Our team

ALIGN steering group members each have extensive experience working within alternative provision. They are committed to supporting the sector and providing a confident voice, particularly to those working outside the Ofsted framework.

Mark Wrangles

Mark Wrangles

ALIGN Steering Group Member

Mark has set up Close The Gaps, a consultancy that works across the school, AP and charity sectors to help support struggling and disadvantaged young people. This has included lots of support for alternative provisions and schools, working to promote inclusion for those young people who struggle to access mainstream education.

Mark's experience is built on more than 20 years of school and alternative provision leadership. Highlights include helping to move an inner-city academy in Special measures to a Good Ofsted grading, and leading safegaurding and governmance across a national group of twelve AP schools.

Dr Catherine Brennan

Dr Catherine Brennan

ALIGN Steering Group Member

Dr Catherine Brennan is a safeguarding specialist who has worked at a senior level across a range of sectors including alternative provision and with the young homeless. She has previously been Head of School for an Independent Special School and Operations Director for an un-registered alternative provision.

She currently consults for a range of organisations including the Ministry of Defence, and specialises in complex independent safeguarding investigations. Dr Brennan is a published author, and has been involved in designing and delivering a range of training courses on topics including safeguarding, professional standards, and non-restrictive behaviour management across specialist and mainstream settings. 

Lucy McMann

Lucy McMann

ALIGN Steering Group Member

Lucy McMann is the Founder and Managing Director of SENse Learning - a specialist Alternative Provision supporting young people with additional needs who are out of school or struggling to attend. SENse Learning works with some of the most complex and vulnerable young people across the South of the UK. Lucy is passionate about alternative provision and really understands that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to education, doesn’t work for all young people. Prior to this, she worked in specialist schools and provisions, as a Teacher and Leader, including as a Lead for Teaching and Learning with Autism. Lucy has experience in supporting and teaching young people with a range of SEN, delivering training and developing curricula and educational policies.

Owen Burson

Owen Burson

ALIGN Steering Group Member

Owen has twenty-five years of experience working across mainstream, pupil referral units, alternative provision, and high-needs SEN settings. He has established and supported multiple alternative provisions and led a successful independent special school registration.

He holds an MSc in Educational Leadership, is a Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching, and is a qualified SENDCo and BPS Specialist Educational Assessor. Owen is about to complete an MEd in Autism and will shortly start his doctorate at Southampton. Owen is the Head of Alternative Education at New Forest Care, whose AP settings primarily support young people with specific educational needs related to neurodiversity.

Helen Hatton

Helen Hatton

ALIGN Steering Group Member

Helen is an SEMH Education Consultant and also the founder and director of Iris Coaching & Consultancy Ltd. Helen has SLT experience as a SENDCo, Deputy and Acting Head in mainstream schools, where she found her passion in supporting and developing provision for disadvantaged pupils with SEMH needs to build inclusive education. Helen has worked as an SEMH and Behaviour Specialist Advisor for a Local Authority; improving and adapting provision in mainstream schools and alternate provisions. Helen believes in building the Relational Approach in settings to develop the team around the child, developing emotional-regulation skills and using restorative practices to create nurturing learning environments which meet the SEMH and behaviour needs of disadvantaged pupils.

Rachel O'Connor

Rachel O'Connor

ALIGN Steering Group Member

Rachel has over 20 years of experience in the education sector, working as a supply teacher, an alternative provision practitioner, an SEMH mentor, and a literacy intervention mentor. She is a qualified primary school teacher and registered Thrive practitioner. Rachel is based at U-Educate, an external alternative provision operating within mainstream schools to support re-integration.

Rachel is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and young people, and represents the part of the AP sector that operates within mainstream schools. She brings a valuable perspective to the group from the nascent but growing specialism of internal alternative provisions.

Dr Alexandra Gray

Dr Alexandra Gray

ALIGN Steering Group Member

Alex has a background in senior leadership within the alternative provision and independent special school sectors, having worked in both unregistered and maintained AP. In her AP career Alex specialised in curriculum development, teacher training and professional development, and has delivered a range of qualifications to staff from CPD to Level 5.

She now works closely with a range of alternative learning settings as both a consultant and as the Managing Director of LearnTrek, a software product designed to support progress tracking in non-mainstream settings. Alex retains a keen interest in research, having previously worked in Higher Education and published widely on topics related to behaviour and social pedagogy.