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Professional friends

Teaching has been found to be the most stressful profession in the UK (HSE research). A recent survey of teachers by the Nasuwt teaching union found that 83% reported workplace stress.  Teachers have the support of their Headteachers but who supports the Headteacher?


BPSI have put together a booklet of useful resources for Headteachers called 'Don't Lose Your Head'  This includes details of useful courses, details of coaching and services which can help support Headteachers.

Professional Friends

What is a Professional Friend?


A Professional Friend is an experienced headteacher who you can contact to support you in thinking through a tricky situation.  The headteachers have received some appropriate training in holding a structured conversation, so will be able to coach you through the issue you are experiencing.


The Professional Friend is to support you through a specific issue/tricky situation in your school. It is not intended for the Professional Friend to become a longer term mentor.


Where can I find a Professional Friend?

Our 'Professional Friends' headteachers are listed below. They have provided a brief summary of the context of their schools and a brief outline of who they are, so you can pick the person that best meets your needs.

How can I contact them?

The chosen headteacher’s email address will be available through the members’ area of the BPSI website.  You just need to send them a brief email to say you would like their support and request a time in the near future for a conversation.  They will respond to you as soon as possible.

Yvonne Baron

Yvonne Baron has been the Headteacher of Etz Chaim Jewish Primary School since its inception in 2011. Etz Chaim opened as part of the first wave of Free Schools and is now a full school with its first Year Six! Yvonne has developed and shaped the school’s curriculum, premises, staffing structure and administrative systems. Yvonne believes that collaborative learning is key to successful schools and welcomes opportunities to share good practice with others. She has worked closely with Barnet and many Barnet schools even though Etz Chaim is a Free School. As a new school, Yvonne has had the unique opportunity to see her vision for learning become a reality, developing a creative and topic based curriculum. Etz Chaim has an integrated day where the children learn independently, actively and with cross curricular opportunities across all curriculum areas. The school has been judged as Good in both Ofsted and Pikuach, the Jewish inspection service.

Carole Catley

Carole Catley is headteacher at Deansbrook Infant School, a diverse three form entry school in Mill Hill which also has a nursery. She has been in post for 5 years and has worked in Barnet for over nineteen years. Immediately before taking over the helm at Deansbrook, Carole was deputy headteacher at Dollis infant School for six years. She has a wide experience of Early Years and Key Stage 1 and believes in a holistic approach to education which develops the whole child. She is passionate about enabling all children to achieve their potential and works with her team and governors to deliver the best educational experience for the pupils.

The difficult financial climate recently led to a situation where Carole led the school through a staff restructuring, including redundancy. This was a difficult time for the school and Carole focussed on strengths within teams to ensure that it resulted in a positive outcome. She has a passion for encouraging staff to share ideas and use their strengths to create a working environment where creativity flourishes and the children are at the centre of every decision that is made.   

Jillian Dunstan

Jillian Dunstan has been the Head teacher of Mathilda Marks-Kennedy Jewish Primary School for 9 years. This is a successful one form entry community school (with Nursery) in Mill Hill. Prior to that she was deputy head in a three form entry school in Harrow. The school is currently graded as outstanding and the Pikuach inspection that took place in 2013 also was graded as outstanding.


Jillian has had experience of mentoring a new head teacher and enjoys supporting other new head teachers. Jillian believes in developing her staff enabling them all to fulfil tIn the last few years Jillian led the school through some staff restructuring including redundancy. heir potential within the school. She also encourages the staff to work together as a team to share their ideas and to use their strengths. In the last few years Jillian led the school through some staff restructuring including redundancy.  Jillian enjoys developing each child and supporting them in fulfilling their potential. She has a particular interest in music resulting in the arts being a strength of the school.

Gina Newman

Gina Newman is currently the Headteacher at Northside, a successful primary school (with Nursery) based in North Finchley. She has been in post for thirteen years and has taken the school from satisfactory to good, to outstanding (Ofsted 2009).  Northside is part of a Teaching School Alliance & in Challenge Partners. The most recent review of the school led by an Ofsted Inspector in March 2017 agreed with the schools self -evaluation of remaining outstanding.
Gina has been a Local Leader of Education & is now a National Leader of Education & has experience of supporting schools who are satisfactory, require improvement or who face challenging circumstances. She has had experience of coaching & mentoring headteachers within & outside of the LA. As part of Challenge Partners Gina has been part of review teams nationally as well as within the LA & has experience in all areas of school improvement. Gina can offer support in the areas of Leadership and Management including developing middle leaders, mentoring for new Head teachers, Head Teacher Performance Management, developing the school environment, Early Years, Key Stage One and Two. Most recently Gina has completed school Achievement and Monitoring Reviews for the LA as a Barnet School Improvement Partner (BSIP)

Susy Stone

Susy Stone is head of Akiva, a progressive Jewish voluntary aided school in Finchley and was previously head of Bell Lane Primary in Hendon.  In October 2013 OFSTED graded Akiva Good and Pikuach, the Jewish inspection service graded the school Outstanding.  Susy trained as a specialist in Special Needs and she has served as a governor in three schools, secondary and primary. She was chair of the Barnet Excellence Cluster, Co-ordinator of a Barnet Leadership Learning Group and is a member of the BPSI steering group. She has been a peer headteacher on Barnet school reviews.  From her experience in two very different schools, she can offer support in addressing the needs of children across the ability range. Akiva is an accredited Thinking School where thinking skills are embedded in the learning and teaching. In both her schools she has successfully used Restorative Justice for behaviour management and conflict resolution. She is a trained mentor and has successfully mentored three deputies to headship.

Lisa Walker

Lisa Walker is currently the Headteacher at Courtland Primary School which is based in Mill Hill. She has been in post for eleven years during which time she has taken the school from Good to Outstanding. Courtland is a one form entry school with a diverse population and changing demographics.  Lisa has experience of working with a strong Governing Body and has put systems in place to ensure they have a thorough understanding of their role. Lisa also has experience of mentoring Headteachers and Deputy Headteachers and offering peer support during LA school reviews. In the Autumn Term 2012 Lisa was Interim Headteacher at The Hyde School for three days a week, whilst also leading Courtland School.  During this secondment she was able to work closely with the LA to help stabilise a school which was experiencing difficulties. This experience of leading a school through a period of extreme change has enabled her to have a healthy respect for all staff members working under intense external pressure, whilst simultaneously having to raise standards. For the last few years Lisa also has experience of working with the LA as a BSIP. This involved conducting Attainment reviews, Learning walks, and general School Improvement.

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