Week 1 Biographies

Webinar Panelists

Dr Helen Duncan is the senior neurodiversity adviser at the University of Cambridge’s Disability Resource Centre (DRC) and supports students with specific learning difficulties (SpLD), including dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD. She is a qualified teacher and SpLD diagnostic assessor with a postgraduate diploma in diagnosing and teaching students with SpLDs and an MSc in Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Her PhD is in the impact of specific learning difficulties on assessment in University. Helen is an associate member of the British Dyslexia Association, a member of PAToSS (The Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties), a senior accredited member of NADP (National Association of Disability Practitioners), and a director of SASC (the SpLD Assessment Standards Committee), which is the national body governing standards in diagnostic assessment in the field of SpLD.

In common with most HEI’s the University of Cambridge organises an annual orientation day for disabled students who are about to commence their study at the University. This event aims to support disabled students in the transition from school to University and acquaint them with the support that is available at the University of Cambridge. In order to adopt an evidence-based approach to determining the format and content of this transition event, the University undertook a research project in collaboration with disabled students with the purpose of co-designing the transition event. A systematic, user-centred, methodology, was adopted that applied design thinking to the construction and development of the transition event (based on Nessler’s 2017 ‘Double-Diamond’ Model). Disabled students, as experts in their experience, acted as co-researchers, devising and developing the model for the transition event through a series of focus groups. The student researchers went on to develop the content of the event, the materials and resources required, and devised the modes of delivery, taking into account the context and requirements of disabled students studying at Cambridge University.

Marius Frank BSc (Hons) PGCE NPQH FRSA

Marius Frank

Marius Frank has recently been appointed Head of Education at Microlink.

Prior to that, Marius was strategic lead for national school improvement programmes and E-learning development at Achievement for All for eight years. Achievement for All was a leading international children’s charity devoted to equity in education, supporting education settings to dismantle barriers to learning, whatever the challenges faced by children and young people and their families. Achievement for All worked with over five thousand education settings in England during his tenure.

After a stellar career as a teacher (of science, music and Expressive Arts) and middle leader (including posts as varied as Head of Year, Head of Science and Director of Music) in challenging secondary schools in England, Marius became Headteacher of Bedminster Down School (and the first BAME Secondary Headteacher in Bristol). Despite being named in the bottom 200 performing Secondary Schools in the country in 2000, Marius led the school community to a remarkable transformation, trebling performance outcomes in a decade in charge despite very low standards and low community expectations on entry.

In 2010, Marius became CEO of ASDAN Education, an international Awarding Organisation (offering a wide variety of EQF (European Qualification Framework) Level 1 to Level 6 qualifications in vocational and personal development), curriculum development and innovation company (winning Human Resource Magazine’s Most Person-Centred CEO of the Year award in 2011), before eventually joining Achievement for All in 2013. 

Marius has been involved in the strategic leadership and delivery of a number of high-profile government-funded projects: the first aimed to reduce the impact and incidence of bullying on children and young people with SEND. 1,500 schools received face-to-face training, with 96% of all attendees rating the event as good or outstanding, making them more confident to deal with complex and sensitive incidents. The extensive bank of supporting resources was presented in an innovative web-based way, encouraging individual or group exploration and evaluation to support professional development activity. The project (conducted in partnership with ABA) was given an internal DfE (Department for Education) 1 rating for delivery, the highest grade possible.

From 2015, Marius led a two-year DfE/MoJ contract aimed at securing better outcomes for young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities in the Youth Justice System. After a series of national workshops that connected with 400 professionals from over 100 Youth Offending Teams across the country and building an on-line community of practice to serve over 1,800 front line professionals, the contract was extended for another year to take the programme into the secure estate, and develop a quality assurance framework for Local Area Partnerships across the country to drive continuous service improvement.

This year, as Head of Education at Microlink, Marius worked with the DfE and nasen (the Special Education Needs charity) to lead in the creation and delivery of an Assisitive Technologies Pilot programme, aimed at transforming mainstream use of technologies to dismantled barriers to progress and achievement.

Marius is also a specialist in emotion wellbeing and mental health (his first degree was in Brain Sciences), supporting schools, PRUs and Youth Offending Teams move from trauma-aware to trauma-informed practice.

The Youth Justice SEND Quality Mark/Quality Lead moniker has now been earned by nearly 60 Teams in England, playing a significant role in securing effective working partnerships between YOTs and other statutory Children’s Services. Marius is now turning the amassed knowledge into a framework that identifies and enables Child First Partnership Practice.

He is also working on international EU-funded projects with colleagues in Italy, Romania, Greece, Spain and Bulgaria to secure better outcomes for children and young people affected by migration, which includes refugees and unaccompanied asylum seekers. The current Ukraine crisis has given this work immediate importance.

Rachel Healey is a Disability Coordinator at the University of Leeds.  She has worked in disability within H.E. since 2016, and in the Disability Advice Team at Leeds since 2017.  She supports students to access their studies and get the support they need, and works across the University to make processes and practice more welcoming, accessible, and inclusive.  She’s currently involved in projects to improve the accessibility of assessments in clinical settings, and to join up occupational health assessments with accessing disability support.  Prior to working in H.E. Rachel was a Senior Mental Health Advocate and Dementia Advocate, and worked in mental health for over 20 years.  She’s also a qualified mediator. 

Video presenters

Justine Cooper is Wellbeing Inclusive Support Co-ordinator (disability transition) at Sheffield Hallam University.

She began working at Sheffield Hallam University in 2014 as Disability Assistant and became Disability Transition Officer in 2018. She works in Student Wellbeing Inclusive Support to support disabled students prepare for university both one to one appointment and by organising events for groups of disabled students to attend.

She also works with other services, universities, schools, and colleges to promote the message that disabled students can achieve at university.

She has a background in education working in primary and secondary schools since 2000.

She works well with all stakeholders and is a firm believer that education should be accessible for all and that students should have the best experience possible when coming to university.

Beck Lambourne is a DSA centre manager and subcontractor manager at AbilityNet. She has worked for AbilityNet since 2012delivering workplace assessments and assessments for student who are eligible for the Disabled Student’s Allowance. Beck is an HCPC registered, qualified occupational therapist with a Hornsby Diploma in the teaching of students with specific learning difficulties/dyslexia. Prior to working at AbilityNet, she worked for a literacy charity for ten years, teaching and managing a team in a specialist literacy centre in a school. Beck is passionate about diversity and equality and learning about new enabling assistive technologies. Beck is NADP Accredited.

Teresa Loftus is the Assessment Team Manager for AbilityNet Assessment Services.  She has worked for AbilityNet since 2012 delivering workplace assessments and disabled student assessments. 
She has a background in Assistive Technology (AT) training and support to students with a visual impairment in mainstream schools and holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Ergonomics. She is NADP Accredited, and has 20 years of AT experience and continuous professional development that supports a belief in Equality for all at work, home and in education.