Dr Peter Gardner - Founder and Proprietor

Peter Gardner B.A., DipPsych., M.A., Ed.D., A.F.B.Ps.S., C.Mgr.M.C.M.I., F.Inst.D., is the founder of Appleford School.

Dr Gardner is a Chartered Educational Psychologist, a Chartered Forensic Psychologist and a Chartered Counselling Psychologist of the British Psychological Society. He is a Full Practitioner Member of the British Psychological Society Division of Neuropsychology, is on the Special Register of Clinical Neuropsychologists and is a Member of the BPS Faculty of Pediatric Neuropsychology.

He is a Health and Care Professions Council Registered Psychologist:

  • Practitioner Educational Psychologist
  • Practitioner Counselling Psychologist
  • Practitioner Forensic Psychologist

He was a Committee Member of the former BPS Psychology and Psychotherapy Association.

In terms of management qualifications, he is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Management and a Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

Much of his work is legal work, including the preparation of detailed court reports and submission of oral evidence, working for Crown Courts and County Courts. He acted as an expert witness in the precedent-setting Phelps v London Borough of Hillingdon education negligence case in the High Court in July 1997 and was described by Mr. Justice Garland as “particularly well qualified, careful and fair.”

Dr Gardner takes an active role in all aspects of Appleford life; he is involved in all the SMT meetings, and established an Advisory Board to the School in January 2014. The latest ISI Inspection Report rated the quality of governance at Appleford as Excellent:

“The proprietor provides very effective oversight of all aspects for the school.  He has combined the best elements of the governance characteristics of charitable schools and the corporate business world by establishing an advisory board.

The proprietor, well advised by the advisory board, has high expectations of school leaders and staff, using good systems to check the performance of staff.   He discharges his responsibilities for the oversight of regulatory compliance, by conducting a thorough annual review of the school’s policies, procedures for safeguarding, welfare, health and safety, ensuring that these are implemented effectively.

The proprietor fulfils all legal responsibilities extremely well across all sections of the school and ensures that pupils are effectively safeguarded”.

Mrs Fiona Filkins - Headmistress

Fiona Filkins became part of the Appleford family in 2015. Growing up in Northern Ireland, attending St Michaels Grammar School, Lurgan and moving to Heriot Watt University Edinburgh to obtain a BA (Hons) Business and Economics was the beginning of a career in education. After teaching and travelling in Asia, The Middle East and Europe, it was time to return to the UK to get married, have a family and settle down.

Since joining Appleford’s Boarding provision, Fiona has developed provision in many aspects of the school, most notably, The Pastoral department. By managing Safeguarding and Covid alongside the emotional support network, it enabled her to recognise the need of the pupils and put the provision in place, which enabled the school to recently gain another Outstanding boarding and pastoral care inspection report. This further builds upon the school’s current excellent rating from ISI. Fiona aims to take the same loyalty, dedication and vision to help Appleford maintain its level of success and reach new heights for years to come.

Senior Leadership Team

Mrs Fiona FilkinsHeadmistress
Mrs Gwen GoodingsDirector of Studies
Mrs Janice MitchellHead of Learning Support / SENCo
Mrs Megan AllenHead of Pastoral /Designated Safeguarding Lead
Mr Tom AllenActing Co-Head of Boarding
Miss Una ClenaghanActing Co-Head of Boarding
Mrs Tamsin ScottSenior Co-Ordinator
Mrs Sarah WilkinsonPrep Co-Ordinator
Mrs Claire CooperOperations Manager
Mrs Justine PalmerFinance Officer
Mrs Carolyn ShipstonePA to Headmistress

Prep School Staff

Leah ClydeYear 3 and 4 Class Teacher
Katherine HillYear 5 and 6 Class Teacher and SENCO for Prep
Jessamy LarcombeYear 5 and 6 Class Teacher
Janet HarrisYear 7 Tutor and Head of Prep English
Gareth PeirsonYear 7 Tutor
Sue DaviesYear 7 Tutor and Prep ELSA
Kelly OstPrep School Teacher
Sian NewmanYear 8 Tutor and Science Teacher
Matthew TitherYear 8 Tutor
Sarah WilkinsonYear 8 Tutor and Prep School Teacher / Prep Co-Ordinator


Senior School Staff

Mark BallOutdoor Education
Sarah BuesBTEC Teacher and Year 10 Tutor
Steve DawsonHead of English
Maia EnglishFood Tech Teacher an Year 11 Tutor
Dean FilkinsHead of History and Year 11 Tutor
Nichola FordMaths Teacher and Year 10 Tutor
Alice GartlandYear 9 Tutor and English Teacher
Gwen GoodingsEnglish Teacher
James LanganHead of Maths, Head of Outdoor Education
Ruth LuckHead of PE and Year 11 Tutor
Beth MillsBTEC Teacher and Year 10 Tutor
Edward MitchellMaths Teacher and Year 9 Tutor
Sian NewmanScience Teacher
Gareth PeirsonPE Teacher
Tamsin ScottHead of Art and Year 9 Tutor / Senior Co-Ordinator
Matthew TitherICT/DIT Teacher

Therapy and Pastoral Staff

Janice MitchellHead of Learning Support and SENCO
Sarah HallSenior SENCO
Kate HillPrep SENCO
Faith JamesonAccess Arrangements Co-ord
Helen BoothCounsellor
Christine SawyerThe Senior ELSA, Pastoral Team
Ellie CotsellELSA and Pastoral
Sue DaviesELSA and Pastoral
Fiona StaniforthELSA and Pastoral
Sarah StonerSenior OT
Georgia DarkeOT
Laura KnightOT Therapy Assistant
Helen BuxtonSenior SaLT
Molly HilsonSenior SaLT
James HewittSaLT
Ellen HalesSaLT

Higher Level Teaching Assistants and Support Assistants


Julie MoffittHLTA
Sarah SinclairHLTA
Vanessa StewartHLTA
Melanie AllisonLSA
Danielle BrownLSA
Victoria ClementsLSA
Frances DavisLSA and One to One Support
Julia HendrickseLSA and Careers
Suzanne MorrisLSA
Eleanor NixonLSA
Natasha RobinsonLSA
Francesca YoungLSA
Helen MundyOne to One Support


Boarding Staff

Tom AllenHouseparent /Acting Co-Head of Boarding
Una ClenaghanHouseparent / Acting Co-Head of Boarding
Alexander DouglasHouseparent
Sarah MedcraftHouseparent
Terri MarsayAssistant Houseparent
Helen McKellarAssistant Houseparent
Coral WeddAssistant Houseparent
Barbara WilliamsAssistant Houseparent

Administrative Staff

Carolyn ShipstoneHead’s PA / Registrar
Marcia BagguleyDeputy Designated Safeguarding Lead
Sarah BrintonRegistrar
Jill ByfordScience Lab Technician
Sophie Campbell-SmithExams Officer
Claire CooperOperations and HR Manager
Sarah DawnayUniform Shop
Isabelle DaviesSchool Administrator
Kelly DorisiSAMS Manager
Karen MillsMedical Administrator
Tory NelsonOffice Administrator
Justine PalmerFinance Officer
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