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Trustee profiles

Becky Cook

Chair of Trustees and North East England representative

Becky is the Headteacher of Harewood Nursery School in Pontefract, West Yorkshire one of 3 maintained nursery schools in the Wakefield LA. She is acting chair of directors of Waterton Academy Trust, the country’s only primary and early years Multi Academy Trust where she is director for Early Years and also for SEND. Previously she worked for the LA as an advisor for SEND in the early years, She has been teacher in charge of a resourced provision for children with autism and has taught in mainstream early years in both nursery and reception. She is vice chair of governors at an outstanding infant and nursery school that her youngest of 3 children attends. She is also a member of the LA’s school’s forum representing early years.

John Tuck

Treasurer

John Tuck is a Chartered Accountant whose career fell into two parts.  He spent 24 years in two major international accountacy and consultancy firms, 14 of those as a partner in Grant Thornton, where he acted for a number of not for profit organisations, including several in the educaiton sectoir.  In addition he held a number of senior management roles including head of the firm's London Management Consultancy pratice and Managing Partner of its London business Advisory practice.

He left Grant Thornton in 1998 and subsequently held a number of Finance Director appointments with not for profit organisations, including Oxfam GB, Universities UK, the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board the UK Council for International Student Affairs.

Sandra Mathers

Vice-Chair and South East England representative

Sandra Mathers began her career as a primary school teacher and is now a senior researcher at the University of Oxford. Her main research interests relate to Early Years education and care, and the relationships between adult-child interactions and children’s development. Sandra’s research is strongly policy- and practice-focused and she has led a number of government evaluations of early childhood initiatives. Her research has had significant policy impact, and she is a regular adviser to local and national policy-makers. Sandra is currently leading a large-scale trial designed to develop and evaluate a preschool professional development intervention which aims to improve young children’s oral language skills; and a smaller-scale developmental pilot which aims to support parents in enhancing the home language environment using technology. She is well known within the Early Years sector and has close links with schools, settings and local authorities across England. In addition to her academic expertise, Sandra has many years of experience in supporting efforts to improve child outcomes in the early years, and in making research findings accessible to policy-makers, practitioners and parents.

Sue Allingham

South East England representative

Sue has been a member of Early Education for at least 25 years. Her expertise and passion for teaching and learning in the Early Years started with classroom experience and Senior Leadership roles.  As she developed her career both in school and as a Lead Teacher and trainer for the local authority, she also undertook research to gain an MA in Early Years Education from Sheffield University.  This achievement consolidated Sue's thinking and practice and her work has a solid grounding in research as a result. 

Sue has continued to research and now has a Doctorate in Early Years Education – also from Sheffield.  She writes regularly for Early Years Educator magazine and sits on their Editorial Board, and has published Transitions in the Early Years with Practical Preschool Publications (now in its second edition). 

Sue likes to think ‘out of the box’ about pedagogy in the Early Years, and her consultancy work is always based on wider reading and the question ‘why?’.  Her philosophy is always that: Education must be based on research and reflection.  Pedagogy must be underpinned by understanding of children and developmentally appropriate practice.

Andrina Flinders

Midlands and East England representative

Andrina became a Headteacher of a maintained nursery school in Walsall three years ago.  She has been a member of the Walsall Adult and Children’s Safeguarding Board for the past two years and is currently working on behalf of the LA for 1 day per week and has enjoyed thinking of new and creative ways to get EY practitioners across Walsall actively involved in improving outcomes for their children. 

Clare Williams

Midlands and East England representative

Clare has worked in both mainstream and special schools and is passionate about the right of each child to a high-quality early years education.  She is inquisitive about how practitioners can work with children and families to achieve this, using research evidence alongside practical wisdom and knowledge of child development to inform prpactice.  As an independent Early Year Consultant, she is privileged to work with early year practitioners across all sectors and across the country to develop provision and practice through coaching and professional development programmes.

Sian Hudson

North East England representative

Sian has worked in ‘Outstanding’ Early Years settings for 20 years, in Leeds, London and Bradford, as a Support Worker, Artist, Teacher and now Executive Head Teacher. She is committed to quality early years education for all and believes that it holds the key to future success for our children and their families. Her particular passion lies in the Maintained Nursery School sector and the quality and uniqueness that it brings, particularly when supporting children in areas of deprivation and those with Special Educational Needs. She believes in shared, thought provoking, experiential learning that inspires the awe and wonder in both children and ourselves! 

Jan Holmes

North West England representative

Jan has been a Nursery School headteacher since 1997, leading schools with children’s centres and private provision in Ormskirk, Lancaster and Nelson.  Her current provision operates across several sites including the Forest School that educates children across all phases of education and where they are able to train staff to level 3 practitioners.

She has always enjoyed taking research and using it within her provision and after many years of postgraduate study in all aspects of leadership undertook a Masters in Early Childhood Education at Sheffield University. Her Masters studies ignited her fascination with the rights of children, the ethics of education and individualising learning.

As a serving headteacher her interests lie in the pragmatic aspect of early years education as well as pedagogy, including assessment, improvement planning and ensuring a sustainable future for maintained nursery schools.

Heather Lomas

North West England representative

Heather holds a master’s degree in law, with her dissertation focussing on the legal responsibilities of volunteers.  In 2015 she decided on a new challenge and change in career, so went to university to retrain as an Early Years Teacher.  She is a company director for her setting. and a trustee of the charity responsible for the local village hall and playpark, having finished her term as chair in July 2020.   She is also a member of a school governing board with specific responsibility for training and development. 

She is passionate about raising standards in early years, specifically staff training, knowledge of early childhood development and having impact on an individual and setting pedagogy. Her own educational background in law, along with skills gained as a business owner, and her voluntary work, have provided her with sound judgement, a deep understanding of the legal responsibilities of trusteeship and the ability to develop and share a strategic vision and deliver against it.  

Emma Davis

South West England representative

Emma is a Preschool Manager at a thriving PVI setting in Ledbury, Herefordshire which she guided from Inadequate to Good and then Outstanding.  While working she gained a Foundation degree in Early Years, a BA Hons in Integrated Working with Children and Families, a Postgraduate Certificate in Leading Early Years and Early Years Teacher Status.  She is currently finalising work on the dissertation for her MA and has just been accepted as a PhD student with a focus will be on the emotional experiences of leaders in PVI settings in England.

In addition to being employed full time, she works freelance as a writer contributing to TES, Nursery World, Teach Early Years and Early Years Educator.  

Nicola Theobald

South West England representative

Nicola works in Bristol as a LA Early Years Improvement Officer, leading on strategy and Early Years quality improvement through a model of system leadership.  Nicola works as part of a cross-phase leadership team within the Directorate to secure rich, high quality experiences, continuity and progression for all learners, and seamless transitions for children and families.

Nicola has experience of primary headship and senior educational consultancy at local, regional, national and international levels. She is passionate about research and the innovation of educational programmes through peer collaboration and practitioner-led research. Nicola works closely with National Teaching Schools to support the leadership of research and to capture the creativity, richness and impact of teacher and practitioner-led enquiry.

Nicola has extensive experience of leading programmes to support children’s communication, language and literacy. This includes regional consultancy and the design and delivery of training the trainer modules to embed core methodologies to improve oracy and writing across the EYFS and primary curriculum.  Further work relating to speech, language and communication in Bristol has included partnership working with health to review Early Years’ provision for of speech, language and communication to establish an integrated approach. 

Nicola has experience of organisational development and is currently co-leading a transformation programme to remodel Bristol’s maintained Nursery Schools to secure future sustainability. This work recognises the strengths of current provision and is progressing through a model of co-construction with headteachers and cross-service partners. The redefinition of roles and leadership responsibilities across Bristol’s Early Years landscape is a key aspect of this work.

Glenda Tinney

Wales representative

Glenda is an Early Years Senior Lecturer at University of Wales Trinity St David (UWTSD). She has been involved in designing and implementing new early years training programmes including leading the development of an innovative two-year BA (Hons) degree for early years practitioners. This programme responds to the broader Welsh Government strategic priorities in terms of widening participation to higher education and developing a graduate early years’ workforce. She leads on key areas including marketing and admissions. Glenda has in recent years been volunteering in a Forest School nursery in order to share her experiences with students and also to develop her theory/practice links. 

Julia Henderson

Northern Ireland representative

Julia has worked in early years education for nearly twenty-five years.  Now a nursery school principal, she has also worked in a range of educational settings.  She began her career in a very large primary school in Leicester as a nursery & foundation stage teacher, where the majority of families and children had English as an additional language.  Following this working as foundation stage coordinator and SENCO in Nottingham in an area of huge social deprivation.  In both schools she developed an interest and aptitude in the early identification and support for children with special educational needs and additional learning needs.  These are areas in which she continues to be interested and sees as a priority in hercurrent teaching principal role. 

After relocating to Northern Ireland in 2007, she began the journey as an early years advisor with the Curriculum Advisory Service (CASS) and actively supported schools in training and development for all areas of the curriculum, early years practice, play based learning and also assisted schools in evaluating and planning for whole school development. 

She took up a post as a nursery principal in 2010 and during her time in post has actively forged professional networks amongst educational professionals and fostered a climate of mutual support for all.  She has been dedicated to professional development, visiting other settings, leading professional development clusters, mentoring colleagues and learning from colleagues in all sectors. 

Glenda Walsh

Northern Ireland representative

Dr Glenda Walsh is Head of Early Years Education at Stranmillis University College, a College of Queen’s University Belfast. Her areas of expertise focus on play and playful pedagogies in early childhood and primary education. She has been involved in many major research projects such as the longitudinal evaluation of the Early Years Enriched Curriculum Project in Northern Ireland that has guided the course of the Foundation Stage of the revised Northern Ireland Primary Curriculum and she also headed a major project on examining pedagogy in Early Childhood Education for the Department of Education in the Republic of Ireland. Her journal articles, books and book chapters reflect her interest in curriculum and pedagogy, focusing in particular on resolving the dilemmas associated with play as learning in practice.  

Aline-Wendy Dunlop

Scotland Representative 

Aline-Wendy Dunlop is Emeritus Professor in the School of Education, University of Strathclyde. In this role, she has chosen to focus her current research and writing interests on educational transitions, children’s learning journeys, family engagement in education and practitioner identities, beliefs and practices. She is the Project Coordinator for the Scottish Transitions as a Tool for Change Project and has recently completed the write up of ‘Narratives of Educational Transitions: A Longitudinal Study 3-
18’. Aline-Wendy is a Vice-President of Early Education and currently also one of the Scottish Trustees.

Shaddai Tembo

Scotland Representative

Shaddai is a postgraduate researcher at the University of the West of Scotland, exploring inequalities within the early years. His research interests include addressing gender inequality, race and racisms, heteronormative practices, and advocating for true diversity and inclusion. He writes independently on many of these issues from CriticalEarlyYears.org.

In the past, Shaddai oversaw the Bristol Men in Early Years Network, working to address the gender imbalance within the profession, and held the title of Learning Ambassador for Bristol Learning Cities. He has also featured on the BME Power List 2018, showcasing Bristol’s 100 most influential black and minority ethnic people, and is part of the Steering Group for the ESRC funded study ‘Gender Diversification in Early Years Education’.

Shaddai's background is in the early years, starting off in a small nursery in Bristol studying his NVQ Level 2 apprenticeship and working in a variety of settings up until his move to Scotland. Most recently, he was employed within the Family Support team in a Children's Centre. Shaddai is passionate about addressing inequalities and believes it is essential to address these issues from birth.

Noreen Dawes

Co-opted member

Noreen Dawes retired from London Metropolitan University in 2014 after twenty one years service. She was Head of the Accounting Subject Area within the Business School for over fifteen years and her teaching areas were financial accounting and taxation.

She is a qualified accountant with ACCA (now registered as retired). She was a member of the ACCA Public Sector Panel for four years. She was also a member of the Executive of the Committee of Heads of Accounting, a networking group drawn from accounting departments of UK Universities.

She has previous experience of being a Treasurer and holds a long interest in charity accounting. Her Master's dissertation from the University of Essex in 1997 looked at the impact of SORP 2 (1995) on the charity sector. She has extensive management experience from her role at the University that she can contribute to the Board of Trustees.  Noreen was Treasurer of Early Education until November 2020.

Ankur Gupta

Co-opted trustee

Ankur thrives on insightful campaigns and has a soft spot for brands which stand for a larger cause.  He has been curious and hands-on in creating advertising for 11 years with teams across South Asia and East Africa, in agencies including JWT, Ogilvy and Cheil.  As a Brand custodian (ATL and Client Side) he has managed complex projects, built strong relationships and lead teams to drive operational efficiency.  His core strength is project management and he enjoys this business of ideas.