The Proprietary Body for all the R.E.A.L. Independent Schools is R.E.A.L. Education Ltd.  Information about R.E.A.L. Education and the Board of Directors can be found on the following website

The R.E.A.L. Independent Schools Governing Body has responsibility for the four independent schools currently part of the R.E.A.L. organisation (RIS Blidworth, RIS Mansfield, RIS Ilkeston and RIS Hinckley). 

The purpose of the governing body is to provide confident, strategic leadership and to create robust accountability, oversight and assurance for the educational and financial performance of all of the schools.  The two main aims of the governing body are to-

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • Holding leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the performance management of staff

As  individuals, Governors our committed to;

  • Supporting the vision, aims and ethos of R.E.A.L. Education Ltd
  • Using their knowledge, understanding and experience to support the schools to develop further
  • Enabling learners to achieve excellent outcomes
  • Upholding the principles of those in public life

The R.E.A.L. Independent Schools Governing Body meets as a full governing body termly and there are two further committees that meet in between the full meetings– Climate and Culture and Standards and Quality of Education.

If you wish to contact the Governing Body, please contact our Chair of Governors Sarah Barrett in the first instance. Sarah can be contacted via his email address :

Our governors

After completing a Physics degree at London University and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education at Loughborough University, Sarah started teaching in the south of Nottinghamshire in 1985. A passion for working with young people with Special Educational Needs prompted a career move to Mansfield where Sarah worked as a senior leader in both a mainstream and a special school, as well as leading partnership work across the district and serving on many county forums and committees. Sarah also completed a Masters degree in Special and Inclusive Education, the National Professional Qualification for Headship and Professional Training in Inspection Skills as part of Ofsted inspector training. Having retired from full-time employment in 2019, Sarah joined R.E.A.L Education as an Education Improvement Consultant. Sarah is the identified Safeguarding Governor having been the safeguarding lead in her last two schools, and a DSL since 2004. Outside of work Sarah enjoys sport, mostly spectating these days. In the summer she is found enjoying the sunshine, and sometimes the cricket, at Trent Bridge, and during the winter months she moans about the misfortunes of Watford FC.

Appointed September 2020

Philip is a former head teacher of two special schools. His first a primary special school in Castleford the latter being an all aged, mixed special school in Rotherham

Philip was a Local Education Officer supporting schools with admissions, complaints, appeals and progress. Philip has acted at strategic county level to ensure excluded students were effectively and efficiently placed. He was a Senior Education Officer – responsible for strategy across the LEA for hard to place students, and the development of School Behaviour and Attendance Partnerships.
Philip is currently an education consultant.


Appointed September 2020

I am proud to be part of the Governing body. I have had a long relationship with R.E.A.L. and have worked to support the use of technology across the school sites to the benefit of staff and learners. I previously worked as a Senior School Improvement Advisor for Nottinghamshire County Council. This experience has given me skills and appreciation for helping schools to develop and achieve their potential.

As a qualified teacher, I am passionate about making a difference and making education relevant, interesting and engaging for all young people.

I am Chair of the Climate and Culture Committee

Appointed September 2020

After completing a History degree and PGCE at Loughborough University, Shan started teaching in Leicestershire in 1984. She followed the departmental route and after several moves became a Curriculum Deputy Headteacher. She led a secondary school on subject development, assessment, quality assurance and completed the timetable. She completed the National Professional Qualification for Headship and played a part in numerous training events in Nottinghamshire. Shan had always had an interest in pastoral care and so for the last eight years of her career took up the post of Senior Deputy Head in charge of behaviour, safety and welfare. She line managed a large SEN department and was the DSL, she re-modelled the school’s behaviour and support systems and was the Stonewall champion and careers lead. After retiring from full time education in 2019 Shan worked as a consultant supporting two secondary schools. She enjoys reading detective novels and listening and dancing to music. Shan is a keen gardener.

I am Chair of the Standards and Quality of Education Committee.

Appointed September 2020

Brian has had 23 years working in different fields of SEN in Nottinghamshire including Behaviour Support Service, Head of Special Individual Programmes team and Advisor to Primary Schools in the Notts Autism Team. He was Co-Founder and Managing Director of R.E.A.L. Education, a provider of independent alternative education and independent special schools until retiring in 2020.

Brian received an MBE for services to children and young people with disabilities and special educational needs in the 2020 New Year’s Honours List.

In his “”spare”” time he enjoys working with a number of charities, country walks, gardening and photography.

He is really looking forward to supporting and working with fellow governors and staff at R.E.A.L. Independent schools and helping to make a difference for the children and young people, their parents, and staff.


Appointed September 2020

Co-Founder and Joint Managing Director of R.E.A.L. Education. Richard has over 15 years experience in the Alternative Provision sector. Acting Governor since 2015. Sits on the standards and quality of education committee.


Appointed September 2020

Joint Managing Director of R.E.A.L. Education. Steve has over 15 years experience in the Alternative Provision sector.  Acting Governor since 2015. Sits on the standards and quality of education committee.


Appointed September 2020

Adrian is a Director at R.E.A.L. Education and is Chair of the Proprietary Body.

Adrian has a sports science degree and a postgraduate qualification in physical education. Throughout his career he has worked in several different schools in the local area. His experience has been across a range of different types including primary, secondary and special schools. He has been a principal in a secondary and a special school, and prior to R.E.A.L. an executive principal over a primary and a special school.


Appointed September 2021

Kelsey is a Director at R.E.A.L. Education.


Appointed September 2021

Kirsten is the Head of Schools for all 4 R.E.A.L. Independent Schools. She has a wealth of experience of leadership with the Independent Special School Sector.

Appointed April 2023

Linda Lyn-Cook – M. Ed in S.E.N. and Inclusive Education. Cert Ed. ACE: Autism. ACE: PMLD. PQSI.Linda has had long standing experience as a teacher and senior manager in both mainstream and special schools. Her specialist expertise is in autism, Special Educational Needs, inclusion and in teacher professional development. She was employed for twelve years as a Local Authority Consultant Teacher in autism where she led a team of specialist teachers and teaching assistants. This team were very successful in improving outcomes for children and young people with autism and gained national recognition for their work. Linda is also a visiting lecturer at Nottingham Trent University and lectures on the National Award for SENCOs as well as other accredited post-graduate courses for qualified teachers in SEN and in autism.

She has worked extensively with the Autism Education Trust as a trainer and as a member of the project and materials development team. Linda has completed the Professional Qualification for School Inspection and is an experienced school Inspector. She currently works as a school improvement advisor supporting a number of schools to develop provision ensuring improved outcomes and to raise standards. She has conducted SEN audits in schools and across MATS and quality assures provision against national benchmarks. She has also worked with Local Authorities at a strategic level to develop and increase access to provision as well as establishing new provision. She also has expertise in developing the role of support staff.

Publications include:
1. The Autism Education Trust Progression Framework. Feb 2016. Farrel, S, Fidler, R. Christie, P and Lyn-Cook. L.
2. The Development of a Progression Framework for children and young people with autism.. Feb 2016. . Farrel, S, Fidler, R. Christie, P and Lyn-Cook. L.
3. Teachers Working with Teaching Assistants. Chapter 11 in Richards, G and Armstrong, F (2015) Teaching and learning in Diverse and Inclusive Classrooms. Linda Lyn-Cook and Vikki Anderson. Edited by Richards, G and Armstrong, F. Pub Routledge 2015
4. Teaching Assistants Working with Teachers. (2016) Chapter 7 in Key Issues for Teaching Assistants: Working in Diverse and Inclusive classrooms. Linda Lyn-Cook and Vikki Anderson. Edited by Richards, G and Armstrong. F. Pub Routledge.
5. Autism Education Trust: National Autism Standards 2012 (Jones, G. Baker, L. English. A. Lyn-Cook. L.)
6. Autism Education Trust: Professional Competencies 2013. (Whittemeyer, K. Jones, J. English, A. Lyn-Cook, L. Milton, D)
7. Increasing Participation: Decreasing Bureaucracy.2010 Richards, G. Patterson, A. Lyn-Cook. L In: Hallett, F. and Hallett, G. Transforming the role of the SENCO. Open University Press.


Appointed September 2020

Philip Gawthorpe – Indirect Interest (carries out work for R.E.A.L. as an independent)

Sarah Barrett – Direct Pecuniary Interest (employed by R.E.A.L. two days per week)

Rich Smith – Direct Pecuniary Interest (Director of R.E.A.L.)

Steve Quinn– Direct Pecuniary Interest (Director of R.E.A.L.)

Adrian O’Malley – Direct Pecuniary Interest (Director of R.E.A.L.)

Kelsey Hill – Direct Pecuniary Interest (Director of R.E.A.L.)

Bryan Smith – Indirect Interest (carries out work for R.E.A.L. as an independent)

Kirsten Gibson – Direct Pecuniary Interest (Head of Schools)

Linda Lyn-Cook –  Direct Pecuniary Interest (employed by R.E.A.L. two days per week)

Craig Wilkie – Indirect Interest (supplier of I.T. services to R.E.A.L.)

All other Governors have no business, pecuniary interests or governance roles in other education establishments to declare.

R.E.A.L. Governing Body Meeting Attendance

Y = Attended, N = Apologies Accepted, NA = Apologies not Accepted, NS = No Apologies sent, ? = Attendance Not Marked, Blank = Not Required

Full GoverningClimate & CultureFull GoverningStandards and QualityClimate and CultureFull GoverningStandards and QualityClimate & CultureFull GoverningFull GoverningClimate and CultureFull GoverningStandards & QualityClimate & CultureFull Governing BodyStandards & QualityClimate & Culture
Nikki PurcellYYYYYYN
Jane StarbuckNY
Stephen SchmidtYY
Kirsten GibsonYYYYYYYYYY
Jon GloverYYYYY
Jane StarbuckYYYYYY