Howard Sharron was formerly a journalist writing on social policy for The Guardian, The Observer and The Sunday Times.
He launched Special Children magazine in 1986 and went on to build the stable of professional education magazines that now comprise the TeachingTimes Professional Learning Portal. These include, Every Child Journal, School Leadership Today, Creative Teaching and Learning and Professional Development Today.
In 1986 he also wrote Changing Children's Minds - about the work of Professor Reuven Feuerstein in developing the skills of cognitive functioning in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. This has sold over 30,000 copies.
SONIA BLANDFORD - Professor of Social Mobility, Plymouth Marjon University
Over 40 years’ in education as teacher, school senior leader, researcher, teacher educator, dean of education, pro-vice chancellor, school governor, MAT trustee, and author (54 books, 300+monologues, chapters,blogs and articles focused on social mobility, special educational needs, and educational leadership); Professor of Social Mobility Plymouth Marjon, Visiting Professor of Education UCL, Honorary Professor Warwick University; Founder and former CEO of the award-winning national/ international charity - Achievement for All 3As, reaching 5 million leaders, teachers, parents, carers, children and young people 2011-2021; The Prince’s Trust Learning Lead – Taskforce 2030.
Co-created Teacher Training Resource Bank, Teach First programme; Founding Vice-President Chartered College of Teaching; Adviser to various governments including UK, Norway, Latvia, New York, Turkey, and Lithuania; UK lead for European Agency for Inclusion and SEND Raising Attainment research/ report.
Recent publications, John Catt: ‘Born to Fail? Social Mobility, A Working Class view’: Bloomsbury: Raising Attainment in the Primary Classroom, Achievement for All in International Classrooms, Improving Outcomes for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.
ANDRÉ IMICH - SEN and Disability Professional Adviser, SEND Division - Department for Education
Since April 2010, André has worked as the DfE SEN and Disability Professional Adviser, contributing to a range of policy developments, in particular the Children and Families Act.
André has been a teacher and educational psychologist and held a number of practitioner and leadership roles in local authorities. He was a Regional Director in the National Strategies SEN team, and was an adviser to the Lamb Inquiry into parental confidence.
LIZ ROBINSON - Co-director, Big Education
Liz is a school and system leader, working to ‘change the story’ about how education is delivered in England. As head teacher of Surrey Square in Southwark for 13 years, Liz used values as a key driver to redefine the purpose of the school and radically reshape the teaching approaches. The school was judged Outstanding by Ofsted and is widely celebrated for its work, serving a highly challenged community. As a National Leader of Education, Liz worked with many schools to develop practice and raise standards.
Since September 2018, Liz has worked as co-founder and co-director of Big Education, a new organisation running schools and programmes to inspire and provoke change in the sector. She created The Big Leadership Adventure, a flagship programme supporting changemaker leaders in the sector.
Liz has a particular interest in developing values-led leadership, and has worked extensively as a speaker, trainer and coach. She is passionate about asking bigger questions about what school can or should be about and finding new ways of working. Liz is a Trustee for the National Literacy Trust.
JEAN GROSS CBE- Independent consultant and best-selling author
Jean is a national expert on special educational needs and on social disadvantage. She is the author of numerous articles and best-selling books on SEND, including Beating Bureaucracy in SEN (nasen/Routledge, 3rd edn. 2015) and Time to Talk (nasen/Routledge, 2nd edn. 2017). She co-authored the recent Education Endowment Foundation/ Early Intervention Foundation guidance report Improving social and emotional learning in primary schools.
Jean has been a teacher, an educational psychologist, head of children’s services in a local authority, and a Visiting and Associate Fellow at three universities. She was formerly government Communication Champion for children and young people; previously she headed the Every Child a Reader and Every Child Counts one-to-one tuition programmes, and was Senior Director within the government’s National Strategies, responsible for work on overcoming barriers to achievement. Here she led the development of national approaches to social and emotional learning in schools. She was awarded a CBE for services to education in 2011.
Her new book Reaching the Unseen Children tackles the important issue of how to raise the attainment of pupils who do worse in our educational system than any other major group – disadvantaged white children, particularly boys.
BEN LEVINSON OBE - Head Teacher, Kensington Primary School
As Head Teacher, recently made an OBE, Ben Levinson has led Kensington Primary School to its current status of a flagship school in all manner of areas from inclusion to wellbeing & winning 3 prestigious awards in 2020 including a Gold Pearson for Primary School of the year for making a difference.
Under Ben’s guidance KPS has launched an innovative new curriculum at the school, specifically developed to provide the best outcomes for children.
Ben is a member of several advisory groups and boards aimed at improving the well-being, safeguarding or social care of children.
SIR TIM BRIGHOUSE - Former Schools Commissioner
Born in Leicestershire (1940) and was brought up there but mainly in East Anglia. He attended state schools and took a degree in modern history from Oxford, where he trained to be a teacher. Taught in Grammar (Derbyshire) and Secondary Modern (South Wales) schools before entering educational administration in Monmouthshire. After spells with Buckinghamshire and the Association of County Councils he became Deputy Ed Officer (I.L.E.A) and Chief Education Officer, first in Oxfordshire 1978-1989 and then Birmingham 1993-2002. In between he was Professor of Education in Keele University. Last full–time post was Commissioner and then/Chief Adviser for London Schools (2002-2007) where he led the London Challenge, Visiting Professor Institute of Education London 2002- 2014), Norham Fellow Education department, Oxford University. His latest book co-authored with Mick Waters ‘About our schools: improving on previous best’ came out in January 2022 and argues for a new age of Schooling – one of ‘Hope Ambition and Collaborative Partnerships’ He has written books and articles on education, broadcast and spoken at local, national and international conferences. He has Honorary degrees from 15 British Universities.
PROFESSOR (DR) TANYA OVENDEN-HOPE - Provost and Professor of Education, Plymouth Marjon University
Professor (Dr) Tanya Ovenden-Hope is Provost and Professor of Education at Plymouth Marjon University and Marjon University Cornwall, UK. Tanya is a committed and enthusiastic educationalist with over three decades experience in schools, colleges and universities in England as a teacher, teacher educator, educational leader and educational researcher. She is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Fellow of the Society of Education and Training, Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching and was awarded the National Enterprise Educator Award in 2014.
Tanya values the importance of collaboration and has elected, invited and voluntary roles that enable her to share research and support evidence informed practice. She is a Council Member of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET); Board Member of the International Council for the Education of Teachers (ICET); a Special Interest Group (SIG) Convenor and Council Member of the British Educational Research Association (BERA), an invited member of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Advisory Board for the Teacher Development Fund and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Teaching Profession SIG on Teacher Supply. She is also a Trustee for a number of Education Trusts.
The author of over 75 papers, reports, articles and books, Tanya is dedicated to exploring social inequity and educational disparity and has spent the last ten years focusing on the challenges for coastal, rural and small schools, including issues of teacher recruitment and retention and access to funding and professional development. Tanya has used the findings of this research to inform interventions for early career teacher retention and effective mentoring in schools and colleges. Projects she has developed and led include the Education Endowment Funded RETAIN programme and the Education and Training funded Pedagogical Mentoring Programme. Tanya is co-editor of the recent book, Exploring Teacher Recruitment and Retention: Contextual Challenges from International Perspectives. Her new edited book The Early Career Framework: Origins, Outcomes and Opportunities is being published by John Catt/Hodder in February 2021.
JOHN HICKS - Therapeutic Counsellor, The Studying With Dyslexia Blog
John is a Cambridge based therapeutic counsellor whose specialisms include supporting the emotional wellbeing of clients with dyslexia and co-occurring conditions. John is also responsible for The Studying With Dyslexia Blog that seeks to inspire and inform the supporters of dyslexic learners.
BRIAN LAMB - Visiting Professor of SEND, Derby University
Brian is a consultant specialising in strategic change and innovation in the public sector with a focus on children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). He chaired the Lamb Inquiry into Parental Confidence in SEND (2009) which informed the development of the current SEND framework. He is an advisor to the National Sensory Impairment Partnership and has worked with a number of local authorities and parents groups on implementing the SEND reforms. He is also a Visiting Professor of Special Educational Needs and Disability at Derby University, a member of the Advisory Board of the SEN Policy Group, and a trustee at the Ewing Foundation. His recent publications include 'The Future of SEND Legislation in England' in Leading on Inclusion-The Role of the SENCO ed. Beaton, Codina, Wharton.
STEPHEN TIERNEY - Director, LeadingLearner Ltd
Stephen taught in the maintained sector for thirteen years before becoming Headteacher of St. Mary's, an 11-18 school, in Blackpool. Following thirteen years of headship he became the Executive Headteacher of the school and of a one form entry primary school. Along with one other primary school, these schools formed a cross phase multi-academy trust which Stephen led until December 2019. He sought to develop a culture in which staff, children and young people could flourish. At the heart of his philosophy was the professional development of teachers and a more evidence-informed approach to school improvement.
His work in Blackpool rooted him in the daily practicalities of teachers’ and leaders’ lives. He currently works as an educational consultant supporting school leaders. He was Chair of the Headteacher's RoundTable Group for six years, leading on their policy ideas for an alternative to the current high stakes, cliff-edged accountability system.
As a blogger (www.leadinglearner.me) he writes on a range of topical educational issues: the core school business of the curriculum, teaching & learning and leadership. He is on twitter as @LeadingLearner.
He has previously published two books, Educating with Purpose and Liminal Leadership. Leadership: Being, Knowing, Doing is his third book.
ATIF CHOUDHURY - CEO, Diversity and Ability
Atif Choudhury is an award-winning social entrepreneur, with a background in economic justice and inclusion-relating projects. Focusing on the inclusion of marginalised communities, Atif has worked on significant social development projects across the world, is the co-founder and CEO of Diversity and Ability and Zaytoun CiC (the World’s first Fairtrade Palestinian olive oil cooperative). He is an adviser to the WHO rapid assistive technologies board and is a trustee for largest lived experience pan disability charity in the country Disability Rights UK The change Atif would like to see in the world is one that raises the strength of inclusion through lived experiences and intersectional lenses. Pioneering a future of inclusive participation and broader equality in the Global South, Atif is adamant that poverty, class, race, gender and culture must be part of the systems that welcome the diversity of thought and the hidden assets in everyone.
JOHN BACON - Skills Development Centre Manager, New College Swindon
I am the Skills Development Centre manager at New College, Swindon. I manage a team of eight Learning Support tutors who deliver bespoke 1 to 1 support sessions to students with a range of learning difficulties and disabilities. Within our team, we have five, Level 7, fully qualified assessors who can assess students for exam arrangements and conduct screenings for dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADD and DCD.
Here at New College, we are passionate about using assistive technology and promoting more independent students in preparation for their next step into adulthood, whether that may be Higher Education or the workplace. We have received a great response from students using reading pens for in-class support exams and private study. The need has grown so much we have increased our holdings to over 100 pens across the two campuses. We have also recently updated our computer-based reading software ‘Docs Plus’ which is a great learning support tool with its integrated word bar and mind mapping capability. The other benefit is its great exam capability which allows us to cater for all a student's bespoke exam needs. Another benefit of the college is our ‘Base room’ which is manned by three qualified Autism mentors who manage a group of students with a diagnosis of Autism. We also have a team of Wellbeing mentors who can support those students with anxiety and Mental Health difficulties, they also monitor a safe space within the college for students to use when they are feeling overwhelmed.
DR NASSER SIABI OBE - CEO, Microlink PC (UK) Ltd
Nasser is the CEO of Microlink and one of the founding members of the Business Disability Forum (BDF) technology task force since 2010, the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) and part of the DWP Disability Employer Engagement steering group. He has 30 years’ experience working in the assistive technology sector and in 2009 and 2020 Nasser won the IoD Director of the year award. Included in his accolades are the OBE for services to disabled people, the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) and the National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP) lifetime contribution awards. Alongside this he has the National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP) lifetime contribution award among other industry awards. He has a Phd in Computer Science from the University of Southampton.
MARIUS FRANK - Head of Education, Microlink PC (UK) Ltd
Marius Frank is Head of Education at Microlink. After post-graduate level research in neuroscience, and following a very successful twenty-year career in schools, as a teacher and leader, often in extremely challenging circumstances, Marius went on to become CEO of ASDAN (an awarding body and curriculum development organisation), then Director of digital content creation at Achievement for All. He has written courses for the Microsoft Educator Centre on digital inclusion, led projects to secure better outcomes for young people with SEND in the youth justice system, and is a passionate advocate for the development of trauma-informed practice that puts wellbeing at the heart of learning and leadership.
HELEN SIMON MSc, FCCT, FRSA - Advisory Teacher for SEND and Assistive Technology in the classroom
Helen is working as an Independent Advisory Teacher and is the specialist neurodiversity, acquired brain injury, dyslexia and is a literacy support teacher; she works with schools and colleges to make inclusion of assistive technology possible by enabling students to have a voice and create a more inclusive and differentiated learning environment.
Helen has an MSc in, Joint Professional Practice in Language and communication from the Institute of Education, her dissertation was titled; “Can speech recognition software improve independent writing skills for children with SPLD and ASD?” The focus of the dissertation was on improving knowledge, learning and self- esteem through the use of speech recognition software in the classroom, with the aim of introducing assistive technology into examination settings.
Helen is working with BATA and DoE Technology Group, to improve the level of support given to teachers via the association’s websites, creating strategies that can be used to encourage students to become more independent learners with particular focus on strategies to improve learning through the use of assistive technology. Helen is also a member of the Worshipful Company of Educators leading on Digital Education and SEND.
Helen has 25 years of classroom experience in secondary and primary teaching. Management in mainstream, PRUs, special schools. Her work has included; supporting schools, teachers and pupils, by re-writing curriculums/ SOW for inclusion, supporting staff with CPD, running workshops on SEN strategies and supporting parents to encourage their children’s learning and development to become independent learners.
BRIAN LUTCHMIAH - Manager, Inclusive Education, Diversity and Ability
Brian has 20 years’ experience working across statutory, further and higher education. His extensive experience has ranged from teaching and co-ordination through to operational and strategic management of direct services to students, and as a senior leader in UK and European organisations. He also has direct lived experience of disability throughout his education and career.
Brian has been an active advocate across the education sector, hosting and speaking at national and international conferences, and formally representing the UK with european partners on UDL development.
Brian is an award-winning former Chair of the National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP, UK) from 2018 – 2021, and is also a former Chair of the Learning Inclusively Network (LINK, Europe), serving as national and european leaders of research and practice on disability, inclusion and equality. With a core passion in inclusion and widening participation, Brian has maintained a determination in ensuring that all have the opportunity to aspire in realising their potential and has represented the education sector in directly influencing national policy decision making at UK government level.
With his in-depth knowledge of inclusion and relating services aspects including safeguarding and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), he continues to strive toward ensuring opportunities to achieve are equitably maintained for all, and is currently the Chair of the UCAS English Policy Group.