Senior Leadership Team

Mr R J Veale - Headteacher

Designated Safeguarding Lead

Educated at Lewes Old Grammar School and Canterbury Christ Church University where he studied for a degree in Teacher Education and Religious Studies, Mr Veale commenced his teaching career in Kent in 1996.  Mr Veale has taught in six schools, ranging from Voluntary Aided, Maintained and two Academies across three different local authority areas.  He has taught in the majority of the primary phase ranging from Reception to Year 6 and has held various responsibilities for subject areas ranging from RE, PE, art, science, collective worship and behaviour across the six schools.

Mr Veale commenced his NQT year in a village school on the outskirts of Sittingbourne, in Kent.  After successfully completing his NQT year, he was promoted to Art leader.  Mr Veale gained further promotion leading science at Whitstable Junior School and was instrumental in developing investigative science across the school.  Mr Veale became an Assistant Head teacher whilst teaching in Canterbury and embarked on his NPQH (National Professional Qualification for Headship) which he attained in 2007.  During this time, he developed his understanding of the Extended Services agenda and worked with a range of different stakeholders in order to improve the educational outcomes for children. He then took up post as a Deputy Head teacher in a large junior school in Ashford, before commencing his first headship in Medway in 2010.  Mr Veale became substantive head teacher of Atwood in 2015.

Mr Veale’s professional interests range from whole school improvement and development to implementing exciting new learning initiatives such as the International Primary Curriculum and Forest Schools.  He is particularly proud of the music and sport provision at Atwood as well as fostering a community spirit among staff, parents and children.  This community spirit is known as ‘Team Atwood’.

Beyond Atwood, Mr Veale is the Chair of the South Croydon School Catering Cluster and  is trained to sit on Independent Appeal Panels for both Admissions and Exclusions.  He also sits as an Alternate Academy member of Schools’ Forum, the body that oversees how monies for schools in Croydon are allocated. He is also the Chair of the High Needs Block which forms part of the Schools' Forum.

In his spare time, Mr Veale enjoys cycling, walking and gardening, as well as reading and all aspects of history.  Living in the coastal town of Whitstable with his wife and two young children, Mr Veale balances the demands of Headship with enjoying family life.


Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead

Mrs Gambier gained a BSc in Combined Science at the University of Leicester, went on to study for a PGCE at Institute of Education, London and started teaching in Southwark in 1993. Over the years, Mrs Gambier has taught in variety of schools and held a range of leadership roles including Acting Head teacher. She enjoys teaching the whole of the primary curriculum and has a passion for developing links between subjects to maximise learning opportunities. Her particular subject specialisms include Science, Computing & Mathematics.

In her spare time, Mrs Gambier enjoys photography, painting and playing Badminton. She is also a trained picture framer although being a full time teacher means that this skill is currently not often utilised.


Mrs Kate Standing - Assistant Head Teacher, EYFS & KS1 

Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead


Mrs Standing attended Croydon High School for girls, before going on to complete a four year BA (QTS) teaching degree with a specialism in mathematics at the University of Warwick.  She started her teaching career at St John’s C of E Primary School in Caterham where she taught in Key Stage One for two years before moving into Reception where she developed her passion for Early Years.

In 2006 Mrs Standing took on the role of Early Years leader at Atwood Primary School starting in the Nursery and then moving into Reception.  During her first few years at Atwood Mrs Standing spent time networking with other schools and in 2009 became a Leading Teacher for Croydon, supporting Early Years teachers in different schools and assisting the Croydon Early Years advisors with their training for the borough.  She was also a moderator for the Croydon’s Early Years team, supporting schools with their Early Years Foundation Stage profile data.

Following the birth of her twin sons, Mrs Standing returned to Atwood in Reception, then spent a two years working within other year groups in Key Stages 1 and 2.  In 2015, she became Early Years leader again teaching in Reception and then in Nursery.  Over this time she has: helped to implement Atwood’s online learning journeys for Early Years; facilitated weekly Forest School sessions for Nursery and Reception; taken part in a research project focusing on Early Years’ writing with 9 other schools; and worked on the implementation of the Government’s 30 hours’ entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds.

Early Years’ teaching and learning is a passion for Mrs Standing; she spends time reading research evidence focusing on child development and the best ways to teach young children, as well as reflecting on her own practice.  Mrs Standing is committed to fostering parental links to ensure that home and school work in partnership.

Before starting her family Mrs Standing was a keen netball player, playing at County and University standard.  She now fills her spare time looking after and playing with her twin sons and enjoys running when she has a spare moment.  She has run the Great South Run a couple of times as well as a half marathon for charity.



Educated at Riddlesdown High School during his GCSEs and A-Levels, Mr Dench subsequently completed his undergraduate degree in Geography (BSc HONS) at Brunel University, West London in 2006.  Following this, he enjoyed a brief career as a civil member of staff at the Metropolitan Police Service Dog Training Establishment in Keston, where he learnt about animal behaviour and the handling of Police Dogs.  In 2009, following voluntary work at a local school, Mr Dench left his post at Keston and began his teacher training at Gresham Primary School under the Graduate Teacher Programme.  He achieved Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in 2010 before securing his first teaching post at Cypress Primary School in South Norwood.

During his time at Cypress, Mr Dench gained direct experience with teaching in the lower and upper KS2 age phase whilst gaining an insight into leadership by being a member of a team of teachers to support and develop the teaching of mathematics predominantly across the junior phase.

Mr Dench has been a part of the Atwood family since 2014, where he began working as an Upper KS2 Phase Leader and English Coordinator across both Key Stages, supporting Atwood with the significant changes to the new National Curriculum in 2014, in addition to teaching and supporting children during their final journey at the school.  He was also selected and trained to moderate writing for the Local Authority at schools across the Croydon borough.

He is a firm believer that children’s happiness and enjoyment should be central to their learning and enjoys finding creative ways to enhance learning experiences.  He has recently completed a Level 2 certificate in Children and Young People’s Mental Health.

In his spare time, Mr Dench enjoys reading, training in martial arts, playing the guitar, golf, motorcycling, swimming and being a member of the ‘Atwood Run Club for teachers!’

MRS HANNAH TOWNSEND  - Inclusion Manager

Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead

Mrs Townsend was educated at Warlingham Secondary School before gaining a degree in Fine Art at Croydon University. During her degree, she worked part time as a supervisor at a local restaurant and volunteered in various school settings. This is where she developed her love for teaching and decided that this was most definitely the career path she wanted to follow.
Mrs Townsend went on to study at Kingston University where she gained a certificate of Education. Upon completion of this degree, she was offered a post as a Year 1 teacher at Atwood Primary Academy. During her time at Atwood, she has taught across Key Stage One, specifically in Year 2, where she remained for four years. Since starting her role at the school, she has been promoted to the Lead of Key Stage 1, History and ICT and also moderated for the Local Authority at various schools across the borough.
Mrs Townsend has always had a passion for improving education for children with special educational needs and in order to pursue this interest, she undertook and completed her National Award for SENCO Accreditation with Canterbury Christchurch University. She became Inclusion Manager at Atwood in 2017 and was delighted that she could continue to contribute to making a wider difference across the school.
In her spare time, Mrs Townsend enjoys cycling and swimming. When she gets the opportunity, she continues to develop her love of art, particularly sculpture and metal work, and has been fortunate enough to learn and develop skills in the art of welding.​


Mrs Michaela Groves - School Business Manager 

Mrs Groves was educated in Croydon and after completing her exams, went on to complete a Youth Training Scheme.

Mrs Groves has worked within the education sector since 2000 as a School Manager in a local nursery and infant school where in 2006, she embarked on the Certificate of School Business Management programme run by the National College for School Leadership. Passionate for improving school systems she went on to complete the Diploma in School Business Management in 2008.

In 2009 Mrs Groves took up post of School Business Manager in a Croydon Federation Infant and Junior School where she used skills gained in her previous employment to support the school in moving to a Voluntary Aided Church of England Primary. During this time she successfully completed the Advanced Diploma of School Business Management which she attained in 2012.

Mrs Groves was appointed by Atwood Primary Academy as Academy Business Manager in 2015. Her professional interests range from whole school improvement, including development of management information systems, personnel and facilities to support school leaders within the ever changing educational landscape.

In her personal life Mrs Groves is an avid road safety campaigner and was awarded an MBE in 2015 by HRH Prince of Wales for her work and commitment to Charitable Services.

Determined to make our roads safer she with her family brought new legislation to road safety with the introduction of a new Drug Drive Law on 2nd March 2015.

More recently in October 2016 Mrs Groves and her family were presented with a Pride of Britain Special Recognition Award for their contribution to road safety.

In her spare time, Mrs Groves enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, music and theatre as well as reading biographies, plus has a keen interest in history and politics.