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LINK19 College Ltd was formed in January 2018 specifically for the purpose of forming an SPI to develop the post 19 provision for learners continuing their learning journey towards employment and independence. It is a limited company, limited by guarantee.

LINK19 College Ltd directors are:

Mrs Abigail Birch

Batchelor of Arts with Honours – Art & Geography



Mrs Birch is currently Executive Headteacher of The Cedar Federation, comprising Ifield School and King’s Farm Primary School.  Mrs Birch obtained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in 1993 and completed the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) in 2005.  Mrs Birch has worked in the education sector since 1993 in various capacities as a teacher and leader in a range of school settings and also as one of Her Majesty’s Inspector (HMI) from 2015 to 2017 prior to joining The Cedar Federation.

Mrs Birch has a strong, dynamic and passionate leadership style, alongside a plethora of expertise and skills gained through working within both special and mainstream education and is highly suitable to lead a creative innovation such as the LINK19 College provision at a strategic level.

Prior to becoming a HMI in April 2015, Mrs Birch was an executive Headteacher with 21 years’ experience in education, spanning across early years to secondary, mainstream and special education.  Throughout her career, Mrs Birch has held a variety of leadership positions, culminating in executive headship of a federation of primary schools, and most recently a federation between an all age special school and primary school, both positions focusing on raising standards while prioritising pupils’ holistic development alongside their safety and wellbeing. 

While working towards the NPQH, Mrs Birch developed a personalised curriculum for pupils, designed to equip pupils for life in modern Britain by focusing on their social behaviours and interaction skills.  Mrs Birch has a proven track record of excellence as a practitioner and in providing the vision and leadership to secure high-quality education in both mainstream and special education and played a key role as a member of the Kent Working Party to address Higher Needs Funding Eligibility for SEND pupils in mainstream schools. 

As a HMI, Mrs Birch led high impact inspections of education in a variety of settings, developing a critical understanding of each provider, informed by incisive, accurate data analysis.  All judgements were rooted in firm evidence and were defensible against challenge.  Mrs Birch worked as link HMI to East Sussex, meeting with the director of children’s services to provide critical challenge in order to ensure that support for schools and providers was targeted, cohesive and had sufficient impact.  In addition, she has monitored school’s causing concern and provided reports to Senior HMIs and Regional Directors regarding coastal challenge and the work of collaborations of schools.  Mrs Birch has also undertaken quality assurance, report moderation and safeguarding compliant investigations gaining a unique perspective of educational issues and extensive high-level understanding of matters pertaining to school improvement.

Currently, Mrs Birch, is a trustee, and active member of the Kent Special Educational Needs Trust, KSENT, a collaboration of 23 special schools working together to improve standards and outcomes for children and young people throughout Kent who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, including those in mainstream education through the STLS and LIFT process.

In addition, Mrs Birch is a trustee of the Gravesham Learning Partnership (GLP). The GLP is an organisation led by schools to provide training, support and services needed by schools. Based in Gravesend, the GLP currently have 30 member schools who collectively contribute to focused planning for improvement. Since starting in 2011, some 80 other schools have accessed the services offered by the GLP and recognise the impact and value of school collaboration.

Mrs Birch represents special schools on the Kent Association of Headteachers (KAH) North Board. This board works closely with the local authority to prioritise support for schools and recognise success in order to raise standards across North Kent. In addition, Mrs Birch is part of the KAH North Board School Improvement Sub-Group which identifies and supports schools to improve.

Mrs Birch is a governor of North Kent College. North Kent College of Further Education was graded as providing a good standard of education for learners in its latest Ofsted that took place in November 2017.

Miss Madeleine Jones

Batchelor of Arts with honours – PE and Sport


Masters – Cognition and Learning

Miss Jones is currently Head of School at Ifield School, which is an outstanding provider for pupils who have profound, severe and complex needs.  She obtained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in 2008 and a Masters in Cognition and Learning in 2013.  Miss Jones has worked in the education sector since 2006 in various capacities, both as a teacher and leader, and worked alongside the executive Headteacher throughout the duration of the pilot post 19 project to establish effective and collaborative working practices underpinning the partnership provision between Ifield School and North Kent College.  Throughout this time Miss Jones has supported the strategic vision for post 19 learners and supported the current head of sixth form and post 19.

Miss Jones is a passionate and innovative leader committed to providing the very best educational provision and outcomes for pupils with SEND. Miss Jones has developed a range of skills throughout her career which has enabled her to make a positive impact on pupils’ learning and motivate colleagues.

In the roles of deputy Headteacher and head of school, Miss Jones has acquired the skills required to plan, implement and monitor robust whole school strategies, has demonstrated the ability to plan for individual pupils, and possesses the leadership skills that inspire staff members to contribute and develop their own learning and teaching expertise.

Miss Jones is highly skilled at liaising closely with families and multi-agency professionals working with teachers to identify solutions to barriers to educational achievement.  This entails coordinating a multi-agency approach to working proactively with the families of learners to meet their needs.  Miss Jones has excellent interpersonal skills and understands the value of working collegiately with colleagues and families to achieve the best outcome for each individual learner. 

Miss Jones is skilled in managing at an operational level and is also capable of leading and contributing at a strategic level such as:

  • Contributing to the school plan and to the self-evaluation process
  • Leading teaching and learning
  • Leading pupil progress meetings
  • Leading staff effectively through performance management and target setting
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Sharing SEND expertise with colleagues from other schools, school-to-school support
  • Meeting government initiatives and guidelines

Since achieving a Master Degree in Education, Miss Jones has developed a specialism of working with pupils with challenging behaviour and is committed to understanding the function of challenging behaviour and the link this has to communication initiating support for staff to identify methods and strategies to promote engagement and achievement.

Miss Jones has been a governor and the named safeguarding governor at another local special school within KSENT since September 2017, supporting the strategy committee throughout the year.  

Mrs Clare Stoddart

Batchelor of Arts with honours in Information Graphics

Mrs Stoddart has a BA (Hons) in Information Graphics, has experience of running her own business from 2008 to 2015 and has been a governor of Ifield School since 2010.  As a parent of a young adult with special educational needs and disabilities, Mrs Stoddart has a sound understanding of the challenges and obstacles endured by young adults and their families as they move through the education system and into independent living.  Mrs Stoddart is sympathetic to the needs of families and learners and appreciates the true value of a provision such as LINK19 College in preparing young adults for a life beyond education and the difficulties which may arise.



As a board of directors, the strategic management of LINK19 College Ltd will endeavour to uphold and expect from others, the highest ambitions for learners’ academic and personal outcomes, alongside exceptional professional and personal conduct.  The board are well placed to identify talent demonstrated by staff who hold a range of positions and draw upon their expertise and that of specialists to add to the capacity of the provision to improve and enhance the provision to learners. 

As a group, the directors have particular strength in building strong relationships with learners, parents, staff and governors and in inspiring and uniting teams and have the ability to deliver the LINK19 College vision to the LINK19 college community in the pursuit of excellence. 

Individually and collectively, directors continually strive for excellence and are excellent role models, while at the same time value the individuality and ideas of others.  The board have sufficient expertise to pursue underperformance in the strong belief that excellent standards in education are vital when securing positive outcomes for learners’ lives beyond schooling.  Learners have one chance and as an educational provider, the directors are responsible for ensuring equality of opportunity, and in particular, for learners who are disadvantaged or have special educational needs and/or disabilities.  It is the belief of the board that collectively, we have a duty to instil a culture of learning so that learners become enthusiastic and self-motivated, have the opportunity to influence their own learning, feel listened to and valued, and well supported at every phase of transition. 

Directors have the necessary expertise and skills to use a range of leadership strategies designed to meet the needs of learners and to be able to monitor with rigour, and critically challenge the progress staff make towards stretching targets, and intervene when required.  Directors appreciate the need for setting rigorous targets to ensure learners consistently make good or better progress and strive to inspire commitment and transform attitudes to teaching, impacting on the progress and achievement of learners, the needs of who are always paramount.  Directors believe that provision improvement planning is evidence led and strategically driven, focussing on what needs to be done, doing it swiftly and doing it well. 

As a group, directors are authoritative and influential and have the ability to actively build constructive and open relationships with networks of colleagues, contacts and organisational partners.  They are committed to developing and sustaining an outstanding provision by ensuring that all learners are sufficiently challenged and learning opportunities maximised.  This will be achieved through the use of their understanding of the importance and value of all learners having the very best learning experiences and a curriculum that is rich in opportunity. 

The company is governed by model articles of association which have been amended to reflect the needs and aspirations of the organisation.

The board of directors will meet at least three times per year to review the LINK19 College provision and liaise closely with the Governing Body of Ifield School, particularly concerning operational practice relevant to the management of the shared premises.


  • Ifield School
  • Ifield Smile