Leadership Team

The Link School Leadership Team

Donna Walker – Headteacher

Donna has been in teaching for 20 years and is a new addition to the Link School. She started her career working in a mainstream school where she was a Head of Science, and later a Vice Principal for Personal Development, Behaviour and Welfare. Throughout her time working in a mainstream school, Donna has spent a large majority of her time working to improve the life chances of ‘hard to reach’ young people leading to her recently embarking on a Master’s in Education for Special Needs, specialising in Social and Emotional Mental Health Needs. This change on educational focus has confirmed deepened her commitment, drive and determination to make a real difference in Alternative Education and helping young people gain the necessary skills to succeed throughout their school career and beyond.

Dave Bromby – Head of School, Springwell Dene

Dave has worked in education for 20 years and has spent most of his career working in alternative provision. At the Link School, he brings a wealth of experience of working with very vulnerable learners and uses his skills and knowledge to create a calm, well organised school.

Rob Giles – Head of School, Pallion

Rob has worked in mainstream education, in various leadership roles, for over 20 years. Challenges excite him and he takes great pleasure in increasing the life chances of young people from all backgrounds, thus providing them with the opportunity to progress and achieve whilst celebrating success at every level.

Rob’s teaching career has been dedicated to two schools which have diverse intakes and where recognising that individualised initiatives are required to allow all learners to succeed. His experience in these circumstances has brought the realisation that working with families, communities and stakeholders is of vital importance when changing attitudes to learning and raising aspirations.

Now working in alternative education he aims to enable all children to be educated to a level where they can make informed choices about their futures.

Sarah Davison – Assistant Headteacher Springwell Dene 

Sarah moved from mainstream education to the Link School in 2013 and became the Key Stage 2 lead in 2014. She is passionate about working with some of our younger learners and has created an exceptionally strong team who are equally committed and dedicated to improve the lives of young people.  Sarah has worked in education, as a teacher, for 10 years. Before becoming a teacher she worked as a nursery nurse in a school for children with special needs. Sarah taught in a mainstream primary school for 9 years working in every year group from nursery to year 6.  She really enjoys working with children who have found mainstream education difficult to access.

Caroline Granton – Director of Finance and Premises

Caroline has worked as Business Manager and more recently Director of Finance and Premises, within the Link School since July 2013, prior to that she worked in the school office.  Earlier in her career Caroline worked for Sunderland City Council as a finance officer and local authority auditor.  Caroline has achieved both the Diploma in School Business Management and the Certificate in School Business Management.  She is also a member of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators and the Association of Accountancy Technicians.  Caroline is responsible for the business function within school and manages a small administration and facilities team.  She is also a member of the Management Committee and is very interested in the strategic direction of the school.  Caroline strongly believes that our learners deserve the best and aims to ensure that by effective financial and resource management the school can ensure that learners have the best opportunities possible.

Vicki Booth –  Assistant Headteacher Springwell Dene

Vicki has been teaching for 18 years, starting her teaching career in mainstream education after qualifying with a PGCE from Northumbria University. With a passion for sport, Victoria is a great team player and after experiencing various roles within mainstream education took an interest In leadership and completed a MSc in Leadership and Management from Durham University.  Through combining sport with leadership, Victoria became committed to encouraging all learners to succeed regardless of their starting points and as a result realised that alternative education was where she was destined to be. Victoria originally came to the Link School to teach a number of subjects, but now specialises in Maths as well as being recently appointed Assistant Head teacher and KS3 Lead.

Karl Richardson – Assistant Head Teacher Pallion 

Karl has been appointed Assistant Head Teacher of Pallion Link School in September 2020. Karl has worked in education as a teacher for four years now, however before this worked co-ordinating sports camps and working in country wide initiatives to include children and young people in sport and well-being in the North East. Karl joined The Link School straight from graduating Northumbria University and in 2018 took the role of an Associate Senior Leader. Karl was the Science and PE Lead at KS4 and was the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lead across the school and works with all key stages to promote this into the curriculum.

Gina Nesbitt – Associate Senior Leader for Careers Information Advice and Guidance

Gina has been a teacher for 22 years starting her career as a secondary PE teacher in a mainstream school and then moving into a middle school as a Leader of Learning for PE. After 15 years in PE, she took a change in direction, heading off the sports field and into the classroom as a SEND teacher for KS 2&3.  After 3 years, Gina took on the role of Leader of Learning for RE and PSHE before deciding upon a move into alternative provision. She joined the Link School in 2018 as part of the KS3 team and is now the KS3 Associate Senior Leader with a focus on Careers Education and Guidance across the school. Gina particularly enjoys working with young people who have found mainstream education is not suited to their needs and is keen to provide new and exciting opportunities for all of the Link School’s pupils.

Glenn Robson – Head of Outreach and Behaviour Support Service 

Since leaving Durham University with a BA Hons in Education 18 years ago, Glenn Robson has spent his whole career working with children and young people. He began his career as a Primary School Teacher in County Durham before beginning work in Sunderland, where he worked within a multi-agency team, focused on supporting disadvantaged children and young people at risk of social and/or educational exclusions. During this period Glenn also completed a Postgraduate Degree in Social Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties as well as a Diploma in Advice and Guidance. He now leads the Behaviour Support Service, as well as being an accredited Advanced Team Teach Trainer and Mental Health First Aider. He passionately believes in ensuring all schools, learners and parents he works with, receive the highest quality of support in order to achieve the best possible outcomes and he is committed to delivering this through a proactive approach with all stakeholders.

Clare Curry – Associate Senior Leader for Vulnerable Pupils

Clare has worked in education as a teacher for 10 years . She started in a primary mainstream setting but soon realised her passion was for alternative education where she could really make a difference to the lives of students. At the Link School she teaches GCSE English Language and Literature and is also the SENDCo for Key Stage 3 and 4. She always works hard to ensure that all students are given the guidance and support that they need to succeed both now and in the future.

Dorothy Boyle – Associate Senior Leader for STEM

Since graduating from the University of Durham with a Law degree, Dorothy has spent 20 years working in the field of education.  She has spent the majority of her career teaching in mainstream schools, but she has always taken a keen interest in supporting the needs of vulnerable pupils and has held an M.A in Special Educational Needs since 2006.  Having led several departments, across a range of subject areas, including Business, Maths and Computing, she joined the Link School in 2021 as STEM Lead and Key Stage 4 Maths Lead.  She holds a distinction in Maths Mastery and an MSc in Computing and brings a wealth of experience in subject expertise.


Link School Springwell Dene
Swindon Road, Springwell, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear  SR3 4EE

Tel: 0191 561 5777
Email: caroline.granton@schools.sunderland.gov.uk

Link School Pallion
Waverley Terrace, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear SR4 6TA

Tel: 0191 561 4777
Email: anita.blakeman@schools.sunderland.gov.uk