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Skills Conference 2020 Speakers 2020-03-16T09:41:14+00:00

An essential event for all those involved in the delivery or management of Functional Skills/GCSE English and Maths

Tuesday 10th March, 2020

King Power Stadium, Filbert Way, Leicester, LE2 7FL


This year’s line up of speakers come from a variety of different sectors and roles, and will cover a range of topics in the skills sector.

As new speakers are confirmed, they will be added to this page.

Martin Sim – Deputy Further Education Commissioner

Martin Sim has spent almost 40 years working in the FE sector, initially as a teacher of Mathematics. He oversaw the merger of Pendleton, Eccles and Salford Colleges to form Salford City College, becoming principal and CEO in 2010.

Since leaving Salford City College in 2015, he has served as interim principal at Vision West Nottinghamshire College, Barnfield College and Gateway College.

In September 2019 he was appointed as Deputy Further Education Commissioner, working with FE colleges to help improve the quality and sustainability of their provision, and reduce the risk of failure.

Eddie Playfair – Senior Policy Manager – Association of Colleges (AoC)

Eddie is a member of the policy team at AoC, helping to support and represent English colleges.

He works on 16-18 curriculum policy, general and applied education, student support and development and maths and supports the Centres for Excellence in Mathematics national programme.

Eddie has been at AoC since September 2018 and was previously principal of Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc), a large and successful comprehensive college in East London.

He was a college principal for 16 years; 10 years at NewVIc and 6 years at Regent College in Leicester.

He trained as a secondary science teacher and taught in several London schools before joining Tower Hamlets College as Head of Science, eventually leading the college’s Sixth Form provision.

Jaz Ampaw-Farr – Public Speaker, Star of The Apprentice

It would be easy to say, you’ve never met anyone like Jaz before.

Her passion for the potential we can uncover in ourselves when we are just 2% braver and her insight into how to remove the barriers that hinder connection between us and those we seek to influence make Jaz one of those people you will never forget.

Jaz’s story is one of growing up in the midst of most appalling abuse, poverty and hardship during which she encountered five teachers (and, importantly, one pimp) whose belief in her literally saved her life.

She shares her fantastic journey of how saying yes first allowed her to progress from council estate and foster care to advising international governments on education policy.

There are many messages leaders take away from listening to Jaz as she shares her story across the UK, in the US (where she’s being called ‘The British Oprah’!) and elsewhere. Clearly, the impact that we have to transform lives comes through loud and clear but there is more to it than just that.
Jaz also embodies the idea of bravery and the willingness to be defined by what you’ve tried even if you fail, rather than by what you could have done.

Both her (very) brief stint on TV’s The Apprentice and her career as a stand up comedian are good examples of this. And she shows that a human being can be subject to the worst depravities of her fellow humans and not only survive, but thrive – and do so without anger or bitterness.

It is true, we are more than our stories, and Jaz shares ideas and insights from her life in her work with leaders and educators with humour, energy, honesty and an unswerving optimism in people and in authentic connection in particular.

Full of practical advice, her message is neatly summed up in her own words to those five teachers from her past and the title of her best selling book – Because Of You – This Is Me..

Paul Joyce – Deputy Director for Further Education and Skills (Ofsted)

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

Simon Ashworth – Chief Policy Officer – AELP

Simon is currently Chief Policy Officer for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP). AELP is a national trade association, representing the interest of 800+ organisations delivering vocational learning, sustainable employment and employability support. AELP members deliver 76% of England’s apprenticeships plus other skills & employment programmes.

Having studied Accounting and Finance at Loughborough University, Simon’s first job was in the welfare to work sector working for a small local training provider in Derby. Fourteen years later and Simon has since worked for a number of training providers across a number of business functions, including quality, curriculum development, supply chain management and direct delivery.

During his time at JHP Training (now Learndirect) Simon was responsible for the development and national rollout of a number of new apprenticeship programmes within the Skills Division, including Hospitality, Dental Nursing and Providing Financial Services. Whilst at JHP, Simon also led on the successful development of one of the twelve original ATAs in Logistics.

Following on from working at JHP, Simon spent three years at the Digital Youth Academy (DYA). The DYA was an innovative and entrepreneurial start up training provider specialising in leading on the development of Social Media and Digital Marketing curriculum.  Whilst at DYA Simon worked with the likes of Pearson, City & Guilds and the Tech Partnership in developing new standards and associated elearning materials. Three years after start-up, DYA was successfully sold to Seetec in September 2015.

In October 2015, Simon joined Babington Group as Head of New Products and Services, launching Babington Group’s own ATA (Babington Apprenticeships Ltd) and was instrumental in the sale of the business from Bridges Ventures to new owners RJD Partners in April 2016. Post sale Simon formally joined the Babington Group Executive Team and took on the role of Director of New Products and Services. Simon was leading on the Apprenticeship Reforms, working on a number of different Employer Trailblazer Groups, engaging with and mobilising a number of levy paying employers in readiness for May 2017. Simon joined AELP in January 2017.

Lucy Hunte – National Programme Manager – Apprenticeships, Health Education England

Lucy has worked in the training and education sector for over 20 years and for the past 8 years has been working in the Apprenticeship sector. She worked at 2 leading FE Colleges managing the Business Development teams which saw a 400% increase in apprenticeship numbers.

For the past 3 years she has been working for Health Education England offering strategic support to the NHS on all aspects of apprenticeship development, delivery and implementation. She is very passionate about apprenticeships as a great tool to recruit new talent to the NHS but also as a way to upskill the existing workforce and offer career pathways and progression.

Lucy is a very busy Mum of 3 but luckily absolutely loves her job too!

Claire Collins – Education Consultant

Claire Collins is a literacy and learning consultant, specialising in post-16 education. She leads national Functional Skills CPD programmes for the Education and Training Foundation and her team is currently working with the Institute of Education at UCL to develop a Post-16 Phonics Toolkit and accompanying national CPD in response to Functional Skills Reform in Entry Level English.

Claire has worked across the UK and internationally providing adult literacy development advice. Claire’s teaching background is in adult literacy and ESOL and she has designed and managed a wide range of teacher training and professional development programmes for the post-16 sector.

Christine Edwards – Education Consultant

Since the full assessment requirements for reformed Functional Skills were confirmed by Ofqual, Christine has been working with providers and supporting organisations to raise awareness and prepare for the transitional arrangements and organisational adjustments needed. In addition she has been supporting capacity building for the increased levels of staff competence required at an organisational level.

Changes to the Ofsted inspection framework and transition to standards have put a stronger focus on the need to provide a robust and detailed baseline assessment for learners to have individualised programmes of learning and support, with ongoing skill development in maths and English. As an advocate of a whole organisational approach to maths and English, Christine is proactive in the development of a positive approach to maths and English within organisations.

In 2008 Christine became an Associate Trainer with the Functional Skills Support Programme delivering a full range of transitional CPPD to providers across all sectors and has continued to work as a PD Lead for maths and English in the Post 16 Education Sector, alongside her independent work as a consultant.

As a member of the Quality Function within a national independent training provider, Christine has been involved with several Ofsted inspections; supported the development of bespoke maths and English programmes; and helped to build capacity within the vocational delivery team for the effective integration of maths and English within Apprenticeships.

Having been involved with Functional Skills since the pilot stages in 2007 and supported the transition from Key Skills to Functional Skills within a range of providers for Apprenticeships and 14+ provision, Christine has a wealth of knowledge and experience that provides her with a unique insight into the challenges and strategies that providers need to have in place.

Esther Barrett - Subject Specialist: Teaching, Learning and Assessment - JISC

Esther Barrett – Subject Specialist: Teaching, Learning and Assessment – Jisc

As a Jisc subject specialist in digital practice, Esther has been closely involved with the digital literacy movement and the development of a national digital strategy for the post 16 sectors in Wales. She offers consultancy and training in such areas as employability, apprenticeship digital delivery, blended learning and assessment, and digital capability.

Esther has been working in education for 20 years. From teaching literacy and ESOL in the community she went on to design courses, train teachers and expand learning opportunities on a regional learning network project.  As an eLearning advisor with Jisc Wales she supported the ACL and voluntary sectors.

She has a PhD in education and online language.

Beej Kaczmarczyk – Director – eMemoir

Beej is well-known in the FE and Skills sector and has an excellent reputation for his skills as a consultant and trainer, and as an expert in education policy, management, planning, teaching and learning, funding and finance. An experienced consultant with over 20 years’ experience, he has worked across a wide range of educational institutions in the UK and abroad. Prior to this he was Deputy Head of a large comprehensive school and executive director at two FE colleges, and acting Principal at one.

Lyanne Murray – QTLS – Bratilda: Professional Development

I have been involved in the delivery of Functional Skills from a pilot stage in 2007. My teaching career started in Secondary education in the North East and during this period I was seconded to work with 36 secondary schools in the North East, to support in the implementation of skills into the curriculum.

I became an examiner in 2007 for Functional Skills, this allowed a greater knowledge of the new FS qualifications and to ensure my teaching was as effective as it could be. In 2012 I was approached by an awarding body to also support centres in the capacity of a Standards Verifier, ensuring that centres were adhering to a robust quality assurance process and that internal assessments were being assessed against the standards correctly. This role gave me a great insight into how different centres plan, deliver and assess and from this the ‘train the trainer’ role naturally occurred.

I have been designing, developing and delivering National Training courses specialising in Functional Skills from 2012. Courses range from supporting delegates on embarking on new delivery of FS, designing bespoke courses to meet the needs of problem centres, supporting centres to successfully progress through the levels to the new reforms.

Steve Pardoe

Steve Pardoe – Regional Maths Lead – Education and Training Foundation

Steve Pardoe is a Regional Maths Lead for ETF on the Centres for Excellence in Mathematics (CfEM) project.  He has previously worked in and for the FE sector for over 30 years as a maths teacher, manager and teacher trainer.  He currently has the role of supporting seven of the CfEM centres in the East and South East of England.

Steve will also be delivering his session with Viv Kimeng and Michael Lancaster who are centre leads at two of the 21 CfEM centres in England – Viv at Harlow College and Michael at Cambridge Regional College. Both are experienced maths practitioners who have been involved in implementing national trials, action research projects, and local network development and CPD at their colleges as part of the project.

Jai Atwal – Head of Sales and Customer Engagement – bksb

Jai is a Sales Manager in the Education sector working with FE colleges, schools, training providers and employers to implement bksb’s market leading online solution for maths, English and ICT. Jai first started working at bksb at the age of 15 where he completed his work experience. Following university, he joined the company full time.

He now manages a highly effective sales team, supporting thousands of providers across the UK.

Matthew Clark – Account Manager – bksb

As the Account Manager at bksb, Matt works with a wide range of organisations to help implement bksb’s award winning solutions for English, maths and ICT. From FE colleges to independent training providers, Matt is responsible for delivering effective training to help ensure that staff members are able to use bksb to its full potential.

Matt is passionate about ensuring that clients use the bksb platform to effectively assess and upskill learners to help them excel in their learning journeys and subsequent careers.