develop their social and life skills. Teaching at Exceptional Ideas allows me to continue to support the development of students and work with an excellent team.

Harriet Crawford-Condie, Student Mentor

Harriet Crawford-Condie

Student Mentor

Before starting at Exceptional Ideas in November 2019, I worked as an Archivist and Tour Guide for my town’s local museum and also spent some time as a live-in carer for vulnerable people. Having the chance to help students who have lost interest or confidence in education get excited about learning again and develop confidence in themselves is the best part of my job as a Student Mentor.

Poppy Gibson, Student Mentor, ASDAN Co-Ordinator, Assessment Lead

Poppy Gibson

Student Mentor, ASDAN Co-ordinator, Assessment Lead

I began working at Exceptional Ideas in October 2022, having recently graduated from university with a BA in Criminology. I had previously worked in retail and hospitality and was excited about the opportunity to work in a different type of environment alongside children to help them achieve their full potential.

The job is both challenging and rewarding, and I enjoy being able to witness first-hand the students’ personalities and interests, as well as the progress that they make throughout their time with Exceptional Ideas.

Clare Noakes, Student Mentor

Clare Noakes

Student Mentor

I began working at Exceptional Ideas in October 2022, having recently graduated from university with a BA in Criminology. I had previously worked in retail and hospitality and was excited about the opportunity to work in a different type of environment alongside children to help them achieve their full potential.

The job is both challenging and rewarding, and I enjoy being able to witness first-hand the students’ personalities and interests, as well as the progress that they make throughout their time with Exceptional Ideas.

Christina Sly, Student Mentor, Therapeutic Lead

Christina Sly

Student Mentor, Therapeutic Lead

I started working for Exceptional Ideas in September 2022 and have joined the Primrose Hill School. Prior to this I supported adults with learning difficulties, looked after children in a residential setting, ASD students in a secondary school and more recently in a primary school assisting children with special educational needs. These experiences have given me the skills necessary to work successfully as a Student Mentor.

I hold an undergraduate degree in Psychology and I am currently studying a Master’s Degree in Mental Health for Children and Adolescents part time at the Anglian Ruskin University. I believe these qualifications will allow me to work at my full potential as a Student Mentor. I have a passion for aiding others in managing their emotions and overcoming any challenges they may face. Seeing progress and achievements being made truly warms my heart.

Becky Tabrett, Student Mentor, Induction Co-ordinator

Becky Tabrett

Student Mentor, Induction Co-ordinator

I started working with Exceptional Ideas at Primrose Hill in October 2022. Before being here I worked with children for 4 years. I really enjoy working and teaching with the students and seeing them achieve their full potential and I love the fact that the students have their own individual personalities, and this makes the days at work enjoyable and fun.

BROOK VIEW STAFF

Staff at all three schools provide a varied education package.

Marnie Bevan, Transition Co-ordinator

Marnie Bevan

Student Mentor, Transition Co-ordinator

The best part of my job is finding new ways to teach students and give them the tools they need to learn, both at school with us and for their post-16 education path of choice.

Previously, I worked as the manager of the children’s department at a retail store. That time helped me develop invaluable experience in using creative methods to connect and communicate with children and young people – experience that I’ve used extensively since joining the Exceptional Ideas team.

Holly Champan, Student Mentor

Holly Chapman

Student Mentor

I joined Exceptional Ideas in October 2023. I have worked as an LSA within a school specifically for children diagnosed with ASD and ADHD and I have worked with adults with learning difficulties and complex care. Before joining Exceptional Ideas I was a private tutor for children who have had difficulties within mainstream school settings and required home tutoring.

Debbie Mason, Student Mentor, Deputy Safeguarding Lead, ASDAN Co-ordinator

Debbie Mason

Student Mentor, Deputy Safeguarding Lead, ASDAN Co-ordinator

I joined Exceptional Ideas in June 2017; today, I tackle new challenges every day as a Student Mentor and Designated Safeguarding Lead at Brook View school.

I have worked in a variety of settings within the care sector since 1991, including working in schools with children with learning and physical disabilities, adults with learning and physical disabilities for SCOPE, and as Registered Manager of a care home for the elderly.

Jess Moore, Student Mentor, Therapeutic Lead

Jess Moore

Student Mentor, Therapeutic Lead

Before coming to Exceptional Ideas in 2018, I worked in a variety of roles, including as a Support Assistant in a school, a beautician, a weight loss consultant and a sales manager.

I have a child with additional needs myself and feel that this has left me well prepared to understand and tackle the ups and downs of educating children with special educational needs. As the Therapeutic Lead at Brook View School, my role is focused on supporting the students’ emotional wellbeing and therapeutic development from their first day in school right through to the day they leave us.

Jessica White, Student Mentor, Induction Co-ordinator

Jessica White

Student Mentor, Induction Co-ordinator

Working in various retail roles for almost 10 years I was looking for a new challenge, that's when I found Exceptional Ideas. Being a part of Brook View School has given me the opportunity to help others and push them to achieve their goals something I feel I never got during my education. I love being part of the team here and working with the students offers job satisfaction like no other.

OVERCOMING BARRIERS, ACHIEVING SUCCESS