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Athena Education Support CIC | Community Directory

Athena Education Support CIC

General Details

Athena Education Support CIC (AES) is a registered alternative educational support service. The company work from an evidence-based, knowledgeable, nurturing and passionate foundation.  It is a unique, dynamic and forward-thinking social enterprise company that follows a therapeutic and holistic model in meeting the SEMH and SEND needs of vulnerable children, young people, adults and families.

The purpose of the organisation is to offer short term (6 weeks to a maximum of 2 terms only) alternative provision to local authorities, voluntary organisations, schools and academies for children and young people who:

  • are disaffected, vulnerable and require early intervention support
  • are at risk of permanent exclusion from mainstream/specialist placement
  • cannot access education due to medical issues or are classified as CME
  • are disaffected with mainstream or specialist education to such an extent that continuation of a full-time placement in their setting is no longer a positive option
  • have unmet SEND needs which are impacting on their education
  • have social and emotional issues which are impacting on their education and may manifest itself through negative and challenging behaviours or withdrawal from education and provision life
  • have had patterns of poor attendance and cannot re-establish consistent attendance at their mainstream setting
  • have poor resilience and cannot cope with the challenges of education and life

Expected outcomes:

Children and young people will:

  1. be inspired to learn and return to full time education
  2. have improved confidence and self-esteem to return to main placement or other suitable permanent placements
  3. have improved social, emotional and mental health coping skills such as resilience
  4. have improved behaviour for learning choices within the learning environment
  5. have diminished difference between their current and expected age-related academic levels
  6. have the resilience to cope with life when things don’t go as expected
  7. have improved aspirations for their educational and personal futures
  8. make safer, positive behaviour choices

Hours of operation

  • Open from 9am - 2pm 
  • Open 5 days per week with up to 10 children and young people per day. (maximum 5 in a group)
  • No child or young person will access the provision for more than 18 hours per week

Please note that AES is NOT a school and the referring/home school retains the main educational responsibility for the CYP.

This provider was Quality Assured in 2019 and is now approved as an Alternative Provision setting by Suffolk County Council's Quality Assurance and Provider Development Team - find out more here.

Who to contact

Sandra Govender
01842 773673
Social Media
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70 Bury Road
IP24 3DE

Sandra has over 30 years of working in education and training.  She started her career in South Africa teaching classes of 40+ children.  In 2002 Sandra immigrated to England, finding herself in Watton, where she taught Food Technology at Wayland High School.  She was promoted to Pastoral Lead (year 9) and Faculty Head over the next few years.  She moved to Great Yarmouth in 2008 and took up the post of Assistant Headteacher at Lynn Grove High School, which was rated Outstanding by Ofsted in 2010.  In 2012, Sandra, as Deputy Head (Pastoral), was instrumental in setting up and running Beccles Free School.  Her area of leadership was judged outstanding by Ofsted in 2014.  She went on to lead the school as Head of School from January to April 2015.

 During her years in mainstream education, Sandra was passionate about promoting student leadership, coaching and mentoring and community cohesion. She set up Student Leadership Programmes including The Junior Chef Programme and Peer mentoring,  Parent and Family Workshops such as ‘Saturday is Family Cook Day’, Parent and children events and community engagement such as community gardening and inter-generational activities with local residential and care homes.  Some of the most valuable partnerships were with local education, social and health services and local businesses and organisations such as the Rotary Club, RAF and Norwich City Football Club.

 In 2015 Sandra decided to leave mainstream leadership and move into special education.   She initially headed the engagement department, working to ensure that students who were permanently excluded received quality provision and were prepared for life before taking up the position of leadership mentoring and Accounting Officer for the organisation. In 2017, Sandra took up the Headship of an AP Free School for children who had been permanently excluded or managed moved due to their significant behaviour concerns.  Within 7 months, she led the school out of an Inadequate Ofsted rating.

 In 2019, Sandra together with a group of passionate and dedicated individuals set up Athena Education Support CIC whose core aim is to offer support, advice, guidance to prepare vulnerable children for adult life and individuals and families for positive functioning both as a unit and in society.

In 1994, Julie started her career in education at The Charles Burrell School in Thetford, initially working part-time as a Learning Support Assistant and then promoting into the role of Assistant Senco.  She has significant experience with leading statement/EHCP reviews, exam dispensation support for children and line managing Support Assistants. 

In 2013, Julie, together with 3 colleagues, successfully applied and opened a Free School.  Julie was part of the Leadership Team and was responsible for all pastoral matters including pupil assessment and induction. She worked intensively with both children and their families helping to support and manage behaviour, make multi-agency referrals and secure sustainable partnerships for the benefit of every child.  Julie is also a trained Designated Safeguarding Lead and Attendance Officer and her role in these were instrumental in the school securing support for children on County Lines, CME and CLA.  All external inspections noted the effectiveness of the school’s safeguarding and attendance procedures.

 As exams officer, Julie was able to work with pupils and families on a personalised qualifications flightpath that inspired aspirations and personal success.  In the last few years, the school had 0% NEET pupils. 

As Julie is passionate about minimising the negative impact of mental health difficulties on children’s lives and doing everything possible to secure better life chances for each, she together with Sandra opened a new Trust that was dedicated to the child at its centre.  Her focus is on ensuring that the support for every child is available through partnerships with families and other professionals

Additional contact

Julie Cox
Managing Director
01842 773673

Where to go

70 Bury Road
IP24 3DE
Area served
Haverhill, Brandon, Stowmarket, Stradbroke, Lakenheath, Ixworth, Bungay, Bury St Edmunds, Elmswell, All Suffolk, Eye, Thurston, Sudbury, Newmarket, Glemsford, Waveney, West Suffolk, Mildenhall
Venue Email
Venue Website
Parking available
Parking details
Available on site
Close to bus stop
Restrictions to access
Busy main road

On-site parking is available

Days & Times

Monday to Friday
Session Information
9am - 2pm (maximum of 18 hours per week)
All adult and family classes are held from 6pm - 8pm
All after school classes for children are held from 4pm - 6pm

Other details

Table of costs
Table of costs
AmountCost Type
£130 per day (small group) Per day
£250 per day (1-1) Per day
Cost Details
As costs vary depending on needs of the individual, please contact Sandra Govender for cost of provision. sandragovender@athenaeducationsupport.co.uk or 07860537119
Referral required?
Referral and availability notes

See website for updated referral form

Age Groups
Children (5-11), Young people
Disabled Parking, Wheelchair Access, Adapted Toilet

Accreditation details
CPD accredited, Disability Confident Employer


Therapeutic support on offer include:

Mindfulness and Psychotherapy

Art Therapy

Drama Therapy

Life Coaching

Careers Advice and Guidance


Service users involved in planning
Captures children and young people's parents/carers and partnership 'voice' - half termly reviews of provision, LAC and PEP reviews, EHCP reviews and annual reviews of policies.
Last Updated

Nursery provision

30 Hours Extended Entitlements

Registered to provide 30 Hours?

Inclusive Provisions

Wheelchair access
Cultural provisions
Recent experience of supporting children with additional needs
Specific additional needs this setting has experience of
ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)
ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
Aspergers Syndrome
Autistic spectrum
Challenging Behaviour
Communication difficulties
Emotional needs
Learning difficulties
Social development impairment
Speech and language difficulties
Accessible parking, Arts and crafts, CCTV, Computer, Garden, Healthy eating

Other Details

Offers Tax Free Childcare

Local Offer Local Offer Record

Experience of including people with special educational needs and disabilities

AES provides both traded and community services

Traded service

1.  Alternative Provision

 The company provide children safe, valuable and trusting holistic and therapeutic alternative educational experiences so as to limit poor personal choices and strengthen their chances of success in education and outcomes in life. We offer opportunities for children to improve and develop their resilience and strength to cope when something is wrong and the ability to solve problems safely so as to improve their life chances, prepare for the world of work and become healthy, well-rounded adults. It provides intensive, individualised learning in personal areas of need, preparing children for reintegration into full-time placement in mainstream or special school.

2. Training

We offer bespoke training and support to local authorities, professionals including teachers and support staff to plan and meet the needs of young people with mental health difficulties and special educational needs.

Community Services

Offer therapeutic support to children, young people and families whose lives are affected by mental health difficulties and special educational needs and disabilities. We work with multi agencies (health, social services and volunteer organisations) in supporting families to 'grow' and develop as a strong family unit, better able to manage the different needs and concerns of children and young people. Offering therapeutic support such as parent support services and counselling to families so as to better manage the SEMH and SEND difficulties of the young person and to make positive contribution to society.

Sandra Govender
Athena Education Support CIC
Conditions Supported
Autistic spectrum conditions
Communication difficulties
Health conditions
Learning difficulties
Mental health conditions

More like this

Family support
Learning skills
Special educational needs and additional support
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