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Our Team

Laura ManleyHead Teacher & English

Laura is the school's Head Teacher and teaches English Language and Literature. A key part of the school's leadership team, Laura is a passionate teacher, engaging students to do their very best. She lives on an organic farm in Ashburton.

Ross RobensPrincipal and Proprietor

Ross is the founder and Principal of TPS. Throughout his 20 years of teaching and training he has taught English, Maths, History, Religious Studies and Philosophy. Ross specialises in History and Philosophy and teaches both at KS3 and GCSE. He lives in Totnes with his wife, two lovely daughters and a puppy.

Dale LockettDirector & Business Innovation

Dale is the school’s Director of Business Innovation. As well as teaching Business Studies and Innovation, he is a certified master-level life coach, who is passionate about connecting young people to the full spectrum of their potential, and what that might offer to the world as they move through their school years and beyond. He is also an Activities teacher, with a passion for football. Dale was a lecturer in Business Motivation, and Coaching and Mentoring, at Haaga Helia University of Helsinki.

Simon Bowley - Geography & Deputy Head Teacher

Growing up in Africa and the Middle East provided wonderful opportunities to experience a wide variety of culture and landscapes and this inspired him to pursue geography at International Baccalaureate level and then to read the subject at the University of Bristol. Simon has a wealth of experience teaching geography at secondary level and was previously Head of Geography at Torquay Girls' Grammar School. He is able to now share his love of the outdoors with students by offering the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme at TPS.

 Lindsay Braga - Designated Safeguard Lead

Lindsay has been involved in school admin since the very beginning of Totnes Progressive School, wanting to help the vision come to reality, and all four of her children are current or past students. She is also a violinist and violin teacher and values the relationship you can build with children on a 1:1 basis over several years. Taking the role of Safeguarding and Pastoral Lead seemed a natural progression to her involvement in the school, as making sure that children are as confident and happy as possible is at the heart of all that we try to do.

Anna Speedy - Music

Anna teaches music from Foundation to Year 11. We currently run both BTEC and GCSE Music. In the lower school we study music from all over the world and from all periods in history up to the present day. Higher up the school we start to focus more on composition, using inspiration from different genres of music.

Beth Waistnidge - 1:1 Academic Support 

As a member of the SENco team Beth works 1:1 with a range of students offering creative, tailored learning, designed to best help them achieve their academic goals. Beth provides support in a wide range of topics however her focus currently is guiding students through Functional Skills English and Maths. When not working you'll find Beth studying Mandarin and baking!

Cat Clarke - Head of Maths

Cat has been teaching maths for 15 years, and is passionate about improving students’ confidence in the subject, and encouraging everyone to see that maths really is fun!

After gaining a degree in Mathematics and Statistics, Cat joined the consultancy arm of a prestigious London Law firm to train and work as an Actuarial Consultant for nearly 10 years.  She then took a break from her career to bring up her three daughters, moving to Devon along the way, then gained her PGCE in Secondary Mathematics from Exeter University.

Cat is also an experienced pianist, passionate about music, and loves being outdoors enjoying all that Devon has to offer.



Charlotte Skinner - Chemistry

Charlotte has studied biomedical science to postgraduate level, with an emphasis on personalised medicine and genomics. During her teacher training she specialised in Chemistry, and has taught all three sciences to KS4 and Biology and Chemistry to KS5.

Fiona Woods - Foundation

Fiona has enjoyed working as a Primary School Teacher for over 25 years and joined Totnes Progressive School shortly after it opened in 2013.

Her experience has helped her to see that children and young people need to feel safe and respected to learn well. With this in mind, she always endeavours to create close bonds with her pupils and welcome their parents.

She believes that children will learn well if we make the lessons interesting, fun, purposeful and with an appropriate amount of challenge. It is also important to give the pupils a clear idea of what they need to do to make good progress.

She hopes that close relationships, together with the quality learning experiences that we provide, will help all our pupils develop self confidence and a lifelong love of learning that they will continue to enjoy long after they have left TPS.

 Gaynor Bartlett - Activities

Gaynor is passionate about sport and the development of children through all sporting activities including basketball, rounders, badminton, athletics and netball and more.


She is a Level 2 England Netball coach living in Ivybridge supporting all levels of players at local clubs, and has played competitively for many years. In her spare time Gaynor is also a keen gardener.

 Ghislaine Chapman - Teaching Assistant and First Aid Lead

Ghislaine is a Nightingale Nurse who trained at St. Thomas’ Hospital London.
She specialised in Palliative Care for many years before moving to Early Years Education.
After some time as a Teaching Assistant in a Primary School, she came to TPS to work in a Secondary setting.
As a Teaching Assistant, Ghislaine enjoys supporting students one to one and looking after the medical needs of all students.

 Hannah Kerswell - Teaching Assistant

Hannah has just completed her A Levels and has always wanted to work in education, supporting young people. She is very excited to be working at TPS and to find ways to connect with the students on a one to one basis. Hannah is also an experienced dancer and is looking for ways ot bring this skill into the school as well.

Kat Steel - Administrator

Kat is a key member of the TPS team, who loves how varied and interesting her job is. Her main aim is to ensure that every student, parent or visitor is greeted warmly and feels they can approach her with any query, no matter how large or small.

 Kate Lentern - SENCo & Maths

Kate brings a wealth of knowledge to her position as SENDCo. With twenty years experience teaching both primary and secondary aged children, she is passionate about helping each and every child achieve their very best. She is keen to learn the strengths of every student and understand how each individual child learns best. Working together with students, staff and families, Kate ensures all children are given the opportunity to soar.

Kim Clayton - Learning Support Teacher

 Kim has worked in education for over thirty years, teaching a range of ages as well as taking on a variety of management responsibilities. Being at TOPS allows her to do what she enjoys most - supporting the students. As Learning Support Teacher, Kim works in partnership with parents, teachers and other professional colleagues to implement the strategies identified for individual students. With a caring, positive and empathetic approach, Kim aims to make the curriculum accessible to all her students and of course to make it fun too!

Kiri Harris - Biology

Kiri is not only an enthusiastic scientist, but is passionate about people and their wellbeing. After gaining a Bachelor's degree at Liverpool University in Anatomy and Human Biology, and PGCE in Birmingham, Kiri pursued teaching secondary school Science. During the nearly 20 years of experience that she has in teaching, she has succeeded in many roles, including Head of Department. Kiri has a curious and compassionate nature and holds a keen interest in emotional development and mental health. Other passions in Kiri's life include her children, running with her dog, wild swimming, good food and creative crafts.

Kristian Rainville - Physics Teacher

 Kristian enjoyed a varied career in scientific research, from applied science and ecology to epidemiology, before moving into education to share his passion for science with others. He has taught in secondary and further education college settings, from Year 7 to Adult learners, including Biology (to KS5), Chemistry and Physics to KS4 and Access courses for Nursing and Forensic Science. His other main passion is movement, having practised gymnastics and a range of martial arts for most of his life.

Lotta Svinhufvud-Lockett - Admissions Officer

The first point of contact for prospective parents, Lotta has watched TPS grow from the very beginning; now her three children are all students here. Lotta has a PhD in Performance Studies and for her thesis she created performative guided tours of her childhood home turned museum in Finland - so it is natural for her to be the tour guide of the school for future TPS families! 

Nick Trussler - ICT

Nick is an IT and Digital Media specialist having taught for 20 Years in Music Technology. He has written courses for The Open University, The British Council, Edexcel and City and Guilds, as well as Degree courses for the University of Plymouth and the University of St Marks and St Johns. He was the manager of 'dBs Music' in Berlin - a facility which Nick and his family developed while living in Berlin for two years. He was recently awarded the status of 'DIgital Schoolhouse' lead teacher after going through an application process awarding this special status to the school.

 Nick Paskin - Science Technician

Nick is the Science Technician at the school and enjoys supporting the Science department with providing fun and engaging practical activities. He also teaches Science to the Foundation classes. A passion for understanding the natural world led him to study Biology at University before working in Outdoor Education and then moving into schools to support Science teaching.

 Oliver Bowen-Ashwin - English

Oli teaches KS3 and KS4 English and is passionate about passing on his own love of creative writing and literature to all those he teaches. He is an examiner for AQA and has experience teaching all year groups - including A Level. Having taught in Nottingham for the past 4 years Oli has moved to Devon to be close to family, friends and the coast.

Outside of teaching Oli enjoys open water swimming, playing water polo, tennis and rugby and generally being outdoors!

 Paul Grieve - Maths

Paul studied geology for his BS and MS. He has spent the last few years teaching maths and science in the States. Paul enjoys running, cycling and walking the South West Coast Path.

Sam Gaitley - History and Activities 

Sam is currently studying for a QTS with a PGCE, specialising in History. He studied Ancient History at Cardiff University and is keen rugby player and an avid reader.

Sara Crozier - Spanish

Sara is passionate and enthusiastic about teaching and learning Spanish and the opportunities and experiences that can be afforded by understanding different languages. Sara learnt Spanish during an extended period living and working in Mexico and has family in Mexico City and the state of Oaxaca.

On returning to the England she completed her studies in Languages and then went on to do a Masters Degree in Applied Linguistics at Edith Cowen University in Western Australia.

 Her most recent teaching experience has been at St. James School Exeter where she was involved in the Department for Education Languages Hub. She also worked at St. Cuthbert Mayne School previously for four years and at The King's School in Ottery St. Mary, an Ofsted ‘Outstanding School’ for six years.  At The King’s School she taught across all Key Stages including A- Level SpanishShe was responsible for the ‘Gifted and Talented and Able and Talented’ students in Languages at both St. Cuthbert Mayne and The King’s. This has entailed identifying students who are demonstrating exceptional skills in languages and those who could potentially study languages at university.Her role was to support and mentor the students, promote languages within the school and ensure that the ability of these students was recognised.


Sarah Topley - Art

After completing her fine art degree and masters degree at Wimbledon School of Art and The Slade School, she lived in France for 20 years. There she brought up her daughters, painted and taught art and english to primary and secondary aged children. She is so happy to be teaching at the joyful family that is Totnes Progressive School, as it allows her to help the students explore and release their creativity.

Sarah-Jayne Stroud - Office Reception Administrator 

SJ is our reception administrator but is also one of our TPS alumni, she returned to TPS to work after attending college and completing an internship in Dublin! She is the first port of call for parents and students and thoroughly enjoys helping out wherever she can.

 Tiffany Strawson - Drama

Tiffany has twenty five, richly diverse years of experience in professional theatre contexts as a performer, director, producer and designer. As an educator, Tiffany has worked mainly in Asia, as a staff trainer for ‘ISTA’; International Schools Theatre Association. She has also taught in most of Devon’s secondary schools in the capacity of director of Devon Youth Theatre, as part of Devon Arts in Schools Initiative. Tiffany has also lectured drama and theatre arts in regional and national universities; she holds an MA in devised theatre and a PhD in intercultural-devised theatre and ritual.  She is passionate about how drama is a creative source of expression, how its transferable skills support personal development and how drama connects us to what it is to be human in our everchanging world.  It’s fun, experiential and embodied which is a great way to learn just about anything!

Verity Boyle - English 

 Verity teaches English Language and Literature to Key Stage 4. Interested in travel and other cultures, Verity worked in Japan teaching English and then moved into secondary teaching on return to this country. She is an experienced teacher and has worked in several local schools over the last 18 years, most recently as Deputy Head of English at Churston Ferrers Grammar School. She was Principal Examiner for English Language A Level and has marked GCSE and A Level examinations for several different exam boards for many years. She marks for the current examinations sat for GCSE English Language at TPS which helps her to focus lessons tightly to ensure students achieve their highest potential. Verity is the TPS HR Manager. She enjoys time with her husband, two young sons and puppy walking by the coast and in the local countryside.

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