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Our Academy Councillors




Knowle DGE Academy Council


Kate Lee-Wells                  Head Teacher, Knowle DGE Academy

Julie Atherton                   Interim Chair of Knowle DGE Academy Council

Michael King                    Parent Representative/Academy Councillor

Aga Kowalska                  Academy Councillor

Jenny Hughes                  Teaching staff representative

Vacancy                            Support staff representative

Lucia Thompson              Academy Councillor

Jen Southall                       CEO, Learn@ MAT

Sophie Smith                    Parent Representative


To contact the Clerk to the Governing Body, please telephone 0117 456 6513 x 2224 or email using

The Chair of the Academy Council, Julie Atherton can be contacted using 




Kate-Lee Wells, Headteacher

Kate is newly appointed (September 2021) Acting Headteacher at Knowle DGE.

She studied Psychology and then Teaching in Bristol and Devon and has worked in Special Education for the last 15 years. Kate lives in South Bristol with her husband, toddler and cat. Kate is passionate about ensuring that pupils coming to Knowle DGE have a positive experience and make progress socially, emotionally and academically and that staff are happy and healthy.

When not at school, Kate enjoys family time, walking, reading and visiting nice cafés for tea and cake. 


Julie Atherton,

Chair of Knowle DGE Academy Council

Academy Councillor with responsibility for Health and Safety

Founder and Managing Director of Small Wonder a marketing consultancy specialising in the education sector. After over 20 years’ working at a Board level in commercial businesses and agencies, Julie has a breadth of strategic experience delivering leadership, business transformation, integrated marketing, and brand development. A digital and social media expert, Julie currently works with many organisations, schools and universities, in content marketing, brand development, recruitment, fundraising, CRM, digital and data, and social media. An industry leader and trainer, Julie creates and delivers digital and direct marketing training for the IDM and universities, regularly judges awards, and chairs the DMA Social Media Council. .Julie is a co-opted member of the University of Gloucestershire Council sitting on Finance and General Purposes committee and a Trustee of Learn@ MAT.

Michael King, Knowle DGE Academy Councillor

(Parent/Carer Representative)

Academy Councillor with responsibility for Safeguarding

I was not expelled, but asked to leave school and sent on extended work experience on my 16th birthday. So, I started work on a croft in the Hebrides, and stayed in Agriculture for the next 15 years, 10 of them in the Congo running an agricultural project / refugee relief programme and training school. Returning home after their civil war brought the country to a crashing halt I talked my way into Bristol University to do a history degree, became a Secondary School teacher (teaching RE !) at Patchway High School. There I stayed for another 15 years, becoming a teacher of those with behavioural difficulties and acting SENCO. Towards the end of this time I went part time, taking over as lay Pastor at Dundry Baptist, which later I combined with youth work in the Yeo Valley. When this came to an end I was an ASDA delivery driver until my wife’s disability meant I had to become a full time carer, and part time funeral celebrant. Over the last 6 months we have added foster care of two young children to a rather strange life path ! Along the way I have become husband to Sue and father to 7

Agnieszka (Aga) Kowalska,

Knowle DGE Academy Councillor

Academy Councillor with responsibility for SEN

Aga is a passionate educationalist who wants to make a difference, SEN/ Autism theorist and specialist, a supporter of inclusive and restorative approaches in bridging the gaps in legislation, theory and practice in educational field(s).

Currently working at University of the west of England as Associate Lecturer in Psychology, Sociology and Criminology. Research interests and completions in the fields of: restorative approaches, homelessness, Autism and SEN, sexual harassment and exploration, Inclusion versus Integration in the Education (UK), domestic violence and behavioural strategies/ interventions: challenging behaviour. Aga is also a PhD student at UWE exploring the challenges and the realties behind the implementation of  restorative approaches in educational settings (UK) in relation to embeddedness of ‘behaviour for learning policies’ in secondary schools.

She is also a Director responsible for training and education at Autism Independence Organisation supporting the individuals from ethnic minorities in accessing the information, knowledge exchange and services for those who are diagnosed with Autism.

Aga was invited to contribute to the MSc Program at University of Bristol; School of Education where I am supporting the final year dissertation project students as their research supervisor.

Aga has an extensive knowledge of Special Educational Needs, and within this terrain, Autism and other hidden disorders, and have maintained my expertise through a platform of ongoing engagement with the field. Her own son has been undergoing a diagnosis of Autism, which has opened up opportunities for her to further her understanding of the complexities of Autism’s management across educational and medical settings.


 Jenny Hughes,

Knowle DGE Academy Councillor

(Teaching Staff Representative)

Having trained at York St John University, Jenny moved to Bristol where she was head of PE. Having taught there for a few years, she then moved to Qatar where she was Head of Year 3. Jenny returned to the UK to train as a children’s counsellor before working at Knowle DGE. When Jenny is not teaching, she enjoys playing hockey and golf as well as travelling


Lucia Thompson, 

Knowle DGE Academy Councillor

Academy Councillor with responsibility for Safeguarding and Residential

Lucia has been working with young people with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) support needs for 6 years in a variety of settings. She has been an Emotions Coach at Bristol Gateway SEMH school, a programme leader for NCS' The Challenge, a Pastoral Support Worker at Knowle DGE and is currently a Team Home Manager at Ruskin Mill College for young people and adults with special needs and behaviour that challenges. Her focus is on emotional well-being and her approach to this is holistic, person-centred and trauma informed. Through building positive relationships and being a trusted adult, she supports children and young people to ask for help when they need it and to learn to self-regulate.


Sophie Smith

Knowle DGE Academy Councillor

Parent/Carer Representative

      Sophie have over 15 years experience of working in schools ranging from private sector to specialist provisions in both a front line and managerial roles.

Whilst having to take a career break she is currently studying a Law Degree.


.Jen Southall

Chief Executive Officer

Jen is extremely proud to have joined the trust in August 2021. Her vision is that across our academies we provide high quality learning opportunities and individualised therapeutic provision for children and young people who have been identified as having social, emotional, mental health (SEMH), social, language and communication needs (SLCN) and autistic spectrum condition (ASC). By doing so, provide our children and young people with the best possible education and to secure for them a positive and fulfilled future.