At Drumbeat we are very fortunate to have an eclectic blend of staff with a range of talents, skills, expertise and experience all working together seamlessly to deliver a high quality education for pupils with Autism.

We have a leadership team made up of 8 members:

Marie Neave

Executive Headteacher

Marie has been teaching for over 35 years. She started her career in London teaching history to secondary students. Marie then moved to Kent and taught in both secondaries and a pupil referral unit. She has been a headteacher in Bromley of a large PRU and then started her own business and worked over several educational settings but mainly Kent county council where she was an senior improvement adviser. However Marie missed being in a school and decided to become the Head of Drumbeat. Since then she has been proud to lead such an exceptional school with such wonderful students. Marie looks forward to continuing working in such an exciting and dynamic environment.

Emily Thompson

Head of School Downham

Denise Gallagher

Head of school (Brockley)

Denise is Head of school for our Brockley site and currently oversees Key Stage 4 and 6th form. Denise has extensive experience teaching children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and other complex needs. Prior to working at Drumbeat, she set up and led the ASD Outreach advisory service for Lewisham, where she supported children and their families within mainstream settings.

Bryony Bowen

Head of School (Turnham)

Bryony has been at Drumbeat school since it's opening in 2012. Prior to this she worked in several special schools in Portsmouth and Kent. Bryony began as a class teacher at Drumbeat with responsibility for Maths across the school. She then went on to lead the KS3 department and most recently worked across the Downham, Brockley and Turnham sites as Deputy Headteacher. Bryony has led curriculum development across the school and is the schools lead Team Teach Tutor.
Bryony has enjoyed working across all age ranges at Drumbeat and is passionate about placing future life outcomes at every stage of a child's learning.

Marina Olympidis-Slattery

Assistant Headteacher

Marina has been a teacher for over 23 years. She has worked both within mainstream as well as special needs settings. Marina has developed extensive experience within the EYFS, primary as well as autism over this time; working in Ireland, Kent as well as London. Whilst working in Ireland Marina gained her Masters in Autism and set up a Junior ASD class within an expanding school. Whilst in London Marina also led ASD provision within a mainstream infant school.
When back in the UK, Marina managed a mainstream nursery but found that she was missing working with children with more significant needs and wanted to get back into a more specialised environment.
Marina has been working at Drumbeat School for over 6 years, as a class teacher, EYFS lead as well as developing her leadership skills further by completing her NPQML before taking the position of Assistant Headteacher. She loves the day-to-day interaction with the children as well as parents and feels strongly that home/school communication is key to making each pupil reach their full potential.

Rebecca Day

Assistant Headteacher

Becca has been at Drumbeat school since 2016 and has worked in a range of roles throughout the school. She began as a class teacher at Drumbeat with responsibility for Maths across the school. She then went on to be a lead teacher in KS3 department. Most recently Rebecca has worked across the Downham and Turnham sites as Teaching and Learning lead. Rebecca is passionate about supporting children’s independence and social understanding to prepare them for life beyond Drumbeat. She has worked closely with Denise Gallagher to develop Drumbeat’s careers offer. She is currently completing her NPQSL and is based at the Drumbeat Downham and Turnham site.

Poppy Wells

Assistant Headteacher

Poppy is an experienced teacher, who has experience teaching and leading in the UK and Thailand. She began her career as a teaching assistant at Drumbeat, while undergoing her BA in Primary Education at the University of Greenwich. In Poppy's first year teaching, she was awarded NQT of the Year for London; something she is incredibly proud of. Poppy has enjoyed working in mainstream settings as year group lead with additional teaching responsibilities and in international settings as SENCO for an all through primary - sixth form provision, where she managed a small team of TAs and learning mentors while restructuring the school's SEND department. Her passion for supporting the needs of learner's with additional needs led Poppy to undergo her Master's in Special and Inclusive Education at UCL's world renowned Institute of Education. The theoretical understanding of SEN and inclusion that Poppy gained through her MA has been an invaluable tool in supporting the needs of our neurodiverse students here at Drumbeat. In June 2022, Poppy returned to Drumbeat as Teaching and Learning Lead. This role enabled her to develop the KS4 and Sixth Form curriculums as well as co-creating a tailored RSE curriculum for Drumbeat students. In September 2024, Poppy joined our senior leadership team as assistant headteacher and is looking forward to continuing to work with our outstanding school community to continue to develop Drumbeat as leading provision for autism education.

Charlotte Finch

School Business Director

Charlotte has extensive leadership and management experience both in an educational and a commercial setting. Prior to working in education Charlotte worked in internal management accounting for a large professional services firm in the City for 16 years. Charlotte began to work in the education sector in 2017 and has experienced a variety of roles throughout her 5-year career in education, starting with a Finance and HR Officer role then quickly moving up to be their Operations Manager. Charlotte secured the role of Director of Resource of a 1 locally maintained school in Lewisham in October 2019.

Charlotte joined Drumbeat in the summer of 2022 and is committed to the principles of lifelong learning and supporting the education sector in providing an excellent education for all students. Charlotte is based across all of our sites.

Drumbeat believes that staff are our greatest resource in supporting our children and young people with Autism. All staff receive a robust training program and are encouraged to look for opportunities to expand their own continuing professional development. All staff at Drumbeat are trained and accredited to Level 2 by the Autism Education Trust.
Middle Leaders
We have a middle leadership team of 7 expert teachers. This consists of two teaching and learning leads,  three pathway leads, a lead for English and Maths. 
We have a Teaching Team of 32, with each and every one bringing a range of skills and experience to the classroom. A number of our staff have studied autism and special educational needs at a higher level and hold Masters qualifications in these areas. 
Support Staff 
In every class at Drumbeat we have 2-3 teaching assistants who support the learning of pupils within a particular group. Our TAs are highly skilled at supporting the learning and individual needs of pupils.  
We have a strong team of Instructors working across the school. They perform a range of key roles, including supporting teaching in classes, leading on delivering specific projects and subject specific qualifications. Instructors also lead on supporting and nurturing Teaching Assistants when they are new to the Drumbeat team.
As a school we employ our own team of Therapists to work integrally across the school with pupils and staff. As a result we have developed a very successful format of trans-disciplinary working where the therapy often takes place in the classroom with staff learning from one another. This in turn means that the impact of the therapeutic approach stays in the classroom long after the therapist has left, having a far-reaching affect.
Check out our Therapy pages.

Drumbeat is supported by an Office Team
  • Karen Peachey- School Receptionist Downham 
  • Yanique Harlley - School Receptionist Brockley 
  • Madison Milne- School Receptionist Turnham 
  • Donna Gale-  Office and finance manager    
  • Claire Smith - School Administrator
  • Hendrina Smith - PA to the Executive Headteacher
  • Alex Cronin: Outreach Coordinator 
  • Sarah Mays - HR Manager   
Premises Managers:
  •  Andrew Porter
  • Erica De Freitas 

In addition to our large school based staff team we also have an Outreach Team working in schools across Lewisham. The team is based at the Drumbeat Turnham site and is led by Sonia Gannon, Lead Outreach Teacher. 

Check out our Outreach pages.