Our Team

Staffing in the school includes qualified teachers, teaching assistants, administrative staff and business directors. We all work to achieve positive outcomes for our students.

Head Teacher

Nikki Purcell (B.Ed Hons)
Head Teacher

Nikki has been appointed as the first Headteacher of R.E.A.L. Independent Schools. She has a wealth of experience of teaching across all four key stages, both within mainstream and Special school education, and has successfully completed the Leadership Pathways Programme with the National College for Teaching and Leadership. Her previous experience includes working in mainstream schools, a residential special school for learners with speech and communication difficulties and a Pupil Referral Unit, where she was Acting Head Teacher for several years before moving to R.E.A.L. Education in 2010.

School Leadership Team

Jan Mee (BA Hons in Human & Education Studies, PGCE in Post Compulsory Education and Training, Level 5 diploma in Mentoring) 
Key Stage 4 Pastoral Lead

Jan has worked for R.E.A.L. Education since January 2011, where she began working in her Learning Manager capacity with Key Stage 4 learners before her most recent appointment as Key Stage 4 Pastoral & Engagement Lead for the Independent School in 2013. Jan has had extensive experience of working with disengaged and vulnerable young people during her 17 year educational career both in Further Education Colleges and mainstream school settings. Jan has completed her level 2 Autism course as well as a variety of other training including sexual health, mental health and drug awareness courses and is a designated safeguarding officer for Key Stage 4 of the Independent School. Jan is an experienced manager with a particular interest in staff training and development and has delivered a range of courses including staff induction, lesson observation and PTLLS teacher training.

Michelle Farr
Key Stage 4 Learning & Achievement Lead

A trained teacher in Primary Education with a particular interest in safeguarding children and young people, Michelle has gained most of her experience working with young people who are hard to reach between the ages of 12 and 25 in a variety of settings. Michelle has previously worked with young people within youth and support services, the homelessness sector and within education. Since joining R.E.A.L. Education in 2010 Michelle has been involved in running the girls nurture group as well as being the Learning Manager for a cohort of Key Stage 4 learners. Michelle has experience in delivering a wide range of qualifications to learners with additional needs and supporting learners to make successful transitions to post-16 learning. Since being appointed as Key Stage 4 Learning & Achievement Lead within the R.E.A.L. Independent School, Michelle is now developing the curriculum at Key Stage 4. Michelle will ensure that all learners have the opportunity to engage in a bespoke and relevant curriculum that is tailored toward their individual needs and interests. All learners will have the opportunity to gain recognised qualifications that will prepare them for further learning and life. Michelle is Level 3 qualified through The Autism Education Trust, is Level 2 qualified in Safeguarding and is the designated teacher for safeguarding. Michelle has a Train the Trainer qualification and takes a special interest in the CPD of staff. Michelle has undertaken lots of additional training including CAF training, C-Card, sexual health and mental health awareness training which support her in her role working with young people and their families.

Alison Wellings (B.Ed Hons)
Key Stage 2/ 3 Pastoral & Engagement Lead

Alison began working for R.E.A.L. Education in 2009 as a tutor, progressing to the learning manager role in 2010 before her recent appointment as KS2/3 Pastoral and Engagement Lead for the Independent school in 2013. As a qualified primary teacher she has many years experience in a mainstream and pupil referral environment. Her management experience began in 2007 when she successfully managed the M2M provision in Nottinghamshire, a team responsible for delivering individualised education programmes to Key Stage 2, 3 and 4 pupils. Alison has completed her level 2 Autism course and was a qualified MAPA trainer from 2006 – 2009. Presently, Alison is the designated safeguarding officer for Key Stage 2/3 of the Independent School.

Dawn Hembrow
Data Management & External Quality Assurance Lead

Dawn has worked for R.E.A.L. since September 2015 as a Learning Manager and is the Data Collection & External Quality Assurance Lead for R.E.A.L. Independent School. Prior to working at R.E.A.L. she worked within mainstream education for 12 years as a Head of Year, Teaching Assistant and Behaviour Unit Manager. Dawn has a Level 3 Youth Work qualification and is a Level 3 trained Mediator. She has extensive experience of supporting young people with emotional health and wellbeing – self harm, eating disorders and has worked closely with CAHMs and Bereavement support services.

Stacey Edwards
Key Stage 2/3 Learning & Achievement Lead

Key Stage 2 and 3 Curriculum Lead. (Primary Teaching and Learning BA with QTS) Stacey began working at R.E.A.L. Independent School as the referral and assessment co-ordinator within a team to assess new learners within R.E.A.L. to ensure an appropriate educational package was put into place. During this time she completed her BA Primary Teaching with QTS which she completed in June 2017 and began her role as the Key stage 2 and curriculum lead in September 2017. Her previous experience was within a Nottinghamshire pupil referral unit, where she supported many learners to achieve their full potential.

Claire Bishop
Transitions Lead

(Bio coming soon!)

Subject Leads

Marc Dean (MSc Chemistry with hons, PGCE Science QTS)
Science Subject Lead

Marc has three years experience of working within a Pupil Referral Unit with Key Stage 2, 3 and 4 students and also teaching Maths and Science to GCSE level. Marc has lead a primary aged unit and is now Science Lead at R.E.A.L. Independent Schools, with an emphasis on practical work that allows students to explore this exciting subject in an enjoyable way.

Jonathan King (MEng Hons Civil Engineering, PGCE Secondary Mathematics)
Mathematics Subject Lead

Jonathan began working for R.E.A.L. Education in 2010 as a one-to-one tutor. He then spent a year qualifying as a mathematics teacher through Nottingham University and subsequently went on to work in mainstream education teaching mathematics to Key Stage 3 & 4 students. Jonathan returned to R.E.A.L. Education in 2014 as a maths tutor delivering one-to-one and group sessions and in 2016 he was appointed as the Mathematics Subject Lead for the Independent School. He currently spends much of his time delivering a range of mathematics qualifications to learners including Functional Skills, GCSE and A-Level. He is also involved in supporting staff across the organisation with their delivery of mathematics as well as striving to make mathematics accessible and engaging for all.

Joanne Whitby (BA (Hons) English, PGCE Secondary English, QTS)
English Subject Lead

Joanne has taught English Language and Literature to Key Stage 3 and 4 students for over ten years. During her teaching career Joanne has taught in both mainstream schools and alternative provisions including teaching GCSE English in a Nottingham City Pupil Referral Unit for five years. Joanne started working for R.E.A.L. Education at the beginning of 2015 as an English Teacher where she taught both Functional Skills and GCSE to both groups and 1:1 learners. Joanne was appointed as Key Stage 4 English Lead in September 2017 and she now teaches a majority of the GCSE English groups and supports other tutors in their delivery of literacy.

Linda Rigley
PSHCE (Personal, Social, Health, and Citizen Education) Curriculum Lead

Linda has worked in education for over seventeen years, after qualifying as an English teacher at Nottingham Trent University. For the first 10 years of her career Linda was employed by a Nottingham – based college where she delivered English, art and personal development programmes in the community to vulnerable adults with complex needs. Linda has also delivered bespoke programmes in youth offending centres and in a pupil referral unit. Her roles, over the years, have included additional support lecturer, art lead, personal development coordinator and one-to-one/group tutor. Linda has been working for R.E.A.L. Education since November 2012 and now, in addition to the above, she delivers GCSE courses to include Citizenship and Art and Design. Linda became Subject Lead for PHSCE in 2013.


Jane Harvey (PhD Juvenile Crime, BA (Hons) International Finance and Law, PGCE (3-7 years), Equine Assisted Learning – Introduction and Advanced)
Key Stage 2/3 Teacher

Jane has been working as a teacher for R.E.A.L. since January 2017. Prior to this, Jane has taught a vast range of learners from undergraduates in History to all curriculum areas in EYFS and Key Stage 1. Jane has particular expertise in Phonics. Jane has also been a support worker for Include, working with disengaged learners in the community. Jane currently delivers 1:1 sessions to R.E.A.L. learners with a focus on Maths and English across Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4. Jane is also developing her practice with working with her horses to facilitate learning in young learners.

Lindsey Phillips
English Teacher

(Bio coming soon!)

Specialist Teaching Assistants

Beth Farnsworth (BA hons Children and Playwork) 
Specialist Teaching Assistant

Beth has worked for R.E.A.L. since 2014 before joining the R.E.A.L. Independent School Team as a Specialist Teaching Assistant in 2016. Beth delivers a variety of subjects at all levels to different Key Stage students across R.E.A.L. and has years of experience working with children with mild to complex SEN. Beth has completed many online training courses beneficial to working with children and is also safeguarding and MAPA trained. Beth also works for the R.E.A.L. befriending service.

Kate Storrs (CACHE Level 2 Diploma in Child Care and Education, Apprenticeship – Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce)

Kate started work for R.E.A.L. Education in 2012 as a 1:1 tutor and befriender. She has worked across all key stages and delivered a variety of subjects to her learners, as well as supporting learners to transition back into schools. She started her position as Specialist Teaching Assistant with the R.E.A.L. Independent School in September 2013. Kate has a younger brother with Asperger’s so can empathise and relate to parent/carers of children with ASD. Kate has undertaken Level 3 Autism Trust training , Safeguarding training, First Aid training, MAPA and Level 2 Food safety Hygiene.
Specialist Teaching Assistant

Jess Coates (BSc (Hons) Animal Biology)
Specialist Teaching Assistant

Jess has worked for R.E.A.L. since 2012 as a 1:1 Tutor, She is now part of the R.E.A.L. Independent School as a Specialist Team Teaching Assistant and coordinates the R.E.A.L. Befriending Service. Jess has experience and qualifications in BSc (Hons) Animal Biology enabling her to to teach Science and Animal care. Jess also plays different instruments allowing her to utilise music in her lessons.

Alex Edwards
Specialist Teaching Assistant

Alex has been working for R.E.A.L. since August 2015. She is a Specialist Teaching Assistant at R.E.A.L. Independent School. Alex has a Level 3 Qualification in teaching and supporting young adults, Level 2 Autism, First aid training. She has worked across all Key Stages and delivered a variety of subjects to her learners, as well as supporting learners to transition back into schools. During her time at R.E.A.L. she has completed several courses including sexual health, mental health and drug awareness courses, Safeguarding training, MAPA, Her previous experience was within a Nottinghamshire pupil referral unit, where she supported many learners with behavioural and special needs to achieve their full potential.

Amanda Sharp
Specialist Teaching Assistant

Amanda has been working for R.E.A.L. since April 2013. She became a specialist teaching assistant at R.E.A.L. Independent School in September 2016. Amanda is the BTEC Home Cooking Lead as well as a befriender. Amanda has completed various Safeguarding courses, food hygiene, Level 2 Autism Trust Training, secure attachment training and various other training courses relating to working with young people who have SEND.

Catherine Connolly
Specialist Teaching Assistant

Catherine specialises in English and has been working for R.E.A.L. since 2012. She is currently studying for a PGCE qualification at the University of Derby. Catherine is also a professional puppeteer and creative practitioner and loves going to festivals! Catherine enjoys working with our young people very much. She feels that seeing them progress and achieve is very rewarding.

Matthew Bird (BA Hons, BSL Level 1, Autism Awareness Level 2)
Specialist Teaching Assistant

Matthew started working for R.E.A.L. in 2014 and he has over 10 years experience working with SEND students across the county and beyond. In the past he has been responsible for running the LEXIA
reading programme for students who have difficulty with reading and reading comprehension. He also has vast experience working with young people who are hard of hearing and deaf.

Jo McGonigle
Specialist Teaching Assistant

(Bio coming soon!)

Referral & Assessment Team

Julie Marzano
R.E.A.L. Education Referral & Assessment Lead

(Bio coming soon!)

Denise Lane
Referral & Assessment Coordinator

(Bio coming soon!)

Ellen Longmate (Open University Diploma in Criminology & Psychology, Level 3 in Education and Training, NVQ in Childcare, Level 2 in Autism)
Referral & Assessment Team Assistant

Ellen has worked for R.E.A.L. since 2012. Currently working in the Referral & Assessment Team. Previous to this, Ellen was a 1-1 tutor and then worked as joint Lead for Lifeskills Group. Ellen also currently runs the Parent Group, meeting with parents of students at R.E.A.L. and helping to provide a forum for discussion and information. Ellen previously worked as an Emotional Literacy worker in a secondary school planning programmes of support for students with emotional needs. Ellen has completed Safeguarding training, MAPA training, First Aid Training, Attachment Training, Leadership Training, and Therapy training.

Jade Hall (NVQ level 3 in Childrens Care, Learning & Development, Level 3 Aim Award in Autism awareness and communication)
Referral & Assessment Team

Jade has worked for R.E.A.L. since 2014 as part of the Referral and Assessment Team.  She has worked within educational settings for 16 years, including specialist behaviour units, mainstream schools and alternative provisions.

Administration Team

Jodi Smith (BTEC Level 2 Retail Knowledge)
School Administrator

Jodi started work for R.E.A.L. Education on 4th July 2016. Jodi is based at Concorde House and covers all admin duties. Jodi also monitors the attendance for on roll students in Key Stage 4 and post 16’s. Jodi has A-Level distinction in I.C.T., Level 1 award and Level 2 certificate in BSL, Certificate of completion from the college of policing, QA level 2 award in emergency first aid at work (QCF), an Introduction to Autism for Practitioners, Fire Marshall training, numerous Level Educare courses).

R.E.A.L. Independent School