The Natspec Awards is judged by an independent panel of judges. The main judging panel is as follows:
- Nigel Evans
- Helen Brooks
- Yolande Burgess
- Jane Hatton
- Rohan Slaughter
- Alex Johnson
- Liz Maudslay
Meet the Judges
From 2007 until 2018 Nigel was one of Her Majesty’s Inspectors for learning and skills, he was also Ofsted’s national lead for learners with high needs. During his time at Ofsted he worked on many projects relating to learners with learning difficulties including leading Ofsted’s survey report, Moving Forward, on the implementation of the Children and Families Act. Before becoming an inspector, Nigel had extensive experience in further education. He developed and managed a range of innovative programmes for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities, young people excluded from schools, adults with mental health difficulties and people returning to, or entering employment.
I am very excited about being involved in the Natspec awards; Natspec has always been at the forefront of encouraging and supporting the best educational practice for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities, and these awards are a fantastic way of celebrating innovation and excellence in specialist further education
Helen Brooks worked for the Department for Education for nearly 30 years. She was closely involved in developing the Children and Families Act and the SEND Code of Practice, particularly policies relating to the further education sector and preparing for adult life. She worked closely with post-16 colleges, in both the mainstream and specialist sector, to help them put the SEN reforms into practice. Previous career posts include widening participation to higher education, 14-19 vocational education and schools commissioning. Helen is also the SEN governor for a state comprehensive school in central London.
Yolande leads on Young People’s Education and Skills, and Grants and Community Services. With over 25 years in the public sector, Yolande’s responsibilities have included partnership working and delivery, most notably the implementation of the New Deal programme across north London.
She has substantial experience of developing and implementing post-16 education policy and strategy – guiding work in areas such special educational needs and careers guidance – planning and commissioning learning provision locally and regionally, and managing portfolios of large and complex education contracts. Yolande actively contributes to national policy making and local implementation.
I am delighted to join Natspec colleagues and others to showcase the excellent practice, continuous improvement and effective partnership working that is fundamental to the specialist sector.
Jane is a disabled social entrepreneur, having worked in inclusion since 1990. She is Founder and CEO of Evenbreak, established in 2011, an award-winning social enterprise run by and for disabled people. This helps employers attract talented disabled candidates through a specialist job board.
Widely published in this field, including “A Dozen Brilliant Reasons to Employ Disabled People” (2017) and “A Dozen Great Ways to Recruit Disabled People” (2020), she is on the executive board of the Recruitment Industry Disability Initiative. Winning a number of inclusion awards, she was 7th on the Shaw Trust Power 100 ‘Britain’s Most Influential Disabled People’ list in 2019.
Rohan has 20 years’ experience of supporting technology in the education sector. Rohan has an IT, assistive technology, and education management background. Between 20 15 and 2020 Rohan worked for Jisc, the EdTech not-for-profit that provides support to colleges and universities. Rohan was previously employed at Beaumont College as assistant principal and formerly as the head of technology. Rohan is a member of the Natspec technology strategy group and is currently vice chair of the Karten Network board.
Rohan will be joining the University of Dundee as a senior lecturer in Assistive Technology from late 2020. This role has been created to support the development and delivery of an MSc in Educational Assistive Technology that aims to professionalise the assistive technologist role.
I am very much looking forward to working with Natspec on the 2021 awards project. The first Principal I worked with at Beaumont College, Steve Briggs saw specialist colleges as being the ‘engine for innovation’ in developing exemplar practice in supporting disabled students that can be replicated to other parts of the sector. I look forward to exploring the exciting new ways that Natspec colleges are developing and deploying technology to support their student’s independence and achievement.
Alex Johnson is a very passionate disabled rights campaigner. He believes that disabled people should be able to access any educational pathway they want. A long time ago, he decided to devote his life to disabled people and making sure we build a future that helps disabled people to live well, the way they want. Alex founded the Inclusive Ability Group in December last year based on the belief that, as a developed and democratic nation, the UK should spearhead equality policy best practice on a global stage.
Liz Maudslay has spent all her working life in Further Education as teacher then manager for provision for students with special educational needs. For seven years she was FE Policy Director at Skill, National Bureau for students with disabilities and learning difficulties, and is currently Policy Manger for SEND the Association of Colleges. This covers working closely with DfE on issues regarding the many students in FE with high needs and also the far larger number who have some kind of disability, learning difficulty, or emotional and mental health need.