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Leadership and Governance

‘The governance and leadership of the school are highly effective in creating the space and the time for pupils to develop excellent personal skills and self-awareness. The school fully meets its aim to create a community which encompasses values of compassion, creativity, courage and commitment.’ ISI Inspection Report 2023

Senior Leadership Team

David Newberry


Having grown up in Dorset, I really appreciate all that this beautiful county has to offer. As a child, I made the most of all the outdoor opportunities and adventure that was available to me, something I continued into early adult life. These opportunities took me on expeditions to Thailand, Ecuador, India and Morocco as well as to work overseas in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and then the Czech Republic.

This sense of wonder and adventure is something I am very proud to see in our school as the children seize every opportunity to push themselves both in our extensive outdoor education offering and in the classroom.

My own adventures, when I returned to the UK, saw me working for the Prison Service and the homeless charity Crisis before completing my teaching degree and settling into my dream role as a teacher. I first taught in Central London in 2002 before moving out to Somerset in 2004, with my wife Tammy and our son Max. I taught in a local primary school for 8 years before moving to the independent sector at a school, where I was Head of Year 6 and Housemaster. From there I moved to Eastbourne, where I became Head of Boarding and then Deputy Head at Bede’s Prep. When the opportunity for the Headship at Sunninghill Prep came up I was very excited to return and have loved every minute of it. Teaching is such a wonderful vocation and I feel incredibly privileged to lead Sunninghill and be part of this fabulous community. I really feel like I am home again.

Lecca Moss

Deputy Head - Academic

Despite growing up in hotel industry and training as a chef when I left school, I always knew that what I really wanted to do was work in medicine, education, or be a world famous pop star! I was lucky enough to get a recording contract and record a debut album when I was 18, but life threw a curved ball and I ended up moving and settling in New Zealand in time for my 20th birthday. Fast forward five years and I graduated from the University of Auckland and the Auckland College of Education and began my teaching career. Within three years, I became part of the Senior Leadership Team in the largest Multiple Intelligences primary school in Auckland and enjoyed being a mentor in the teacher training programme and director of the Gladstone Performing Arts School.

Since returning back home to the UK, I have worked in a number of Dorset independent schools and in 2006 I joined Sunninghill Prep as Music Director and KS2 teacher. Now, many moons later, I am privileged to be the Academic Deputy Head at Sunninghill Prep. It is such a vibrant, happy school, where children’s individual talents, strengths and interests are actively encouraged and supported. I still thoroughly enjoy composing and recording music, travelling, enjoying the beautiful Dorset countryside and spending precious time with my family.

Ian Stazicker

Deputy Head - Pastoral

After spending most of my childhood playing in and on the River Thames, I continued to develop my interests at university studying for a degree in geography and spending all my spare time sailing. After specialising in physical geography I even spent a summer in the Pyrenees surveying glaciers.

After graduating I did a PGCE in secondary education specialising in geography. I began my career in secondary schools teaching up to and including ‘A’ level geography and science to Year 9. I have always loved getting out of the classroom and led fieldwork in a variety of places including the Lake District. I have also been an examiner for ‘A’ level geography.
I spent time in the United Arab Emirates where I set up the ‘A’ level course at a new school and also started the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award including expeditions into the desert and wadi’s. Back in the UK I have also been involved in the award including using my canoeing experience (qualified instructor) to organise camping trips down the rivers Severn and Wye. I have also been a sailing instructor, including spending one summer in the South of France.

I joined Sunninghill Prep school in 2005 as a geography teacher and in that time have enjoyed developing the outdoor education provision. I am proud that for the size of our school we have a progressive residential programme that is second to none and make the most of the local area with sailing and windsurfing etc and a spectacular record at the IAPS Sailing Nationals.

With my background in outdoor education and seeing children develop out of the classroom it was inevitable that I took the pastoral path and as Pastoral Deputy Head I love the variety of challenges that occur on a daily basis in a school where the quality of personal development is excellent.

Sarah Smith

Designated Safeguarding Lead

I suppose it was inevitable I would move into teaching at some stage in my life. It has also been there in the back of my mind and my desire to become a teacher was fuelled by some wonderful teachers I had who encouraged and supported me along the way. My other great passion has always been dancing and this has been a constant in my life. I started dance lessons at the age of 4 and studied ballet, tap and modern. It has always been an opportunity for me to be creative and I love dancing whenever I get the chance! It was at A level when I first discovered my love of history, and this became part of my main dual honours degree alongside economics at Keele University. I worked hard, but also enjoyed being part of the wider student experience, taking on the role of Social Secretary organising key events such as the student ball.

After gaining my degree, I was lucky enough to work on a Germany army camp base (spurring my love of travel and discovery of new places) before heading off to the University of Aston for a year, where I gained a Master of Science Business degree with graduate admission to the Institute of Personnel Development. This led me to my time in Sainsbury’s, where I was part of their graduate management trainee scheme, eventually heading up a customer service department in one of their larger stores.

The new millennium meant taking on a new challenge which was completing my PGCE in secondary history at Birmingham University. My first teaching role was at an inner-city school in Walsall where I learnt a lot very quickly! I was a tutor to Form 8 and taught history throughout the school including at A level, also taking on Business Studies at A level too. At the end of my first year, I became the Head of History, managing a team of teachers as well developing the department further.

As a Midlander, I suppose you could say it was inevitable that I would want to be nearer the sea at some point! Originally from Sutton Coldfield, I spent many a happy holiday down in Dorset visiting my family and decided to make the move with my husband in 2003. I taught in both the Gryphon and Gillingham schools before joining Sunninghill Prep. As well as being the Head of History and being the Form 3 teacher, I was asked to develop publicity for the school, and this led on to me joining the senior leadership team to help develop the marketing strategy. Since 2020, I have been the Designated Safeguarding Lead and have enjoyed the challenges of creating a safe environment for all our children and staff. Both of my children have attended Sunninghill Prep since nursery. It feels like more than just a job and has become a huge part of mine and my family’s lives.

Emma Sleightholme

Head of Junior Prep

I am Head of Junior Prep, looking after the staff and children from Nursery up to Year 4 as well as a class teacher to a lovely Junior Prep Class. I have worked in childcare and education for 28 years, firstly as a nursery nurse and then as a teacher and I am passionate about ensuring children thrive academically, socially and emotionally. I have a bachelor’s degree in primary teaching from the University of the West of England where I specialised in English. I also have a Master of Education degree from the Open University where I specialised in Leadership and Management in Education and Child Development .

I have worked at Sunninghill for 14 years but prior to that I worked in a number of schools including in Bristol, Barcelona and Portland. In 2004 I moved to Barcelona for 4 years where I worked in a British school, teaching Catalan children the English National Curriculum. I am married to Duncan and we have 3 daughters, Mabel who is 9 and Violet and Ivy who are 6. I love spending time with my family and we particularly enjoy visiting new places and baking together.

Eileen Akerman


I have been very fortunate in my working life; I have had a varied career and every job I have had I have been lucky enough to work with great people. Despite wanting to go into medicine throughout all my teenage years, a chance visit to London during my last ever school holiday led me to being accepted on to an apprenticeship scheme at Coutts Bank. I loved it, stayed for 10 years and immersed myself into the City of London’s life which was very exciting at that time.

The medical profession still tugged at me and after 10 years commuting to London, I joined the then Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust as a medical coder. A front-line role that immersed me into almost every aspect of hospital life behind the scenes. From watching surgery (without fainting) to chatting to doctors and nursing staff in A&E, ITU and on the wards on a day to day basis, I learnt so much about medicine and about people and life from this job. Every day of my 10 years with the NHS was completely different and every day I learnt something new.

I was then recruited by BUPA hospitals and spent the next 9 years as the Business Manager in one of their hospitals. After this I took the role of Bursar at Kent College in Pembury, a Prep and Senior School for girls. Whilst looking to sell our house and buy a home near the Dorset coast where I had spent many a happy holiday, I stumbled across an advert for a Bursar at Sunninghill Prep School and the rest is history.

It is a very special place to be able to go to everyday and Dorset is a wonderful place to live. My passion for gardening in the Dorset climate and walking on the beach with my Parson Russell Terrier makes me very happy.

Sunninghill Prep Governance

From 15th December 2023 Sunninghill Prep School became part of the Inspired Learning Group (‘ILG’) of independent schools and nurseries.

Inspired Learning Group is comprised of 25 independent schools and nurseries, supporting over 3,000 pupils within the UK with a strong team of experienced individuals.

ILG aims

ILG strives to create safe and inspiring educational environments where children can grow into positive and impactful members of society who will, one day in turn, shape the outlook of the next generation.

ILG schools and nurseries combine traditional values and forward-thinking ideas to help every single pupil realise their potential, so they are prepared to take on jobs that have not yet been invented.

ILG philosophy

ILG believes, first and foremost, in putting your child at the heart of everything we do. ILG endeavours to provide educational excellence within a culture of care to nurture each pupil to be the best that they can be.

ILG offers a wide range of opportunities, both academic and extra-curricular, so that all children are endowed with the spirit to aspire and become twenty first century citizens.

The School Board is composed of a suitable blend of those with educational and wider experience both from within the ILG team and also those with connections to the School.

Its role and responsibilities are similar to those of any Board of Governors and can be summarised as follows:

  • Ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • Set and review policies, plans and procedures
  • Hold those in leadership positions to account for the management and educational provision of the school
  • Ensure compliance with legal and DfE requirements
  • Contribute to and attend ISI/Ofsted inspections as and when required
  • Raise standards through monitoring and evaluating performance
  • Ensure the welfare and pastoral care of the children
  • Act as a critical friend to those in leadership positions
  • Make recommendations to the Proprietor concerning these functions
  • Act with integrity, objectivity and honesty in the best interests of the school

The School’s Senior Leadership Team is responsible for the day-to-day operation and management of the school at all times, and reports to the Board on a termly basis in formal meetings and through frequent regular contact with the Chair of Governors and other members of the ILG executive team.


Vernon Hales

Chair of Governors

Vernon started his teaching career in a state school, prior to moving to the independent sector in 1986. He taught in a range of prep schools, becoming Deputy Head in New Zealand in 1994, before returning to the UK to be Deputy Head and Housemaster at Elstree School in Berkshire. In 2003 he was appointed as Headmaster at Aldwickbury School in Harpenden, where he remained until his retirement in 2021.

Having worked in 13+ prep schools for over 30 years Vernon is well aware of the benefits of the education provided in a school such as Sunninghill. A wider involvement in education has seen Vernon acting as a governor at two independent schools and is currently a governor with the Mill Hill Education Group. He has served on committees at a national level with the IAPS and RFU, as well as being an Honorary Vice-President at Redbourn Cricket Club. Vernon is a trained ISI inspector. Since September 2021 he has been the Deputy Chair of the Advisory Board at Inspired Learning Group and is involved across all the schools in the group. Vernon was appointed to act as Chair of Governors at Sunninghill when they became part of ILG in the winter of 2023.

Away from work, Vernon has a close connection with Dorset; his wife is from Wimborne and they were married at Canford, and also has fond memories of his childhood holidays at Charmouth. He now lives in Hertfordshire, enjoying village life and walking his Spaniel in the surrounding countryside. He has a lifelong passion for sport, although nowadays restricts himself to golf and the occasional game of cricket.

Kaye Chittenden

Volunteer Heritage Governor

Kaye has been teaching in Dorchester for 35 years. Having started at Castlefield Girls school as a PE teacher in 1985. She quickly became Head of PE and moved through various positions as Deputy Head of the joint 6th form of Castlefield and Hardye’s schools, then Head of Year when the schools amalgamated as The Thomas Hardye School in 1992. Kaye continued her career becoming Assistant Head with responsibility for the International Baccalaureate, Pastoral Care and Safeguarding before retiring in 2020. Kaye now volunteers as a Governor in 3 local Dorchester schools (including Sunninghill Prep School) and is a member of the Wessex Multi Academy Trust.

Sunninghill is particularly important to Kaye as her son and daughter, Tara and James, went to the school from the ages of 3 years old until 13. They flourished in the environment of Sunninghill and have both gone on to have successful careers in Physiotherapy and Law.

Kaye is still very involved in sport having played a high level of Hockey and competed Nationally in Athletics. She continues to run, ski and cycle and is a Nordic Walk instructor and Mindfulness teacher. She and her husband John are also Beekeepers and spend their time inspecting the hives and watching the bees collecting forage and pollen to convert to honey.

ILG Details

ILG Proprietor:
Mr Amit Mehta

Inspired Learning Group (ILG)
Georgian House
Stanmore Hill
United Kingdom

PA to Proprietor:
020 7127 9862

Chair of Governors:
Vernon Hales

Board Level Lead for Safeguarding and Health & Safety
Mrs Carrie Askew

For more details about ILG, please follow the link below.

ILG Website