Learning Team

'Those who can, teach.....'

We have a team of teachers with an excellent record of facilitating outstanding student progress and who advocate strongly for multisensory learning.  Their learning approach is visual, active and experiential to enable students to engage and to embed knowledge and skills.

Our team are skilled in specific learning differences and evidence experience of a range of education settings in a range of roles, thus equipping them for the dynamic, aspirational environment at Abbot's Way.

Anne Baker


Anne has lived and worked in Somerset for 35 years, where she brought up her 2 children, and has recently welcomed a gorgeous granddaughter to the family

With over 30 years teaching experience in mainstream secondary and middle schools and FE, Anne has a range of experience working with young people and adults with a range of learning needs; 19 years of which was spent in a specialist schoool for students with specific learning difficulties and co-morbid learning differences.

As a teacher, Head of Department and SENCO across her career, Anne continually applied her knowledge and experience of different learning needs in order to support students to reach their potential. Her role as SENCo involved oversight and quality assurance of learning, assessment and progress tracking, for which she worked closely with learning and therapy teams. Anne was pivotal in assuring the implementation of IEPs and EHCPs, maintaining collaborative relationships with stakeholders such as local education authorities and other professionals including Educational Psychologists

Anne has previously served on governing bodies as parent governor in local primary schools

‘I found fulfilment during my time working with young people and a specialist team of staff. I welcome the opportunity to contribute to students’ life at Abbot's Way’.

Sam Russe

Teacher of Maths

  • BA (Hons) Education Studies and Music
  • PGCE Secondary Physical Education
  • QTS - Secondary Maths
  • Level 3 CPD HE6 - PSHE 

Sam celebrates 20 years of teaching this year, during which she has taught from Reception to year 13 in Independent and state schools in Bristol, Somerset and Wiltshire.  The majority of her career has been spent teaching PE working with all abilities, ages and activities, but a highlight being responsible for her school tennis team that came 2nd in the GB nationals.  However, she gets just as much enjoyment from seeing a child grasp something for the first time, whether it is swimming unaided, catching a ball or mastering column addition.  Whilst he has taught PE Sam has taught PSHE within a primary and secondary setting, furthering this interest by taking a further qualification within the teaching of this. Wanting to move from secondary to primary teaching Sam took part in the Taunton Teaching Alliance and government scheme to encourage more maths teachers and give her QTS in a core subject, up to GCSE level.

Whilst we all want our children to achieve their potential Sam has very much spent her time focused on the holistic side, working as pastoral head of 6th form within a large girl's school in Bristol, where she was responsible for behaviour and wellbeing.  If a child is not happy in themself, this then impacts their learning and school day.  As a parent of a daughter who is currently in college Sam has seen the impact self-esteem and belief can have on a child and how this can affect home ' a parent is only as happy as their unhappiest child'.

Sam herself has been diagnosed with ADHD and has a complete understanding of how pupils sat in a classroom with this can feel, therefore bringing in as much movement and hands on experiences within the classroom, she very much lives to 'if a child can't learn the way we teach, then we should teach the way they learn'.

In her spare time Sam loves being active and outdoors, especially in the sun. Having played regional netball, hockey and league tennis until recently she has taken up dragon boating, paddling for the Bristol Empire dragons, competing with them in British Nationals for the last 3 years. Alongside this Sam is a qualified Zumba instructor and holistic therapist, whilst she is currently completing her pilates teacher training.  On quieter days she can be found playing her piano and singing. 

Sarah Coase

Teacher of English and Literacy

  • BA Hons English Language 

Sarah is an experienced and passionate teacher, with a wealth of practice in the design, planning and implementation of successful curriculum pathways from KS3 to A-Level.

With an academic background in English Language, Sarah brings a detailed understanding of the processes which underpin linguistic communication, alongside a personal and academic interest in psychological factors which may impede performance in these areas.

Sarah has held a number of related roles in addition to her classroom teaching, from leadership roles to exam marking and is also the author of revision practice guides with Letts publishers.

Outside the classroom, Sarah loves being active, spending lots of time volunteering with an educational children’s camping charity and has a lifelong love of dancing.

Peter Sampson

Teacher of Science

  • B.Sc. (Hons) Biology
  • PGCE (Science, DT and SEN)
  • Duke of Edinburgh Co-ordinator 

Peter is an experienced teacher of Science and Maths in both private and mainstream schools, he also has additional subject specialism in Outdoor Education.  Working in some smaller Schools has meant he has planned and delivered a range of subjects.

In developing curriculum in a variety of settings he has had to develop and utilise appropriate strategies to enhance learner engagement and outcomes.  He has worked alongside colleagues to plan and deliver learning to students over a range of abilities and ages.  He has utilised a number of accreditation methods, such as GCSE, ELC, UAS, to allow learners to gain some accredited outcomes before leaving education, allowing students to achieve regardless of many obstacles to success.

Peter brings empathy, energy and intuition to the classroom at Abbot’s Way.

Kirsty Haddleton

Lead Teacher for Learning for Life and Humanities

Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead

  • BA (Hons) Theology
  • PGCE Secondary (RE and SEN)
  • MA contemporary religions and spiritualities
  • BSA Qualification

Kirsty has extensive teaching experience across key stages, across curriculum areas and within a range of education settings including SEN.  

She brings a strong sense of community, adventure, and love of learning to Abbot’s Way. Kirsty is an advocate for harnessing the lateral thinking gift that dyslexics possess and assist children in understanding that all subjects are interconnected, enriching students’ understanding of the world.  As a dyslexic herself, with a dyslexic child, she hopes to foster such gifts as well as support students in challenging themselves to push the boundaries.

Kirsty’s approach validates students’ feelings, supports them in recognising complex emotions and simultaneously helping them develop problem solving skills. 

Kirsty has an abundance of experience running trips and organising events.  She can't wait to embark on our ‘Venture’ programme.

Outside of school, Kirsty is a massive music and movie fan and loves nothing more than live music. She's also a traveller and is currently dreaming of her next family adventure.

Sarah Stanislaus Smith

Lead for Creative & Expressive Arts

Sarah is our Arts Award Coordinator and Advisor

We welcome her natural inspiration, wealth of talent and strong background in community engagement. Students warm to Sarah's absolute passion for the Arts and her calm, flexible approach.  She values our student-led ethos and tailors her learning to each student's profile.  

Sarah has valuable experience in supporting students with specific learning difficulties in achieving their potential.  Her strength in sequencing learning and breaking down targets for her learners means that they engage and develop self belief.  Sarah presents information and techniques in a way in which students can understand and apply.  We welcome Sarah's teamwork, collaboration and understated drive.

Ezara Spollen

Teacher of DT

  • BA (Hons) in Design
  • LOCN Level 1 Designing for the Web/Graphics
  • PGCE Art and Design
  • QTS GTP Design and Technology with Art

Ezara is very passionate about her subjects and has a wealth of experience teaching Product Design, Art and Design, Textiles and Graphics as well as working in industry.  She also offers a huge amount in terms of extracurricular activities such as Sport and Fitness, Performing Arts, Public Speaking, Debating as well as Visual Arts.  Ezara is also dyslexic.

She recently enjoyed teaching and learning in 3 dynamic departments exploring digital technologies, different media and gained valuable experience for teaching the new Product Design specification.  She believes that embracing all materials and processes not only helps to capture pupils’ imagination but also helps them to solve problems by providing a wider point of reference.  This best prepares pupils for success in exams as well as for industry and the world they live in. 

During her time at University Ezara won the Duralit Student Award for Achievement.   Her work was essentially conceptual product design which was featured in the Sunday Telegraph, SPC, Attitude magazines.  Her product designs also appeared on The Big Breakfast television show. 

Ezara also enjoys an active outdoor life with her family.

Claire Jenner-Laurens

Teacher of Business Studies

  • BSc (Hons) Business Studies
  • PGCE 
  • QTS
  • MRes

Initially started teaching at university, moving to secondary school settings teaching both Business Studies and Economics to both KS4 & KS5 offering an in depth subject specialism.  Bringing passion and pride to the subject, and additionally have practical experience of the subject due to additionally running a successful restaurant business with her husband.  This allows an additional benefit of being able to share this practical skill in the classroom by relating to the theoretical content of the taught course.

Strong subject knowledge allows detailed application to business contexts that the students already know and have experienced, allowing a more schematic method of learning. This allows any learning episode to move away from the traditional board and written method, allowing the students to progress the learning at a pace that suits their individual requirements.  Providing a supportive classroom space, where the students can confidently share and express their business ideas is where Claire thrives, additionally building in transitional skills where appropriate that will prepare the students for the wider world outside of school.

Having her own child that suffers with social anxiety, along with working part time in a large state school, Claire is experienced with the range of teaching techniques that children with differing needs may require. An advocate for female entrepreneurs, and additionally for making Business Studies less ‘stuffy’, Claire’s passion for the subject helps ignite the students ‘buy-in’ for learning.

Outside of school life, and when she’s not running around a busy restaurant in the summer, Claire enjoys everything that the outdoor life has to offer, from running her dogs over the moors, to riding her horses whilst looking for swans.   

Apollo (God of Healing and Light)

Apollo - Abbot's Way SchoolNow nearly 4 years old, Apollo is our AWS black lab.  He enjoys running, lots of swimming, eating (anything except children), relaxing and spending time with our students. 

Not to be underestimated as a valued member of our team, his gentle, affectionate approach is a hit with young people and it is amazing to watch the therapeutic effects of such an animal when a child is feeling anxious.

Equally it is great to see Apollo out playing with students chasing balls or visiting classrooms to say hello in his own special way.