2007 Keynote Speaker Biographies
NRDC and Bedford Group for Lifecourse and Statistical Studies
Ursula is Director of the National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy and Head of the Bedford Group for Lifecourse and Statistical Studies at the Institute of Education, University of London.
From 1995 to January 2003 Ursula was Director of Research at the Learning and Skills Development Agency (formerly FEDA). During this time she led the Agency's research strategy and programmes. In 2001 she was instrumental in establishing the Learning and Skills Research Centre, a specialist strategic research centre focusing on long-term policy development and improving practice across the field of post 16 education and training. At LSDA she also directed a number of national development programmes which supported the implementation of new policy, and led a range of national evaluation and impact studies.
Ursula started working in adult literacy in 1974 in a voluntary adult education centre in South London. She continued teaching and organising in literacy, numeracy and language for many years in London and Brighton. In the late 1980s, she became a manager in further, adult and community education but has always worked on the principle that literacy, numeracy and ESOL are the heart of post-16 learning. She was Vice-Principal at Kensington and Chelsea FE College before joining LSDA in 1995. Her own research focuses on the development and use of writing as skill and means of expression. Her PhD was about the acquisition and meaning of learning to write in 19th Century England, comparing meaning and experience across time with the late 20th Century context. She is currently finalising a book on the history of learning and using writing skills, comparing learning opportunities and motivational factors with present-day conditions.
Alison Wolf is Sir Roy Griffiths Professor of Public Sector Management at King's College London and a visiting professorial fellow at the Institute of Education, University of London, where she previously held a chair in education . She is Director of the MSc in Public Services Policy & Management at King's College London; Director/Principal Investigator of the 'Workplace Learning and Adult Basic Skills' project, funded by the ESRC Teaching and Learning Research programme and NRDC; a Member of Council for the United Nations University; a specialist advisor on skills to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education and Skills, and a columnist for the Times Higher Education Supplement
She has researched and published widely on higher education, on training and vocational education, on mathematics education, and on the assessment of professional competences. Much of her work has been comparative: she worked for many years in the United States, the countries in which she has carried out research and consultancy include Sweden, France, Australia and South Africa and she has worked for both the EU and the OECD. Her current research includes a major longitudinal study of basic skills provision in the workplace, and its impact on participants and their sponsoring companies.
First UK Bus
Clare is the Learning and Development Director, First UK Bus. During her 6 years with FirstGroup Plc she has been Head of Human Resources for First Great Western Trains Ltd and Regional Head of Human Resources for the UK Bus division in South and Wales.
Clare has designed and implemented a learning and development strategy that has been described as visionary and sector leading by external partners. The strategy focuses on development 'Ladders' for employees at every level and has at its heart vocational and academic qualifications. These development initiatives have been instrumental in reducing employee turnover and improving customer satisfaction. First UK Bus was awarded the BITC Rentokil Initial Skills for Life Award 2006 for its pioneering work in partnership with the Transport and General Workers Union to provide workplace learning centres for 60% of its workforce and encourage thousands of individuals to participate in literacy and numeracy development. As a champion of Skills for Life Clare is leading a project that will see the implementation of a national Skills for Life strategy across all 25,000 employees during 2007.
First UK Bus is committed to achieving the National Standards for Investors in Diversity and Clare is the strategic lead for implementation across the division. Clare is a Shadow Board Member of the National Centre for Diversity and is leading a large scale pilot project to achieve Investors in Diversity accreditation within the company. First UK Bus is an active supporter of the 2007 UK Year of Diversity.
Critical Insight, New Zealand
Alison Sutton is an independent consultant in lifelong learning in New Zealand. She has undertaken a number of research and development projects in workplace literacy in recent years.
Before the launch of Unionlearn, Judith worked nationally for TUC Learning Services
since it was set up in 1998. Her role has been to support the work of unions
and union learning representatives, particularly through the Union Learning Fund,
which started in October 1998.
Judith has had responsibility for co-ordinating the TUC support to unions in ULF and also for Skills for Life. The last few years have seen a rapid expansion of unions and union learning representatives engaged in learning including personal, professional and workforce development. A wide range of unions are currently involved.
Judith was appointed as Union Development Manager for unionlearn in January 2006.
She was awarded the MBE in 2005 for her Trades Union and Skills for Life work.
Immediately before joining Learning Services, Judith worked as a TUC tutor in the North West delivering courses for union representatives and health and safety representatives. Her wider background in FE also includes teaching English and German primarily, but a few other bits and pieces too.
Joao Pedro Azevedo
Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA)
João Pedro Azevedo is an associate researcher at the Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA), a part of the Brazilian Federal Ministry of Planning. He led on the recent evaluation of the Brazilian National Literacy Programme 'Brasil Alfabetizado'. He completed a doctorate in economics at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in 2006.
Vera Masagão Ribeiro
Vera Masagão Ribeiro is Programs Coordinator of Ação Educativa, a Brazilian NGO aimed to foster social mobilization in defense of educational rights. She got her Doctorate in History and Philosophy of Education in 1998 at Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo. She has written didactic manuals for students and teachers, has conducted several researches and program evaluations in the field of adult education. At present, besides coordinating the National Functional Literacy Indicator, annual survey on the conditions of literacy of the Brazilian population, Vera also participates in national and international initiatives to support technically and politically the fulfillment of Education for All commitments reaffirmed by international community at the the World Education Forum held at Dakar in 2000.
Saint Peter's College, New Jersey
Katherine Safford-Ramus is an associate professor of mathematics at Saint Peter's College, the Jesuit College of New Jersey. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics for Chestnut Hill College, a Master's of Arts in Mathematics Education from Jersey City State College, and a doctorate in Mathematics Education from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Dr. Safford has been teaching mathematics at the tertiary level for 23 years beginning her career teaching introductory mathematics courses to adult students evenings at a community college. It was only when her schedule shifted to daytime classes that she became intrigued by the subtle and striking differences between traditional and adult students. Her current research interests center on the impact of student perspective on the learning/teaching processes and on the significance of social learning theories in the mathematics classroom. From October 2005 to October 2006, Dr. Safford served as the co-director of the Adult Numeracy Initiative, a project of the United States Office of Vocational and Adult Education, a division of the Department of Education.
University of Nottingham
Dr Malcolm Swan has conducted research and development in Mathematics teaching and learning at the University of Nottingham in England for the past 26 years, working with the Shell Centre for Mathematical Education and acting as co-director of MARS (Mathematics Assessment Resource Service). He works in teacher training, both pre-service and in-service in England and overseas. His chief research interests are in the design of Mathematics teaching and assessment, and in the impact good design can have on teachers' beliefs and practices and on student learning. He was a lead consultant for the Standards Unit Mathematics project 'Improving learning in mathematics'.
Before joining Tribal, Barry Brooks was a member of the Senior Civil Service at the Department for Education and Skills. As Head of the Skills for Life Strategy Unit he successfully developed and implemented the Government's national strategy for improving the literacy, language and numeracy skills of young people and adults.
During this period Barry was the policy lead on the functional skills aspects of the White Papers: 14-19 Learning and Skills and Skills: getting on at work, getting on in business. His knowledge and expertise in working across different audiences, contexts and settings ensured coherence and consistency for this key policy area.
Before joining the DfES in January 2001, Barry was Principal Manager for Basic and Key Skills at QCA. A founder member of QCA in 1997, he transferred to the Authority from the National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ) where he led the work on core and key skills and made a major contribution to the development and introduction of NVQs and GNVQs. Prior to joining NCVQ, Barry worked in Kent in adult and community education where he pioneered work on NVQs and GNVQs within post-16 and adult education.
Barry has extensive international experience including the European Commission's Expert Group on developing the European Framework for Basic Skills, as a member of the EQUAL Board and developing the DfES's contribution to the recent Commission for Africa.
Barry's specialist and sectoral experience includes cross-Government working; policy development and implementation; qualification development; regulation and examination and quality assurance and control.
Recent projects include:
• Tribal's Executive Sponsor for the National Centre of Excellence for the Teaching
• Skills for Life
• 14-19 Learning and Skills White Paper
• Skills: Getting on in Business Getting on at work
• European Framework for New Basic Skills
• Functional Skills
• Employability Skills
• British Muslim Research Centre on Academies and Creative Skills
Skills for Life Strategy Unit, Department for Education and Skills
Neil Robertson came to the DfES in February 2006 as the new Head of the Skills for Life Strategy Unit. Educated in Edinburgh, Neil joined the construction industry before reading and tutoring Sociology at Edinburgh University. Following a spell in youth work, specialising in training, research and addressing drugs misuse, he moved to the Scottish Further Education Unit to develop his interest in skills through a range of literacy and technology projects. Neil then worked with City & Guilds where he held management responsibilities in customer relations, quality assurance and product development. In January 2003, he was appointed Depute Director responsible for skills development at the Scottish Qualifications Authority.
In his spare time Neil chairs a retraining project for young offenders and enjoys gardening, rugby, sailing and reading.
National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL)
Stephen Reder is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Applied Linguistics at Portland State University. His research and teaching interests focus on adult education and the processes of literacy and language development during adulthood. He has been leading two major projects in adult education under the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL), a research center based at Harvard University in which Rutgers, Portland State, the University of Tennessee and World Education collaborate as partners. Dr. Reder is the Principal Investigator for the Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning and the National Labsite for Adult ESOL. These projects are both attempting to understand the ways in which adults acquire new literacy and language abilities and the roles which adult education programs and policies play in supporting that development. Professor Reder is the author of numerous publications about his research and its implications for adult education and adult literacy and language development. Dr. Reder actively works with networks of adult education researchers, practitioners and policymakers at the state, regional and national level.
National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL)
John Comings is Director of the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning
and Literacy (NCSALL), which is based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
NCSALL is funded by the U.S.
Department of Education as its national research and development center focused on educational programs for adults who have low literacy and math skills, who do not speak English, or who do not have a high school diploma. Before coming to Harvard in 1996, Dr. Comings spent 12 years as Vice President of World Education, a nonprofit agency that supports adult education projects in Asia, Africa, and the United States.
Institute of Education, University of London and NRDC
John Bynner is Professor of Social Sciences in Education at the London Institute of Education. Until retirement through 2003/2004 he was Director of the Bedford Group for Life course and Statistical Studies, the Centre for Longitudinal Studies, with responsibility for the 1958 and 1970 birth cohort studies, the Wider Benefits of Learning Research Centre, and was the first Director of NRDC. Prior to the Institute, he directed the Social Statistics Research Unit at City University and prior to that was Dean of the School of Education in the Open University where he also directed the Economic and Social Research Council's '16-19 Initiative' research programme.
National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy
John is responsible for managing and delivering all NRDC research projects and activities as well as coordinating a team of researchers from a wide range of disciplines. John was previously a member of the research directorate at the Learning and Skills Development Agency where he was also the Research Centre Manager. Before that, he was Head of Humanities at an adult education institution in central London.
John has experience of teaching in various different settings and sectors. He taught philosophy at the Universities of Bristol and London, and has also tutored in the prison service and in adult and further education organisations. On-going research is taken up with persons with profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities; their political status, the question of whether and how they are shown respect, and an examination of the teaching and learning practices best fitted to their needs and abilities.
National Research and Development Centre for Adult Literacy and Numeracy
Helen is the Executive Director at the National Research and Development Centre for adult literacy and numeracy (NRDC), based at the Institute of Education, University of London. Prior to this she worked as the London Region Co-ordinator for the Adult Basic Skills Strategy Unit at the DfES.
Helen leads for NRDC on research into teacher education, and how the teaching and learning of literacy, language and numeracy can best be 'embedded' in vocational and other programmes. She has long experience of managing and integrating language and literacy with vocational training.
An experienced teacher trainer, Helen worked on capacity building in the London
region for teacher training in literacy, numeracy and ESOL. While based at Tower
Hamlets College, she was responsible for establishing and developing 'talent',
the London wide capacity building project funded by the London Regional Development