Advisory Board

Role and Purpose

The role of the Advisory Board is to provide technical advice, expertise and challenges to the Programme Team in support of the performance of the Early Years Professional Development Programme. This will include the identification of alignment opportunities with other DfE-funded work, supporting consistent messaging throughout the Early Years sector and identifying potential opportunities for ensuring sustainability beyond the life of the Programme.

Advisory Board members will additionally support the delivery of the Early Years Professional Development Programme through promoting evidence of good practice within the Early Years sector nationally.

The purpose of the Advisory Board is to champion, challenge, clarify and collaborate in the strategic direction and development of the Early Years Professional Development Programme.

Composition and appointed members

The Advisory Board will provide advice, insight and influence, helping to connect the Programme Team into the wider sector and its priorities. Members will include prominent practitioners and Early Years leaders, academics and sector representatives.

Lyn Challender

Chair of the Advisory Board and Programme Director for the Early Years Professional Development Programme, Lyn has a profound passion for Early Years and a wealth of experience in the sector. Lyn has led diverse roles including heading a maintained Nursery School and Early Excellence Centre and overseeing a substantial Sure Start Children’s Centre with an integrated daycare facility. Lyn has also managed a Local Authority Children’s Centre contract across 48 sites and served as a Local Authority Senior Early Years Adviser – providing technical leadership on nationally funded Early Years programmes for the Department for Education at Education Development Trust.

Sue Gifford

Dr Sue Gifford works as an early years mathematics consultant with practitioners and various organisations. She is Emeritus Fellow of Roehampton University and chairs the Early Childhood Maths Group. Previously a London primary and early years teacher, she has researched early years mathematics and children with mathematics difficulties; her current interests include the links between patterning and music with children with special needs. Dr Sue has written and co-produced a range of professional development resources, recently focusing on patterning and spatial reasoning.

Jan Dubiel

Jan is an internationally-recognised specialist in early years education. In 2018 he was named as one of the ten most influential people in British education by the Times Educational Supplement.

Jan has decades of experience in the sector, as a Nursery, Reception and Year 1 teacher in schools across England and then leading teams as an Early Years coordinator. Jan is the former Head of National and International Development at Early Excellence, and now works as an independent speaker, consultant, trainer, author focusing on Early Years policy, pedagogy and practice. Jan is also the Project Director for hey! at Hempsalls – providing training, consultancy and policy development support for the sector.

Felicity Dewsbery

Felicity is the Deputy Head of the Pen Green Centre for Children and their Families. She has been working in the field of Early Years for 32 years in various roles. She has two Masters from two different disciplines, both of which have deepened her theoretical underpinning to support her to work and lead within Early Years. Her first MA is in Integrated Practice from Leicester University and her second in Psychoanalytical Observational Studies from the Tavistock and Portman Centre. She has just started a research doctorate to consider what happens within the Early Years supervision process.

Carol Payne

Carol is the Chief Executive at Speech and Language UK (formerly I CAN). Speech and Language UK design innovative tools and training for nursery staff and teachers and give families the confidence to help a child facing challenges with talking and understanding words. Carol is responsible for Speech and Language UK’s portfolio of projects and programmes and their Social Enterprise. Before joining Speech and Language UK Carol was Head of Special Needs, Disability and Psychology at Wandsworth Borough Council where she led the implementation of the SEND reforms.

Carol began her career as a Speech and Language Therapist – initially in the Midlands and then moving to West Sussex, where she led the Speech and Language Therapy Services across Crawley, Horsham and Mid Sussex.

Angela Gamble

Angela is the Information, Advice and Guidance Manager at the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY). Angela’s career in the sector started when she became a childminder and now has over 15 years of experience in early years. After gaining a BA Hons degree in Childhood and Youth Studies, she had various roles in children centres supporting parents and families for eight years. At PACEY Angela leads on the development of training, CPD and content. She also manages the practice advice service and curates and delivers a full programme of events including the PACEY Live webinars and the annual conference. Angela is also the Executive Editor of the award-winning member magazine Childcare Professional.

Kathy Sylva

Kathy is Professor of Educational Psychology and Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. She has led research on education in the Early Years, with particular focus on the effects of early education on children’s development. She carries out trials of interventions in the UK and low-income countries. Kathy was Principal Investigator on the Effective Pre-school, Primary and Secondary Education study, a longitudinal study of 3000 children from 3-18 years. She co-directed the National Evaluation of Children’s Centres in England, a largescale study of the effects of family services on 2,500 families/children. She has been Specialist Adviser to Parliamentary Select Committees and currently serves on Ofsted’s Pedagogical Forum. She received an OBE and is Fellow of British Academy, Academy of Social Science, and British Psychological Society.

Abi Miranda

Dr Abi Miranda is the Head of the Early Years and Prevention (EYP) department at Anna Freud. Anna Freud is a charity that aims to build the mental wellbeing of the next generation. The aim of the work of EYP is to support children in the early years, and to intervene early when there are relational challenges, to prevent the escalation of mental health challenges later in life. Abi is an Educational and Child Psychologist who specialises in supporting children in the early years, with a focus on special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Before joining the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, she worked in Local Authorities in London in various roles including Educational Psychology, Early Support and Connexions in a Youth Offending service.

Lisa Seymour

Lisa has worked for Telford and Wrekin Local Authority for the last 20 years and is currently managing the team of Early Years Consultants and Early Years Qualified Teachers, HAF programme and Funding team, as well as overseeing the training programmes for the EYFS within Schools, PVIs and childcare providers.

Lisa is an experienced tutor, assessor and internal quality assessor (IQA) for Early Years Qualifications and has been a personal tutor/assessor for Early Years Initial Teacher trainees. She has a Masters Degree in Early Years Education, QTLS, a Degree in Integrated Early Childhood Studies and has Early Years Professional Status. Lisa has been an Early Years representative on several sub groups of the Local Safeguarding Partnership and is also a licensed trainer for Speech and Language UK.

Ellie Suggate-Francis

Ellie is the Assistant Director in the Early Childhood Unit at the National Children’s Bureau (NCB). Ellie’s work in the field of Early Years spans two decades and has seen her work with a range of charities and local authorities. Ellie has always strived to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children in our society. She holds an MA in Child Centred Interprofessional Practice and a significant part of Ellie’s career has been spent on the development and leadership of Children’s Centres. Now as Assistant Director of the Early Childhood Unit at NCB, Ellie leads a team of experienced Early Years professionals and oversees influential national Early Years contracts.

Teresa Cremin

Teresa is Professor of Education (Literacy) at The Open University, UK, and co-Director of the Literacy and Social Justice Centre which creates space for research, practice and advocacy to enrich educational opportunities for all. Teresa’s research focuses on volitional reading and writing, teachers’ and children’s literate identities and creative pedagogies. An ex-teacher and teacher trainer, Teresa now undertakes research and consultancy and is a Fellow of the English Association, the Academy of Social Sciences, and the Royal Society of the Arts. She has published widely, for example, Reading Teachers: Nurturing Reading for pleasure and Storytelling in Early Childhood. Teresa leads a research and practice coalition to support the development of children’s reading for pleasure

Sarah Tillotson

Sarah is the Early Years and Stronger Practice Hub Lead at Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), a grant-making charity dedicated to breaking the link between family income and educational achievement. Her work involves co-ordinating and overseeing the EEF’s early years work, including the organisation’s role as evidence partner for the DfE initiative Stronger Practice Hubs. This work covers assisting in the development of the Early Years Evidence Store, informing funding of research projects and early stage programme development as well as partnership work with government and Early Years organisations.

Prior to joining EEF, she worked in schools for eight years, the majority of this time in early years leadership positions, alongside teaching in Reception or Nursery. She taught in Hackney, East London and also taught in Hong Kong, supporting in the establishment of two new kindergartens. After completing her Early Years PGCE at the University of Cambridge she completed a Masters in Education, focusing on the adult’s role in child-initiated play. Sarah is also a trustee of a Multi-Academy Trust in Lambeth.

Janet Cooper

Janet is a HCPC registered Speech and Language Therapist with extensive experience of children’s developmental speech, language and communication difficulties. She currently works for Midlands Partnership University Foundation NHS Trust as clinical lead for paediatric speech and language therapy, which involves ensuring high quality clinical outcomes for children as well as training for the universal and targeted children’s workforce. Janet is also the Lead for ‘Stoke Speaks Out’ which has received 16 national awards for best practice and outstanding achievement and author of the
‘Early Years Communication Handbook.’ She has also provided consultancy for many national initiatives including the National Literacy Trust, Easy Peasy, BBC Tiny Happy People campaign and regularly presents at national conference events.

Melanie Atkinson

Melanie is a Childminder with EYPS and has been since 2010. She is a mum of three grown children – two at university and one on their way to going and is based in Felixstowe, Suffolk. Melanie previously worked as a Personal Assistant to Hereford’s Member of Parliament before going on to study with the OU and refocus her career on childcare and the early years. She also spent two academic years as a Teaching Assistant in Reception which she says was an enriching experience, but childminding and advocating the work she does is where her heart is.

Iraklis Kolokotronis

Iraklis is the Principal Early Years Service Lead across Westminster City Council and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Iraklis has worked as an early years teacher in Greece, Germany and the UK and has over 25 years of experience in the sector. Iraklis worked as an early years advisor and early years quality improvement lead for an inner London Local Authority for over thirteen years. He was also an EYFSP moderator; worked as part of a multi-disciplinary assessment team focussing on SEND and delivered training across PVI and mainstream settings and schools. Most recently, Iraklis has been heading up the early years service in the Bi-Borough of Westminster City Council and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.