Nominees’ Expressions of Interest

Annie Beckett, University of Brighton

» more text

I am applying for re-election to the NADP Board of Directors because I would like to contribute to the development of the organisation and the important role it plays in sharing good practice and offering network opportunities for disability professionals across the further and higher education sectors.  I have found the ability to share good practice and policy guidance has been extremely helpful to me as a manager of a university support team over the past 9 years and so I welcome the opportunity to ‘pay something back’. 

I am motivated in my work from having seen how university support can have a lifelong impact in determining a student’s personal and career trajectory.  At its worst, the support journey can feel bureaucratic, pedantic and can undermine a student’s personal confidence and academic progression. When we get it right, students feel empowered to explore their academic discipline, to demonstrate their abilities without prejudice or external limitation, and to build their intellectual and social capital.

I have worked in HE student support since 2004 when I held a graduate internship at the University of Sheffield.  I started at the University of Brighton in late 2005, first as a Project Officer where I developed Student Services’ marketing strategy, and then as the Student Equality and Diversity Adviser.  This involved developing the institution’s response to the Equality Act (2010) as well as a number of bespoke projects improving access for particular student groups.

I have been working as Disability Support Services Manager (DSSM) at the University of Brighton since 2013 and I have seen a lot of changes to our service.  These have included local changes such as the digitisation of our paper systems, revised team structures, developments in Inclusive Practice and our current switch to the use of Accessibility Manager to manage the Learning Support Plan process.  It has also included national changes like the Quality Assurance Framework for NMH (we were a pilot institution for audit in 2016) and, more recently, seeing how our service has adapted to the Covid-19 restrictions.

I enjoy thinking strategically to improve systems and processes that impact the disabled student experience and to reduce student hesitancy in accessing appropriate and timely support.  I often use the NADP network to benchmark our team with good practice in the sector, or to generate and sense-check new ideas.

I hold an MBA in General Management as well as a BA (Hons) in French and English.  I would describe myself as coming from a policy, project and service management perspective.  I really enjoy coordinating a team of specialists, each very knowledgeable about their discipline, to provide a polished service for students.  As well as staff/volunteer management experience, I also have skills in events and project management, marketing/communications, web development, budget management and staff training.  I sit on our university’s ‘Cause for Concern’ safeguarding panel.

» less text

Helen Childs, University of Kent

» more text

For over 10 years I have worked in Further and Higher Education, supporting a diverse range of disabled students; cases with SpLD, medical conditions and sensory impairments are my area of expertise. I am currently the Head of Disability, SpLD and Neurodiversity for the University of Kent, and am a qualified SpLD tutor assessor.

I’ve developed alternative ways of engaging with students, as I’ve noted that there is often an issue with disability and other intersectional identities. I’ve worked on new ways to encourage students from under-represented groups to engage in services that are tailored to their needs. This has mostly focused on men, students from under-represented ethnic groups, students from low socio-economic backgrounds, and care experienced students. I’ve worked with a wide range of teams to effectively target more tailored support, as many different services need to change their approach to best meet the wider student population.

I take an active interest in the development of disability support on a national scale, especially given COVID demanded and forged new ways of teaching, assessment, and support delivery. This gives us the platform and momentum to create permanent change. The NADP is positioned to be able to help drive that change, both within universities, with funding bodies and in the wider sector.

I feel I am a good candidate to support the NADP and drive this change, and have the scope, vision and persistence to carry this through.

» less text

Dr Paula Dobrowolski, University of Leicester

» more text

I have been a Co-opted member of the NADP Board since the summer of 2021 and serve on the NADP Awards Panel.

I wanted to serve on the NADP Directorate because I have worked in the area of disability support in HE for over 25 years.  Working for NADP is an opportunity to work with colleagues and re-invest this experience in the sector for the benefit of others.  The sector went through tremendous change before 2020 and the pandemic has added another layer of complexity.  NADP has an important role in supporting the sector as we all navigate the various challenges to come in the future.

To expand briefly on my experience, I have been head of the disability service at Leicester since 2000, having joined the University in 1994 as a Welfare Officer for disabled students.  I am responsible for an in-house team of 11 and a sessional staff of about 30.

I have worked in education in one form or another for almost 40 years.  Initially, I was a schoolteacher and, whilst studying for my PhD in medieval history, I worked as a tutorial leader and went on to work for the OU as a Tutor and Study Counsellor. 

My board level experience is also varied.  I spent 15 years as a School Governor – offering both advice and training to the school in the area of disability support.  I was a member of the Council for SKILL, the National Bureau for Students with Disabilities as well as serving for several years as the Chair of the SKILL Midlands Region.  I was a Trustee and Director (by election) of the Board of the Disabilities Trust (DT) for 16 years.  DT is a national charity promoting the innovative rehabilitation of people with acquired brain injury as well as working with disabled people. The DT Board had oversight of the charity at a strategic level and valued my critical thinking, creative problem solving skills and experience in education.

I feel I can make a useful contribution to the work of the NADP in the current climate because of my role at Leicester and the immersion in the daily challenges such a role brings.  Many complex issues face the sector today and have major implications for the future of HE; for example

  • HEIs have to work out where the line is between their appropriate support of students and the interface with the NHS.
  • Despite the excellent developments in technology, some students still prefer note-taker support in lectures and in-person support meetings while others do not want to come to campus at all and wish to study entirely remotely. 
  • The rise of poor mental health among students needs to be addressed but the way in which this could, or should, be achieved is controversial.   

The NADP can help the sector debate these points and I would like to contribute to this work.

» less text

Elaine Hatfield-White, Independent

» more text

I have worked in the field of Disability for over 30+ years within Social Services as an Instructor, in Further Education as a tutor and for Universities both in UK and Australia as a Disability Support Manager/Advisor since 2005.

For the last 4 years I have been working as Joint Program Coordinator for Curtin University Specialist Mentoring Program for students with ASC and related conditions as well as working as one of their AccessAbility Advisors.

I have a Post-Compulsory Teaching Qualification and Bachelor of Science (HONS) Autism Studies.

As a person with a late diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, I have an inside out perspective of the difficulties autistic students experience at University as well as their strengths in overcoming these with the right support and adjustments.

 My knowledge of the sector is informed by 16 years experience of the changing landscape of support and adjustments for University students/DSA and I can remember when Local Authorities administered the funding for disabled students before SLC.

I have been a member of NADP for some years (apart from when working in Australia where I was member of ATEND, a similar organisation) and have gained much knowledge, professional development, perspective and encouragement from both organisations.

I have mentored a fellow disability practitioner through NDP, another similar organisation in Australia and now that I have returned to the UK, I feel it is time to give back and support fellow members to continue to strive for best practice within their organisations.

» less text

Marissa Hill, Sheffield Hallam University

» more text

As a member of NADP since 2010, I have found the support of NADP and the members advice and support invaluable I would like to share my skills and experience. I have an undergraduate qualification in History and English, a Postgraduate Certificate in Disability Studies and have recently completed an MBA. I was one of the first people in the country to complete a higher-level degree apprenticeship and received a distinction in the End-Point-Assessment, September 2021. A version of my final piece on Exploring the Challenges of Inclusive Practice within Sheffield Hallam was submitted to the NADP Inclusive Practice Journal and was published in 2021. I now feel that I have developed the knowledge, skills, and behaviours, to be able to contribute further to the membership and would welcome the opportunity to be a member of the board.

I have worked within Sheffield Hallam University for 15 years, first in a faculty, then within the Sheffield Regional Assessment Centre and I am now the Head of the Disabled Student Support Service. Before working in a university, I taught English as a second language, in Japan and Mexico and worked in Pupil Referral Units supporting Key Stage 3 students. My strengths are in building relationships and working collaboratively. I have co-created a Community of Inclusive Practice, which is an inclusive practice network at Sheffield Hallam University and have created opportunities and a place for like-minded individuals to share best practices. I have developed my skills in strategic thinking and modelling and strive towards continuous improvement in service delivery and customer experience. Supporting students and promoting the social model of disability and inclusive behaviours are driving ambitions in my day-to-day life. I seek feedback and share knowledge to improve my understanding and to share the voice and experience of stakeholders in improving systems, processes, and policies.

I can commit the time required to the role and would be a willing volunteer to work on projects, attend meetings and report on current issues facing the membership. I am willing to undertake any CPD training required. I am keen to further develop my skills and knowledge and build relationships with the other members of the board.

» less text

Dr Gary McGladdery, Nottingham Trent University

» more text

I have been a member of NADP for many years, regularly following the posts which support us all in disability support. I’ve had the opportunity to comment and offer advice from time to time, which I hope has been of benefit to colleagues. My interest in joining the Board of Directors is about how I can contribute to the ongoing development of NADP and how I can use my experience to actively support my peers in the sector. I feel that I can bring a lot of lived and sector gained experience to the role but also a desire and proven track record of making a difference.

From 2002, I spent a period of four years working for several organisations providing services and advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. I worked on several high-profile projects in Northern Ireland including the campaign in 2004, to include people with disabilities to be protected under hate crimes legislation.

I joined Queen’s University, Belfast in 2006 in the role of Disability Officer. Since then, I have worked across four institutions including the University of Huddersfield before moving to Nottingham Trent University in June 2020 as Head of Disability and Inclusion Support Services. My role as Head of Service over the past five years, has increasingly focused on driving changes on an institutional basis towards Inclusive Practice supporting academic staff to make the curriculum accessible to all, removing barriers to learning. I am also continuing to look at how the service can support students in an ever-changing higher education landscape. Most significant amongst these is the increasing number of students on apprenticeships who engage on their course very differently to undergraduate students but need to be able to access support. In 2019, I also became a member of the Chartered Management Institute.

Alongside my 16 years in Disability Services, I have a track record in occasional publishing having completed two internationally recognised publications in Irish History and Politics in 2002 before publishing my PhD in 2006. I also wrote for the Accessible Guide to Great Britain and have previously published in the journal Dyslexia in 2014.

Between 2007-2010 and 2011-2013 I served two terms as a member of Equality 2025, which was a non-departmental public body providing advice on Disability Equality to the UK Government. My most significant achievement was to successfully lobby for changes to the Access to Work scheme which allowed students with disabilities, not eligible for DSA, to access support if they chose to take the option of a paid placement. Seeing too many students being denied the opportunity to access career enhancing experience informed my approach to making a clear case for changes to the Scheme.

I believe that my experience and continued enthusiasm for improved access to Higher Education, will serve as an asset to NADP. I hope, reading this, my peers will feel the same way and support my nomination.

» less text

Dr Chiko Ncube, Independent

» more text

I am an inclusive practice and disability practitioner with extensive experience in Further and Higher Education. I am an advocate for person-centred approaches to inclusion, equality and diversity in Education.

My professional career in disability services began in Further Education, teaching and supporting disabled students in the 14 to 16 student group. I have worked in Higher Education Institutions for over 15 years in diverse roles, including lecturing, study skills tutoring, mentoring and as a Disability Adviser.

In most recent years, I have managed the Disability Service for Higher Education at Writtle University College in Essex. In this role, I was a member of the access and participation advisory group leading on strategic development of inclusive teaching and learning and digital accessibility.

My academic background is in inclusive design, disability and design and inclusive practice and environments. I completed my PhD from the SURFACE Inclusive Design Research Centre at Salford University. My research examined the intersection of disability, accessibility and the urban environment. I am an expert for the Design Council UK on accessibility and inclusive design and contribute as a researcher to multiple research council funded projects.

I was co-opted into the NADP Board in July 2021 and I am a member of the Conference Standing Committee and Accreditation Standing Committee as well as chairing the Equality and Diversity task and finish group which is analysing the diversity of our membership and devising strategies to ensure we are fully representative of the sector.

» less text

Daniel Parrot, Swansea University

» more text

NADP has always been a point of inspiration for me. My primary draw to our sector is of course the opportunity to worked directly and practically with people who have disabilities. However, NADP’s activities (combined with the truly inspiring conference content and characters associated with the organisation) hold me to the sector. In difficult times, my memories of NADP events remind me why I am here, doing what I am doing. I would like to have the opportunity to put something back by becoming a board member.

I have had quite a varied journey- I originally studies BMus music at Cardiff University, but a lifetime playing 2nd Bassoon in Donizetti operas did not appeal, and it is difficult to make money as a composer! However, I still play in orchestras when I see music I like, play the piano and try to compose when I can. After my degree, I moved into Information and Library management, and have a post graduate qualification from Bristol University in that profession. I began to be drawn more towards the world of IT- the IT department of Cardiff Metropolitan University decided it would be a good idea to train me so that I could fix everything I broke! From my music days, I have always been drawn to areas that others baulk at (hence why I was playing Lutosławski, Takemitsu and Birstwistle at university, not Donizetti). Following this logic through, I was one of the few people who would engage with the terrifying unix CAD software and disability software (which was also quite frightening at the time).

Karen Robson spotted that my combination of IT skills and library-based interview experience would be helpful as she built up her new DSA assessment centre. I worked for Karen from 2004 to 2009 as a DSA assessor and then senior assessor. As soon as I walked through the door, she arranged for me to study towards a PGCE(PCET), giving me a wide pedagogical knowledge to apply to my disability and technology related work. This is a qualification I use extensively to this day. In 2009, I moved to become Manager of the Swansea University DSA Assessment Centre and have remained there since. This sounds rather unimaginative, but I thrive on DSA work as it gives me the opportunity to hear the lived experiences of those I assess, and then use this collected knowledge to benefit others. Another key point is that as a DSA manager / assessor, you get to interact with many HEPs across the UK- when combined with NADP membership, this helps me keep a broad outlook.

I have made a significant, long-term inputs towards protecting the Welsh DSA, being involved with the transition group during the transfer to Student Loans Company administration. I am proud to have contributed towards decisions that enabled lower level NMH support to be retained and the £200 computer contribution not to be charged in Wales. We also work hard to maintain a convivial atmosphere in relations between Welsh Govt, Student Loans Company, HEPs and providers- and I believe that this maintenance of cross-sector relations is essential. I have built a reliable profile over time, and have strong informal links within Welsh Govt, the Student Loans Company, the DfE and HEPs. Through the National Network of Assessment Centres, I have worked as Welsh rep, Wales and West rep and Assistive Technology rep. As a member of the DSA spec group since shortly after it was launched, I have been able to push for technological change (even when DfE were under very tight cost constraints). Victories included DfE agreeing to uplift DSA computer specifications and migrate to solid state hard drives. This move undoubtedly improved the experience DSA funded students in the UK when using assistive software.

On a personal level, I have a 360 view of disability as my children have neurodiversities and SpLDs. Other close family members have neurodiversities and mental health conditions, so I have multi layered carer experience and responsibilities. From a professional point of view, I pride myself as “standing with” the people I meet, rather than sitting opposite them (hiding behind a desk)!

I am very much interested in disability at an international level and maintain contact with colleagues in Norway. I have also advised colleagues in Switzerland and have practical knowledge of cultural / policy differences regarding disabilities across Europe.

For fun, I play with languages- I read and speak reliable French and have reasonable knowledge of Italian. I pursue the ever vanishing horizon of reliability in Icelandic and Norwegian (including dialekts), know a little Faroese and can work out Swedish via my Norwegian knowledge. I also listen to various forms of music that everyone else finds unpleasant and purchase Italian model railway trains obsessively.

I normally like to keep a relatively low profile. However, we are living through times when we are all facing multiple uncertainties and challenges. At a national level, support options and opportunities for people with disabilities and medical conditions are being quietly eroded and forgotten, and the general public’s views of what is acceptable from an equality point of view is being distorted. Disabled people are not being consulted properly, and attempts are being made to alter core equality legislation without informed consent as a result. It is easy to lose track of what really matters in circumstances like this, and our sector is particularly at risk from having its essential experience hollowed out.

NADP is an organisation that can help us stay grounded in these trying times, and keep a steady, informed voice sounding through the chaos. I would very much like to assist with this process by representing members on the board.

» less text

Louise Pepper-Kernot, Manchester University

» more text

I have worked in the HEI disability sector since 2002, initially as an NMH note taker and practical support assistant and then subsequently as an Assistant Disability Adviser at a post-92 University.

Since 2004 I have worked at the University of Manchester, firstly as a Student Disability Adviser, then as the first Staff Disability Adviser.  I then moved into the role of Deputy Head of the Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS), responsible for its day-to-day operations.  Since 2018, I have led both DASS and the University of Manchester Assessment Centre, firstly as manager and then as Head of Disability Services. I’m an accredited member of NADP and a member of NNAC and UMHAN.

Just under 8000 students and over 1000 staff have shared with the University that they have a disability, and we are focussed on providing nuanced and meaningful support and adjustment provision to people, as well as our other stakeholders, such as academic staff supporting students.

As a disabled staff member in receipt of Access to Work, I also have direct experience of accessing support and the barriers that this can pose.

I am fully committed to inclusion and equity, and am currently leading the inclusive strand of the University’s Assessment for the Future group and a member of the Flexible Working Group.  I am also focussing on inclusive teaching practice and access to the built environment and digital learning environment.

» less text

Alice Speller, Bournemouth University

» more text

I have been an active member of the NADP board for one term (three years). I originally joined the board to be able to work collaboratively on a national scale, supporting members and advancing my passion for inclusion and celebrating diversity.

I am concerned about upcoming and possible changes to DSA and feel we need an active board to continually challenge and provide a platform to enable members to be heard at a national level and ensure that students continue to receive the right support. I am currently working on a conference event on intersectionality and this is something I am passionate about advancing. 

I am the Operations Manager at Bournemouth University where I manage the disability and in-house NMH provision. I recently joined BU from Goldsmiths where I was the Head of Student Support overseeing the Disability, Wellbeing, Chaplaincy and Counselling Service. I have worked for other London university disability services and as a study skills tutor and as an AT trainer. I have spoken at several NADP conferences and written for the NADP Journal.

I have completed one full term on the board of NADP and currently sit on the Conference Committee and CPD Committee. During my first term on the board I represented NADP at the DSA Procurement Working Group and LINK partnership.

Prior to working in the field of disability in Higher Education I worked for an MP as a Senior Caseworker with a specialist interest in disability and immigration. I also worked as a Family Law Caseworker and undertook pro bono work at a London Law Centre where I worked on employment law and discrimination cases. I have a foundation certificate in counselling and a qualification as a Specialist Study Skills Tutor. Prior to working in the legal field I worked in the NGO sector with a passion for training young people in Non-Violent Direct Action, working with refugee communities internationally on human rights issues.

» less text

Sarah Todd, Brain in Hand

» more text

A member of the NADP Board since 2019, I am current Vice-Chair of the Conference Committee and a member of the CPD Committee and I also represent the NADP membership at monthly SFE Operational Stakeholder Meetings.

As Service Delivery Director and a member of the Senior Leadership Team at Brain in Hand, I am responsible for the timely and effective provision of support to Service Users nationally, and lead the Customer Support and Engagement, Safeguarding, Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement teams within the business.

I build relationships and partnerships at a strategic level, including those with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Assistive Technology (APPGAT), British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) and NHS Innovation Accelerator.  This enables me to bring a unique perspective to the board with regards to digital accessibility and inclusion within education, as well as sharing experiences from within other sectors (health, social care and workplace).

Incredibly process driven, I strive to gain a greater understanding of students’ support needs; evaluating the effectiveness of provision and monitoring specific outcomes through the gathering of comprehensive data and dedicated reporting. This is essential when promoting excellence in the quality and consistency of support provision, and thus in supporting the goals of NADP.

In my role I also manage a network of specialists nationally, providing hybrid (digital and human) support to enable students and other service users to improve their engagement and participation by better self-managing difficulties, reducing anxiety, improving confidence, and increasing independence.

Currently providing support to students at more than 80% of universities nationally, I bring to the board a breadth as well as depth of knowledge of the challenges that students, disability support teams and 3rd party supporters face in effective collaboration and communication; but can also highlight examples of excellence and passionately promote best-practice in support provision, to add value to disabled students’ experience.

Throughout my career I have promoted equality, diversity, and accessibility, and supported people both directly and indirectly to achieve their true potential and to widen participation and inclusion in education.

Prior to my current roles with NADP and Brain in Hand, I have practitioner experience within Non-Medical Help as a Specialist Mentor, in Further Education developing vocational learning materials; and within employment support and training as a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant; where I gained my Certified Disability Management Professional accreditation. So, I can share from experience a variety of stakeholder outlooks and priorities.

» less text