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.

The school charges a fee to cover the costs of AEN Support. Additional Fees may apply for students depending on their particular needs. Please refer to the school fees page for full details.

Specialist Support

We are very lucky to have access to a range of services including a Clinical Psychologist. If specialist assessment/intervention is recommended, for example from a Speech and Language Therapist (SALT), the Learning Support support team will provide families with a list of other practitioners available on the island or further afield. Please note that these have additional charges at the practitioners rates.


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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Paula Barrado

Learning Support Coordinator
[email protected]

Hello, my name is Paula 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 the bustling capital city of Spain, Madrid. I studied at the University Rey Juan Carlos, where I obtained a BA in Primary Education and a MA in Special Educational Needs and Disability. I moved to the UK in my very early twenties and lived there for almost 7 years. After working for 3 years in an Additional Needs school, I completed the SENCO Award at Leeds Beckett University. Altogether, I have been working as an Additional Educational Needs (AEN) teacher for nearly 7 years. My passion to help children with additional needs started in my teenage years. I volunteered at different ONGs like Red Cross in developing social and life skills for children with disabilities and from deprived backgrounds. After countless enriching experiences, I decided to pursue a career in education where I could continue supporting children to fulfil their true potential. 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.

“Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or in the same way” George Evans
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Stephanie Costa

School Counsellor
[email protected]

My name is Stephanie Costa and I am originally from Lisbon in Portugal; this will be my 7th year in Thailand and my 2nd year at Headstart. 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 closed to work full time at Headstart. I love reading, cooking, swimming, diving and am looking forward to another year at Headstart connecting with students and parents. “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”. From A Way of Being by Carl Rogers, 1980.

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Callisa Rademaker

Learning Support Assistant
[email protected]

Hello! My name is Callisa Rademaker. I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, which is also where I did most of my schooling. I moved to sunny Phuket four years ago to pursue my love of teaching. After moving here, I wanted to further my education, even more, I noticed a lack of support for people on the autistic spectrum or with other learning disabilities. I decided to take courses in understanding autism and how to support children with learning disabilities in the classroom. I started teaching at HeadStart International School in 2021 and I am very excited to continue my teaching journey here this year as the learning support teacher. I love living in Phuket and I am very thankful for this opportunity. I aim to be an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher. I believe that all children should be given the tools they need to thrive in the classroom. In my spare time, I take full advantage of living on a beautiful island. I love the outdoors, and activities such as hiking, scuba diving, snorkeling, yoga, and of course, walking dogs at the government pound! I am very excited for this school year and can’t wait to see what the year brings!

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Stephen Walker

Learning Support Assistant
[email protected]

My name is Stephen Walker, and I am from Kent in the UK. I came to Thailand in 2018, after living and teaching P.E and Humanities subjects (History, Geography etc.), up to IGCSE/GCSE level in Sunderland, England. Before that, I was the Director of Sport for the Western International School of Shanghai for ten years. My sporting background is very diverse. I grew up with a passion for playing football, cricket and Athletics during my school and university life but later started boxing, swimming and ultimate Frisbee. I have always enjoyed trying new sports, and as I get older and less flexible have started to learn golf. I have also been coaching football for 15 years. I hold my UEFA b License and my Youth Modules. I have been lucky enough to work with Nike football, Newcastle UTD and Stoke City F.C. Outside of sport, I enjoy reading comics and playing Dungeons and Dragons. I also have two large dogs which I enjoy walking around Chalong dam. I look forward to meeting all the students around the school.

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