Senior Leadership Team:

Simon Charleton – CEO

I began teaching in South London in 1978 and have worked in mainstream, alternative provision and special schools/colleges in West Sussex, Surrey and Brighton. In these placements I have also worked in residential settings and children’s home settings.  Recently I was working for East Sussex monitoring the quality of independent and non-maintained special schools and colleges, locally and regionally. I have worked as a classroom Teacher and as a Pastoral Leader and Head of Department.  Before starting at St. John’s I had been a Head Teacher of two schools and also a Vice-Principal. I have a special interest in developing and validating the professional skills which our multi-disciplinary teams possess and developing evidence-based research practice.  I believe in partnership working with families, local authorities and other professionals and that investment in young people is an investment in all our futures.   My family and I live locally to St. John’s. I am also a Magistrate.

Karen Grist – Principal

I began my career in education in 1981, having qualified with a Bachelor of Education from Sussex University.  I worked initially within the state secondary school system teaching Physical Education in schools within Surrey, and Formby and Ormskirk, West Lancashire.

After six years I moved into Further Education and taught vocational and academic studies to young people aged 16 to 22 yrs.  Having completed a Diploma in Management Studies I then acquired posts in different colleges which held increasing responsibility enabling me to focus more on making a real difference to the learner experience.  Also at that time I developed a particular interest in special needs and in 2006 I commenced work at St. Piers College, Young Epilepsy, as a Vocational and Work Based Learning Co-ordinator as part of the Senior Management Team.  As Deputy Principal, then Head of College, I worked with a large multidisciplinary staff team who have the same passion and vision as I, to ensure the best possible outcomes are achieved for our annual cohort of very special young people. I am married and together we have 4 young adults and a range of wildlife collectively labelled as pets!

Fran Pass – Head Teacher

I am proud to be Head Teacher of St. John’s School (Seaford); a school where every child/ young person is unique and valued for who they are. We aim to work as a family to achieve stretching standards and develop independence. We want our children/young people to become confident individuals whose unique qualities and SEND diagnosis is seen as a strength not a disability. St. John’s School allows everyone to grow in confidence. We work hard to ensure that our children/young people are actively engaged in a broad, balanced, meaningful and stretching curriculum that challenges them to do their very best.

Our children and young people are at the heart of what we do and through the student council we are able to listen to their views about their education.

As Head Teacher, I am committed to a school that is a learning environment for all.

I aspire to provide inspirational, high quality leadership, where the staff team also feel empowered to also be inspirational leaders at every level.

Lou Harman – Head of Learner Services

I joined St. John’s as a Care Worker in 1998. Since then I have undertaken various roles within the Care Department such as Team Leader, Senior Care Worker, Deputy Care Manager and Care Manager. For the last 7 years I have been the Head of Care, overseeing, developing, planning for and managing both the pre and post 19 services. I have gained my NVQ level 3 in Caring for Children & Young People, NVQ 4 in Management and LMC level 4 (Registered Managers award). I am currently studying a level 5 in Positive Behaviour Support and act as the Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead for the organisation. I am now the Head of Learner Services for the organisation.

I am further supported by a team of 6 Care Managers who take responsibility for the day to day running of specific houses.

Our passion is to offer each individual young person the best experience of being at St. John’s. We are constantly seeking new ways to enrich the lives of those in our care, offer opportunities, encourage independence as well as seeking new ways in which to improve our department and the outcomes for individuals.

Liz Dollin – Head of HR & Staff Development

I joined St. John’s in January 2012 to head up the HR and Staff Development function.  I’ve been working in HR for nearly 20 years in a variety of sectors and settings.

My team are predominantly there to ensure that each and every colleague works to the best of their ability to support the children, young people and adults, and to ensure that every part of St. John’s is outstanding. So that means we take recruitment incredibly seriously and then support (via training and development) employees right through their career at St. John’s until they are ready to move on to their next exciting venture.

Melanie Muir – Head of Finance and Director of Operations

I started my career in finance as Junior Accounts Clerk at The Body Shop International PLC. On leaving, I had progressed to Assistant Financial Accountant and had achieved a BTEC in Business and Finance as well as the foundation stage of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants’ professional syllabus. I completed the syllabus in December 1998 and have been a fellow member of the association since 2005.

I have worked in a number of industries including retail, telecoms and travel and tourism. However, prior to St. John’s my career had predominantly been in manufacturing. In this sector I progressed from Management Accountant through to Finance Director. I also enjoyed a brief spell in an accountancy practice, whilst completing an MSc in Operations and Supply Chain Management.


I joined St. John’s in April 2017 as Head of Finance to lead the finance function and bring financial expertise to the senior leadership team. Following promotion to Director of Operations in September 2018 I now also lead the IT and Estates teams and line manage the H&S and Data Protection Officers. With the support of my teams it is my remit to ensure that the services provided by the charity are value for money and the virtual and physical environments are kept safe and fit for purpose within the charity’s means.

Other Key Staff Members

Ellie Croiswaite – Safeguarding Manager & Designated Safeguarding Lead

I joined St. John’s as a Care Worker in 1998. Since then I have undertaken various roles within the Care Department such as Team Leader, Senior Care Worker, and Care Manager. For the last 2 years I have been the Safeguarding Manager and DSL, overseeing any Safeguarding concerns in a proactive way across the School, College and Residential Houses. I have gained my NVQ level 3 in Caring for Children & Young People, NVQ 4 in Management and Level 5 in health and Social Care.

I train staff in Safeguarding, Boundaries, Prevent Duty, FGM and the Code of Conduct and thoroughly enjoy inducting new staff who are joining our organisation.

We pride ourselves in the maintaining high standards of safeguarding for all  of those who are part of St John’s, Safeguarding is, of course, everyone’s responsibility!

Stuart Terry – Deputy Head Teacher

I joined St. John’s School in 2006 as a teaching assistant and part time swimming teacher. I gained my QTLS in 2011 and over the last 11 years I have been teaching Physical Education. I enjoy developing the children and young peoples’ wellbeing, communication skills, independence and employability skills, using a wide range of differentiated learning styles to meet their individual SEN. I was a staff school governor for 2 years and am now on the School SLT as the Deputy Head Teacher. I am passionate about healthy lifestyles and sport. I am a member of the Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS) and deliver the National Pool Lifeguarding Qualification (NPLQ) and First Aid to our staff and young people in the charity.

Lia Timmins – Residential Team

I joined St. John’s as a Care Worker in 2014 having previously studied Animal Management and a three-year Foundation Degree in Animal Sciences at the University of Brighton.

Since joining St. John’s, I have undertaken various roles within the Care Department such as Senior Care Worker and Residential Team Leader. Since April 2018 I have been in post as a Registered Care Manager, overseeing, developing, planning for and managing a residential house, Pier View, in the post 19 service.

I have my NVQ level 3 in Adult Health and Social Care and I’m currently studying my NVQ level 5 in Adult Health and Social Care.

I am part of a team of 6 Care Managers who take responsibility for the day to day running of specific houses. Collectively, our passion is to offer each individual residential learner the best experience of being at St. John’s. Both individually and as a team of managers, we strive to constantly seek new ways to enrich the lives of our young people, offer opportunities, encourage independence as well as working with a highly person-centred approach to gain the best outcomes for the young people in our care.

Simon Phillips – Residential Team

I’ve worked in various sectors within the Care Industry for 22 years and as a Registered Manager for the last 16. Back in Oxford, where I’m originally from, I oversaw a group of supported living homes for adults with high functioning autism; it was fascinating and rewarding work. I then moved to Worthing to work with young adults with physical disabilities who were transitioning from children’s services and oversaw 4 large residential homes.

I Joined St. John’s in April 2018 and I am thrilled to be working in such a unique and exciting place. We have a fantastic group of people working at St. John’s and it is a privilege to see the quality of support that is given across care and education.
I’m lucky enough to oversee the running of Cornerways and Preston Drove, where I have two brilliant teams and a fantastic group of young people that the teams really enjoy supporting and helping them to grow. I’m excited about what the future holds for all of us here at St. John’s.

Lois Lanyon – Learning and Development Manager

I am the Learning and Development Manager at St. John’s, with Associate membership of the CIPD. With over 12 years’ experience in training and coaching, I have delivered hundreds of courses in areas including Inductions, systems training, management training, sales training, product training, soft skills, train the trainer programs, and creating various e-learning content. I am also currently responsible for ensuring that there is enough quality relevant training and qualifications from both internal and external trainers to meet the needs of staff and ultimately to ensure that the children and young people at St. John’s have adequately skilled staff to support them. This includes a robust induction programme as well as continuous professional development for all staff and Learning Management System management and administration.

Will Folkes – Fundraising Officer

 I am delighted to be working for an organisation that is dedicated to delivering positive outcomes for some of the people in society in need of the most support. I am looking forward to highlighting all the good work done by St. John’s for the learners, to the funders who will help us do even more!

I previously spent 20 years working in sales and management across various commercial sectors as diverse as financial services and coffee. More recently I have enjoyed using my experience and skills to generate funds in the not for profit sector.

My family have recently relocated to East Sussex from Cornwall and when I am not supporting the kid’s various sporting and artistic activities we are loving exploring the coastline and the downs with the dog.