Governor Profiles

Mandy Howarth


Having been born in the south of England I moved to live and work in Lancashire in 1975. I knew Preston well as my father grew up here and my grandmother lived just off Watling Street Road. Before I retired in 2011, I worked in schools across Lancashire as a teacher and latterly on a consultancy basis for LCC on the Healthy Schools initiative. I was keen to become a School Governor to maintain my contact with schools and young people and use some of my experience to help schools provide the best opportunities possible for all pupils. I am proud to have been elected to the role of Chair of the Governing Body and enjoy the role tremendously. I love to visit Acorns and see the wonderful work that goes on!

Anne Manley

Vice Chair

I have been a teacher for 25 years, originally teaching within primary schools. I have been a special educational needs co-ordinator, head of Key Stage 1 and Early years and a Deputy Head. I am currently a teacher of the visually impaired and a teacher of the hearing impaired. I have had a connection with the Acorns school since 2003 when I 1st visited as a specialist teacher to assess the pupils and provide advice for those with sensory loss. I have always felt a strong connection with the welcoming atmosphere at school and wanted to become a closer part of the team. I became a governor in 2017 and enjoy this new role. In my personal life, I have two older children who continue to take up a significant amount of time. I love to be outdoors and enjoy gardening.

Shaun Jukes

Hi, my name is Shaun Jukes and I am the Headteacher of Sir Tom Finney Community High School, which is the school most Acorns pupils move to for their secondary education. I have been a governor at Acorns school for some time and in a reciprocal arrangement the Headteacher of Acorns is on our Governing Body.  Being a governor at Acorns is most beneficial to being able to keep abreast of educational developments within the Early Years and Primary sector and it supports close collaboration and transition planning between the two schools.  Outside of school my leisure time is divided between home, walking our two spaniels and running both short and long distance races.

Dr Rukhsana Ahmed

I worked as a Consultant Community Paediatrician in Preston, specialising in Paediatric Neuro-disability and Autism. I recently retired after 31 years in the NHS. I have two sons and one granddaughter and enjoy gardening and cooking.

Emma Lowe

Mummy to amazing boys and a daughter, who are my world!  I have 2 little boys who attend Acorns School, twins aged 4. My boys are in Seedlings class and are cared for by wonderful staff.  I feel being a mummy to two little boys with additional needs will help me understand what's needed within the school. I have a good heart and always believe in "Treating people how I would like to be treated" Believing in kindness and being helpful in any way possible. We belong!  I fully understand the busy lifestyle we lead as SEN parents and the fight we always have for our children, simply to get what they need in life.  As a parent myself I have had my ups and downs, I've had tears and I've had laughter, but most of all I've had sheer joy watching the milestones our children take.  I feel my part as a governor will be to help not only my own children but all the children in the school to become the best they possibly can, and to learn life skills in the fabulous school we are blessed to be part of. I feel I can be the voice for us parents and  for our children and be totally well as support/fight for what's needed to give our children the best start in life!  I love being a mummy and want the best for our children and I'm willing to give my best to support the school with all they do. 

Kerri Johnson

Hi, my name is Kerri Johnson, I have lived in Preston all my life. I currently work in the Social Housing Sector supporting residents and colleagues with Welfare Reform Changes. I have a social conscious and a real passion to help people live their best lives. I am the parent of Jude who attends Acorns. Having a child with extra needs has taught me that communication is much more than words, you have to listen with your eyes to understand the needs of others. I have a passion to help support others on their special need parenting journey. Being a Parent Governor enables me to make a difference to support the school to be the best but most importantly provides a voice for the families that have children at the school. I want to make a difference and believe in Acorns Values, Individually we grow, together we thrive. I was honoured to be made Parent Governor in 2020.

Barry Probin

I worked in education until my retirement in 2011 and am currently a governor of 3 schools, one for more than 40 years, and a Parish Councillor for a similar length of time. I have had a long association with Acorns since its very early days as The Elms School when it was based on Cromwell Road and have had the privilege of watching it develop into the centre of excellence that it is today. It is again a privilege to be able to maintain my association with the school as a governor and hope that I can use my experience to add, in some small measure, to the ongoing life of a wonderful place. My professional background was as an Assistant Principal Educational Psychologist and manager of the Educational Psychology Service, the SEN Assessment Service, and, latterly, the Children with Disabilities Social Work team in the South of Lancashire.

Katie Stables

My name is Katie and I have been a parent governor at Acorns since November 2021. I have over 24 years experience as a childcare practitioner in the early years sector. Throughout my career I have worked as a SENCO in several different private daycare settings and have always enjoyed working alongside children with various additional needs and supporting the staff that work with them, to ensure that their unique needs are met. When my own daughter was 18 months I began my own personal journey of having a child with additional needs and all the extra support and input from others that your child requires. I was fortunate to have some understanding around this through my work but many parents do not have this knowledge and it is something I feel passionately about. I enjoy writing and raising an awareness of subjects that directly affect parents of children with a range of disabilities, having written several pieces that have been published. When the opportunity came up to be a parent governor at Acorns I couldn’t pass it up. It’s a privilege to be part of such an inspirational group of people and a teaching team who strive to make sure our children become the very best version of themselves. The progress my own daughter has made whilst being at Acorns is phenomenal and I regularly get to see the positive impact it has on so many of our pupils.

Sophie Martindale

I am Sophie, Elm Class teacher and PE lead here at Acorns. I was elected as staff governor in September 2020. I have worked here at Acorns since it opened in 2008 and previously worked at Moorfield Special School as Early Years & PE teacher. I qualified to be a teacher in August 2005 and began my teaching career shortly afterwards. I have taught across all key stages in special education but my strengths lie in primary. I knew from very early on in my teaching journey that I wanted to teach in Special Education. My mum worked as a SEN teacher and I grew up visiting her school, attending school trips to France and saw first-hand what a rewarding and worthwhile profession it is. I love what I do and feel honoured to be part of such a wonderfully caring and creative school team. Acorns is a special place to work with staff who put the child first. Each and every child is valued and supported to be the best version of themselves, Acorns team work towards providing them with the experiences and skills they need to thrive! We do exactly as our school values say… We care, we welcome, we create opportunities, we are positive and we celebrate achievements! “Individually we grow, together we thrive” Being a staff governor is a role I was keen to take on to give me more of an insight into the running of the school and decision making. I was honoured to be selected by Acorns staff to represent them. Outside of Acorns I am a mum to two wonderful boys who keep me very busy! I love being a mummy and try to keep a good work life balance. Family is hugely important to me and most of my time is spent with those closest to me. I am from a large family and we enjoy getting together often. I love walking and being outdoors, I enjoy reading and music and making time for friends too.

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