As a parent of four children, three of whom are dyslexic and one fundamentally so, Sarah has spent the past 23 years struggling with the education system. DYT’s first report, Fish in the Tree, clearly identified that teachers wanted the skills to be able to support those pupils that struggled, they just didn’t have the training to do so.
Her motivation in the development of DfL has been to ensure that no child goes through what her children did. DfL ensures that schools have a whole-school approach to those who struggle with literacy that it is embedded at the highest level – it is not merely a tag on within the school, but part of the school system.
Teachers and leaders are trained, pupils are identified at an early stage, evidence-based time limited interventions are put in place, and communication with parents is excellent. In this way learners are able to access the curriculum, take responsibility for their learning and learn strategies so that they are able to leave education and continue their working lives knowing what it means to be able to succeed.
Sarah has worked as a Solicitor in the City, taught Women Back to Business at Richmond Adult Education College, lectured law for the Open University, worked as a Commercial Mediator, done a Masters in Creative Writing at Kingston University and now divides her time between running Rathfinny Wine Estate with her husband, Mark, and leading on strategy at DYT. She is also a Patron Governor at Ark William Parker Academy in Hastings.
From February 2001 until December 2009, Mark was a founding partner of the hedge fund management group Horseman Capital Management where, together with John Horseman, he managed the Horseman Global Fund.
Prior to Horseman, he had more than eleven years experience covering the Asian markets. He set up and managed the Asian Equity desk in London for Donaldson Lufkin and Jenrette. Mark has also worked in a specialist sales capacity in Hong Kong and London, covering the Asian markets for Société Générale (Crosby) and Merrill Lynch. He began his career at Fidelity Investment Management in 1985.
His wife Sarah, and him have four children. His passion for wine developed whilst visiting New Zealand in 1990. Ever since it has been his dream to start up and run his own vineyard. This dream is now becoming a reality at Rathfinny Wine Estate in Sussex, where the Drivers are producing English sparkling wine.
Elaine had a varied career in the public sector before joining her husband’s food and wine import business. Her interest in literacy and education began when she became a Magistrate, where she noticed that many young people who had been failed by the education system too often landed up in court. At roughly the same time Elaine became one of the newly appointed lay Ofsted inspectors, seeing at first hand the number of children who struggled with reading and writing and talking to parents who seemed at a loss to either understand or help.
Elaine met Sarah and Mark when she became Chair of Governors of the primary school which their children attended and soon became involved in their campaign to change the way that those who have literacy difficulties are supported in school.
She is often surprised at the number of adult friends and family, including her husband, who have told her in later life about their struggles with literacy – one was in her book group and confided that she always bought the audio version as reading the book was too much of a struggle.
Elaine was until recently Chair of Governors of a primary academy, which has moved from special measures to being the best school in the area within two years.
Giles was the British ambassador to Spain and, before that, Mexico, until his retirement from the British Diplomatic Service in 2013. Prior to that, much of his diplomatic career had been spent dealing with Britain’s relations with the European Union in Brussels, Paris and Rome, as well as in the Foreign Office in London. In his later postings he spent much of his time advising British companies on how to develop their interests and ambitions in overseas markets.
Giles’ earlier career included a spell in the Department of the Environment and an interest in environmental affairs was a constant theme of his subsequent work. Having also served in the Department of Transport and the Cabinet Office, he has an extensive experience of policy making and the workings of government.
Giles retains a keen interest in international affairs and advises a number of not for profit organisations. He does not claim any in depth knowledge of the UK educational sector but aims to bring experience, a fresh eye and a challenging mind to the work of the DYT.
Sophy has always been particularly interested in ensuring that children get the very best possible education whatever their needs or disabilities. Special children are often overlooked or underestimated and she is proud to be a trustee of the Driver Youth Trust who are working hard to improve the life chances of all children.
Since retiring from full time work in 2014, Sophy has been working with Peepul (formerly Ark India) setting up and establishing three schools for some of the poorest children in South Delhi. As well as consulting in India Sophy is chair of governors of Ark Elvin Academy in Wembley. When she’s not busy with education she enjoys sailing in Greece, painting and drawing, and playing with her granddaughter.
Previously as Director of Education for Ark Schools for four years her role involved curriculum design and support, school leadership training and the many other things that go along with running a network of 31 schools. Before joining Ark in 2010 Sophy was a headteacher and SENCo in Hampshire, having begun her career as a teacher in London in 1977.
Sophy’s areas of expertise include school improvement through developing leadership, management, teaching and learning, SEND and improving behaviour. She is also very experienced in monitoring and reviewing schools, either whole schools or specific areas such as Special Education Needs and Disabilities.
Chris is DYT’s Director and has responsibility for ensuring that the charity produces high quality, evidenced programmes of work. Chris started his career training as an occupational psychologist, and has experience of working in research, policy and as a practitioner. At first glance OP might not seem relevant to a career in education, however his expertise in training and professional development, and organisational systems are invaluable to what DYT does; it is these systems which are his particular area of interest in schools. The research and policy output of DYT is also part of his role, as well as overseeing the implementation of the charity’s strategy. Chris works alongside the DYT team and network of partners to ensure the design, delivery and development of projects, such as Drive for Literacy.
Aside from his DYT role, Chris is also Governor at an infant school in Berkshire, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the British Psychological Society and sits on the Executive Board of the Division of Occupational Psychology.
After receiving her Level 7 Specialist teaching certificate and working as SEN Specialist Advisory teacher for Dorset SENSS, the Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester was one of these schools where she was recruited as Literacy and Language Lead. This included a number or roles alongside whole school literacy: Head of a Speech and Language specialist base, Co-ordinator of literacy across the partnership (comprising 12 first, 3 middle and the upper school) and creating an outdoor curriculum for year 10 and 11 students who would be out of school for one day a week. Jules was also an SLE in SEND and Literacy for the Dorset Teaching school Alliance. In this position, she became a member of Driver Youth Trust’s Expert Advisory Group scrutinising training materials. Impressed with the Trust’s philosophy, she soon applied to work with the charity.
Jules also gives a yearly SEND lecture to Roehampton University primary ITT, is the SEND peer advisor on the TES community forum and is a regular contributor in TES writing on literacy and SEND. She has also written for Schools Weekly, InnovateMySchool and blogs as MainstreamSEND. She is on Twitter as @JulesDaulby.
Now working full time as Driver Youth Trust’s Senior Consultant, Jules is committed to ensuring young people with literacy difficulties, in particularly those with dyslexia, are supported in education to fulfil their potential. She believes the best way to do this is for schools to embed inclusive practices in systems and to help teachers to know how best to help students within the classroom.
Having graduated in British Politics and Legislative Studies at the University of Hull, Dan joined the DYT team in October 2016 as Policy and Research Executive.
After a year working for Toby Perkins MP in Parliament, he brings experience and a keen interest in British politics, which he employs within the DYT team to assist their mission to drive policy and lead research surrounding literacy difficulties. In his role he influences key decision makers on a national and local scale including MPs, Peers, Charities and Think Tanks. Dan is DYT’s representative at the Special Educational Consortium, as well as various APPGs, including Speech and Language Difficulties and Dyslexia. Dan took a leading role in creating DYT’s core policy strategy, including our five pledges to put SEND on the policy agenda during the 2017 General Election.
Education is a policy area that has always been of great interest to Dan, thus, working to improve the life chances of young people with literacy difficulties or a SEND is a valuable experience that he hopes to draw from in the future.
Nancy is an experienced primary school teacher and has worked as a teacher specialising in SEN in a mainstream primary school in Gloucestershire for the last four years, with a focus on literacy and behaviour difficulties. She also worked as an end of KS2 writing assessment moderator for Gloucestershire County Council.
Nancy is an award winning writer, winning the first TES Teacher Blogger of the Year Award in 2015 for her blog, the Diary of a Not So Ordinary Boy, where she chart life and education with her son, who has Downs syndrome.
She is also a regular features writer and columnist for the TES and Teach Primary magazine and her first book, Inclusion for Primary School Teachers, published by Bloomsbury, was released in May 2016.
As our Marketing and Network Executive, Elinor leads in our initial engagement with teaching staff in schools across the country who could benefit from the Drive for Literacy programme, and in the marketing strategy which supports that.
She moved to London 6 years ago to start her BA in Development Studies and Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She went from there to work for a Christian charity working with university students in Central London, an organisation she was involved with as a student herself. Through this, and a second role in youth work, Elinor gained experience in volunteer management, in strategy and vision, and on the ground programme implementation. There were opportunities for this both locally and regionally.
She worked with The Challenge, the UK’s leading social integration charity through which her experience working with schools and teaching staff developed. Joining DYT allowed her to continue working towards improving the employability of young people.
Kenny became a SENCo in 2002 and has also been in senior leadership roles for over 10 years. Kenny has led SEN and Inclusion departments to Outstanding and was recognised as a lead practitioner for SEN in Bromley. He moved to Surrey where he supported whole school inclusion as a senior leader and SENCo. He now works as a SEN, Inclusion and Leadership consultant predominantly in London and the South East. He is a qualified facilitator for NCTL Middle Leadership Development Programme and subject expert for NPQML and NPQSL. He is experienced in delivering school to school support through National Teaching Schools and through consultancy support in order to raise leadership capability and improve provision for SEN pupils.
In early 2017 Kenny began to support Drive for Literacy as Consultant Teacher in Hastings where, through consultation, training and support, he and DYT aim to embed the DfL model in numerous schools.
Richard is an experienced primary school teacher having worked as a teacher at a range of schools in London, Leeds and North Yorkshire. He has also worked as an intervention teacher, focusing on supporting individuals and small groups across the primary age range.
Since 2014, Richard has written about education for the Guardian, the Times Educational Supplement and Schools Week, and has spoken at national education conferences including Northern Rocks and ResearchEd. Richard is part of ASCL’s Expert Panel on Primary Assessment and has worked closely with bodies responsible for education at a national level.
His first book, Databusting for Schools, published by Sage Publications, is due for release in 2018.
Wendy has worked as a speech and language therapist for 30 years, in clinical practice, higher education and the third sector. She was Professional Director at The Communication Trust until 2015 where she led on a number of projects, as well as inputting on national policy and research.
Wendy is currently the Director of Lingo, which provides consultancy, professional development, resources and speech and language therapy into schools and settings. She works in partnership with local and national organisations such as Cambridge University, DYT, Voice Bradford, I CAN and The Communication Trust on all things speech, language and communication.
Julie is an experienced primary school teacher who has worked across a range of schools in Brighton and Hove. She has also worked with secondary aged pupils, young adults, and adults in the workplace. This has included being a governor in a secondary school. Therefore she knows the requirements and challenges of different demographics and how to tailor her work accordingly.
She has extensive experience delivering training and was previously a placement tutor for trainee teachers at Brighton University. Until recently she was a specialist literacy teacher for Brighton and Hove Support Service.
Julie has also worked in education management and has developed leadership skills through these roles.
Kelly’s friend at school was diagnosed with dyslexia around age 9. Kelly was a source of patience and help throughout, building the confidence needed to enter the police.
Inspired by working at a special school Kelly completed a specialist qualification in teaching learners with literacy difficulties. Since then, she has worked in Primary and Secondary mainstream as a teaching assistant, Further Education as a manager, and Higher Education as a specialist one-to-one teacher. She has been a SENDCo in two preparatory schools.
Having delivered training to whole school groups in Preparatory and Primary schools Kelly utilised these skills and shared her knowledge one-to-one with a newly appointed SENDCo. They were an experienced teacher but lacked the particulars of the role and was nervous about how to demonstrate progress.
She is passionate about reintroducing the magic of literacy to all learners regardless of their level of ability. Kelly also has a passion for dyslexia being a difference not a difficulty, and literacy not being an insurmountable challenge.