Acorn Park Leadership

The Senior Leadership Team are committed to excellence in all areas of our provision.  Acorn Park Children’s and Adults Services are managed separately, for further details about Adult Services, click here. The Head of Service is responsible for Education and Care services, and line manages the Head of School, the Head of Care, the Therapy and Wellbeing Lead and the Facilities Manager, collectively they form the Senior Leadership Team for Acorn Park.  All our services work collaboratively to ensure that all our young people’s needs are met and that staff have the training, support and guidance needed to uphold our shared values: Care, Strive, Grow, Thrive.


Senior Leadership Team

  • Head of Service: Peter Marshall
  • Head of School: Philippa Whipp
  • Head of Care: Vanessa Goddard
  • Therapy and Wellbeing Lead: Selina Wightman
  • Facilities Manager: William Duggan

Education Leadership Team:

  • Head of School: Philippa Whipp
  • Deputy Headteacher & SENCO: Sarah Saunders ( Semi-Formal Pathway)
  • Deputy Headteacher: Emma Willis (Formal Pathway & Personal Development)
  • Deputy Headteacher: Adam Masterson ( Assessment, Outcomes & Behaviour)
  • Assistant Headteacher: Emma Thompson (Senior Designated Safeguarding Lead, SWIFT)

Care Leadership Team:

  • Head of Care & Registered Manager: Vanessa Goddard
  • Responsible Individual: Peter Marshall
  • Senior House Manager:  Kirsty Orton (Holly Lodge and Woodlands Homes)
  • Senior House Manager:  Rob Rix (Pine and Aspec Homes)
  • Senior House Manager:  Deborah Lilley (The Quadrant and Grays Homes)
  • House Manager:  Suzanne Rulten (Cherry Blossom and Willow Tree Homes)
  • Night Manager:  Sarah Evans

Meet the Senior Team:

Peter Marshall, Head of Service

  • BEng(Hons) Materials Science and Engineering with QTS
  • National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH, 2007)
  • National Professional Qualification for Executive Leadership (NPQEL, 2022)

Additional Training and experience:

  • Designated Safeguarding Trained ( Level 5)
  • Advanced Skills Teacher (ICT)
  • Significant training and experience in Autism, SLD, ADHD, SEMH, Attachment and Trauma

Peter has worked in education since graduating from Bath University, holding a variety of senior leadership positions in mainstream settings with integrated specialist resource units for students with special educational needs since 2003.  Peter took his first Headship in 2012 and has since worked as a consultant and executive headteacher in a range of special schools including those specialising in Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD), Autism Spectrum (ASC), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties (SEMH).

Peter has considerable leadership experience; his key strengths lie in staff development and training, establishing highly effective systems and processes to support all aspects of service leadership & management and the recruitment and retention of outstanding staff.  Peter’s role as Head of Service is to provide strategic leadership of all the children’s services at Acorn Park, including education, care and therapeutic support.  Peter has a strong record of accomplishment in service improvement and is dedicated to improving the lives of young people and their families through outstanding education and care.

Philippa Whipp, Head of School

  • History With Education Studies (BA Hons)
  • Qualified Teacher Status
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Education – Curriculum Development
  • Diploma in Technical Theatre Arts and Management
  • Advanced Skills Teacher Accreditation
  • National Professional Qualification in Headship (NPQH, 2022)
  • Therapeutic Parenting practitioner
  • SENDCo

Additional Training and experience:

  • Therapeutic Parenting practitioner
  • Founder of a Post Adoption Support resource
  • Positive Parenting – Train the Trainer
  • Pathological Demand Avoidance courses
  • Dyslexia: Advanced Professional Practice for Specialist Teachers
  • LEGO therapy course
  • Signalong Course L2
  • Pecs training L2
  • FGM
  • Speaker at AST, Adoption and History Conferences
  • LGBTQ+ support and awareness trained
  • IPSEA Education Law Conference
  • Significant training in Attachment and Trauma
  • Significant training and experience in Autism and ADHD
  • Trainer – Adoption preparation courses
  • CAF Champion Trained
  • Significant training in and experience of Adoption
  • Designated LAC training
  • Designated Safeguarding Trained ( Level 5)
  • Award for Excellence – awarded for 3 projects – Lancashire
  • Speech, Language and Communication Project manager
  • Education Support Officer
  • Graded an Outstanding Teacher by Ofsted
  • ADHD, ASC, SLCN training

Philippa joined Acorn Park on February 25th 2020 via a secondment from her role as Group Education Officer for the Outcomes First Group. She comes to the school with 18+ years of teaching and leadership experience across the North West of England. Philippa has brought her experience of curriculum development, school improvement and SEND knowledge to Acorn Park and became the substantive Head of School in December 2020, making a commitment to the improvement journey of Acorn park and to quality education to its pupils.


Head of Care,  Vanessa Whitley

  • Level 5 leadership and management for residential care

Additional Training and experience:

  • Designated Safeguarding Trained ( Level 5)
  • Training and experience in managing children’s homes for young people with Autism, EBD and SEMH needs

Vanessa has worked in children’s homes for 8 years with experience in homes with a range of needs. Vanessa joined Acorn Park in 2017 and has progressed her career from a team leader, deputy manager, registered manager and now head of care. Vanessa has supported to management project of individually registering each of the residential homes and the development of individual registered managers to improve the services.



Selina Wightman, Therapy and Wellbeing Lead and Speech & Language and Communication Lead.

  • BSc Speech Pathology and Therapeutics with Distinction
  • Post Registration Level Paediatric Dysphagia October 2004
  • Highly Specialist Band 7 Speech and Language Therapist Autistic Spectrum Conditions
  • Dysphagia Speech and Language Therapist
  • Bespoke Leadership Qualification
  • Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) registration number: SL01060
  • Royal College Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) registration number: RC0008337

Additional Training and experience:

  • Sensory Integration
    • Led by Carol Kranowitz- basic level course on sensory integration
  • PECS Pyramid Course: The Picture Exchange Communication System Levels 1-6
  • ADOS trained: Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule
  • Masterclass Leadership training
  • Pathological Demand Avoidance course
  • LEGO therapy course
  • Signalong Course
  • 21 years of Makaton training Bespoke package for parents and professionals: Signs and Symbols Makaton core vocabulary
  • Grid 3 Training Course
  • Mental First Aid training
  • BILD Positive Behaviour Coach training
  • Mental Capacity Assessment training
  • Domestic Abuse Champion training
  • GROW Leadership programme

Selina joined Acorn Park School in November 2020. Her previous experience has been working in the NHS as a Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist for 21 years, in the field of autism spectrum conditions and other associated diagnoses. Selina led the diagnosis and intervention part of the service for Autism Spectrum Conditions, working closely with other team members eg Occupational Therapy and CAMHS.  In the last 4 years, she has worked with adults with autism spectrum and mental health presentations. Selina is a Dysphagia Therapist too, which is assessing and treating eating and swallowing difficulties. Selina holds a Leadership qualification and is a Positive Behaviour Support Coach.  Selina’s aim is to work collaboratively with school staff and provide therapy support in a streamlined way in order to address the needs of the children.


Facilities Manager: William Duggan

William joined Acorn Park in November 2021 following a long career of 37 years in the Army. On retirement in September 2020, William took a short 6-month gap before assuming the position of Operations and QHSE Manager for a Company in the Offshore Wind  Industry.

However, with his background, it wasn’t long before his calling came and bought him back into an environment where he felt he was best placed to serve to benefit others. William brings with him vast experience in the logistical and facilities management field from his many appointments in the MOD, his last job in the Army was as the Commanding Officer of Wellington Barrack in London.

Passionate about what he does William joins us in making the commitment to the improvement of Acorn Park School and to improve the quality of the lived experience for everyone but in particular the amazing young people and adults we support.


Who can I contact for further information?

Please contact Peter Marshall, Head of Service at:

Andrew’s Furlong, Mill Rd, Banham, Norwich, Norfolk, NR16 2HU

T: 01953 888656