Speaker biographies

With over 30 speakers, and 18 sessions to choose from, covering topics such as FE professionalism and reputation with a host of sector leaders, as well as debate on strength in unity, with representatives from UCU, Tutor Voices, The College of Teaching and The Education and Training Foundation, the conference was a who's who of what's what.

There were workshops, discussions  and talks about managing behaviour, technology enhanced teaching and learning, how to use research in practice, exploring equality and diversity, listening to the learner voice, understanding complex needs, pedagogy in work based learning, developing evidence based teaching strategies, and making maths and English exciting. Plus Ofsted paid us a visit…

Have you seen who spoke? What a line up!




I was born in the Bottled City of Glasgow where I studied Philosophy because ‘that’s where all the big bucks are.’ After years of penury running Soho nightclubs, I pulled the ripcord and landed in teaching.

Since 2009 I’ve been writing for the TES as their behaviour advisor, agony uncle, feature writer and podcaster. My careers adviser never knew. I’ve written four books about education: The Behaviour Guru, Not Quite a Teacher, Teacher, and Teacher Proof.

In 2011 I was a Teacher-Fellow at Corpus Christi, University of Cambridge, where I discovered something about education that I nearly missed entirely: that the teacher voice is an important one, and it was sorely lacking in the public discourse about schools, learning and children. And I thought I should try to do something about it.

In 2013 I founded researchED, a cottage movement that grew over night into a skyscraper, mainly because I was fed up with the mad free-for-all that seemed to constitute evidence-based practice in schools in the UK. It seems that a few other people agree. researchED is very much my baby, in that it keeps me awake at night, it’s a source of infinite joy, and I hope it grows into something wonderful. So far, so good. In 2015 we held researchED conferences in three continents and twelve cities, including Sydney, New York, London and Glasgow. In 2016 we move on to Amsterdam, Scandinavia and beyond….

In 2015 I was nominated for the GEMS Global teacher of the year, making the final 50 (and one of only two finalists from the UK. I was also appointed by the UK Department for Education to lead a working party looking into behaviour management and teacher training. Or Behaviour Tsar, as the press called it…


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Shane Chowen joined NIACE in 2014 as Head of Policy and Public Affairs, supporting the development and promotion of policy across all areas of work and working with parliamentarians and other influential stakeholders to turn NIACE’s ideas into reality.

Shane is a proud FE graduate of City College Plymouth, where he grew up, and pursued a career in policy and campaigning instead of going to University. Following two years as President of his college’s students’ union, he was elected Vice President (Further Education) at the National Union of Students, holding office between 2009-2011. He then worked at the Institute for Learning, leading on regulatory policy, public affairs and research.

Shane holds a PTLLS qualification and is currently undertaking a Public Affairs Diploma through CIPR. He is a Governor at Westminster Kingsway College in London and is Trustee at Learning South West, based in Taunton. He also has a monthly column in sector newspaper, FE Week.

Shane wants Britain to become a lifelong learning society – where opportunities to access learning are always available to people who want it, where illiteracy is eradicated and where lifelong learning is a doorstep political issue.



Sally Dicketts has held senior posts in both secondary schools and further education. She became Principal at Milton Keynes College in 1996 and in October 2003 became the first Principal of Oxford & Cherwell Valley College.

In August 2010, Oxford and Cherwell Valley College took over the responsibility for running Reading College and in 2013 set up a UTC in Reading. Sally is the first Chief Executive of Activate Learning which was launched in November 2013 and comprises of three colleges: Banbury & Bicester, City of Oxford and Reading College, two UTC’s, a management consultancy and a separate training division Activate Enterprise; Activate Learning Group is a Gazelle College.

Sally is a tireless campaigner and advocate for the learning and skills sector. She is a member of the City & Guilds Learning and Assessment Policy Committee. She is a board member of AMiE and AoC. She Chairs and was founder member of the Women’s Leadership Network, the Employment and Enterprise committees of the AoC. She is a member of the Oxfordshire Management Club, All Souls Group and is a leading thinker for the National Education Trust. She sits on the Oxfordshire LEP and the Fredericks Foundation. She was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s honours list in July 2013.

Her main area of interest is in how people learn, mindfulness and how to develop more entrepreneurial innovative individuals. She enjoys travel, cycling, Zumba and spending time with her partner and daughter.



Paul is a speaker, author and notorious teacher wrangler in huge demand. He is CEO of Pivotal Education. As a teacher, leader and teacher trainer Paul has been working with the most difficult behaviours in the most challenging urban schools, referral units and colleges for the last 25 years. Miraculously Paul trained at Homerton College, Cambridge after countless attempts to sabotage his own education.

Paul has advised the Department for Education on Teacher Standards, given evidence to the Education Select Committee and done extensive work with the Ministry of Justice on Behaviour and Restraint in Youth Custody. He has five published titles on Behaviour and Assessment writes for Teach Primary Magazine and has over 250 published articles on behaviour. Paul is a National Training Award Winner and his weekly Podcast has reached over 100,000 teachers worldwide.

In his ‘spare time’ Paul is Chair of the Board of Directors of the TBAP Trust.



Christina is openly a bit lefty, a bit liberal and a bit afraid of her own stereotype, being both a somewhat radical educationalist and a wellbeing campaigner for Friends of the Earth, she is interested in all aspects of social and environmental equality. Before embarking upon her academic career, Christina worked in a number of roles in Further Education from learning support, mentoring vulnerable students, safeguarding and student voice, establishing the first ever Students’ Union at Wigan & Leigh College. She is driven to empower students to believe in their own capacity create change, which is fuelled by her belief in the innate potential of people, and informed by her experience working and volunteering in the community.

She is currently a PhD Student in the Faculty of Education at Edge Hill University and is primarily interested in social equality, well-being, social trust, relationships, inclusive practice, the language of performativity, democratic education, autonomy and student voice.

Her Masters research entitled “Students ‘at risk’? Exploring the language of retention and dropout in a North West Further Education College” is a study of how the language of neo-liberal education policy effects the way staff at all levels of an institution may perceive students who present challenges and what the implications of this are for communication and practice.



Stephen joined TES as a reporter in 2010. After six months as Acting Deputy News Editor, he was appointed FE Editor in July. He was previously education correspondent at the Cambridge News.

Stephen has tasted success at the CIPR Education Journalism Awards, having won the award for Outstanding National Education Journalism (2013), Outstanding Apprenticeship & Skills Journalism (2013) and Outstanding Further Education Journalism (2012).



Yousef joined the Further Education world in 2001. He started his career as an IT lecturer at Croydon College before progressing in 2005 to lead the IT department at Ealing, Hammersmith & West London college. In 2011, Yousef was appointed as the Assistant Principal for Curriculum Innovation at Reading College where he led on very exciting projects with IBM, Apple and Google exploring the endless possibilities of new hardware and cloud technologies in enhancing teaching, learning and assessment. Yousef has a great deal of experience in managing various curriculum areas in FE such as IT, Engineering, Construction, Sixth Form, Creative Arts, Business, Sports and Public Services.

Yousef joined Warwickshire College Group in July 2013 and leads the IT Services, ILT Staff Training and IT Curriculum teams across the 6 colleges within the Group. Over the last 2 years Yousef and his team have been working on transforming the technology tools and resources available to staff and students. In 2015 Warwickshire College Group moved to Google Apps for Education and Yousef has been very active in sharing his skills and experience with other colleges in the sector who are interested in using new Cloud technologies such as Google Apps.



Mike has worked in both Further and Higher education for over twenty five years. Originally trained as a Fine Artist at Goldsmiths College, Mike balanced a career as a professional artist with part time lecturing at a number of universities both in Britain and Europe. He is also a graduate of Warwick Business School having studied Business Administration in the Public Sector.

The development of Higher Education in Further Education saw his next roles focused in the FE sector having posts at Crewe and Alsager College, Stafford College, and North Oxfordshire College.He was Vice Principal at Abingdon and Witney College, Principal at Totton College and now Principal and Chief Executive at South Downs College in Waterlooville. He has chaired the Solent College Innovation Partnership and was a Director of OxETA, a company that focused on promotion of advanced engineering in education. He is also a member of the Windsor Leadership Group.

Originally from Ireland, Mike has travelled extensively including a period working in Prague and Gdansk in the late 1980s during considerable political change. An ex member of Rotary International he is also a past President of the Rotary Club of Banbury Cherwell. He has recently moved to the South Coast from Oxfordshire and is married with one daughter, now teaching, and teenage twin sons.



Nikki is currently Head of Learning for Landbased at Chichester College. Her previous roles in Learning Technology Management, Functional Skills delivery and as a college governor have given her a broad experience of FE and outstanding Teaching and Learning.

She is passionate about the sector and has been working recently with the Education and Training Foundation as a Leadership Champion to support the development of future leaders, and help others on their journey to being a #FuturePrincipal.

Nikki contributes regularly to #UKFEChat, both on Twitter and in their group publications, she has also written for FE Week on the topic of leadership.
Her focus is on transformative and participative leadership, that empowers staff and makes a positive change to their working culture.



Ann is a director of her own company Ann Gravells Ltd, an educational consultancy based in East Yorkshire. She specialises in teaching, training, assessment and quality assurance for the further education and skills sector. Ann has been teaching and assessing in further education since 1983. You can find out more at www.anngravells.co.uk

She has written several text books for teachers, trainers, assessors and quality assurers. Ann creates resources for teachers and learners such as PowerPoints and handouts for teaching, assessment and quality assurance qualifications. Books and resources are available on her website.

Ann is a consultant to The University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education. She has also worked for several awarding organisations producing qualification guidance, policies and procedures, and carried out the quality assurance of teacher training qualifications.

Ann holds a Masters in Educational Management, a PGCE, a Degree in Education, and a City & Guilds Medal of Excellence for teaching. Ann is a Fellow of the Institute for Learning and holds QTLS status.

She is often asked how her surname should be pronounced. The ‘vells’ part of Gravells is pronounced like ‘bells’.




Andrew joined UCU (then NATFHE) in February 2005 and is currently Head of Further Education, a role which includes national and local negotiations, providing advice, guidance and support to members, branch officials and full-time regional officials of the union. Andrew has worked in a range of roles, both elected and appointed, within unions in the UK and Australia for 25 years.

He has a wide experience of organising and negotiating at local and national levels and representing individual members across industries as varied as the furniture trades, timber felling and milling, construction, printing, new media and the education sector.



He has had extensive experience in schools and colleges as a teacher, senior manager, Principal and Governor. He has worked with Head teachers and senior leaders in developing leadership skills for the National College of Teaching and Leadership College Principals Qualification and the Building Schools for the Future Leadership programme.
Bob is also Vice Chair of Governors at Northern College and a governor of a Trafford school. Bob was made an Honorary Life member of CGLI for services to Vocational Education following 12 years as Chief Examiner.

He has been Toshiba’s Education Adviser for 14 years and is a writer, presenter and researcher on mobile learning, digital technologies and next generation learning. Toshiba is the “lead employer” in the Nottingham University Academy of Science and Technology.

Bob was a member of the British Computer Society/Royal Academy of Engineering working group which redrafted the ICT National Curriculum to make it more “ambitious and challenging”. He also chaired the computing expert group established by the DfE to support teachers and teacher educators in the transition to the new computing curriculum, and is now a member of UK Force (UK Forum for Computing Education).

He is currently the Chair of the Teaching Schools New Technology Advisory Board, a HE/Industry/Schools/DfE/NCTL group which aims to ensure that the next generation of teachers have the necessary skills to prepare children for their lives as workers and digital citizens in the 3rd Millenium.
Bob was a leading member of the Further Education Learning Technology Action Group and is now a member of the Ministerial Educational Technology Action Group chaired by Professor Stephen Heppell.

Bob regularly visits the Palo Alto campus of Stanford University to research current developments and is particularly interested in the “education’s digital future” at Stanford and is a judge at the Stanford Education Technology Expo. Bob is also a judge for the BIS Technology Strategy Board Learning Technology-Design for Impact fund. Bob represented the DfE at the INTEL STEM International conference in Jerusalem when he presented on the new national curriculum in computing.

He is a Board member of the National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education (NIACE) and the UfI Trust and is a Judge for the BETT Awards and TES FE Awards.
Bob has recently been invited to join the BIS FE and Skills Area based review advisory group helping to reshape the FE landscape towards a more digital future.
www.setuk.co.uk twitter @bobharrisonset.



Scott Hayden has been a Lecturer of Creative Media Production and DTLLS and an Assessor for Apprentices at Basingstoke College of Technology for 5 years.

In 2014 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award for innovative use of social media and application of educational technology and received praise and recognition for his work developing new approaches to teaching and learning in the online community (all resources are available for others to adapt and use for free).

The techniques and style of teaching and assessing have been cited by Edexcel and Ofsted as outstanding practice of engaging both students and industry.

As well as running a blog for his students he has provided pieces for The Times, Edudemic, and the recent FE book ‘Don’t Change the Lightbulbs’ as well as providing training for peers.

Scott was shortlisted for ‘Teacher of the Year 2015’ at the TES FE Awards.



Dr Gary Jones, @DrGaryJones, worked in post-compulsory education for over 25 years. Gary has a doctorate in educational management from the University of Bristol and is interested in the art and craft of vocational pedagogy and evidence-informed practice. In 2014 Gary led, in conjunction with Professor Bill Lucas of the Centre for Real-World Learning based at Winchester University, a college-wide action research project on the implementation of a theory of vocational pedagogy. In 2015 Gary has presented at ResearchED events in Sydney, Cambridge, New York and Glasgow and writes regularly about evidence-informed leadership and management.



Paul Joyce is one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors and is the Deputy Director for Further Education & Skills and Independent Schools.

Paul joined Ofsted in 2005 as HMI having previously worked within the Further Education and Skills sector in both general and specialist further education colleges. Immediately prior to working for Ofsted Paul was a consultant for the former Department for Education and Skills and worked on national initiatives supporting improvements to teaching and learning and in leadership and management.

Paul has significant inspection experience in both the schools and further education & skills remits and prior to being appointed Deputy Director was a Senior HMI with responsibility for the college inspection programme nationally.



Paul Kessell-Holland joined the Education and Training Foundation from the Higher Education Academy, where he was involved in professional standards and policy development work across the UK.

Paul has spent the majority of his career in general FE as a lecturer and manager. Having spent the first five years of his teaching career in SEND teaching at primary, secondary and adult education he is an advocate for education for all, and has a cross cutting role in the Education and Training Foundation, including responsibility for areas of the workforce development agenda, Initial Teacher Education and the Professional Standards.



Chris Kirk is Director of UK Products & Services at City & Guilds. He joined the organisation in 2005 and in his ten year career at City & Guilds he has worked his way up through product management, marketing and sales. Chris’ current remit gives him overall responsibility for all of City & Guilds’ products and services and a particular focus City & Guilds response to the new Apprenticeship standards and leading the successful implementation of the City & Guilds TechBac® – a brand new technical and professional pathways curriculum for 14-19 year olds.

Chris is passionate about how we can better recognise and showcase all types of learning and skills development no matter how they are acquired, increasing an individual’s chances of getting into a job, developing on the job and moving onto the next job.

Chris was previously Head of Apprenticeships at City & Guilds, responsible for developing and launching the successful Million Extra campaign and redesigning the organisations SASE product offer. He also managed the organisation through the last major vocational qualification reform programme and has taken a range of innovate new digital learning and teaching products to market across different industry sectors.



Sarah spent her teenage years being vocationally confused and attitudinally challenged. At 17 she entered the “real world” of Further Education as a student, finally finding her academic feet. Starting her learning journey in L3 Childcare, she quickly discovered what has become a lifelong passion for working with children and latterly young people who need a little extra to engage, aspire and achieve.

After the wayward years as a Nanny and Maternity Nurse, and an accidental degree in Psychology, Sarah reentered FE (1996) as a Learning Support Assistant. Supporting learners with myriad learning difficulties and disabilities.

After receiving superb advice and guidance from dedicated and supportive managers she took her Certificate in Education, started lecturing and realised it’s really hard work, so decided to pursue a career in management. Becoming a Curriculum Manager for Learners with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities was the first rung on the ladder and she loved it! From then on Sarah has progressed steadily, against all of the 6th Form teachers expectations at her school. Since then Sarah has worked in a host of FE and Private training settings.

She now works at Derby College in the role of Assistant Principal for Social Inclusion.



Professor Angela McFarlane, BSc(Bristol), PhD( Bristol), PGCE (Institute of Education)

Angela McFarlane began her career as a teacher and head of department in secondary schools in Hertfordshire. She went on to design and direct a number of highly successful educational research and development projects over a thirty year period.

Angela’s research addresses the role of digital technologies in education, and has included the development of a series of commercially successful software tools. She has published research into the culture of young people’s computer gaming and social learning online and the impact of personal ownership of mobile devices on education.

Angela has served as a Director of a Government Agency, a Professor and Head of Department at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol, a Professor 11 at Univeristy of Oslo, set up the South West Science Learning Centre in Bristol with At-Bristol and served on the boards of a range of ventures including Teachers’ TV and Middlesex University and was Director of Public Engagement at RBG, Kew. She is currently Chief Executive of the College of Teachers.

Angela is an international author and has advised a range of governments and the OECD. Her latest title is Authentic Learning for the Digital Generation, published in August 2014 by Routledge. She holds visiting chairs at King’s College, London and the University of Bath. She accompanied the Prime Minister to the recent Northern Futures Forum.



Lou Mycroft is a teacher educator, writer and researcher, based at The Northern College in Barnsley and with the University of Huddersfield. She is co-author of ‘Further Education and the Twelve Dancing Princesses’ and co-founder of democratic campaigning organisation Tutor Voices.

Lou’s work is about getting educators to think critically and reflexively for themselves, and to challenge the norms of education and their own practice as confident, informed ‘Anti-Heroes’. She uses Thinking Environment techniques to work with potential, trainee and established teachers, through formal and rhizomatic CPD programmes. Her work is particularly focused outside traditional contexts for education, in communities, charities, trade unions, social enterprises and public services, operating across a virtual ‘Community of Praxis’, which assembles critical thinkers who equally believe in the power of education for social change.



Hilary studied Psychology and qualified as a teacher in Further Education in the 1980s, teaching young journalists and budding secretaries. After this early stint in teaching followed by a brief career in corporate training, Hilary returned to FE, teaching Business and ICT, both in mainstream and supported learning.

She managed and trained an ALS team of 42+ LSAs, during which time she became a specialist in devising and implementing behavioural/classroom management techniques and positive learning strategies. This led to a collaboration under a government funded project to disseminate good practice across Surrey colleges. Hilary was appointed the Behaviour Lead which was the platform for launching Can Do Courses in 2010.

Hilary now provides staff training and INSET predimonantly to FE and 6th form colleges across the UK. One of the keynote programmes is a Level 3 accredited programme “Meeting the Needs of Learners with ADHD in the Mainstream Classroom”.

Hilary continues to teach (Functional Skills) on a regular basis.



Carolyn O’Connor is a qualified FE teacher and is also a qualified early years practitioner.

She has worked in the early years, health and social care sector for over twelve years and has been teaching in the lifelong learning sector since 2008, beginning her career in the Adult Learning Community and then moving onto the Blackpool and the Fylde College.

Carolyn is an active member of the #UKFEchat team and has contributed to all three UKFEchat guide books.



Dr Matt O’Leary is Reader in Education at Birmingham City University. Prior to this he was the co-founder of the Centre for Research and Development in Lifelong Education (CRADLE) and a principal lecturer in post-compulsory education at the University of Wolverhampton. Matt has worked as a teacher, teacher educator, head of department and educational researcher for over 20 years in colleges, schools and universities in England, Mexico and Spain.

Much of his work and research is rooted in the field of teacher education, particularly exploring the relationship between education policy and the continuous professional development of teachers. He is well known for his work on classroom observation and is regarded as one of the first educational researchers in the UK to investigate and critique the practice of graded lesson observations. He is also the author of the highly acclaimed book Classroom Observation: A Guide to the Effective Observation of Teaching and Learning (Abingdon: Routledge 2014).



Geoff Petty is author of ‘Teaching Today’ (5th edition) a best selling teacher training text in the UK. His most recent book ‘Evidence Based Teaching’, is now in its second edition, it summarises the extensive research on the best teaching methods strategies and techniques, and how to use them to improve your teaching and that of your team. His books have been translated into eight languages including Chinese and Russian, and his ideas are used at a national level in Britain, Romania and Lithuania. He has a reputation for explaining issues concerning learning and teaching in a down to earth, but lively and inspiring way.

He has led more than 500 training sessions in colleges and schools, usually on the most effective teaching methods, and on learning to learn. He advocates ‘Supported Experiments’ – where teachers work in mutually supportive groups to improve their teaching – research reviews show this is the best way.

His website, www.geoffpetty.com, has lots of free downloads on it, and gets visited thousands of times a week. He can be followed on twitter: @geoffreypetty



Hilary Read has been training vocational trainers, teachers, assessors and quality assurers nationally for over 20 years. She strongly believes that those teaching in the further education and skills sector should be equipped with the skills they need, and her guides have enabled thousands of people to feel confident that they are implementing good practice. The best vocational trainer’s guide’ is the fourth in her highly acclaimed ‘The best …’ series of guides.



Katie is NUS’ (National Union of Students) Policy and Campaigns Manager, working with a team covering broad policy projects in both further and higher Education. Prior to this she was NUS’ FE Policy and Campaigns Officer working with students to deliver campaigns on areas such as EMA, 24+ Learner Loans, Careers IAG, Enrichment funding and Free School Meals. She has also racked up plenty of train miles working with colleges across the South of England helping them develop their students’ unions.
Before working at NUS Katie worked at City College Plymouth supporting the students’ union and handing out condoms and pool cues whilst attending evening classes at Plymouth College of Art and teaching a bit of knitting on the side.



Kay is an experienced teacher-educator, currently based at two colleges in the north of England where she teaches on CertEd/PGCE and degree programmes. She specialises in creative and innovative approaches to teaching, focusing on new approaches to equality and diversity, use of technology and reflective practice. Her work is grounded in social purpose principles, which hold at their heart a belief in the power of education to transform lives and achieve social justice



Sarah accidentally became an FE lecturer in 2008 after several decades in show business. Since then she has worked in a number of colleges as a lecturer and consultant, as well as being a regular columnist for The TES and a judge on The TES FE Awards.

In November 2012, irritated that she couldn’t find like-minded FE colleagues to chat with on Twitter, she had a bit of a rant. It turned out that lots of other people felt the same and UKFEchat was born. Since then colleagues in the UKFEchat community have written 3 books, created a manifesto, held gatherings around the country, had 2 meetings with Ofsted FE chiefs, with David Russell, CEO of The Education and Training Foundation, in addition to getting together every Thursday evening on Twitter to debate, share and collaborate. The UKFEchat National Conference is the community’s most ambitious project yet and Sarah would like to hug every person at City and Guilds, The Education and Training Foundation, The TES and Toshiba for supporting the community to make it happen.

Sarah can often be found on Twitter @MrsSarahSimons banging on about FE stuff. She lives in Nottingham, has a husband, a son and 2 ridiculous rescue dogs: Our Norah and Our Betty.



Tom Starkey is a teacher, writer and education consultant. In twelve years he has worked in secondary, SEN and FE and specialises in education technology, behaviour and teacher welfare. He blogs atstackofmarking.wordpress.com and is on Twitter @tstarkey1212.



Tim leads the Strategy, Quality and Research strand of the Foundation’s work, planning future strategies that can fully reflect where the sector and other stakeholders want us to provide support and value. He is also responsible for ensuring that we have a rigorous and transparent approach to quality running through all our work.

Prior to joining the Foundation in November 2014, Tim worked for 18 years in qualification development and educational publishing, most recently as Head of Business Development for Pearson’s Vocational qualifications. This included leading the strategy development for products and services to support employability skills and careers guidance, post-16 English and maths, and Apprenticeships. He has previously commissioned market-leading, award-winning digital and print learning resources for primary, secondary and vocational learners.



Dan is an Advanced Practitioner in Further Education. Always looking to push the boundaries and challenge current thinking – often disagreeing with himself in the name of improving teaching and learning. His blogfurtheredagogy.wordpress.com is a summary of Dan’s thoughts, coupled with a wealth of educational research which he uses to raise questions about what we think we know in education.

The speakers at our event are some of the most well known and well respected in the country. All gave their time freely to share their expertise and support our community. We are extremely grateful for their generosity.