• Elaine Simpson

    Chair of Trustees

    With over 30 years’ experience in UK education and children’s services, Elaine is an influential figure who has achieved positive change in how regional and national education is delivered, managed and perceived. Her career has spanned public, private and third sectors, with her last executive role being at Serco. 

    Prior to joining Serco Elaine spent many years in Local Government culminating in being Chief Education Officer for Sefton in North West England. She joined Serco to run the, then failing, Walsall education services and led a dramatic turnaround in the quality of services delivered. 

    Since leaving her executive roles Elaine has held a portfolio of Board roles including chairing Minerva Education, Chairing the National Children's Bureau, being Non-Executive Director for Acorn Care and Education, Non-Executive Director of Birmingham Children’s Hospital and a Governor at Staffordshire University. She has also held Non-Executive roles with Orbis Education and at the request of the Secretary of State for Education established and chaired Slough Children’s Services Trust. 

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  • Alex Griffiths

    Chair of the General Purposes Committee

    Alex is an Educational Psychologist with over 30 years’ experience. The author of various books and texts on parental involvement, reading and behaviour, he also edited the magazine “Special” for over 10 years.

    Alex is currently the CEO of the Educational Guidance Service which provides educational, psychological, counselling and specialist advice across all sectors of education. This includes a sister company “The Kade Consultancy” who have a team of occupational psychologists specially dedicated to meeting the needs of adults in the workplace and business generally.  The company works with numerous universities, colleges and schools as well as a variety of companies.

    Alex was instrumental in enabling a major shift to involving parents in education. He has previously held senior posts in schools and was a Principal Educational Psychologist in West Yorkshire – and later responsible for all specialist services.

    Alex has been a governor at a large primary school for over 25 years with responsibility for Inclusion, Chair of the Staffing Committee and member of the multi-academy trust.

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  • Carolyn Eyre

    Carolyn Eyre is an independent safeguarding consultant, working with schools, FE colleges, local authorities and LSCBs. Much of her time is spent delivering a broad range of Child Protection and safeguarding training events or undertaking site audits and disciplinary investigations.

    Carolyn worked in the Local Education Authority safeguarding arena for many years, first in Education Welfare services before becoming Child Protection co-ordinator for a large authority with 265 schools, 18,500 staff and 110,000 school-aged children.  More recently, she was Head of Health, Safety & Wellbeing for the authority - combining also the roles of Senior Allegations Manager and Safer Recruitment lead officer.

    Carolyn has a particular interest in the protection of children with disabilities; her knowledge and understanding of the complexities of safeguarding vulnerable groups has won her many friends in the special school sector and she acts as safeguarding adviser to the National Association of Independent and Non-Maintained Special Schools (NASS) although she is also well known for her work with FE colleges and independent schools.

    As a member of the Safer Recruitment Consortium task force, Carolyn – in conjunction with a number of NASS schools - recently developed the new Guidance for Safe Working Practice for education professionals published in November 2015.

    Carolyn has MA Professional Training & Development complimented by:-

    • Certificate in social work with children
    • BEd (Hons) Professional Education
    • NSPCC post-graduate Certificate of Competence
    • NEBOSH certificate in Occupational Health & Safety

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  • Christopher Marshall

    After teaching Chris trained and practised as an educational psychologist in the north east and as principal for an East Midlands LEA. He was a university lecturer in education, tutoring a one-year course in ‘remedial education’ as well as supervising research projects.

    Subsequently he was an HMI for 21 years during which he was appointed staff inspector responsible for a team of colleagues whose specialisms were in special educational needs. He became the professional head of the Assessment of Performance Unit and later acted as an adviser to the DES on assessment and on parents’ appeals and complaints concerning disagreements with their LEA.

    After retirement he served as a lay member of the SEND Tribunal for nine years as well as being the reviews editor for several years for the three Nasen journals.  He continues to pursue his academic interests in children’s special and additional needs.  He is a primary school governor with responsibility for children with SEN and a member of the National Governors Association’s special needs group.

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  • Elaine Colquhoun

    Elaine is currently Executive Principal of Whitefield Academy Trust. This consists of two schools and is one of the largest Special Education providers in the UK. The Academy provides education and care for pupils with profound, severe and complex difficulties from the ages of 3 to 19 years, including pupils with Autism and visual impairment.

    She has worked for most of her career in the field of Special Education. She has been a Head teacher for 17 years in two outstanding schools.  She has a wide ranging local, national and international experience and perspective in the field of SEN. She worked as an additional Inspector seconded to Ofsted in which she worked in conjunction with HMI for a year. She led inspections across a wide range of schools, mainstream secondary, middle and a range of different special schools. Elaine served as President of Nasen (National association of Special Educational needs) for 3 years, working at the strategic level of this national charity for 7 years in presidential roles. She has written book reviews, had articles published in Special magazine and appeared on BBC News 24 and BBC Radio 4. She visited, worked in and delivered training, conferences in the NE region, nationally and abroad. This includes Poland, Taiwan, Ireland, India, Hong Kong and Russia. She has extensive links with a teacher training college and special schools within the Luwan district of Shanghai.

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  • Helen Cooper




    Since January 1999 when she set up her consultancy business HC Associates Ltd Helen has worked as an Interim HR Director and HR Consultant to schools and academies. The company provides consultancy, advice and training on a wide range of HR topics in the Education sector. HC Associates works with a number of residential and day special schools bringing a great deal of experience of working in the SEN sector.

    Our work ranges from establishing/advising on performance management and pay and reward systems; restructuring including redundancy and TUPE, to advising on complex casework - disciplinary, capability, complex ill health and tribunal claims. Our HR handbook provide policies and procedures as well as managers guides, on the whole range of HR topics and includes contracts, forms, template letters etc.

    In 2016 Helen was honoured to be asked to become a trustee of NASEN and is enjoying taking an active role on the Board and the General Purposes Committee. She previously spent 20 years working in and leading HR teams in Social Services and Education - becoming HR Director, Children’s Services, in 1996 prior to establishing her consultancy business.

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  • Mark Blois

    Mark is a Partner and Head of the Education team at Browne Jacobson, a leading national education law firm. Mark personally has over twenty years’ experience as an education lawyer and has been recommended as a Leader in his field in the industry bibles ‘Chambers UK’ and ‘Legal 500’ for more than ten years. ‘Chambers UK’ has dubbed him “an industry leader” and ‘Legal 500’ has described him as “exceptional”. He was named Lawyer of the Year at the Nottinghamshire Law Society Awards in 2012 and designated a National Leader of Governance by the NCTL in 2015.

    He has previously served as a member of the Regional Council of the Learning and Skills Council, as a Director of the National Governors' Association and on the Board of a 157 Group FE College. For the last five years Mark has been the Chair of the L.E.A.D Academy Trust, a large multi-academy trust in the Midlands. He is also the Non-Executive Legal Advisor to the National SEND Forum.

    He regularly speaks at national conferences including those of the Association of School & College Leaders, National Association of Head teachers, National Association of School Business Management, National Governors’ Association and the National Association of Special Educational Needs. He has been interviewed by BBC Panorama, Radio Four and Sky News and has contributed over 100 papers, articles and book chapters to education literature on a variety of aspects of education law and has given oral evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee.

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  • Richard Carpenter

    Chair of Finance Committee

    Richard commenced his working life in 1960 when he joined Barclays Bank as a 16 year old Junior Clerk at their Swansea Branch.  His first Junior Management position came in 1971 when he was appointed an Assistant Inspector on the Bank’s Audit and Inspection team.  He enjoyed further managerial appointments in a long and successful career.   His last role before retirement in 2000 was at the City of Cardiff Group of Branches where he was the Area Personal Sector Manager.

    However retirement was short lived, a mere 2 months, as he joined Headlands School in Penarth as their Bursar on a part time basis.   Headlands, part of Action for Children, are a residential special school for children aged 8-19 with challenging behaviour in the EBD and ASD sector.   When he arrived there were around 30 young people but by the time he finally retired in April 2014 there were in excess of 60. Over recent years the school has achieved an enviable reputation as a market leader in their specialized sector.  This is backed up by inspiring inspection reports for both education and care.

    Richard is married to Jenny with whom he has one son Joshua who is currently studying at Southampton University as well as two grown up children.  He would count gardening and holidays as his favourite pastimes.

    Richard joined the nasen Board in July 2013 and is Chair of the Finance Committee.

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  • Sue Soan

    Sue Soan is a part-time senior lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) working with doctoral level students within the fields of special educational needs and inclusion. She has worked on national and international projects and have published regularly since 2003. Her doctoral thesis (2013) is entitled 'An exploration through a small number of case studies of the education provision for Looked after Children who have experienced early life abuse or neglect'.  Sue is an external examiner and adviser for universities and undertakes consultancy and clinical supervision work. She is an Education Panel Member for fostering agencies, and a Governor for schools. Prior to joining the university, she taught in nursery settings, and in mainstream and special schools for over 25 years, as a classroom teacher, a subject coordinator (mathematics) and for over a decade as a special educational needs coordinator, (SENCo) and Senior Leader. She believes that every child and young person should be given the best education possible, so that they can be successful in a job role they want and become a happy, confident and independent (or as independent as possible) adult.

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  • Trevor Daniels

    After 13+ years teaching in comprehensive schools in Essex, Trevor worked as an officer managing special educational needs in four local authorities.He was Head of Special Educational Needs in both S.Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. Subsequently he has worked as a consultant specialising in strategic review of SEN provision and the development of the Local Offer. He is married with two adult children, one of whom has just started on a career as a teacher. His wife continues to follow her own career in special educational needs.

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