Student Support

The students at HeadStart are all unique and have very different ways of learning and engaging in school life. At times this can lead to challenges for students and their families. The Student Support team are on hand to provide academic, emotional and social support to all members of the school community; ensuring that students receive the appropriate level of guidance and care required to achieve their full academic potential and become confident, resilient young people.

Learning Support

Learning Support collaborates closely with students, parents, specialists, identified outside agencies, teachers and the school Leadership Team to ensure that students with Additional Educational Needs (AEN) are identified, assessed and supported in an appropriate and timely manner. The Learning Support Coordinator provides advice and guidance to teachers on differentiation and resources and offers practical teaching and assessment support.

Additional Educational Needs (AEN)

HeadStart International School classifies students as having Additional Educational Needs (AEN) if they have significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of the same age. They may have a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD) or Disability that acts as a barrier to their learning or hinders them from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of the same age. Students with AEN may present difficulties in some or all of the following areas:

  • Social interaction
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Academic attainment
  • Communication skills
  • Physical disabilities or impairments

If any student experiences barriers to their learning, the Learning Support Coordinator follows procedures outlined in the UK Code of Practice to agree upon (with parents and teachers) an Individualised Education Plan (IEP). An IEP contains specific targets and strategies that will support the student both inside and outside of the classroom. IEPs are reviewed regularly and parents are updated on progress through either informal conversations with teachers or scheduled review meetings. On the rare occasion that we feel we are unable to provide the resources to meet the needs of a child, either during the admission process or after enrolment, the school will support families in the identification of an alternative provision for their child.

Specialist Support

We are very lucky at HeadStart to have the services of a Clinical Psychologist available on site. Dr Previti collaborates closely with the Learning Support Coordinator and offers consultation services for students and families. Please note that Dr Previti is a private clinician and fees are charged for her services. If other specialist assessment/intervention is recommended, for example from a Speech and Language Therapist (SALT), the Learning Support Coordinator will provide families with a list of other practitioners available on the island or further afield.


HeadStart’s school counsellors aim to provide a broad range of services to the school community for the guidance and support they need to lead healthy, fulfilling, productive and responsible lives. Our dedicated and professional counsellors are based in the Student Support Office on the second floor next to the Primary Hall and provide a safe and welcoming environment for students and parents.

Our counselling service contributes to the development of a comprehensive student support and wellbeing program that is responsive to the needs of our school community. The support offered includes providing advice and counselling on educational, behavioural, vocational, personal, social, family, and mental health and other wellbeing issues.

Common issues that are attended to in counselling include:

  • School: organisation, goal setting, time management, study schedules, focus, absences.
  • Personal: self-esteem, unmanageable stress and anxiety, relationship/friendship issues, low mood, sleep/health concerns, crisis, grief.
  • Building resilience: strength coaching, mindfulness, growth mindset.

We offer an environment of understanding, support, encouragement and challenge as we assist students to achieve their educational, personal and vocational goals. Our counselling services are available to all members of the school community, especially at-risk students, students with additional needs and their families.

Our counsellors work closely with the Deputy Heads of Foundation, Primary and Secondary, the Learning Support Coordinator, the Head of Sixth Form, the Child Protection Officers and Homeroom teachers to ensure that all students have the opportunity to access the support they require to feel comfortable and happy at school.

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Owen Gleeson

[email protected]

Hello, my name is Owen and I will be the Learning Support Coordinator (LSC) for the whole school. I am really excited by the prospect of working at Headstart school and I look forward to meeting everyone in the coming weeks and months. I am from a beautiful little town of Tralee in the South of Ireland. It is quite similar to Phuet, we have lots of beaches and beautiful countryside, and lots of rain, unfortunately we don’t have much sun. I studied at the University College of Cork, where I obtained a BA in Geography and History, MA in International Relations and a Professional Diploma in Education. I am currently finishing my thesis for my MA in Special Educational Needs and Disability from Middlesex university. I have been working as an Additional Educational Needs (AEN) teacher for nearly 10 years. I began my career in a local school in Tralee, working with people from the traveller community in Ireland. This is where my love for the position developed as it gave me the opportunity to work with students who are sometimes forgotten or neglected. I have spent the last five years working in Amman, Jordan. It was an incredible experience to learn about the different cultures of the Middle-East. Now to my next adventure in the beautiful island of Phuket. I look forward to continuing the great work that has already been put in place by the AEN team. My ambition is to develop the unit further, ensuring that the students in our care receive the best support possible.

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire". -William Butler Yeats- Irish poet
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Debora Previti

Clinical Psychologist
[email protected]

My name is Debora, I am Italian and I graduated in Psychology in 2000. I moved to Thailand in 2013 for family reasons, and a couple of year later I have found what I consider as my second family, HeadStart. As a child psychologist I am uniquely qualified member of school team that support students' ability to learn and teachers' ability to teach. I apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behaviour, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviourally, and emotionally. In the last five years, I provided direct support and interventions to students, consulted with teachers, families, and other school-employed mental health professionals (i.e., school counsellors) to improve support strategies, collaborated with school administrators to improve school-wide practices and policies. All children and youth can face problems from time to time related to learning; social relationships; making difficult decisions; or managing emotions such as feeling depressed, anxious, worried, or isolated. As child psychologists I help students, families, educators, and members of the community understand and resolve both long-term, chronic problems and short-term issues that students may face. I am a highly skilled and ready resource in the effort to ensure that all children and youth thrive in school, at home, and in life.

“I am not what happens to me, I am what I choose to become.” -Carl Gustav Jung
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Stephanie Costa

School Counsellor
[email protected]

My name is Stephanie and I am originally from Lisbon in Portugal and this will be my 6th year in Thailand. I am very excited to be returning to Headstart and to create a comprehensive counselling programme for students, parents and staff. I studied at Brighton University in the UK where I obtained a Masters in Social Work and at The College of New Jersey in the US where I was awarded a Masters in Counselling. I completed my Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Sunderland University in the UK. I lived in the UK for many years where I worked as a child protection social worker and I have always found motivation in supporting others in whatever ways I could. Before becoming a social worker, I worked with refugees applying for asylum, in development work in Africa, with prisoners supporting them before release, advocating for people with mental health issues, for the probation service with high risk offenders, and as a School Counsellor at a couple of International Schools in Bangkok. I also had a successful private counselling practice in Phuket for 3 years which I have now closed to work full time at Headstart. These experiences taught me the value of listening, of being compassionate and non judgemental and have led me to develop my skills in family support and child therapy. “People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” ― Carl R. Rogers, A Way of Being

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Callisa Rademaker

Learning Support Assistant
[email protected]

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