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College Leadership Team

The College Leadership Team identifies priorities for the year, which informs arrangements for staff training, development of curriculum areas, and assessment of learner progress.

Linda Looney
Head of College

Linda joined Ambitious about Autism in August 2013. She has worked with autistic people or people with disabilities for the last 20 years. Linda is a qualified post-16 SEN lecturer and spent the first five years of her career working in Further Education (FE) colleges. She then moved into the charity sector where she set up and managed a number of services to develop the skills of autistic people and those with learning disabilities. These services included independent travel training, supported employment, and a variety of lifelong learning and social enterprise schemes. Linda is motivated by her belief in the abilities of people with learning disabilities and how support can help them to reach their full potential.

Simon Birch
Assistant Principal (Curriculum)

Simon has been working in the education of autistic people for over 20 years in various roles. He joined Ambitious about Autism in 2014. For over 15 years, he has been teaching in the post-16 sector and has been involved in the setting up of a number of post-16 provisions for autistic people in London and Surrey. As well as curriculum design, Simon is interested in how technology can usefully enhance the education and social inclusion of autistic learners. Simon is committed to the continuous development of the curriculum and creating an engaging and enjoyable educational environment for all our learners.

Nicola Hawkins
Head of campus - West Thames

Nicola joined Ambitious College in 2015. Nicola has over 15 years’ experience in developing and managing complex services and teams within a variety of post-16 SEN settings. Nicola joined Ambitious About Autism in July 2015 and brings her expertise in operational and service management to the team. Nicola holds an ILM Level 5 in Leadership and Management and is currently undertaking an MSc in Positive Behaviour Support. Nicola is passionate that all young people are supported to work towards their own meaningful outcomes and develop skills for future success.

Jacqueline Steel
Head of campus - CONEL

Jacqui joined Ambitious College in July 2019. She has been working in the post-16 special educational needs (SEN) sector for over 15 years. She is a qualified post-16 lecturer and has worked within sixth form, further education, and adult provision for young people and adults with a wide range of learning disabilities and autism. She has also managed teams and provisions across the sector. Jacqui has high aspirations for young people and is a keen advocate for independence and employment for young people with special educational needs.

Bernice Sargent
Business Manager

Bernice joined Ambitious College in November 2014. Bernice had worked within the education and care sector as a Finance and Operations Manager for six years. Prior to this, Bernice worked within the finance sector for a number of financial institutions. Bernice holds the level 4 Diploma in School Business Management (CSBM) and also an Institute of Leadership and Management Level 3 Certificate in First Line Management. Bernice is motivated and committed to providing assistance and support to enable learners to be able to make choices, achieve their goals towards their desired outcomes and their onward destination.

Eve Garrett
Curriculum Manager - CONEL

Eve has worked with autistic people and people with learning disabilities for over ten years. During that time, Eve has co-produced various schemes of learning through outreach and inclusion projects internationally and throughout Bristol and London, working with young people from all over the world.

Eve joined Ambitious College in 2014 as a Learning and Behaviour Specialist, whilst completing her masters in Applied Theatre (Drama in the Community) where she specialised in applied theatre as a strategy for supporting the reduction of behaviours that challenge in learners with complex autism. Eve undertook her teacher training with Ambitious College, and now has joined the leadership team as Curriculum Manager where she supports in overseeing improvement of quality in teaching and learning at the CONEL co-located campus. Eve is a firm believer in the importance of the arts in specialist education, and the potential of every young person to learn and access their future goals, with the right support, patience and care.

Karin Bogaczova
Operations Manager

Karin has been working in the field of Psychology since 2010. During her studies, she focused on Educational Psychology, specifically on researching diagnostic methods of ADHD and supporting children with SEN in mainstream settings. At the same time, Karin studied Organisational Psychology with the focus on HR Management and Recruitment.

In February 2017, she joined the Ambitious College team as a Learning and Behaviour Specialist. Throughout the years she progressed towards the role of Operations Manager where she ensures both campuses are safe and compliant; and all learners and staff receive appropriate support and adjustments. 

Karin is passionate about person centred approach and ensures it is applied at college in a consistent, high quality, individualised support which leads to the best possible outcomes for our young people. 

Dale Parsons
Curriculum Manager - West Thames campus

Dale has been working with autistic people and adults with learning disabilities for the past 12 years. He has worked with supported learning provisions in mainstream colleges in Buckinghamshire. Before joining Ambitious about Autism in October 2015 where he was appointed as a lecturer. Whilst working at Ambitious about Autism Dale achieved a post-graduate certificate in Autism and Aspergers from Sheffield Hallam University.

Dale works as a curriculum manager where he supports the development of our personalised curriculum and oversees the improvement and quality of teaching and learning at our West Thames campus. Dale has developed curriculum and training modules with autistic learners at both Ambitious college and West Thames promoting learner voice and how best to support autistic students in a mainstream setting. Dale led workshops at the 2022 Natspec conference on this subject for delegates from across the UK.