Speaker Biographies

Sue Palmer


Sue Palmer, a former primary headteacher, has been an independent educational consultant for over 25 years. During that time she has written over two hundred books, software packages and TV programmes about primary literacy, and worked as a  consultant for the Department for Education, the National Literacy Trust, the Basic Skills Agency, many educational publishers and the BBC.


She is a popular speaker in the UK and beyond, both on literacy and, more recently, ‘child development in the modern world’. Her first book on this subject, Toxic Childhood, was published in 2006, since when she has been involved in many national campaigns around education, outdoor play, screen-based entertainment and the commercialisation of childhood.


She has twice been cited in the Evening Standard as among the 1000 most influential people in London

(which she finds particularly thrilling, since she lives in Edinburgh) and is currently a member of the Scottish Government’s Early Years Task Force and co-chair of the Task Force’s committee on Culture Change.


Mary Bousted


Dr Mary Bousted is general secretary of ATL. Mary represents the interests of her members to the government, and to a wide variety of other stakeholders. As the education union, ATL leads the debate on key educational issues with strong policy positions on, for example, assessment and curriculum changes; school accountability and school structures.


Mary contributes regular articles for newspapers and education journals, and appears frequently on national media. She sits on the executive committee of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and is a member of the ACAS board. Mary is also an
accomplished public speaker and has debated at the Oxford Union.


Mary previously worked in higher education at York University, Edge Hill University and at Kingston University where she was Head of the School of Education. Prior to this Mary was a Head of English, and English teacher in comprehensive schools in North London.

Steve Iredale


Steve was born and educated in York before qualifying as a teacher at Nottingham College of Education in 1977. He has since taught in Ealing, Huddersfield, Leeds and Barnsley, where he is headteacher of Athersley South Primary School. He is passionate about developing leadership at all levels, high quality teaching and learning and the potential of every child.


Steve has been an NAHT member since joining as a deputy headteacher in 1988. In 2003 he joined the Yorkshire Region Executive, was appointed Barnsley Branch Secretary and was appointed to the National Executive in 2007. He has been Chair of the Curriculum and Assessment Committee and an enthusiastic member of various other committees including playing a leading role in the Assessment Reform Campaign team.


In his role as President he is determined to represent the views of all members with the policy makers and believes very firmly that it is time for governments to put their trust in the profession.


In his ‘spare time’ he enjoys walking, organic gardening and being an active member of CAMRA!

Vic Goddard


“What sort of example is this to set our children? Teachers call pupils 'scumbags' and the head flicks V-signs at his deputy in school praised as 'outstanding'”


So screamed the Daily Mail in September 2011 after seeing the first half of the first episode of Channel 4’s fly-on-the-classroom-wall documentary Educating Essex (they were excluded from the early screenings for being, well, the Daily Mail). The subject of their ire was ‘worst headteacher in the country’ Vic Goddard.


Council-estate born and raised, Vic has worked his way up through the system from a PE teacher via Head of Department and a brief stint in Cairo, to being one of the most high profile, controversial, innovative and bluntly passionate headteachers. Vic, a qualified and experienced Dive Master to boot, not only brings drive, creativity and innovation to the role, putting the children he so clearly cares for centre stage at every opportunity, he also brings the human touch to what he unashamedly describes as ‘his other family’. In his own words, “If you saw the programme, you’ll recognise me, I’m the one crying’.


His passion for education – an education that refuses to accept limits in what young people and their teachers are capable of – is matched by his genuine zeal for educational leadership. ‘It’s the best job in the world’, he says, ”Once I became hooked on teaching I realised that I wanted to be a head by 40 and on the golf course by 55’.


Since the airing of the BAFTA-winning TV show, Vic has been very much in demand, speaking to headteacher conferences as well as talking to audiences of new teachers, encouraging them not only to embrace teaching as a
profession but also have the ambition and drive to aim for headship. 
In an era of super-heads with equally super-salaries, Vic has never been in it for anything other than making a difference to young people’s lives.

Stephanie Davies


Stephanie has over 12 years experience working in the public and private sector which has gained her an unsurpassed reputation for designing and delivering laughter and humour interventions for young people and adults in various settings. Stephanie is recognised as one of the UK’s leading voices in happiness humour and laughter.

On leaving Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts in 2002 she began performing stand-up comedy, and is an award winning comedian. Her years of experience on the comedy circuit make her the perfect speaker and presenter, with delivery that is witty and and informative she has worked her way round some of the most prestigious events and venues including speaking at Whitehall and at the world famous Gesundheit institute USA.

In the past 12 years Stephanie has worked on projects and events in the public and private sector developing everything from creating happy spaces and environments in schools and health settings, to motivating and inspiring individuals, teams and large blue chip organisations as well as working on government initiatives to promote positive, happy lives and work. The unique approach of Laughology founded and developed by Stephanie Davies looks at how individuals can be resilient human beings and live lives that flourish and are happy and healthy.

Yes Stephanie is outrageously happy most of the time, if not a little mad, so say her close friends and family. She loves performing stand –up which means she frequents dark bars with other mad groups of people where she feels strangely at home.

Jenni Murray


Jenni Murray is one of radio and television’s most respected broadcasters. Her wide-ranging expertise in politics, business and the arts has led commentators to write admiringly of her “well stocked mind”. Her passions fuel her work and her polemic for FIVE TV’s Don’t Get me Started on assisted dying, provoked discussion and debate beyond the usual reach of the programme. Her ability to deal with healthcare issues is testament to her professionalism; she has only recently recovered from cancer herself.


Her interviews with the powerful (PM’s, Cabinet Ministers, Church and Business leaders and the Royal Family) are described as “probing”‘, “steely” and “no-nonsense” and her knowledge of the arts is matchless. As presenter of BBC Radio’s WOMAN’S HOUR, Jenni daily demonstrates her incredible range and depth and a unique ability to understand the feelings and complexities of those she interviews – talents she brings to Radio 4’s The Message and talents she brought to BBC TV’s Newsnight and Everyman and BBC Radio’s Today and Tuesday Call.


Now she writes for THE MAIL amongst many others. Away from page and broadcast Jenni is an accomplished conference facilitator and presenter – skilled at managing platform and audience with an incisive grasp of issues and impressive speaking skills.

Theresa Heys


Teresa Heys is passionate about helping organisations, teams and employees to keep their stress levels to an absolute minimum, because she knows from personal experience how much more effective people can be when they are not stressed by the challenges life presents.


She has been working in stress and wellbeing management since 2005 in Oxfordshire schools and in teams throughout the OCC. Her work with the schools has been recognised by the Health and Safety Executive as an example of best practice and she has forged close links with the Health and Safety Executive stress policy group.


Teresa is a qualified teacher, with 26 years' classroom experience, and was a primary school Deputy Head in her final year of full time teaching. Her qualifications (apart from teaching qualifications) include:

IOSH stress management trainer

Diploma in Stress Management from the Centre for Stress Management (London)

Globis National Employment and Workplace Mediation Certificate.

EBOSH certificate in Health and Safety.

She is a full member of the International Stress Management Association, and a tech. member of IOSH.


Alison Peacock


Alison Peacock, BA (London), MEd (Cambridge) is headteacher at The Wroxham Primary School, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire and Associate Director of the Cambridge Primary Review Trust. She is also a National Leader in Education (NLE) and leads a National School of Creativity. Wroxham was awarded Teaching School status in July 2011.


Alison’s teaching career spans primary, secondary and advisory roles. Alison led her current school out of special  measures less than a year after her appointment as headteacher (Jan 2003). The school was subsequently judged by Ofsted to be outstanding (Feb 2006, March 2009).


Alison leads an influential network of primary colleagues across England. She leads the CPR network in partnership with Professor Robin Alexander, and is also a Senior Primary Partner of the Challenge Partners group of schools. She is a member of the Princes Trust Commission for the proposed Royal College of Teachers.


Alison’s transformative leadership of her school is the subject of a book ‘Creating Learning without Limits’ (2012). 
Throughout her career she has worked in partnership with educational researchers to document her innovative work as a teacher and school leader.


Jane Riley


For over 18 years Jane has worked with one of the leading gurus of personal development and achievement, Stephen Covey, author of the HUGELY popular The Seven Habits books and programmes. In that time she has worked with many, many companies and individuals to help them develop the necessary thinking and approaches to be a little bit closer to all they could be. And with great results!


Apart from her success in the world of business, Jane is also developing a growing reputation for making these powerful approaches to building confidence, self-esteem, leadership, team building and communication relevant and practical in schools, working with young people of all abilities and ages as well as their teachers.


What’s more she is an inspirational speaker as well as an inspiration herself with a career that takes in professional dancing, working as a credit analyst for American Express, running her own company, being a Master Practitioner in NLP, a qualified reflexologist, a colour analyst and image consultant, appearing on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, being a guest commentator on Channel 4’s Big Brother’s Little Brother and riding a large motorbike.


Feedback from school staff that have benefitted from Jane's input include:

• Dynamic – gave food for thought

• Made me think about how others perceive me and how to influence it

• Wow! Simple and effective

• Motivating and entertaining

Mick Brookes


Looking back over the past four decades and more of my working life, I take some pleasure and delight in the richness of the experience. My schooling was academically fairly unimpressive having ‘failed’ the 11+ in 1959 but ended up being ‘Head Boy’ with 6 ‘O’ levels and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award. This enabled me to gain a  place at King Alfred’s College, Winchester.


I have always wanted to teach, I remember writing about my hopes and dreams in 1956 and achieved my goal despite setbacks and lack of encouragement. (My careers guidance consisted of “aiming a bit high aren’t you Brookes”!!) From a stuttering start of my career in 1969 I was surprised and not a little amazed to have been appointed Head of a small school in Lincolnshire at the age of 29 years despite having taken two years out to work in other unrelated employment!


I thoroughly enjoyed practically every day of being a Headteacher and whilst I was only in two schools for the 27 years of that status, the time was peppered with out of school experiences from introducing BBC B computers in schools in the ‘70’s to addressing national and international conferences and being a national media spokesperson for education on behalf of the NAHT.


The final five years of my full-time career as General Secretary (NAHT) were a fascinating high-wire act empowered by the burning passion for education that has sustained me through all my years of working with and for children. That passion still thrives and I am enjoying working with a number of individual organisations to share my special knowledge and understanding. I have worked in schools for so many years, combined with my more recent experience of working with the ‘movers and shakers’ in the education world, from Ministers to media.


It is good to be living in Cumbria, close to the lakes and mountains that I fell in love with back in 1965 during my Duke’s Award final camp. I am finally able to properly balance and blur the edges, between work and life. However I still have plenty of energy and appetite to work with individuals and organisations who continue to strive to provide the very best opportunities and experiences for children and young people.

Marc Woods


Marc was diagnosed with cancer at 17 and consequently had his left leg amputated below the knee. Not knowing whether he had six months or 60 years left to live, he was determined to make the most of whatever time he did have. Moreover, Marc has done just that - becoming a member of Great Britain’s Paralympic Swimming Team, a
multiple Gold Medallist, BBC commentator and author. Marc’s distinctive, open style demonstrates his passion for life, translating into a moving and motivating experience for audiences.

His dream was to simply be the best that he could be and just 18 months after he finished his chemotherapy he was selected to represent Great Britain. He subsequently competed at European & World Championships and Paralympic Games. In his 17 years of competition he won a staggering 12 Paralympic medals from 5 Games, 4 of those medals being gold. Marc also won a further 21 medals from European and World Championships.

Marc presents to organisations all over the world. He works closely with his clients to ensure the emphasis of his speech compliments the issues that are currently being faced in the work place. There are numerous learning points within his presentations including insights into:

• Motivation   • Teamwork   • Leadership   • Communication skills

His presentations follow him on his journey from 'taking personal responsibility' to 'working within a small team' through to 'enthusing the broader support team'. 

Michael Rosen


Michael Rosen is one of the best-known figures in the children’s book world, renowned for his work as a poet, performer, broadcaster and scriptwriter. As an author and by selecting other writers’ work for anthologies, he has been involved with over 140 books.


He lectures and teaches in universities on children’s literature, reading and writing. A familiar voice to BBC listeners, Michael presents Word of Mouth, the magazine programme that looks at the English language and the way we use it. He was one of the first poets to make visits to schools throughout the UK, enthusing children with his passion for books and poetry.


Starting to write poetry at the age of twelve, Michael created satirical poems about people he knew, moving on to write “deadly serious” poems about things he had done, about girls and about “nature”. At Wadham College, Oxford he began to realise his ambition of acting (as well as writing and directing). He also began looking outside the recommended reading to contemporary working class ballads and retains a passion for street rhymes, popular songs and folk stories.


Most of Michael’s books are considered to be for children but he started his career as a with a play, ‘Backbone’, that went on to the Royal Court in 1969.His next stop was the BBC where he worked on Play School, Schools TV and radio dramas until 1972 when he went freelance.


Poetry critic Morag Styles has described him as “one of the most significant figures in contemporary children’s poetry”, going on to say he was one of the first poets “to draw closely on his own childhood experiences…..and to ‘tell it as it was’ in the ordinary language children actually use.”



David Cameron


David has established himself as one of the leading voices in the UK and internationally. He has worked in every sector from early years to Further Education across the UK and has been in demand, particularly for his work on  creativity, curriculum and learning right across the world. David plays a key role in England through his role as chair of the York Education Partnership, a highly praised initiative aimed at ensuring continuing cooperation and
collaboration between all schools and local authority in the city.


He was a key figure in national developments in Scotland. He was closely involved in the development of  Curriculum for Excellence, the Scottish response to the educational challenges of the 21st Century. He recently reviewed arrangements for funding schools for the Scottish Government and led a review of class size regulations. He advised Skills Development Scotland on how they should position themselves as a new organisation supporting learners, employers and education providers.


David was closely involved in the development of policy and practice in supporting Looked After Children through the “We can and must do better” initiative. He also chaired the working group on Outdoor Learning – Outdoor Connections. 

One of his current interests is in creativity and creative learning.

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