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Speakers & trainers

The Learning & Events team works with more than 100 speakers and trainers to create our diverse programme.

They include current practitioners and service managers, leading experts in niche areas, and inspirational individuals with unique experiences of creating positive change for children. 
 Each of them is passionate about sharing their knowledge to strengthen the skills of those working in the children’s sector.

All our trainers possess the qualities and skills we believe are vital to our success in delivering training of a consistently high standard. This is backed up in the evaluations from delegates who consistently rate them as 'excellent'.

You can read more about their backgrounds and achievements in the following selection of profiles.

Jane Brumpton

Jane is Depute Chief Executive of Early Years Scotland – the leading national third sector organisation for children pre-birth to give. She is committed to providing the very best start in life for every child in Scotland.

Prior to this role, she was Depute Head Teacher of St Philomena’s Primary and Enhanced Nurture Unit in Glasgow, and was involved in citywide developments around nurture in primary and early years.

Jane started her career as a primary teacher working first in primary schools and then in nursery schools with a period of time working abroad in International Schools. She then completed a PGCE at Strathclyde University to specialise in early years education. She also had a series of secondments to Learning and Teaching Scotland (now Education Scotland) as an Early Years Development Officer, working nationally within the early years team.

Eileen Calder

Eileen is Director and Founder of FASD Scotland, and a psychologist with 19 years’ experience of parenting and working with children, young people and adults affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). She has worked with the Scottish Prison Service on Risk and Needs Assessment, Violence Prevention and Drugs Relapse Prevention.

Eileen has established a Scottish support group for families affected by FASD and advocates on issues affecting the individual child, adult and family.

FASD Scotland is working to raise awareness of FASD and train professional groups, families and the general public with an aim to reduce prevalence and develop services for those affected.

Nicky Hutchinson and Chris Calland

Nicky and Chris are body image specialists and education consultants who work internationally to promote body confidence and good mental health in children.

They work with parents, researchers, practitioners and children to promote body confidence, and have written an evidence-based body image programme for schools with the book Body Image in the Primary School. They are also the authors of Minnie and Max are OK!, a storybook for 3-7s. They received a parliamentary award for their work and advise the UK Government on children’s body image issues.

They speak regularly at conferences and in the media discussing the importance of supporting children to develop a positive self-esteem and body confidence.

Christine Collingwood

Christine Collingwood is an Autism Improvement Officer with Autism Network Scotland. She has professional qualifications in social work and in social work education, and worked for many years with children and families.

Christine has also worked in the field of health and research, and in the charitable sector. She has been involved with autistic children and adults at various stages of their life journey.

Dr Val Corry

Val is an Education Consultant and former secondary Headteacher with more than ten years’ experience in senior management roles in schools. She has worked extensively on behalf of Children in Scotland delivering masterclasses in parental engagement.

Val is a trained facilitator for Executive Arts Limited, the licensor of the transformational change tools that she uses in her training, and Practice Advisor for International Futures Forum. Val also works with the University of Glasgow, delivering leadership programmes including a postgraduate Middle Leadership and Management course and Into Headship, and delivers bespoke leadership programmes for schools.

She was part of a small group seconded to work with the Scottish Government to give advice on raising attainment, and has worked with the Scottish Government and Education Scotland as a Professional Advisor with a focus on raising attainment and reducing inequity.

Frank Crawford

Frank is a freelance education consultant working with individual schools and groups of schools (including with learners and parents), education authorities, government departments and charities.

He is a former HM Chief Inspector of Education in Scotland and now acts as a coach to senior leaders. He has also worked with health services and a number of national agencies. His main current focus is on how people at all levels in organisations can lead change and transformation to improve outcomes.

Frank has been involved in a number of international projects ranging across issues such as school transformation, inspection, quality indicators, inter-disciplinary learning, professional and career development, and health and wellbeing. He has been a keynote speaker and conference chair and provided support at conferences and events in all parts of the UK and internationally.

Daljeet Dagon

Daljeet has more than 20 years’ direct practice and management experience working with children, young people and families affected by child sexual exploitation (CSE) and associated issues.

As well as managing CSE and intensive family support services, she provides strategic oversight of CSE for Barnardo’s Scotland.

She has significant experience of designing and delivering training specifically for practitioners, communities and businesses in relation to CSE as well as participating in influencing, media and policy work in this area.

Prof Rudi Dallos

Rudi is Professor and Research Director on the Clinical Psychology training programme at the University of Plymouth. He has practised as a family therapist for more than 30 years and is currently engaged in a major research programme to evaluate a systemic/attachment-based therapy (SAFE) for families with a child with a diagnosis of autism.

Prof Dallos has published several books including, An Introduction to Family Therapy (2000), Attachment Narrative Therapy (2006), Systemic Therapy and Attachment Narratives (2009) and Attachment and Family Therapy (2014).

Catharine Driver

Catharine has had wide experience of working in multilingual schools and local authorities across the UK. She was Head of English as Additional Language (EAL) in a London Secondary school for six years as well as a school improvement consultant and MA course tutor.

Between 2013 and 2015, Catharine worked as Senior Adviser for the British Council EAL Nexus project. She now works for the National Literacy Trust and as an associate of the EAL Academy using her expertise on academic literacy within the curriculum.

Rob Eastaway

Rob is former president of the UK Mathematical Association. He has run hundreds of training events aimed at primary schools and their teachers, and has written and co-authored 11 books about maths, including the bestselling Maths for Mums and Dads (more than 100,000 copies sold), which is widely used by parents and teachers across the UK.

Alison Ebbitt

Alison is an experienced mental health social worker, specialising in mediation.

Ruth Fidler

Ruth is an Education Consultant specialising in complex autism, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), interactive approaches and emotional wellbeing. She worked at Sutherland House, a non-maintained special school for 94 pupils across the autism spectrum, for 22 years.

Ruth provides training and consultancy for schools and parents and works with other agencies including the Autism Education Trust and the National Autistic Society.

She is co-author of two books, Understanding Pathological Demand Avoidance syndrome in children (2012) and Can I Tell You About Pathological Demand Avoidance? (2015).

Stan Godek

Stan is a human relations trainer and consultant with more than 20 years’ experience of working directly with emotionally damaged/traumatised young people and their families in a variety of settings. He has managed residential units in Edinburgh and London and has worked in the field of social work, probation and mental health.

Originally specialising in working with trauma, the effects of abuse and managing challenging behaviour, he now offers a wide range of training for those working with children, young people and adults in social care, education and health sectors and increasingly works on Attachment Theory and its relationship to Brain Development in infancy.

Lindsay Graham

Lindsay Graham has more than 15 years’ experience in the field of learning disability, and has worked to support those with additional needs in independent living and in employment.

For the last 10 years she has been working in education provision for young adults with complex needs, creating learning plans and resources, as well as training staff in teaching and learning strategies.

Lindsay has worked both in Scotland and internationally, in India, where she worked with families to develop learning plans, and with local NGOs and schools to train staff and raise awareness of learning disability. Lindsay is currently Education Consultant with Your Learning Ability – www.yourlearningability.org.

Sarah Hendrickx

Sarah has been a keynote speaker at national autism conferences in the UK and overseas. She specialises in speaking on all aspects of autism and Asperger syndrome including relationships, women, gender differences, employment and alcohol.

Sarah was diagnosed autistic with Asperger syndrome at the age of 43 after she had written several books on the subject. Autism in women is so invisible that Sarah did not recognise it in herself.

Sarah speaks openly about her wide and varied life experiences in her talks, including 30+ failed jobs, life-long mental health difficulties and numerous disastrous relationships – all of which she shares with humour and brutal honesty.

Bill Hewlett

Bill has worked for 17 years as a child consultant and a mediator. He managed and supervised the clinical practice of mediators across six Family Relationship Centres and was the lead trainer for the Australian Institute for Relationships Studies in Sydney, Australia. This work led Bill to develop an innovative and effective model of practice, which responds to the current challenges of the family law system when working with parents who struggle to come to amicable arrangements with each other.

Bill is now able to offer a unique opportunity for parents in the UK to help them to come to collaborative agreements with each other that will allow their children to thrive in the knowledge that both their parents will be able to work together. This will allow the children to feel more secure and reduce their anxiety and distress.

Bill has published articles on family dispute resolution and is frequently invited to present at conferences and events locally and internationally.

Kate Johnston

Kate trained at Moray House as a primary teacher and then returned latterly to train as a nursery teacher.

Having been influenced in her practice by Froebel, the work being undertaken in Reggio Emilia and the writing of Tina Bruce, she is passionate about allowing children time to develop their social and communication skills while exploring their environment.

She has spoken at AGMs of the Educational Institute of Scotland on the necessity for highly qualified early years staff and joined the Upstart campaign to highlight the issues of an early start for our children’s lives.

Prof Rita Jordan PhD OBE

Rita is Emeritus Professor in Autism Studies at University of Birmingham.

Listen Well Scotland

Maureen Wilson

Maureen is Executive Co-ordinator at Listen Well Scotland. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a trainer, supervisor and listener, working in primary care.

Her background includes nearly 40 years’ experience as an NHS Physiotherapist and 15 years’ experience as a non-stipendiary Minister in the United Reformed Church. Her role included voluntary chaplaincy at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, where she worked alongside staff and patients in the Macmillan Unit and Oncology.

Her present focus is a pilot scheme delivering new listening courses for schools with the aim of making a positive contribution to the mental wellbeing of young people.

Marie Ogilvie

Marie became a volunteer Tutor and Listener with Listen Well Scotland after being introduced to the foundations of Effective Listening towards the end of a clinical academic career in medical virology.

She has gained wider experience, on both theoretical and practical aspects in this field, as a course examiner, and as a supervisor of Registered Listeners.

Marie also assists with the development of Listening Time for You (LT4U) in different community settings, and recruitment and training of new volunteers, particularly for listening in schools.

Stella Louis

Stella is an early years consultant who has worked as a nursery nurse, nursery manager, Diploma in Childhood Education course coordinator and Early Years Training coordinator.

She wrote her first book in 2008 on understanding children’s schemas and has had articles published in Nursery World and Early Education. She has developed a sustained interest in working with parents and is involved in research on sharing knowledge and understanding of young children’s schemas with parents.

Stella is currently studying for a Doctorate in Education and is a Froebelian-trained travelling tutor, working in the UK and South Africa in an initiative funded by the Froebel Council.

Jess McBeath

Jess is a consultant and trainer specialising in online safety and digital citizenship within a Scottish context. She provides online safety consultancy and training to schools, charities and public sector organisations, as well as to parents, professionals and young people.

With a first class degree in Linguistics & Artificial Intelligence and an MBA (distinction), Jess began her career working in IT for a multinational corporation. She then moved into the public sector, managing local authority services covering learning and development, strategic planning, performance and self-evaluation.

Jess has worked with services in education, child protection, social work, police, health, elected members and voluntary sector bodies to review and transform services, and to prepare for and respond to inspections.

Corrie McLean

Corrie is an Autism Improvement Officer with Autism Network Scotland. Corrie has been working with autistic children in some form for nearly 12 years. She has a background in primary school teaching and a focus on additional support needs.

Corrie also has a sibling with autism.

Marie McQuade

Marie works as Early Years Training Officer with Early Years Scotland, supporting the development and delivery of professional learning activities around Scotland.

In parallel with her training role, Marie also works as a Development and Support Officer supporting over 150 early years settings, including local authority nurseries, private and voluntary settings and early years centres. She works closely with teachers, managers and practitioners in developing their settings.

Prior to joining Early Years Scotland, Marie worked in private, voluntary and local authority settings. She is currently studying a PGDE/Masters in Education, specialising in Early Years.

Jan Montgomery

Jan is an experienced youth worker, specialising in working with young people. She is a qualified psychotherapist, play therapist and life coach.

Lilias Nicholls

Lilias Nicholls is a Speech and Language Therapist working at Daldorch House School in East Ayrshire. This residential school educates and looks after 21 young people up to the age of 21 who are severely affected by autism.

As well as traditional therapy, Lilias also uses massage, yoga and relaxation in her day-to-day interactions with the pupils.

Sue Palmer

Sue is a former headteacher, literacy specialist and author of books on child development, notably Toxic Childhood and 21st Century Boys. Research for her latest book, Upstart: the case for raising the school starting age and providing what the under-sevens really need (Floris, 2016), inspired the Upstart Scotland campaign.

During a long career as a freelance literacy specialist she wrote more than 250 books, software programmes and TV scripts on various aspects of literacy, and many hundreds of articles for the educational and national press. She has also provided courses for teachers throughout the UK and around the world, and acted as a consultant to the National Literacy Trust, the Basic Skills Agency, the English Department for Education and the BBC.

In recent years, she has been Chair of the Scottish Play Commission and served on the Scottish Government’s Early Years Task Force.

Stewart Rafferty

Stewart leads the Disclosure Scotland in promoting Registered Body Workshops and driving the implementation of the organisation’s education initiatives across Scotland. This includes working with approximately 3,500 registered bodies covering a wide variety of employment sectors in Scotland.

Stewart’s previous experience includes 16 years as a learning and development professional with the Department of Work and providing essential skills to work coaches within Jobcentres to help and support claimants’ return to work.

Richard Rose

Richard undertakes consultancy and training on Life Story Therapy and working with ‘hard to reach’ children and adolescents, and develops academic training programmes in the UK and internationally.

He is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Social Work and Social Policy at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, and is also a Fellow of the Berry Street Childhood Institute, a part of Berry Street, Australia.

Richard works with children and their carers in out-of-home, home-based and family placements to assist understanding and attachment with the aim of enabling placements to become healthy and nurturing for all involved.

Amy Sinclair

Amy is a mathematics consultant who travels the country running CPD courses for primary teachers.

She taught in a variety of Scottish schools before working at local authority and national level supporting schools in developing good practice.

She was part of the writing team for Curriculum for Excellence and has written publications on active learning in maths. She is passionate about engaging pupils in maths through creative, active learning opportunities.

Moira Thomson MBE

Moira managed a team of specialist Support for Learning teachers and classroom/learning support assistants for many years at Broughton High School, Edinburgh. She was a City of Edinburgh Council education development officer and in-house CPD provider with a focus on policy and provision for dyslexic learners and the education of Gifted and Talented pupils and, concurrently, an HMIe Associate Assessor and an Associate Tutor for the Scottish Network for Able Pupils based at the University of Glasgow.

As secretary of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Dyslexia Moira was a member of the advisory group that developed the Scottish Government’s working definition of dyslexia.

Moira is currently an independent adjudicator for the Scottish Government’s Additional Support Needs dispute resolution and is chair of Dyslexia Scotland South East, leading a team of volunteers in support of local children and adults with dyslexia, for which she was recently awarded an MBE.

Donald Urquhart

Donald has been the National Safeguarding Officer for the Scottish Episcopal Church since 2010, and combines this with consultancy work in the area of safeguarding, public protection and community safety.

He joined Edinburgh City Police (subsequently Lothian and Borders Police) in 1972 and retired as a superintendent in 2004. He then became Head of Antisocial Behaviour Services with City of Edinburgh Council, before moving into the field of Child Protection.

Donald became Lead Officer for Midlothian Child Protection Committee in 2006 and then in 2008 Independent Chair of Glasgow Child Protection Committee, a position he held for six years. During that time, he was the Chair of both the West of Scotland Child Protection Committee and the Scottish Child Protection Chairs’ and Lead Officers’ Forum.

Dr Sue Whitcombe

Sue is a Counselling Psychologist registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. She is a Chartered member and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, Chair of the Training Committee for Counselling Psychology and sits on the BPS Expert Witness Advisory Group and Children and Young People Mental Health Group.

Sue has 20 years’ experience working with children and families and is Principal Psychologist at Family Psychology Solutions, a not-for-profit social enterprise, which she founded with the support of Teesside University.

Sue works with children, young people, adults and families who experience life and mental health difficulties as a result of relationship issues. In addition to her therapeutic work, Sue delivers training and consultancy to the legal, mental health and social work professions on implacable hostility and parental alienation. She also provides expert assessments for family court proceedings.

Jan White

Jan works across the UK and internationally as a leading thinker and writer on outdoor play and advocate for high quality outdoor provision for services for children from birth to seven.

She is currently an Early Education Associate, adviser for several landscape and equipment companies, convenor of the Landscapes for Early Childhood national network, and has been an Associate Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam and Birmingham City Universities. She provides training courses, conference keynotes and consultancy for a wide range of early years settings.

Jan is award-winning author of a number of books, including Playing and Learning Outdoors: making provision for high quality experiences in the outdoor environment with children 3-7 (Routledge, 2nd edition 2014), is editor of Outdoor Provision in the Early Years (Sage, 2011), and collaborated with Siren Films to make the award-winning training DVDs, Babies Outdoors, Toddlers Outdoors and Two Year-olds Outdoors (Siren Films, 2011).

Gareth Wilks

Gareth joined Disclosure Scotland as a Compliance Manager in 2014, having joined the Civil Service in 2008 with a previous background in both policy and casework.

His current role is focused on working with employers of both paid staff and volunteers to promote the benefits and appropriate use of the PVG Scheme and the disclosure regime.

Gareth’s previous experience includes work within transport, benefits and immigration within the Civil Service and local authorities.

Chris Williams

Chris has been a teacher in primary and special school settings for more than 20 years. He is committed to ensuring the best possible outcomes for all children and has a background in supporting students with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Speech, Language and Communication needs.

In 2012, alongside colleague David Andrews, Chris developed methods that transform the learning process for all students, of all ages and abilities. These whole school approaches have been embedded in hundreds of nursery schools, primary schools and secondary schools around the world. Chris and David jointly write the popular online blog Mr Andrews Online which was one of the winners in the 2014 UK Blog Awards.

Chris is now a director of Chatta, a new company with a revolutionary approach to accelerating progress in early language development. He shares his work at conferences in the UK and overseas and continues to be a pioneer in a field where costly technology and technologists with limited depth of educational understanding fail to respond to the prime needs of students.

Dr Suzanne Zeedyk

Suzanne is a research scientist fascinated by babies’ innate capacity to connect. Since 1993 she has been based at the University of Dundee’s School of Psychology.

In 2011, Suzanne stepped away from a full-time academic post in order to establish an independent training enterprise with the aim of helping the public understand all that science has discovered about the importance of emotional connection for human health and happiness. She works internationally with organisations keen to think more deeply about fostering connection, compassion and resilience.

In 2014, Suzanne founded the organisation Connected Baby. Together with her team, she works to help parents and professionals make practical use of the science of connection and relationships.