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Sunfield’s Leadership Team


Director of Admissions & Marketing, Graeme Cheyne

Graeme has been working with children and young people in social care for the past 23 years. Graeme started his career as volunteer in a school for young people with ASC in Scotland before going on to run a charity at the University of Edinburgh, which provided weekly relief and respite for young people from disadvantaged and under-resourced areas in the city. After graduating, he spent a year in Canada before returning to the UK where he worked with young adults who had been made homeless and supported them in gaining qualifications and employment whilst living in supported accommodation. He then spent 10 years working and running children’s homes in a therapeutic community in the Cotswolds where he undertook training in psychodynamic theory and how to apply this to the work he did with the young people. He then worked for a local authority residential special school as Head of Care and achieved Outstanding for their care. Graeme has run a number of services for young people from small to large children’s homes, schools (including residential special schools), fostering agencies and adult homes for young people with Emotional, Social and behavioral difficulties, Autistic Spectrum Condition and learning difficulties (including profound and multiple learning difficulties and associated conditions). For the past 17 years Graeme has also volunteered for a charity called the Newman Trust where he runs a holiday for children and young people with special needs and this has consistently achieved ‘Outstanding’ from the Care inspectorate in Scotland. Having worked in England, Scotland and Wales, Graeme has an excellent understanding of all 3 regulatory bodies and subsequent legislation. Graeme has worked for large charities, local authorities and the private sector and all services that he has run have achieved a grading of ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ (or the equivalent of, dependent on the regulators grading system). As well as running a number of different, and varying, services Graeme has also worked with FE colleges in the capacity of Governor and held an advisory position for an Educational Trust in the Cotswolds.  He has also been a member of the Learning and Disability Advisory Group, which advises the Welsh Assembly on policy and best practice in Wales. He strongly believes in every child and young person being given the best opportunities in life, no matter where their starting point was and by doing so, we are in a privileged position to be able to be part of the lives of these young people.

 Director of Finance, Karen Kingham

Since leaving secondary education, Karen has worked in a variety of accountancy and finance roles within private accountancy practice and the non-for-profit sector, including working as a UK Accounts Manager, Head of Finance and Director of Finance and up until most recently, before joining the Trust in 2015, as the Group Head of Finance and Property for the National Farmers’ Union – an organisation with 55,000 members and a turnover of c.30m. This role included responsibilities covering preparation of consolidated monthly and annual accounts, annual budgets for multi-site cost centres, preparation of cash flow forecasts and year-end consolidated statutory accounts for external audit, preparation of the departmental annual plan, consistent clean audit reports, project management, cost saving controls and set up of strong financial procedures, the meeting of key performance targets and Revenue and Customs inspections.She obtained her Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (FCCA) qualification in 1988 from the University of Central England.

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Head of Care and Therapy, Sarah Marshall

Sarah has 15 years’ experience of working with children within therapeutic services who display a range of challenging behaviour including attachment disorder, autism, self-harm, personality disorder and specifically from 2009 as an Ofsted Registered Manager has supported teenage boys manage and control impulsive behavior’s and thought processes in relation to Sexually Harmful Behaviour, allowing them to successfully transition into adulthood. Sarah has a proven track record of achieving and maintaining a stable staff team and leading as a model home within an organisation. Sarah holds a HND in Health and Social Care and also a BA Social Welfare Degree. Sarah has vast experience of admissions, transitions and working in close partnership with a vast number of Local Authorities and Ofsted.

Head of School, David Lyon

David has 25 years’ experience of working in education. He started out teaching PE in mainstream schools and then changed focus to move down a pastoral route as head of year in a secondary school.

David has worked in a wide variety of education establishments from mainstream secondary schools, Special schools for Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH), Pupil Referral Units and a Special school for ASC with challenging behaviour.

David holds a B.Ed Honours degree in secondary education.

He believes that every child can achieve success and that it is down to the professionals in education to make education accessible.


Head of Quality Assurance and Safeguarding, Lotty Riggs

Lotty has thirteen years’ experience working with children and young people with people with Emotional, Social and behavioral difficulties, Autistic Spectrum Condition and learning difficulties (including profound and multiple learning difficulties and associated conditions ) she has worked in various roles at Sunfield, including Care Support Worker, Deputy Team Leader, Team Leader, Behaviour Development Coordinator and Psychology and Head of Psychology and Therapies

She holds NVQ level 4 in Health and Social Care – Children and Young People, and a Foundation level in Family Therapy and systemic practice.

Lotty is the Senior lead to Safeguarding, Behaviour Management and Quality Assurance. and as a such she coordinates the CALM team. She manages the lead professional for Family Services and provides a point of contact to families in need of psychological or therapeutic related advice, relevant to the progress of their child, coordinating internal support to them as appropriate.

She works with all departments at Sunfield in the delivery of training and promotion of staff’s emotional resilience under the CALM (Crisis Aggression Limitation and Management) debriefing and systemic reflective practice approach.

Head of Training and Development, Richard Tucker

Richard has 23 years of experience of working with children, young people and adults with learning difficulties at support, management and senior management level. Richard joined Ruskin Mill Trust in 2014, and is part of the cross-trust education and research team responsible for staff development. Richard holds an MSc in Practical Skills Therapeutic Education.


Head of HR and Support Operations, Penny Needham

Penny Needham joined Sunfield on the 5th June 2017 as Head of HR. Penny has worked in senior management roles in HR with specialist experience in Employee Relations, TUPE, Management of Change and the NHS. Penny has also worked in other sectors (Business Process Outsourcing, Toshiba, Scania) and has had responsibility for managing HR teams and departments during the last 17 years. She is familiar with working in environments that require high levels of compliance, and is experienced in designing strategy and operational plans for HR. Penny has worked in family owned businesses from 300 staff to large organisations comprising of 5,000 staff (NHS).
Penny has membership of the CIPD.

“I am glad to be working with Sunfield during this period of change and will work alongside the SLT and staff to make the changes as smooth as possible. This is my first experience of working in education and children’s care and have been impressed with the effort and commitment shown by everyone in looking after our young children. I already have learnt a lot in my short time here, and want to thank everyone for their warm welcome – Sunfield has a lot to be proud of. Finally, I wish to use my experience to improve HR policy and practice and employment standards to ensure Sunfield remains an employer of choice. My door is always open and if I can assist in any way then please ask”.