Brilliant Club

Meet Our Speakers: Conference 2017

22 Jun 2017

With just four weeks to go until our National Conference, we are delighted to share with you the biographies of our speakers. Read on to learn more about the experts that will be joining us on 8th July at King’s College London for our conference: ‘The Whole Student Life Cycle: Getting In and Getting On’.

Speaker Biographies

Professor Thomas Ward PhD, FIMA, PFHEA
Tom Ward is Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Leeds. After attending schools in Zambia and Swaziland he studied Mathematics at the University of Warwick and spent several years working at the University of Maryland College Park and the Ohio State University. At UEA he was Head of Department from 2002-7, and appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) in 2008, serving on the Executive Team, Planning & Resources, Senate and Council, and chairing the Learning and Teaching, Equality and Diversity, and Student Experience Committees. He sat on several external groups including the UUK-ICO working group on Freedom of Information for Higher Education. At Durham University he served on the University Executive and chaired the Council of John Snow College for four years. He spent many years on the London Mathematical Society Publications Committee and has been editor or managing editor of several journals. His research area is Algebraic Dynamical Systems, with particular emphasis on interactions between Ergodic Theory, Homogeneous Dynamics, and Number Theory. He is the author of several monographs, including “Heights of polynomials and entropy in algebraic dynamics” with Graham Everest and “Ergodic theory with a view towards Number Theory” with Manfred Einsiedler.

Deb Conner
Deb is COO at the Social Mobility Foundation.  She was previously seconded to this role from KPMG LLP where she was Head of Social Mobility, and Head of Community Investment in the UK before that.  Her work at KPMG included the development of Access Accountancy, a profession wide initiative to improve access to employment, and the development and launch of the KPMG Audit School Leaver Programme as part of a small cross-firm team.
She has worked in the voluntary, public and private sector organisations including the Industrial Society, Action Resource Centre, Business in the Community, Lambeth Council and IBM, and has spent this time focused on building cross-sector partnerships to deliver common goals.
She recently completed an MST in Sustainability Leadership at the University of Cambridge.  Her dissertation explored the connection between socio-economic background and access to training roles in professional services.
Deb is a governor at Elm Court School in Lambeth, a special secondary school for students with Learning Difficulties and associated Social and Communication Needs, a Director of SGOSS, member of the Career Academy UK curriculum advisory board, and a trustee of The Bridge Group which is a charitable policy association researching and promoting socio-economic diversity and equality in the UK.  She was a member, in 2016, of the panel advising a study into the City’s role in supporting employability among young people in London, and a working group of the Judicial Assistants Scheme.

Paul Chandler
Paul is the Lead Data Scientist at UCAS with responsibility for products and services associated with social mobility and widening participation. The most notable of these is the STROBE service which was recently used to conduct an independent evaluation of the work of The Brilliant Club. Paul has been with UCAS for ten months now, having made the move from the insurance sector, and the public sector before that. Wherever he has worked, he has been an advocate for data and evidence-led decision making. Paul has a degree in Economics from the University of Nottingham as well as statistical and coding certifications.

Vicki Brown, Emma Maslin, Andrew Murphy (Dyke House College)
The Aspirations Programme at Dyke House Sports and Technology College in Hartlepool runs from Year 4 to Year 13 in order to inspire students to maximise their potential by raising their aspirations and attainment in order to support their progression. The programme takes a longitudinal, holistic approach to widening participation with a particular focus on early intervention in KS2 and KS3. The Aspirations Programme recently won the NEON Award for Outstanding Access in School.

Emma Maslin and Claire Ungley Coordinate the programme at both Pre-16 and Post-16 level. The programme demonstrates the power of a full school approach and is led and supported by the Senior Leadership Team; Head of College Andrew Murphy and Vice Principal Vicki Brown who are responsible for the strategic overview and wider culture of the school.

Anne-Marie Canning
Anne-Marie Canning is the Director of Widening Participation at King’s College London. In this role she provides leadership and strategic direction for full life cycle widening participation across the institution. Anne-Marie is currently leading a project with the Cabinet Office examining whether behavioural insights can improve the experience and outcomes of non-traditional learners at university. Anne-Marie is a member of the Universities UK Ministerial Advisory Group and recently served as Chair of the Russell Group Widening Participation Association.

In 2008 Anne-Marie was appointed as the first full-time Access Officer at University College, Oxford and her work there earned her a University of Oxford Teaching Award. Anne-Marie has a degree in English and Related Literatures from the University of York and served a sabbatical term as the president of the students’ union. Anne-Marie has served as a local councillor and is now a community governor at the Archer Academy. You can follow her on Twitter @amcanning.

Simon Coyle
Simon Coyle is one of the co-founders and co-CEOs of The Brilliant Club. He
taught in a North London state school through the Teach First programme,
leaving the classroom in 2010 to establish The Brilliant Club with his colleague Jonny Sobczyk. Simon has overseen The Brilliant Club’s strategy and operations over the past seven years, and is interested in strategy within the social business sector more widely. He is also a co-founder of AccessEd, a non-proft organisation that exists to support the development of university access programmes overseas.

Dr Lauren Bellaera
Dr Lauren Bellaera is the Director of the Monitoring and Evaluation Department at The Brilliant Club. Prior to this, she worked at the University of Cambridge overseeing an evaluation project which assessed the effectiveness of multimedia learning materials for conceptual understanding and critical thinking. Lauren’s background is in cognitive psychology and, since completing her PhD in 2013, she has worked with several educational organisations. Lauren believes that thorough impact evaluation is crucial to improving outcomes for underrepresented young people in education and leads The Brilliant Club’s efforts to develop best practices in this area.

Dr Michael Englard
Dr Michael Englard is the Director of Research at the HE Access Network. Recent publications include: “Making a Statement” co-written with Dr Steven Jones and published by the Sutton Trust. After attending a summer school as a pupil, Michael went on to complete a doctorate at the University of Cambridge where he has served as a Director of Studies and continues to teach. He is a Committee Member of the Stephen Spender Trust. He is particularly interested in working with teachers to make systemic and institutional change in the Widening Participation sector.

Liridon Sylisufi
Liridon joined the Social Mobility Foundation as a student on their Aspiring Professionals Programme in 2010 and received a mentor from Nabarro law firm, a week’s work experience with magic circle law firm Clifford Chance and a week’s work experience with the Bar Council to see the differences between working at a law firm and a barrister’s chambers. Liridon went on to study law at the University of Cambridge and is currently in the second year of his training contract and will be qualifying into the transactional practice at Jones Day from September 2017.

Rebecca Clark
Rebecca is the Advancing Access project manager. Advancing Access is a collaborative programme led by the 24 universities in the Russell Group working together with schools and colleges. The project provides free, online CPD resources and events for teachers and advisers to help them support progression to leading universities. Rebecca graduated from the University of Leeds in 2007 and went on to build a career in widening participation. She has worked for Russell Group universities for over 10 years including roles at Durham University and the University of Leeds specialising in contextual admissions, schools development and fair access.

Dr Calum Mechie
Dr Calum Mechie has a DPhil from the University of Oxford for work on the works of George Orwell. He is Second-in-Charge of the English Department at Brentford School for Girls in West London where he is responsible for the A-Level Syllabus and for leading on research in the school. He cares a lot about teaching students to read and write and he tweets @calumcm.

Eliza Selley
Eliza is an Associate Advisor at the Behavioural Insights Team. She supports the design, analysis and implementation of randomised controlled trials across a range of education projects, with particular focus on access to higher education. Eliza is also undertaking a PhD at University College London where her research focuses on how role models can be used to reduce identity-based barriers to academic education for white working-class boys.  Before joining the Behavioural Insights Team, Eliza worked at the Russell Group of Universities where she advised on issues relating to university admissions and widening participation. She also managed a DfE-funded schools outreach programme and developed resources designed to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds applying to selective universities. Prior to this, Eliza worked in science education policy with a particular focus on promoting research-based practice.

Alaba Okuyiga
Prior to working for enei, Alaba gained 20 years of public and commercial experience as a Diversity and Inclusion training consultant. He brings a varied work background as a college lecturer, NHS Foundation Trust non-Exec Director, Home Secretary’s representative on a Police Authority and older adult psychology care specialist.

Martha Crawford
Martha Crawford joined Citizens UK in November 2015. She is the Operations Manager for the Good Jobs Campaign – a movement to tackle social immobility and the growing skills gap through a unique partnership between businesses, schools, colleges and young people. Before joining Citizens UK Martha was a Knowledge Exchange Development Manager at London South Bank University in their Research, Enterprise and Innovation Department. In this role Martha managed the Knowledge Transfer Partnership portfolio which covered the innovation project’s businesses and academics. Martha was one of the co-founders and directors of the AXNS Collective who specialise in creative projects exploring the relationship between art and science. Martha has a degree in Drama from the University of Exeter and is currently completing the MA in Community Organising at Queen Mary, University of London.

Owen Carter
Owen is Impact Toolkit Project Manager at The Brilliant Club, working on a new platform to effectively evaluate the impact of the charity’s programmes. Previously, he worked as Content Lead at Optimus Education, connecting a network of over 1000 schools with the expertise of leading researchers and trainers. He has also worked for SAGE and Pearson Publishing, developing apps for primary and secondary school pupils. Owen writes for a number of educational publications, mainly on the application of research evidence to school and classroom practice.

Dr Celeste Cheung
Celeste joined The Brilliant Club in October 2016 as the Research and Evaluation Manager. In her role, she manages the charity’s evaluation work, including understanding the impact of the charity’s programmes on pupil outcomes. Celeste has a research background in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience, with a focus on attention and self-regulation. After completing her PhD in 2013, she continued her research into autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and in infant development. Celeste also taught as a PhD tutor on The Scholars Programme in 2012, and has since been involved in other widening access initiatives.

Chiara Cordone
Chiara is a Programme Director with Debate Mate and oversees the programme in Primary schools across the country. She was a Debate Mate student in the Core Programme at secondary school in Camden and later mentored for Debate Mate while at SOAS. She graduated from SOAS with an LLB in 2015. Before becoming a Programme Director she interned and volunteered for several NGOs and worked on President Obama’s reelection campaign in the United States.

Keanna Williams
Keanna Williams was raised in Brixton and currently studies International Law and Globalisation at the University of Birmingham. At the University of Birmingham, Keanna is currently the Events Manager for the African and Caribbean Society and is launching a Caribbean Development Forum at her university to discuss issues facing Caribbean students and the wider Caribbean Diaspora. Keanna was a student on the Debate Mate programme whilst in high school and has continued to work closely with Debate Mate as a mentor and Assistant Programme Director, giving back all the valuable lessons and skills she learnt to other students. Keanna is extremely passionate about social mobility and breaking down barriers which prevent those who are labelled as disadvantaged succeeding.

Joe Collin
Joe Collin is Pre-16 Widening Participation Officer at King’s College London. After graduating from Oxford in 2014, Joe participated in the Teach First programme teaching History in Birmingham. Since joining King’s, Joe has led the King’s Scholars scheme, a 3 year initiative for underrepresented KS3 pupils which uses a combination of meta-cognitive skills, information and guidance and parental engagement to enhance children’s chances of progressing to a highly selective university. In March 2017, Joe also launched, a gamified website that allows 10-14 year olds and their parents to explore university.

Michael Slavinsky
Michael Slavinsky is a founding Director of The Brilliant Club and Education Development Director for Researchers in Schools and The Scholars Programme. He taught French at London Academy, Edgware where as Head of Department he was responsible for mentoring new teachers, and as a Sixth Form tutor supported students with their university application processes. After leaving the classroom in 2011, Michael was appointed Teaching and Learning Director of The Brilliant Club’s Researcher Development Programme, designing and delivering the training curriculum that equipped doctoral and post-doctoral researchers with the teaching skills to design courses based on their own specialisms for school-age pupils. He also established the training programme for Researchers in Schools.

Cindy Ma
Cindy has worked extensively in children’s programming, having mentored with Debate Mate throughout her time at LSE and taught creative writing and theatre for over five years in her native Ottawa. She has led international summer programmes in Jamaica and Kenya, and now oversees the permanent Debate Mate programme in the Caribbean. In the UK, Cindy works on the monitoring and evaluation of Debate Mate’s programmes.

Ellie Mulcahy
Ellie is a Research Associate at LKMco. She has experience in Psychology and Education research has particular interests in children and young people’s mental health and educational inequality research. Ellie holds a PGCE with a specialism in the Early Years and believes that the Foundation Stage plays a crucially important role in shaping children’s attitudes to education. Since joining LKMco she has carried out research into the national speech, language and communication landscape, inequalities in Higher Education and the impact of literacy interventions in prisons. Ellie co-authored a 2016 report for LKMco and King’s College London on the underrepresentation of white working class boys in higher education. Her most recent research has focused on the barriers to higher education access faced by Gypsies, Roma and Travellers.

Dr Sam Baars
Sam is Director of Research at LKMco and has particular interests in youth research, area-based inequalities and social science impact. His published academic work focuses on young people’s neighbourhood-based identities, and how their occupational aspirations are shaped by the areas they live in. In a recently-published book chapter he explores what notions of ‘meritocracy’ and the ‘raising aspirations’ agenda mean for white working class boys. Sam has written for the Guardian and the New Statesman and his PhD fieldwork with a group of white working class boys in Manchester led to the production of a short film on the garden cities movement. He co-authored a 2016 report for LKMco and King’s College London on the underrepresentation of white working class boys in higher education.

Kate Bowen-Viner
Kate is an LKMco associate. Kate taught English in London and Bristol and has experience of delivering government policies through her role at the Office for the South West Regional Schools Commissioner (Department for Education). Kate supported Ambitious about Autism with their campaign ‘When Will we Learn?’ She is undertaking an MSc in Policy Research from the University of Bristol and is interested in the relationship between education policy and social mobility. Since joining LKMco, Kate has worked on a range of projects including: research into the educational experiences of young homeless people and the educational experiences of Gypsy, Roma, Travellers in higher education.