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School Scrutiny Board


Ann Henderson– Regional Director

I am delighted to take up the post of Chair of Governors for Barton/Maple Grove/Underley Garden School.

My background is as a teacher, headteacher, local authority school improvement adviser for special educational needs, central government adviser to the department for education in relation to autism and most recently as director in two independent children’s service providers.

All my headteacher experience has been working with young people with autism.

When I am not at work I have 6 children, 9 grandchildren and 2 dogs, so I am always busy.

I am looking forward to working with Options Barton school to ensure all of our very exceptional young people reach their potential.

Karen Ayres – Head of Service

Karen has worked in many care and educational settings in her 30 year career working with young people, from Specialist Residential Care for 16 – 25 year old young people with Learning Difficulties, working in the Careers Service and then qualifying as a teacher of Drama and English, moving on to become Director of Arts, Assistant Head Teacher and Deputy Head Teacher in mainstream education. She has also coached Middle Leaders, mentored young people most at risk of dropping out of education or training and trained many aspiring teachers. She returned to Special Needs Education by joining Options Barton in 2018 as Deputy Head Teacher, moving on to become Head Teacher and then Head of Service in November 2020.

Hannah Mackley – Head of School

Hannah has worked within Special Educational Needs Schools for over 18 years. She has specialised in supporting young people with Autism and Learning Difficulties as a teacher, Assistant Head Teacher and then Head of ASD Outreach Service for Hull. Hannah has successfully lead schools through Autism Accreditation and provided bespoke Autism specific training, advice and support to a range of different services from schools and colleges to parent groups and museums. She is currently Head of School after joining Options Barton in June 2020.

Ben Reading Peer Governor

Ben is the Headteacher at Maple Grove, a specialist school for children aged 5-16 with autism and additional needs. He has worked for almost 20 years in special education, with pupils of all abilities, and almost exclusively in specialist autism schools and services in England and Northern Ireland. Ben has been in senior leadership in schools since 2010 and has previously been a special school governor, Local Authority adviser and a regional lead for the Autism Education Trust. Outside school Ben is a keen runner and cook, and father to three young children, who keep him very busy!

Chris Groom Peer Governor

Chris has worked in education in both Secondary and SEND settings for over twenty years, ten of which have been at a senior level.Prior to taking on his current role Chris was employed by the Outcomes First Group in the capacity of Headteacher at Longdon Park School. During this time he empowered staff to make Longdon Park a great school. Chris is currently a Head of Service at Underley Garden School where he has oversight of an Outstanding Educational setting and one of the largest Children’s Residential homes in the UK. Chris believes everyone has the potential to be a leader and part of his role is developing and nurturing this capacity at all levels. He also has a fundamental belief that the decisions we make should always have a positive impact on the children and young adults in our care.


Nicola Watson – Administration Manager

Nicola has 21 years’ experience working in Administration roles.  Prior to working at Options Autism Nicola worked in administration roles supporting HR, Quality Assurance and Health and Safety functions.  Nicola joined Options Barton in 2006 and progressed to the role of Administration Manager, part of the senior management team in 2012 and is responsible for all aspects of administration at Options Barton which covers, referrals, admissions, reviews, finance, recruitment, recruitment compliance, HR and payroll.  Nicola holds a level 3 qualification in Business Administration and is currently working towards a Level 3 Management Qualification.

Parents can contact the board via the school on 01652 631280.

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