Alumni network


We’d love to keep in touch and hear about all the amazing things you achieve after leaving Oakwood Specialist College.

If you were one of our students, please join our alumni network by filling out the form below. You can also connect with us on LinkedIn by updating the education section of your profile to include Oakwood Specialist College. We look forward to staying connected!



Autism Accreditation

  • Autism Accreditation is an autism-specific quality assurance programme.
  • It was set up by the National Autistic Society in 1992 to improve the support available to autistic people in organisations throughout the UK and across the world.
  • Over 500 organisations in the UK and around the world are now accredited, including: adult services, colleges, inclusion units, local authorities, playgroups, prisons, schools, short break services and more.
  • To achieve Autism Accreditation, provisions have to meet a standard of excellence and follow a framework for continuous self-examination and development.
  • For more information about Autism Accreditation or to get involved, please visit:

Esther Williams

I have been College Principal at Oakwood Specialist College since 2018. It is an absolute privilege to lead a team of dedicated and caring people that put the learner at the centre of everything they do.

Prior to joining Oakwood, I held a number of senior posts in large Further Education Colleges in the Southwest including Head of Faculty and Assistant Director with responsibility for Quality and Student experience. I have led and taught on teacher education programmes and worked with schools and prison education. In my early career I was lecturer in Sport, and my first teaching role was in foundation learning working with young people with SEND. I have extensive experience in quality improvement and teaching, learning and assessment and am passionate about supporting teacher development.

Wanda Green

Throughout my life I have enjoyed supporting children in a variety of settings. I started out as a Cub Scout Leader, moving onto an Officers position in the Army Cadet Force. Whilst at University, I took advantage of the long holidays working for a children’s adventure company as an activity instructor. I started work in the children’s residential sector in 2000. Since this time, I have worked in several roles including Support Worker, Children’s Homes Manager, Project Manager and Regional Manager. I held direct responsibility for Safeguarding working as Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) within several of the settings I was allocated to.

I joined Phoenix in June 2018 as an Area Manager. Moving into a Quality role in 2020 my involvement across our settings increased to include adults and education. Currently I support the Senior Leadership Team education and care to review safeguarding policies and procedures, provide consistency of systems for the management of safeguarding concerns and oversee wider aspects of safeguarding such as training.

My role within governance is to support and review the processes of Safeguarding within the College. I have regular direct contact with the DSL and Deputy DSL’s across the campus’s in order to reflect on safeguarding approaches with Learners and our Team Members. I oversee that actions set within Internal Safeguarding Quality Audits are completed and that training and mentoring for the College teams is appropriate. It is our responsibility working within a multi-disciplinary team to ensure the safety of the Learners and Team Members both within the College Campus and in their home locations.

Darren Jackson

I have been involved in the governance processes for specialist residential colleges, schools and health care settings from 2004. I joined Phoenix in 2021.

My role within the governance team is to support and challenge the College Principal in ensuring that the highest quality of outcomes is achieved. This includes day-to-day operational efficiency and a culture of continual improvement and self-refection. I have specific responsibility as Link Governor for RSE.

I commenced my educational career in 1998. I helped to create one of Wales’ specialist flagship schools for pupils aged 3-19 with profound and complex needs, including autism. My inspirational approach to teaching and learning was recognised by the Welsh Government and as such I became a standard bearer for the teaching of learners with complex needs. I was instrumental in opening and developing Wales’ first Residential Specialist College for young people and adults with Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) and behaviours that challenge.

I am an experienced Director for educational services and Responsible Individual which has included formal education, residential care and the day-to-day operations of clinical services, within a team of almost 1600. I was accountable for leading governance and quality assurance proceedings and developing clear robust systems and process for service wide self-evaluation and risk management resulting in a strategic and transparent vision for growth and development. This included scribing company policies, oversee all safeguarding procedures management of teams to fulfil requirements that ensure pupil safety. I remained actively involved in further promoting the understanding of autism within mainstream education and the wider community; delivering training on ASC for schools, colleges and general public as well as the initial teacher training students at The University of South Wales who are studying on the post-graduate certificate of education programme.

I constantly seek to raise awareness of specialist education, including autism amongst professionals and the general public, speaking on TV and radio and writing articles for the local, national and specialist media.

Tom Massie

I joined Phoenix in 2017 as Group Quality & Service Delivery Director with a direct remit for our care operations and quality teams. In 2019 I joined the team of Governors for Oakwood Specialist College with a focus on Teaching & Learning. As an organisation we have during this time developed the robustness of our internal management structures by introducing an Operations Director and a Quality Manager to support in the oversight and governance of the college.

I am educated to Master level with degrees in Economics and Statistics & Management Science. I have worked as a Director within multiple companies spanning a range of care and education services giving me significant familiarity with regulatory and governance standards across multiple regulators and countries.

My experience working with people with additional learning needs gives me the determination that the quality of their education must be inspiring and innovative to meet their individual needs.

François Delbaere

Having joined Phoenix in 2013, I have been involved with the governance and strategic oversight of Oakwood Specialist College and our other education settings in my role as Chief Financial Officer for the Phoenix Group of companies.

My role as governor is primarily focused in working with my fellow governors to help support and challenge our senior leaders in developing, shaping and delivering the best education and care services to aid our learners thrive and flourish. My key area of experience, drawing on my many years working in a strategic financial capacity, is to review and provide counsel on the College’s financial performance and health ensuring we strive to deliver value for money to our local authority partners. I also act as the lead governor for our careers and futures activities within the College.

Educated to degree level and through ongoing formal professional qualifications, I have witnessed and been fortunate to personally benefit from the positive effect a good education can provide which gives me passion to ensure all the learners in our care have access to the positive impact education can bring to our long term wellbeing and development.

I have held various trustee roles in charitable settings and previously held committee roles in local sport groups; combined with my many years of senior leadership experience at director level, I have a broad understanding in the effectiveness and importance of good governance.

Jon Pain

On joining Phoenix in 2015 I became chair of Governors at the Oakwood Specialist College with a remit to improve financial stability and the quality of the setting as part of overarching improvements to the Phoenix organisation in my substantive role as Chief Executive.

Today the focus is on facilitating high quality education by, in part, improving curriculums and teaching and ensuring Learners are best equipped with communication skills and experiences to ensure they are participative members of society.

I have held senior appointments across a range of sectors including manufacturing, media, logistics, tourism and healthcare with a number of respected well-known companies both at International, national and regional levels. I have worked with numerous regulators including; Care Inspectorate Wales, Care Inspectorate Scotland, Ofsted, Estyn, CQC, The Office of Rail & Road and Ofcom.

I have experience of trusteeship with a range of charities including Ltd, CIC & PLC structures.

I have a daughter who is now in her late twenties who successfully passed through private primary and then secondary state education, college then university and a partner who is an artist.

I strive for our Learners to enjoy their time at Oakwood, to strive to achieve the best they can and to be productive and contributing members of society. I also want to see our Team Members experience fulfilling careers making a positive difference to the People we Support and to enrich in turn their own lives.

Feedback from last Academic year

Philosophy on feedback

As part of our approach to reflective practice Phoenix Learning and Care recognise and embrace the importance of developing a culture of continual learning and development.  We welcome feedback on our achievements and the opportunity to share best practice, however we equally understand the importance of learning from our shortfalls. As such we welcome hearing about where we may have not lived up to our high standards and we truly value the opportunity to reflect and learn about areas that we need to develop further.

Within the last academic year we have received the following number of compliments and complaints.  


If you would like to provide feedback to the school or wish to make us aware of a compliment or complaint then you can email the school direct.

Alternatively, you may contact our Operations Director for Education, Darren Jackson on: [email protected]

We treat all concerns appropriately and all complaints are investigated thoroughly following our complaints policy and procedure which can be found within the Policies section of this website.  


Our proprietors Phoenix Learning and Care, welcome enquiries for placements in any of our services.

Please call us on 03330 150331 or email [email protected]

We will provide an initial response to all enquiries as soon as possible, advising the options available and indicative dates of admission.

The referrals team can discuss the local offer and where appropriate, put you in contact with the respective Registered Manager or Head Teacher to discuss the practical areas in greater detail.

The Young Person and/or Student are openly encouraged to visit along with parents, guardians or Social Workers to see if the placement is suitable.

Once the placement is confirmed, we work to ensure a smooth transition including the completion of required documentation.


We work closely with our children/young people, their families and professionals to create bespoke programmes of learning for students, which are tailored to their educational and social and emotional needs, supporting them to achieve their full potential. This means that we deliver a personalised curriculum, which, where possible, acknowledges the national curriculum and meets the individual needs of our students, whilst also supporting them to meet the outcomes identified in their EHCPs.

To achieve this, every student has an individual education plan which identifies their areas of need and how we can best address them, both in terms of staff approach and the curriculum that they are provided.  Our goal is to provide access to the best academic outcomes possible as well as preparing our students for adulthood and the next stage of their education by equipping them with the skills required to achieve personal success.