David Hughes became the Chief Executive of NIACE in September 2011, after 11 years of working in the further education funding agencies, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA).
At the SFA he was the Provider Services Director with national responsibility for all of the funding relationships with colleges and training organisations, ensuring that high quality skills and training are delivered across the country.
At the LSC David held a variety of senior roles in the East Midlands and nationally including working in a troubleshooting capacity.
Before joining the LSC in 2000, David worked in the voluntary sector both in the UK and Australia in areas including co-operative housing, social enterprise, regeneration and adult education.
Carol Taylor (CertEd., BEd (Hons), PG Adv Dip, MEd) is NIACE’s Director for Development and Research.
She has 30 years experience of teaching and managing basic skills with learners of all ages. She has been a primary and secondary teacher and has worked in HE and FE and in local authorities. She was formerly an adviser for Travellers and for Family Literacy, head of outreach at an FE College and a Community Tutor for Derbyshire’s Adult Community Education Service.
In 1997 Carol was appointed Director of Read On Write Away!, a newly created partnership literacy organisation in Derbyshire. This developed into a nationally recognised example of partnership working and of community-focused basic skills, winning a number of awards and leading on literacy, language and numeracy in the region.
In 2004 she became the Deputy Director at the Basic Skills Agency; in 2006 she became the Joint Director of the BSA, and later, as the Director of the BSA, managed it through its closure and its merger with NIACE.
Carol has served on a number of national bodies concerned with family literacy, language and numeracy and community focused basic skills; she has contributed to a range of publications particularly on family and community literacy.
Richard Spear became Director of NIACE Dysgu Cymru in August 2007. He joined NIACE from the Welsh Government where he was Head of Funding within the Department for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills (DCELLS). Richard has worked in education for the last 15 years through various funding and policy roles with HEFCW, FEFCW, ELWa and the Welsh Government.
Richard is responsible for the management of staff, policy, strategic development, membership and resources for NIACE’s work in Wales. He is also a member of the senior management team of NIACE (England and Wales) where he leads on strategic planning across the organisation. He Chairs the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) Wales Country Panel and sits on a number of other key education groups/committees including the HEFCW Student Experience, Teaching and Quality Committee; the City & Guilds Wales National Advisory Panel; and the Agored Cymru Board; the WEA (South) Finance Committee.
He has previously been appointed to the Ministerial Advisory Group Panel for Lifelong Learning and Skills; the DCELLS Organisational Development Project External Stakeholders’ Group; Welsh Government’s Higher Education Strategy External Stakeholders Reference Group; and the Wales Credit Common Accord Forum, which he chaired.
In his previous role, Richard was responsible for annual budgets in excess of £500m. In addition to the core funding for post-16 education and training in Wales (except Higher Education) he was also responsible for specialist areas such as European funding, special educational needs and FE estates.
Alastair Thomson is Principal Policy and Advocacy Officer at NIACE, which he joined in 1987 from the Department of Education & Science, where he was a Government Information Officer. Prior to this he taught in further, higher and community education in Cambridge where he also helped establish the city’s education guidance service for adults. During this time he also worked in print and broadcast journalism, specialising in education and employment material and co-authoring a range of books and pamphlets published commercially and by public bodies.
As a NIACE Senior Programme Director, Alastair managed and contributed to a range of initiatives focused on work and learning. In his current role, he is responsible to the Chief Executive of NIACE for advocacy work (including government and parliamentary relations) and for strategic policy analysis and coherence. He has also given evidence to select committees in both Houses of Parliament.
Penny Lamb joined NIACE in September 2006. She leads on NIACE’s policy development work as well as on the organisation’s strategic work on local government and on impact measures, including the developing programme on return on investment of adult learning. Penny has previously spent a period on secondment as a Senior Policy Consultant at the Local Government Association. Prior to joining NIACE she was Head of Adult Learning for Oxfordshire County Council. Penny has five years experience as a full time inspector for the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI) and the Audit Commission. Her other roles have included Director of a Community Network and a manager in an F.E college.
Dr Fiona Aldridge (BA Economics (Hons)), MA (Education-Lifelong Learning) is Head of Learning for Work at NIACE, where she has worked since 1997. Within this role, she is responsible for leading and managing one of NIACE’s three areas of priority – learning for and at work. Since taking up this role, Fiona’s work has been focussed around a number of key agendas including apprenticeships, skills for unemployed adults and the implementation of 24+ Advanced Learning Loans.
Fiona is also responsible for the direction and co-ordination of research activity across the organisation and for leading its team of researchers. Within this role, Fiona is involved in the management of a wide range of research and development activity including the NIACE series of annual surveys into adult participation in learning. As part of this work, NIACE is currently working in partnership with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and Unionlearn to explore how we might tackle the persistent inequalities in participation that are evidenced by this and other major surveys.
Paul left school without qualifications but, encouraged by a sympathetic college tutor, he trained as a newspaper journalist at Preston Polytechnic. His work as a journalist has included spells at the Shropshire Star and the Liverpool Echo.
He left the profession to take a first degree, in philosophy, at Cardiff University. After graduating he did postgraduate research, first at Cardiff and later at Glasgow University. During this time he did a number of jobs to support his studies, including eighteen months as a postman in the Gorbals district of Glasgow.
After completing a PhD on the Scottish philosopher David Hume, Paul taught at the universities of Glasgow, Stirling and Strathclyde. He joined NIACE in 2002.
Lorraine Casey holds a PgDip (Distinction) in Social and Cultural Theory from Staffordshire University and a BA (First Class) in Sociology, Social Anthropology and Applied Social Studies from Keele University.
She joined NIACE in 2004 as a Research Officer leading on and supporting a wide range of research and development projects and providing research expertise to colleagues across the organisation. Lorraine also represents NIACE on the Learning and Skills Research Network and is an advisory group member for an NAS-funded project focused on Higher Apprenticeships.
Prior to joining NIACE, Lorraine worked as a researcher at the Institute for Access Studies, Staffordshire University, and contributed to studies for the Department for Education and Skills, the Learning and Skills Research Council and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Lorraine has worked in the field of educational research for more than ten years.
Much of Sue’s work involves developing innovative approaches to support learners in the workplace or to enter the workplace in conjunction with union colleagues. Sue has written and delivered a variety of national training programmes for Skills for Life and has taught English in Spain and worked with literacy tutors in Uganda. Sue has led several projects on behalf of NIACE including the development of an Employability Matrix for Skills for Health and Unionlearn’s Quality Award and Higher Education Toolkit. She also managed Countdown to Work, a model of numeracy learning linked to employability for the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills. Sue regularly writes articles for professional magazines.
Before joining NIACE in August 2004, Sue set up and managed workplace basic skills programmes for Northern Foods, Ford Motor Company and Transport for London. She has completed a research fellowship with the NRDC: Collaborative Learning in the Workplace and is currently studying towards an MA in Adult Literacy, Language and Numeracy at the Institute of Education in London.
Ian Yarroll (B Ed, MSc, Dip Ed), is a Programme Manager at NIACE working with policy makers, providers and practitioners to influence, advise, share good practice and support the development of adult learning.
Ian has many years experience of working as a teacher, operational and strategic manager in adult and further education. Ian has worked in school-based community education, as an area adult education manager in local authorities, and for five years as an assistant principal in an FE College. Prior to joining NIACE in 2008, Ian worked as a senior manager in a local authority with responsibility lifelong learning, library services, Nextstep information and advice and guidance service for adults and neighbourhood development programmes.
Ian regularly undertakes research and development work. He has recently completed research projects for the Centre for Excellence in Leadership on first step learning and has worked in the West Midlands on research projects on economic inclusion and the role of the voluntary sector in adult learning.
Mandy Thomas is the lead for Learning and Families at NIACE. She has been with NIACE since 2004 and has worked in the Family Learning team since 2008/9. She has been involved in several family learning research projects, including an evaluation of the North West Museum Hub family learning; a study on Progression in and from family learning; and research on Family Learning Impact Funded programmes.
Mandy has authored publications on Family Numeracy and Intergenerational Learning. She is involved with NIACE’s Social Return on Investment work and has produced a briefing for elected members on the social value of adult learning for children and young people’s services. Mandy has a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Policy, and a particular interest in the area of family policy.
Rob Gray, Senior Project Officer at NIACE, has lead responsibility for work on employability, which involves maintaining an overview of pre-employment skills and Welfare to Work policy and practice developments on behalf of the organisation.
Alongside this, Rob also undertakes work on a variety of research and development projects which last year resulted in three publications: The Work Programme: What is the role of skills, Engaging Micro-businesses, and Managing challenging behaviour within Skills provision for unemployed adults.
In previous years, Rob worked on a number of large scale projects at NIACE, including the Skills Funding Agency commissioned Evaluation of unit delivery and credit accumulation and transfer within the QCF 2011/12, the LSIS commissioned QCF Support programme for VCS and ACL providers 2010/11 and the LSIS commissioned Skills for Life improvement programme 2008/09.
Rob has also project managed two ESF funded projects; Steps to success and Upskill. These projects developed new approaches to skills adaptation and integrated employment and skills programmes for people newly arrived in the UK. Before joining NIACE, Rob had gained experience of FE teaching (science and key skills) and careers guidance.
Simon Beer, is a Programme Manager at NIACE, currently leading on Workplace Learning, Poverty and London and the South East. Since September 2011 he is seconded to the Local Government Group for two days a week.
Simon has worked in further, higher and adult education in London since 1986. In addition to thirteen years managing and teaching arts and media programmes in Further Education, he worked in a wide range of areas including teacher education, diversity education, training, arts for development and community radio. Prior to joining NIACE, Simon was Regional Secretary for the Workers Education Association (WEA) in London.
Previous work at NIACE includes: work on culture and learning; development work for trade unions; research on adult learning and crime; work for the European year Against Poverty (2010); a paper for the National Inquiry into the Future of Lifelong Learning; development of CPD models; writing a chapter ‘The Public Value of Adult Learning’ (NIACE 2009) and a project exploring issues around engaging young adults from predominately disadvantaged white working class areas in England.
Ama Dixon (BSC Sociology (Hons)) is NIACE’s Senior Project Officer leading on race equality and Offender Learning. The role forms part of Research and development and offers a race equality perspective to the varying strands of NIACE’s work.
Ama has 10 years experience in community development and working with children and young people. She served on the Board of the Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council for 4 years as Vice Chair and was the Services and Development Manager for The Alliance for Black Children for five years.
She joined NIACE in 2008 and has lead on and supported a number of projects. Currently Ama is managing the following projects:
Learning and Refugee Families (LARF), a UKBA project aimed at working with Refugee women to improve their English and to raise their awareness about fostering, as well as supporting them in exploring and accessing opportunities to become foster carers for unaccompanied refugee children.
Migrant Skills Adaptation and Validation (MSAV), a project funded by the ESF to provide a skills validation, verification and adaptation programme to help migrant workers gain employment at a level corresponding with their skills and qualifications.
Ian Bond (MA. PGCE, Dip CG, BA) is a NIACE Programme Officer with responsibility for Apprenticeships and Functional Skills. Ian’s work focuses on developing NIACE’s support for Apprenticeships, particularly with regard to the apprentices’ voice and providing employers and providers with practical strategies for maximising the effectiveness of their Apprenticeships. Ian has 14 years of FE management experience, with a focus on leading external funding, enterprise, employer engagement, international work and Apprenticeships.
Ian has considerable experience of leading projects involving the development of approaches and implementation of strategies to achieve enhanced beneficiary employability. He led an Enterprise and Incubation ERDF project for Leeds City College that involved learning providers from across the Yorkshire region and working in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Entrepreneurship and a range of employers from Retail, ICT and the Financial Services industries. Ian’s recent work has involved supporting Derbyshire Adult and Community Education Service to increase the volume of its Apprenticeship provision fourfold in three months from 13 to 61. He has extensive experience of developing partnerships involving further and higher education learning providers and employers and providing relevant vocational training solutions to address skills gaps.
Susan Easton, Senior Project Officer at NIACE, joined the organisation in 2003 to support its work in digital learning, digital inclusion and the development of innovative approaches to learning delivery. She has led on the delivery of a number of national initiatives including an online portal for Adult and Community Learning and programmes to support the use of technology in Adult and Community Learning and digital inclusion for older people. She has extensive experience in the development and delivery of online training, online assessment and blended learning programmes.
Before joining NIACE, Susan worked for over 20 years in the school, further, youth, higher and adult education sectors. This was followed by 12 years’ experience in national organisations, where she developed a strategy for Scotland on using technology in learning; led a national technology programme for Adult and Community Learning; developed an innovative learning programme to help excluded and vulnerable young people re-engage in education; developed a national programme for digital inclusion in families and supported the development of the Community Access to Lifelong Learning (CALL) initiative across Scotland.
Kevin Campbell-Wright joined NIACE Project Officer specialising in digital learning in 2012. He has more than a decade of experience working in the voluntary, local government and education sectors, undertaking roles as diverse as a youth worker, a teacher of computing and a public relations officer. For the past four years his work has been focussed around the use of technology in engaging, improving and delivering services for young people and adults in a variety of community and education settings. Kevin has co-organised several major innovation events, including the LocalGovCamp YH and LearnPod events, and has spoken and written extensively on the subjects of social media, mobile technology and e-safety.
Al Lockhart Smith (BA (Hons) English Literature and Language) is a NIACE Project Officer specialising in health, disability and equalities.
Al recently completed a secondment to the Local Government Association skills team where he worked on adult learning in local authorities. Previously he was a Research Assistant with the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) coordinating 20 action research projects on the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) which involved up to 100 organisations in Further Education, Adult Community Learning and Work-Based Learning, working with learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Before that, Al was a Project Officer for the Personalised Learning Research Centre (PLRC) with the Learning and Skills Network (LSN), working on Disability Equality (DED) and Single Equality (SES) projects in post-16 education.
Hanako Beeson is an Administrator at NIACE. Her role includes administrating the Local Authority Adult Learning Network (LEAFEA) and providing support for the annual Adult Learners’ Week parliamentary reception. Hanako originally joined NIACE in 2003 as a Secretarial Assistant, having previously studied English Language and Linguistics at the University of Durham.
Charlotte Robey joined NIACE permanently in 2012 after working as a Research Intern and Research Associate for the organisation. Charlotte is now a Research Assistant in the Learning in Communities theme of our Development and Research. She has contributed to projects on a range of topics including young people and adults who are not engaged in education, employment or training, learners’ views on access to, and support for, adult apprenticeships, and the evaluation of community learning projects. The majority of her work is currently focused on measuring the wider impacts of community learning for a wide range of beneficiaries.