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Skills Conference 2020 Speakers 2019-11-13T09:02:09+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.

Eddie blogs at  and tweets as @eddieplayfair

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..

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.