The Springfields Academy

Reach South Academy Trust

Our central mission is for Reach South pupils to aspire to achieve beyond the expectations that others place on them.

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Senior Leadership Team:

Jon Hamp

Executive Headteacher

As the Executive Headteacher, Jon sets the overall strategic direction for both Springfields sites. An experienced practitioner with over 30 years in education, Jon has always been guided by a simple yet clear focus- doing what is best for children to enable them to lead safe, independent lives. As well as being skilled at building relationships with young people, Jon is respected by his colleagues for his approachable, open-door policy and always being ready to listen. Jon’s personalised approach, coupled with his ability to bring out the best in people, has helped set the academy on its journey to outstanding. An ethical and authentic leader, Jon models his values of trust, integrity and respect and is proud to lead a richly diverse team. Jon also fulfils the role of Director of Individual Needs across Reach South Academy Trust, working with a range of other schools and professionals to benefit young people.

Mike Thomas


Mike has significant experience of both classroom teaching and leadership positions across mainstream and specialist settings. With an unrelenting focus to look at teaching through the eyes of the autistic learner, Mike’s unique empathetic and problem-solving approach is a skills-set sought by others. Although he provides extensive support and guidance to other school settings and education professionals, Mike’s main priority is the safeguarding of young people on their journey to safe, independent lives. Mike’s strong strategic leadership skills place him at the heart of the senior leadership team, as well as a valued professional voice within the trust.

Nicola Whitcombe

Deputy Headteacher (Quality of Education)

Nicola Whitcombe is a talented, compassionate and high-skilled professional. As a teacher Nicola has experience of mainstream and specialist settings, holding senior leadership positions in both including the role of SENCo. Nicola holds a range of postgraduate qualifications in autism and SEND and applies this knowledge to strategically lead the autism and SEND provision within the academy. Driven by a passion for enabling young people with autism, Nicola’s enthusiasm is genuine and infectious. As well as having strong emotional intelligence, Nicola has the ability to build effective relationships with others based on mutual respect. Nicola is also able to implement clear systems and structures to ensure an outstanding quality of education for young people. A co-founder of A-Fest, Nicola is a compelling advocate for child-centred practice and always ensures that good autism practice is at the heart of the strategic leadership agenda. Nicola is the Academy’s SENCO and can be contacted by phone through the school office on 01249 814125 or via email 

Lee Davidson

Assistant Headteacher - Behaviour and Attitudes

Lee Davidson is an ebullient and charismatic leader who is passionate about helping learners succeed. As strategic lead for Key Stage Four Lee ensures the right systems and processes are in place to enable learners to thrive in post-16 education. Lee leads a team of talented and diverse practitioners across a range of academic and vocational areas. Lee also works with a range of further education establishments and other education professionals to determine the right next steps for pupils. As a highly visible leader who prides himself on building effective relationships with pupils, parents and staff, Lee brings the energy and drive to the senior leadership team.

Laura Tilley

Head of Care

Laura is a hugely experienced member of the care team as well as a highly respected senior leader. Laura is resilient and adaptable and has clear skills in team building and managing change. Admired by colleagues for always following through on her word, Laura has real integrity and a strong belief in championing young people. Always prepared to be a team player herself, Laura’s work ethic and ability to build relationships with complex and vulnerable young people has earned her the respect of all at Springfields. Playing a key role in uniting the academic provision with social and emotional care, Laura brings diversity and balance to the senior leadership team.

Liz Burns

Head of Therapy. Occupational Therapist. Designated Safeguarding Lead.

Liz is an experienced Occupational Therapist who is committed to supporting young people to live safe, independent lives. Liz has a passion for autism and uses a range of resources, interventions and therapeutic approaches to help engage young people in the learning process. Liz leads a team of talented therapeutic and outreach professionals from our very own Therapy House, a bespoke provision for our learners. Liz works across both sites to ensure that learners make social and emotional progress alongside academic progress. Liz brings a unique perspective on how to support learners in the classroom.

Rebecca Deacon

Assistant Headteacher Springfields South

Rebecca is a highly experienced practitioner who has taught in both mainstream and specialist settings. Rebecca has significant leadership experience at both middle and senior leadership level. Having studied for the National Award for SEN Coordination, Rebecca is a knowledgeable and child-centred practitioner who always puts the learner first. Taking day to day responsibility for leadership of Springfields South, Rebecca is a key part of the strategic and senior leadership team delivering safe, independent lives for young people.  

Sam Cottrell

Assistant Headteacher Springfields South

Sam has extensive teaching experience within mainstream schools, alongside the management of resource base settings. As well as being a talented class teacher, Sam supports Rebecca with the day to day running of Springfields South, deputising as Head of School when Rebecca is away from site. Sam is responsible for leading the site’s English curriculum ensuring that learners develop the literacy skills they need to live safe, independent lives. Sam is an integral part of Springfields South and is a real team player. 

Middle Leadership Team:

Nicola Brooks

Lead for Staff Development and Partnerships

Nicola Brooks is an experienced SEND and mainstream teacher who now specialises in staff development. Nicola’s values of collaboration and life-long learning guide her leadership of professional learning across the Academy and Reach South Trust. Nicola oversees the many hubs, networks and partnerships that the Academy is involved in. Nicola builds relationships with other education partners and professionals to optimise opportunities to share, learn and collaborate. Nicola’s belief in teacher-led, grassroots CPD helped lead to the inception of A-Fest. Described by her colleagues as caring, thoughtful and driven Nicola is committed to helping all staff achieve their best. Nicola also leads professional development across Reach South Multi-Academy Trust. Nicola has recently completed her MEd in Educational Leadership in Management. Her dissertation focused on the identity, relationships and skills of middle leaders. 

Connie Knight


Connie is a highly dedicated and skilled practitioner with experience in both mainstream and specialist settings. Her positive attitude and enthusiasm enables her to build strong relationships with both pupils and staff. 

Connie supports the running of our specific needs cohort as well as leading a team of talented learning support and higher level learning support assistants. Connie can be contacted by phone through the school office on 01249 814125 or via email  

Claire Ludlow

Phase 1 Lead (5-8)

Claire has significant experience of teaching learners in specialist settings. A specialist in learning through play and Early Years teaching, Claire is highly skilled in engaging young children into the school environment. Claire uses TEACCH and Bucket Time principles across her teaching and is able to advise others on the use of these practices. Claire is also the Attention Autism Champion for the academy. Calm, caring and resilient Claire is also a line manager and NQT mentor. 

Owen Wolfe

Lead for Autism +Social, Emotional Needs

Owen is an experienced SEND practitioner, specialising in Social, Emotional Needs. Owen is highly skilled in building trusting relationships with young people who have experienced trauma. An expert at engaging the disengaged, Owen works hard to deliver a bespoke curriculum utilising pupil interests and outdoor learning to meet children’s needs. Often seen engaging in team-building activities with children, Owen is also a proud member of the staff football team. 

Claire Williams

Phase 2 Lead (7-13)

Claire is a hugely dedicated practitioner with significant teaching experience across mainstream and specialist settings. Known for her ‘can-do’ attitude, Claire is enthusiastic, resilient and practical. Claire is a child-centred practitioner and she supports her team with creating the right environment to support learners to flourish. 

Sofia Ben-Ali

Phase 3 Lead (13-16)

Sofia is an experienced practitioner who has taught in both mainstream and specialist settings. As the Lead for KS4 and Lead Science Teacher, Sofia is committed to giving learners the skills they need to live safe, independent lives. Sofia supports with aspects of strategic learning at KS4, including Able, Gifted and Talented learners, careers and work experience. Sofia is also interested in leadership development and has a funded place on a Level 5 NCE apprenticeship in Middle Leadership