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Open Book


The EPA is managed by a steering group of unpaid volunteers. The steering group aims to represent as many different groups of people as possible, comprising mainstream educators, alternative educators, educationalists, parents and carers and young people. 


The steering group currently includes:



Andrea Silvain

Andrea trained as a primary school teacher and has worked in education for 15 years. She is currently Co-headteacher at School 360, Big Education's new Primary School in East London, where she was born and raised. Prior to this, she was Deputy Head of Middle School at School 21, where she worked for 5 years.  Her drive and passion centres around social justice, equity and the empowerment of young people, which she has spoken about at conferences including New Voices and Rethinking Education.

Ben Davis

Ben Davis

Ben is the headteacher of a secondary school in Salford, and has worked as a teacher of Drama and English for over 25 years. Prior to this, he worked in Scotland where he led a school in East Ayrshire.


Tina Farr

Tina is a Primary Headteacher and has been in primary education for 28 years, with the exception of a two-year stint as a Primary Strategy Consultant for Mathematics. She has been the head of St. Ebbe’s Primary School in Oxford for 5 years. Prior to this, she was head of Carswell Primary School in Abingdon for 6 years.


Jane Manzone

Jane has taught for 25 years in and around London. She is currently Acting Assistant Head of a primary school in central London and also teaches a Reception class. Jane started New Voices in 2018 with two other teachers. New Voices is a teaching conference aimed to platform speakers who have not had a voice on the education circuit before. New Voices has held a strand at the Festival of Education for two years, Jane has been blogging since 2012 and has been published in  Teach Primary Schools' Week and the TES.


Jess Edwards

Jess is a Primary School Teacher in Lambeth, London, and an executive member of the National Education Union.



Berry D’Arcy

Berry is mum to 2 tweens and is worried about how their education will prepare them for a climate changed world. She believes that the environmental crisis we are facing can only be averted by an evolution in how we see ourselves and how we live together - and that education must play a part in this transformation. Berry is about to launch a youth-powered environmental charity, that will give teenagers real life experience as ecopreneurs.  


Ellie Costello

Ellie Costello is a director at Square Peg CIC, a social enterprise which advocates for children, young people and families with barriers to school attendance. She has two children with complex needs spanning education, health, mental health and social care. Now a therapeutic parent, Ellie's passions lie in neuroscience, child development, interpersonal neurobiology and mental health. She works as an Expert by Experience and strategic parent-professional stakeholder informing cross-sector service review, redevelopment and delivery across joint working partners and education.



Yumna Hussen

Yumna is a student, campaigner, writer, poet and public speaker, who uses creative approaches to generate social change, namely, revolutionising our global food, healthcare & education systems. Previously the Youth MP for Birmingham, Yumna ensures that young people’s voices are directly embedded within decision-making and governance. Yumna works with organisations focussed on transforming the education system into one that is equitable, decolonised and foregrounds the views of learners.


Hamza Shahbaz

Hamza is a student who is currently applying to study medicine at university. He recently worked with States of Mind on the Breaking the Silence project, helping create an alternative framework for school evaluation. This project featured in documentary film The Framework, which was reviewed in the Guardian.


Joel Neelamkavil

Joel is a passionate education activist dedicated to making a difference in the current education system. She has shared her insights and experiences at various events and institutions, such as Eton College and the Rethinking Education Conference, shedding light on the effects of OFSTED on schools, pupils and teachers. Joel's advocacy work extends to collaborating on research and documentary in the Breaking the Silence project and the Campus Wellbeing project with States of Mind. She is currently pursuing a degree in Politics and Sociology at University of Leicester.

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Andrew Speight

Andrew Speight served as the Member of Youth Parliament for Blackpool between February 2019 & March 2022, and as the Chair of Blackpool Youth Council twice (Mar 2019 - Apr 2020, May 2021 - Mar 2022) - serving as Vice-Chair in between those tenures. He was also a finalist in the 2023 Big Education Challenge with 'Emoco' - a whole-school co-production initiative looking to help embed a culture of wellbeing.



Jaspar Khawaja

Jaspar is a London based educational psychologist. He completed his doctoral training Prior to his doctoral training, Jaspar worked in a secondary school with young people who had experienced trauma, and in a CAMHS inpatient unit for adolescents with mental health difficulties. Jaspar has undertaken university research in collaboration with States of Mind as part of the Breaking the Silence project, using Youth Participatory Action Research to allow young people to reimagine the education system. His doctoral research specifically explored how Youth Participatory Action Research can be facilitated in practice.

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Geoffrey James

Geoff James PhD MA BSc (Hons) is a solutions-focused coach/therapist, a teacher, an author and a biologist with forty years' experience in developing, delivering and training strength-based practice for emotional and mental wellbeing across schools, mental health and other settings.


Ruth Swailes

Ruth is a School and Early Years Improvement Advisor and Curriculum Developer. Prior to her advisory roles Ruth taught for 20 years and held various senior leadership roles including Primary Headship. Passionate about Early Years, she is co-author of “Early Childhood Theories Today” and The lead curriculum developer and trainer for Oxford University Press International Early Years Curriculum. She is currently researching physical development in Early Years classrooms at the Centre for Research In Early Childhood.


Tim Taylor

Tim is a freelance teacher, author, and teacher educator with thirty years experience in education, both in the UK and abroad. Tim is author of ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Mantle of the Expert’ and visiting lecturer at Newcastle University. Tim has run many education programmes, starting with a Innovations Unit funded project in the early 2000s. He now works in schools up and down the UK, working with teachers in their classrooms developing Mantle of the Expert and other teaching strategies.


Andy Mellor

Andy is the National Wellbeing Director for the Schools Advisory Service and the Strategic Lead for the Centre of Excellence in Mental Health in Schools based at Leeds Beckett University. He is a former President of the NAHT and was, until 2019, headteacher of St Nicholas C of E Primary School in Blackpool. He has also been a National Leader of Education and created the Blackpool Teaching School Alliance, having worked in Blackpool schools for 22 years. Andy is a member of the Blackpool Education Improvement Board,and a former member of the Blackpool Opportunity Area Board and the NAHT Accountability Commission. He chaired the Primary Headteachers group in Blackpool and is currently the independent chair of the Blackpool Multi Academy Trust CEO group.


Sue Roffey

Dr Sue Roffey is a parent, teacher, psychologist and International educational consultant. She is honorary professor at University College London and teaches on the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology at Anglia Ruskin and the University of East London. A passionate advocate for wellbeing and social justice in education, Sue is a prolific writer, having authored over 20 books and numerous chapters and articles. Creating the World We Want to Live In: How positive psychology can build a brighter future was published by Routledge in 2021. You can read more about Sue’s work at


James Mannion

Dr James Mannion is the Director of Rethinking Education, an organisation dedicated to improving outcomes for young people through implementation science, self-regulated learning and practitioner inquiry. Previously, James worked as a secondary school Science teacher for 12 years, and spent 8 years in school leadership roles. He is an Associate of Oracy Cambridge, a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching and a Bye-Fellow of Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge.

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