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Meet our team

Headteacher Virtual School

Mary Palin 

I am responsible for promoting the education of Cared For Children, Previously Cared For Children and Children With a Social Worker.  My team supports the Personal Education Plans that form part of the care planning for our children, and we work in partnership with schools, Social Care colleagues, carers and partner agencies to ensure that our children are happy, heard, healthy and achieving.

I began my career in Sefton as a Senior Leader in residential care, working with the elderly and young adults with SEN. I then worked as the lead officer in Shropshire for the development of community-based accommodation for adults with SEN. After returning to Liverpool, I trained to be an English teacher, and was seconded to support schools judged to be inadequate on their improvement journey as Head of Department and Literacy lead. My passion is to ensure that our children access an education that develops their emotional literacy and wellbeing, offers an aspirational curriculum and helps them to prepare to become adults who will be independent, fulfilled and contribute to society. 

Deputy Headteacher, Virtual School

Lianne Bate 

My role within the Virtual School school is to champion Cared For Children in order to raise aspirations and improve outcomes. I lead attendance, Personal Education Plans, quality assurance and training within the Virtual School and provide strategic and operational support to colleagues within both schools and the council. 

Prior to working in the Virtual School, I spent 17 years teaching in a large secondary school, 6 of those as Assistant Principal responsible for Safeguarding, Key stage 3 Progress and Attainment and Transition. I hold Chartered Leadership status through the Chartered College and I am also a trained Designated Safeguarding Lead. 

Deputy Headteacher CWASW, Virtual School

Tabitha Walker-Simmonds 

I am responsible for the extended duties of the Virtual School as set out by the DfE to strategically champion the attendance, attainment and progress of all children who have, or have had, a social worker in the last 6 years. I provide educational advice and support to Social Care Teams at an operational and strategic level and work with colleagues in schools to support with enhancing the offer for children with social workers.

I have 20 years’ experience as an English teacher, with 12 of those as SENCo and 8 years as Assistant Head at a large secondary.  I am a qualified Specialist Dyslexia teacher and Associate of the Dyslexia Guild.  I have extensive experience coordinating and leading the delivery of whole school reading interventions and other SEN support. I am also qualified as an assessor for access arrangements and registered tester with the British Psychological Society.

Education Co-ordinator

Cristina Brett 

As Education Coordinator for Cared For Children with Sefton Virtual School, my role is to be a champion for some of our most vulnerable young people and provide support in all aspects of education.  I liaise with colleagues in schools, social care and partner agencies, as well as pupils and carers, to ensure that appropriate provision and support is in place to promote academic achievement and outcomes, delivered through a robust Personal Education Plan and effective use of Pupil Premium Plus funding.

I have 30 years’ experience as a teacher, 15 years teaching in a specialist primary and secondary

EBD school and 15 years teaching all year groups, in a primary school with the additional responsibility as SENCO. I have further qualifications and extensive knowledge of Special Educational Needs and I understand the processes to offer advice and guidance to ensure that all pupils gain the educational support they need.

Education Co-ordinator

Susan Flynn

As Education Coordinator for Cared For Children with Sefton Virtual School, my role is to be a champion for some of our most vulnerable young people and provide support in all aspects of education.  I liaise with colleagues in schools, social care and partner agencies, as well as pupils and carers, to ensure that appropriate provision and support is in place to promote academic achievement and outcomes, delivered through a robust Personal Education Plan and effective use of Pupil Premium Plus funding.

Education Co-ordinator

Lee Murphy 

As Education Coordinator for Cared For Children with Sefton Virtual School, my role is to be a champion for some of our most vulnerable young people and provide support in all aspects of education.  I liaise with colleagues in schools, social care and partner agencies, as well as pupils and carers, to ensure that appropriate provision and support is in place to promote academic achievement and outcomes, delivered through a robust Personal Education Plan and effective use of Pupil Premium Plus funding. 

I have over 26 years’ experience of working in formal and informal education settings across Sefton, having worked in secondary and primary schools, youth centres, detached provision, outreach work and diversionary projects.  I started my career in Sefton as a part time youth worker in 1997 and as a qualified primary teacher I worked in a resourced autism provision in mainstream primary school and Senior Learning Mentor in three Sefton secondary schools, before joining Virtual School in 2020. 

I have completed the National Programme for Specialist Leaders in Behaviour and Attendance, and am also a trained Restorative Justice facilitator. I was  a visiting lecturer with Edge Hill University from 2012-2015, delivering CPD on restorative approaches in schools. 

Education Co-ordinator 

Laura Tickle

I am an Education coordinator for the Virtual School. My role is to ensure that our Cared for Children access the education they deserve and are entitled to, giving them every opportunity to succeed. I liaise with social workers, schools and other professionals; supporting the outcomes for our Cared for Children .

I have worked in a secondary school for the last 18 years, gaining extensive experience of the challenges that Cared for Children can face. Within my career I have had various roles including Learning Mentor, Head of Year and Safeguarding officer. Throughout my career, I have maintained a child centred approach, working with children and young people to remove barriers to learning; supporting their journey to achieve the best outcomes. Prior to working in a secondary school, I obtained a BSc (Hons) in Sports Science. In addition to this, I am also a trained Designated Safeguarding Lead and Mental Health Lead.

Education Co-ordinator Post 16

Charlie Smith

I am the Post 16 Education Co-Ordinator, which doesn’t just cover education but all aspects of Employment, Education and Training (EET). My role is to champion our cared for and care experienced young people to aspire and achieve the best EET outcomes. We support young people on traineeships, apprenticeships, in employment and at Russel group Universities. I also support our young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). To positively re-engage them into services and onto productive pathways. Partnership working is key to my role, so I operate within a large network including Social Workers and Personal Advisers, DWP, Schools and Colleges, Send Team, Career Connect, Training providers and Employers.

I have worked around Sefton for over 30 years in this field across Education, Charity and Local Authority sectors. I am a qualified Careers Adviser a qualified Personal Adviser and have a BSc in Biochemistry. Prior to moving to the Virtual School I worked for the Local Authorities commissioned Neet Reduction and Early Intervention service, Career Connect.  

Support Officer

Alison Larkin

I moved to Virtual School in March 2013 as Personal Education Plan Officer and offer advice and support to social care, schools and virtual school staff in the undertaking and completion of PEPs for Cared For Children.  My role within the team has now expanded to cover all aspects of administrative and financial duties.

I started working for Sefton Council in September 2003 as support officer for The Behaviour Support Team based in Formby, initially on a part-time basis but leading to full-time after several years.


Last Updated on Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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