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SEND champions

Here are a number of Luton services across Education, Health and Social Care that support Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs. 

Key organisations and the services they  provide are listed below.  Within each organisation/service SEND champions have been identified.

The role of the SEND champion is:

  • to drive forward change and help to embed positive changes to improve outcomes for children and young people with SEND
  • to ensure that actions in the Written Statement of Action are undertaken
  • to ensure that quality and performance of SEND services are monitored
  • to promote working as a Local Area

Each organisation has identified champions who represent people at different levels of the organisation:

  • Board/Executive
  • Service wide
  • Operational

Our SEND champions

Anne Murray, Chief Nurse CCG

Anne Murray, Chief Nurse Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board (ICB)

I qualified as a registered nurse in 1980 at Bedford Hospital. Following a clinical career in accident and emergency, trauma and orthopaedic nursing and tissue viability services. I went into nurse management working in specialist nursing, practice development and education roles across Acute Trusts. I also completed a degree in specialist nursing and a masters in research and evidence based practice which included a post graduate certificate in medical education.

I worked in commissioning since 2009 when I joined NHS Bedfordshire PCT. I have been a Director of Nursing since 2010, working across Bedfordshire, Luton and more recently Milton Keynes. I am also Director for Children’s Commissioning and Chief Nurse.

Abi Preston

Abi Preston, Service Director for Education, Luton Council

I am thrilled to be part of the Education team at Luton Council. Prior to joining Luton Council, I worked for Hillingdon Council as the Head of Education and Learning, leading on:

  • school improvement
  • governance
  • admissions
  • AP
  • post-16
  • mental health and wellbeing
  • a variety of other areas

Previously, I was a headteacher of a primary school which needed considerable improvement when I joined. Having worked closely with the council to improve the school, I'm aware of the importance of effective support from the council to improve provision. Most of my 17 year career in education has taken place in Buckinghamshire.

I have a great passion for SEND and have previously led an ARP for children with ASD. I'm a qualified SENCO and have also completed a post graduate diploma in Education (equivalent to a masters).

I feel both excited and privileged to be able to lead on Education and SEND in my role and look forward to working with colleagues to provide first-class support to the young people of Luton.




Provided by the local authority, services include:

  • early years
  • primary
  • secondary
  • Alternative Learning and Progression Service (ALPS)/Avenue Centre for Education (ACE)
  • virtual school

SEND champions

Sarah Gilbert, Head Teacher, Chapel Street Nursery School

Sarah Gilbert, Head teacher Chapel Street Nursery School

I have taught in Luton and at Chapel Street Nursery School since graduating university in 2009. I am currently the Acting Headteacher at Chapel Street which is a resourced nursery with 16 funded spaces for children with severe and complex special needs.

I am also the SENCO within the Nursery having almost completed my NASENCO. I have completed my Talking Takes Off training and delivered the training to practitioners to use within our own setting.

My role includes the early identification of children with SEND who access the nursery. Along with my team, we make referrals to outside agencies, use recommendations to inform individual education plans and make applications for Education and Health Care Plans for children as they move into mainstream settings or a specialist provision.

Rhoda Flindall, Headteacher, Ashcroft High School

Rhoda McPherson, Headteacher, Queen Elizabeth School

Having worked in a number of inner city London schools, Inclusion and SEND have always been a specific area of focus for me. I am passionate that every child should be supported in all ways required and that all assessment processes are met, and needs are identified.



Kathie Hughes, Head Teacher Richmond Hill School

Kathie Hughes, Head Teacher Richmond Hill School

I am headteacher of Richmond Hill two site SLD primary school. I have been in post since September 2019, I have a varied and rich educational history ranging from multiple mainstream schools, special schools and residential schools.

I feel very privileged to be able to influence and support the wide range of learning needs at my school and believe that as Special school Head I want to be able to influence, support and grow the provision on offer for our community of children in Luton.

I am well placed to capture the many views of our Luton community and feel that I represent not only the pupils, but the parents in the community in which we support.

I feel strongly about getting things right for Richmond Hill pupils and our special needs community of children and I have lots to offer this group by bringing our views as Special Heads to the forefront of decisions for our community and schools.

Sarah Mortimer, Vice Principal for Central Bedfordshire College

Sarah Mortimer, Vice Principal for Central Bedfordshire College

I joined the College in 2012 having worked previously in Adult & Community Learning for 10 years. Prior to working in the education sector I worked in the private sector as a senior manager with roles focused on managing and overseeing organisational change, whether that be structural or cultural changes.

As Vice Principal, I am responsible for the Curriculum and Skills strategies for the area, along with the effective delivery and positive outcomes associated with these. The college has a strong and successful track record of supporting some of the hardest to reach young people and its SEND provision is no exception.

The college offers young people the opportunity to thrive and prosper in their education and then progress on to work, or alternative training, where this is possible to do so.

I also chair and lead on Luton’s Post 16 Transition Board and the Pan Bedfordshire Voice of the Child Sub Group. Both of which are focussed, in their own areas of speciality, on ensuring the best outcomes for children and young people.

Tyrone West, assistant headteacher and SENCO at Denbigh Primary School

Tyrone West, assistant headteacher and SENCO at Denbigh Primary School

I am an assistant headteacher and SENCO at Denbigh Primary School. My main remit is to lead, manage and ensure the successful implementation of the schools vision for physical and mental health. My role as SENCO ensures that we develop and improve SEND provision in line with the statutory requirements set out in the SEND Code of Practice.

I am passionate about the social, emotional and mental health of children as I firmly believe SEMH is at the core of child development and learning. I also promote an equitable school system ensuring effective access to speech, language and communication support irrespective of whether a child is identified with SEND.

This is because I believe that speech, language and communication needs are at the heart of academic achievement and reducing the gap between social inequality.

SEND Services

Provided by the Local Authority, services include

  • Special Educational Needs Assessment Team (SENAT)
  • Special Educational Needs Service (SENS)
  • Educational Psychology
  • Post-16yrs team
  • Special Educational Needs Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIA


Minoo Beech, Senior Learning Difficulties and Disabilities Personal Advisor

I joined Luton Council in 1997 and have worked in education and social care as School Liaison Officer, Personal advisor at SENAT and am currently a senior LDD advisor. I have a postgraduate degree in IAG (Career Information, Advice and Guidance).

I manage the Transition team which is a specialist team that supports young people with an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) aged 13 to 25. My role is to work with education providers, adult social care and health care to ensure young people have a smooth transition into adulthood

A young person with (SEN) may face additional challenges in achieving their goals. These may include lack of information about options, low expectations about what is achievable, and difficulty in making their views heard. My work is based on working with further education, adult social care and health care to make sure young people have a smooth transition to adulthood. I am passionate about helping young people prepare themselves for the future.


Lisa Ellis, Interim Team Manager, Special Educational Needs Assessment Team (SENAT)

I am currently the interim Team Manager for the Special Educational Needs Assessment Team, which is part of Luton Borough Council’s Education Service. Having previously worked in a mainstream primary school, I joined Luton’s Early Years Special Educational Needs Service in 2002, as I am passionate about early intervention and quality early years education.

My current role enables me to ensure that we continue to improve outcomes for all children and young people with SEND across Luton. A significant part of my work is working effectively with colleagues across all professions; Social Care and Community Health Services as together we can make a difference for the better.

Children’s Social Care

Provided by the Local Authority, services include

  • Social Care Neighbourhood teams
  • Children with Disabilities team
  • Early Help teams
  • Looked after Children
  • Short break respite
  • Youth Offending team

SEND champions

Kate Burchell, Service Manager and Designated Social Care Officer SEND

Kate Burchell, Service Manager and Designated Social Care Officer SEND

My name is Kate Burchell and I am the Service Manager for the Children with Disabilities team and, more recently, also the Designated Social Care Officer! I have worked in Luton since 1997, firstly as a social worker and then in team manager in both disability and safeguarding roles. Prior to that I worked in residential care for young people for both Hertfordshire and Action for Children. I am also a Governor for one of our local special schools.

I am passionate about the Voice of the Child and ensuring that all children, regardless of their disability, are heard and supported to enable them to be the best that they can be. I see examples every day of how the right care and support can make a huge difference, be it Short Break Care, social work intervention or alternative care.

My service works closely and collaboratively with partner agencies to ensure that families get the right support at the right time to enable them to manage in the most effective way that they can. I am fortunate to work with a huge number of people who are committed to making a difference in children’s lives – and that’s perhaps one of the reasons that I have stayed in Luton for as long as I have. I am still excited about my job and the role that I play in driving change forward and the opportunities that we have to continue to make a difference.

Adults Social Care

Provided by the Local Authority, services include

SEND champions

Head of Service for Adults Social Care Operations & Health Integration, Vamsi Pelluri

Head of Service for Adults Social Care Operations & Health Integration, Vamsi Pelluri

I’m the Head of Service for Adults Social Care Operations & Health Integration. I’m a qualified social worker and a strong advocate for young people, adults and families involved in decision making about services that affect them. I joined Luton Council in May 2018 and I am responsible for the operational delivery of Adult Social Care’s Assessment & Support Planning function in Luton. Adult services are delivered via two main Pathways, the Front door and the Back door. The Front door consists of Early Intervention, Prevention, Enablement and Stabilisation Service and the Back door consists of the Scheduled reviews and the complex Case management service. My work is based on open and transparent conversations with the communities that we work, partnership working and a focus on independence, including the young people we support as they transition into adulthood. We collaborate with a variety of both statutory agencies and non-statutory agencies to improve pathways for those young people who require ongoing care and support needs as they move into adult services.

Health Commissioners and DCO’s

Beccy White, Head of Commissioning and Transformation Children

Beccy White, Head of Commissioning and Transformation for Children's Health Services

My current role is head of commissioning and transformation for children and young people working across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK Integrated Care Board) including leading on our SEND health services.

Previously I worked for Luton Borough Council leading children’s integrated commissioning of health services and public health services, and I remain the work stream lead for delivery of our Luton health service transformation programme identified within our SEND Written Statement of Action, working together with Luton SEND partnership colleagues and EPIC Luton, Parent Carer Forum.

Jo Drew, Strategic Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keyes (BLMK)

Jo Drew, Strategic Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keyes (BLMK)

I qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in Manchester, and I have worked in a variety of acute and community settings, special and mainstream schools. My clinical career has included work in the areas of Cleft Lip and Palate, Hearing Impairment, and Autism. I have managed the Children’s speech and Language Therapy Team, and been the lead for CCS Allied Health Professions across Luton and Bedfordshire. I have worked in Bedfordshire children’s’ community health settings for over ten years.

My role as Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) supports Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK Integrated Care Board) to meet its statutory responsibilities for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and agrees the health services to be provided within an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan.

My role supports joined up working between health services and the local authority, for children, young people and adult services (0-25 years). A DCO promotes communication of advice to local authorities, schools and colleges regarding the health needs of children and young people who may have SEND. It supports schools, for example, with their duties under the ‘Supporting Pupils with Medical Conditions’ guidance. The DCO has lead role in ensuring that there is an awareness and understanding of the SEND Reforms by local Health providers of services. This can be through training, or through individual discussions with teams and clinicians.

My role is also strategic across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes, working with colleagues to ensure that we optimise coordination, quality and efficiency of services in and across our local areas. I work closely with the DCO for Luton, Helen Watson, and together we aim to champion the provision of joined up services for children and families with SEND.

Helen Watson, Designated Clinical Officer

Helen Watson, Designated Clinical Officer Luton

I have a background in Children’s nursing spanning over 20 years. I spent a large part of my early career working in Paediatric Intensive Care at Great Ormond Street Hospital where I gained a degree in professional practice; and additionally worked as a retrieval nurse for the Children’s Acute Transport Service. I have also worked within the local specialist schools and children’s hospice; and have more recently undertaken various community roles in Luton including working for the Children’s Safeguarding team; and as a Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Edwin Lobo Centre where I supported children with a range of neuro-disabilities; managing sleep and ADHD medication regimes as a nurse prescriber; offering post diagnosis support to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and conducting annual Down Syndrome reviews. Throughout my career I have gained vast experience in working with children and young people with SEND and their families; supporting them to meet their health needs in a variety of settings; and enabling them to meet their full potential through contribution to the Education Health Care Plan process; and signposting to the appropriate services to meet their needs.

My current role as Designated Clinical Officer (DCO) supports Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK Integrated Care Board) to meet its statutory responsibilities for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities and agrees the health services to be provided within an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. I am looking forward to working in co-production with local families to ensure that their voices and lived experience are encapsulated in service redesign; and identifying any gaps in current services. I also look forward to working closely with the DCO for Bedfordshire Jo Drew, to champion the provision of joined up services for children and families with SEND County wide.

Children and Young People's Community Health Services

Provided by Cambridgeshire Community Services, services include

  • Community Paediatrics (Edwin Lobo)
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Health Visiting
  • School Nursing
  • Special School Nursing
  • Community Nursing
  • Continuing Care

SEND champions

Kate Howard, Chief Nurse

Executive: Kate Howard, Chief Nurse

I started my nursing journey as a Healthcare Assistant at St Crispins Hospital in Northampton in the early 1990’s, after qualifying as a Mental Health Nurse I worked across a number of different specialities including; acute mental health, rehabilitation, community mental health services and assertive outreach.  I also spent 7 years working as a Senior Lecturer/ Practitioner at the University of Northampton, this post included teaching pre and post registration students and supporting best practice within local Acute Mental Health Services and Intensive Care.  My clinical interests include; education, safety, quality, co-production, research and equality.

I joined Cambridgeshire Community Service NHS Trust in October 2021 as the Chief Nurse, prior to this I was the Deputy then Director of Nursing, AHP’s and Quality at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.  I have a degree in Nursing and a Master’s degree both in Mental Health and Research. 

Simon Harwin, Service Director

Service: Simon Harwin, Service Director

Hello my name is Simon Harwin and I worked in the NHS for over 11 years working within senior operational, strategic and corporate roles. I have range of experience in Hospital to community settings, most recently in Hertfordshire Children’s services leading Quality improvement, transformation programmes and Service delivery. Prior to this I worked across Mental Health and Community Services in London leading transformation programmes to improve access to services, develop the links between primary and secondary care and enabling communities to improve health and wellbeing.

I have held senior leadership roles across both Adult and Children’s services with a passion for quality improvement and working together across the healthcare system to improve the meaningful outcomes for Children and Families.

I have a MSc in Occupational Therapy and I am graduate of the NHS leadership academy in Executive healthcare leadership.

Jacqui Wynn, Head of Children and Young People’s Service

Operational: Jacqui Wynn, Head of Children and Young People’s Service

My portfolio is Luton 0-19 Healthy Child Programme and Luton and Bedfordshire Children’s Community and Specialist Nursing and I am the senior lead for our partnership work in Luton.

I trained as an adult nurse at Addenbrookes Hospital, and the early years of my nursing career was consolidated in intensive care before moving into the community in 1997 to work within District Nursing. During this time the service undertook a number of innovations and evolved to a Rapid Response service providing 24 hour care to the population of Cambridgeshire. I moved into children’s services in 2009 working with school aged children within the 0-19 Healthy Child Programme and qualified as a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse (SCPHN) in school nursing. During this time I was also an Associate Lecturer providing teaching and curriculum development for the BSc and PG Diploma SCPHN at one of the provider Universities, playing a part in linking education to practice to ensure that our workforce is trained to meet the needs of our population. In later years I moved into a management role within the 0-19 service and then a strategic workforce role within the corporate team in the Trust prior to taking up my current post.

I am a passionate advocate of public health and its role in reducing health inequalities influenced by the wider determinants of health. I work in partnership in key providers in Luton to enable children to have the best start in life and reach their full potential, with early identification and timely support being pivotal to improving long term outcomes.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Provided by East London Foundation Trust, services include

  • CAMHs - Emotional Health and Wellbeing
  • CAMHs -Neuro-developmental team

SEND champions

Jo Meehan

Executive: Jo Meehan

I am extremely proud to be a Registered Mental Health Nurse (RMHN) who is fortunate to have had a varied career providing me with a wealth of experience in all areas of mental health nursing spanning an educational career over 23 years. Throughout this time I have had the honour of working in a variety of clinical settings, both inpatient and community based, across a wide range of service areas including acute adult inpatient, adult community crisis, adult substance misuse, forensic care, medium secure inpatient and now CAMHS.

I commenced my nurse training in 1994 establishing the footings of my career; like all nursing programmes my training provided me with a range of workplace opportunities within the field of nursing and a solid knowledge base to underpin my practice.

I believe we are always learning, every situation whether it be a positive or negative experience for us can offer us an opportunity to enhance our practice for the future.

I am a firm believer in getting the basics right, if we can support staff with the rights tools we can develop skills and boost confidence, this is particularly empowering for our staff group and in turn improves overall performance.

I am currently working as the Associate Director for CAMHS in ELFT and extremely proud to have been awarded  the Trust's Leadership Award in 2019

Cathy Lavelle

Executive: Cathy Lavelle

My name is Dr Cathy Lavelle, I am a Consultant Child & Adoelscent psychiatrist and Clinical Director for Chidlren's Services for ELFT, including services in East London and Luton & Bedfordshire. This means that I have overall clinical responsibility for ensuring that we are providing high quality mental health services for children across our patch.

I am from Yorkshire, and completed my medical degree at Birmingham University. I spent a  year working in NZ and then trained as a junior psychiatrist in Glasgow, before moving to London to complete my specialist Child & Adolescent Training. I have been a consultant for 20 years, initially in Newham, East London with a special interest in Paediatric Liaison (children with physical health difficulties and associated mental health problems.) After 10 years in community CAMHS, I  moved to work in an Adolescent Psychiatric  in-patient Unit in East London, The Coborn Centre, where I stayed for 5 years. I first came to work in Bedford as Associate Clinical Director in 2016, leading on the development and improvement of local CAMHS services. During my time in Bedfordshire I worked clinically in most of the CAMHS services which I found really helpful in gaining an understanding of the needs of children and Young people across the area, and contributed to my involvement in establishing a range of new services including the CAMHS Crisis team, the Eating Disorder service, the CAMHS Schools team and GP Liaison workers. In April 2019 I moved back to London to take on the role of Clinical Director, but I remain involved in the development and management of the services in Luton & Bedfordshire.  

Lind Hurst

Service: Linda Hurst

I am Linda Hurst, the General Manager for Luton Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) and the Countywide Eating Disorder Service. My role is both strategic and operational, working alongside clinical colleagues to deliver an effective service to children, young people and their families/carers. I also work with partner agencies to enable a whole system approach to mental health services across Luton.

I joined the NHS in 2000 originally as Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive and Chair then Project Manager within the Performance Management corporate service before moving into operational management in 2004. I progressed to general management within local CAMHS services and remained within the Luton and Bedfordshire NHS.

I went to work in East London NHS in 2012 undertaking various senior management roles within Adult IAPT services, which included setting up a new service from inception which allowed me to use my extensive management and organisational experience within a totally new setting.

During the past 4 years I have provided general management and leadership across Luton CAMHS and the Eating Disorder service which has included service and workforce development for various work streams. I am particularly proud to have secured funding for the provision of both school and primary care facing services and contributing to the new stepped care model currently rolling out across Luton.  

Marc Van Roosmalen

Operational: Marc Van Roosmalen

My name is Dr Marc van Roosmalen, I am a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Joint Psychological Therapies Lead in Luton CAMHS. This means I help to lead our services in a way that is as responsive as possible to all communities living in Luton.

I originally come from South Africa, where I completed my degree and honours degree in psychology at Stellenbosch university in South Africa, after which I did my Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology at the Free University in Amsterdam, Holland.

I started working in the UK in 1994 as a Clinical Psychologist, also completing my Doctorate, and have since 1996 been working in child and adolescent mental health services.

I started working in Luton in 2001, joining a crime prevention project called On Track, a multi-agency project including CAMHS. I have led on developing mental health services for children, young people and families with schools, early years’ services, early help services, children’s social care services and our other partners in Luton, trying to make our services as accessible as possible for all communities in Luton. We are about to start a service that will work with local GPs to make it easier for children young people and their families to ask for help when they need it, in their communities, along with our established services working in and with schools.


Rosie Newbigging: SEND Lead, Bedfordshire and Luton CAMHS

Prior to joining CAMHS in September 2021, Rosie worked for Children’s Services for Bedford Borough Council in a Quality Assurance Role covering Children’s Social Care and SEND. Rosie was a key part of the SEND improvement programme which enabled Bedford to make sufficient progress to be removed from a Written Statement of Action. Rosie also played a key role in managing the Children’s Social Care Quality Assurance programme and the OFSTED inspection in November 2021 graded Children’s Services as Good in all areas, previously graded as Requires Improvement in 2017.

Rosie has had an extensive career championing service user, carer, patient and public involvement through leadership roles in Healthwatch Northamptonshire, North and Mid Bedfordshire Community Health Council and London Region Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health. Rosie was an Executive Director, Nations, Regions and Services at Asthma UK for several years and played a central role in achieving national standards for asthma care in all 4 nations in the UK and established Asthma UK’s regional presence in England and Wales. Rosie is a registered Social Worker and sits on an Adoption Panel as an Independent Social Worker.

Acute Services at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital

Provided by Luton & Dunstable Hospital, services include

  • Paediatric inpatient
  • Paediatric outpatient clinics
  • Paediatric Physiotherapy

SEND champions

Tanith Ellis

Service: Tanith Ellis

I have been Divisional General Manager for Women’s and Children’s services at Luton and Dunstable hospital since 2014 starting as Assistant General Manager for Paediatric Services in 2009 and developed since then. I am committed to supporting the development of services to ensure the most effective support for children and families.

The Neonatal and paediatric units at Luton an Dunstable Hospital aim to work together with families listening to individual needs and stories to give the best possible care when a baby or child needs either inpatient or out patient care. We try to provide environments that support sensory and developmental needs as well as putting in place individual care plans for children attending for a planned procedures. .