The Festival of Inclusive Education line up includes leading voices from schools, colleges and universities from across the UK and Australia.

Meet our keynote speaker

Frances Akinde, BA (Hons), NASENco, MA. Ed, NPQH, Level 4 Workplace Assessors Award

Frances is a former headteacher of a Secondary Special School (11-19) for learners with Autism and associated difficulties and a qualified SENCO. Over the last 20 years, she has worked in a variety of roles across primary, secondary, special/Alternative Provision and local authority. She has now returned to local authority work as a SEND inspector and advisor, a role she does part time whilst managing her own consultancy service.

Last year, after discovering that she was neurodivergent and had a hearing impairment, Frances left headship and now uses her lived experiences to offer training and support to ensure that our schools and workplaces are truly inclusive. In January 2023, Frances co-launched the BAMEed SEND hub as part of the BAMEed Network, a diverse network for Educators which aims to ensure diversity and address racial inequities in Education.

Meet our keynote speaker

Nic Ponsford FRSA FIESE, Award-winning CEO & Founder of the Global Equality Collective (GEC) and Co-Head of Education, Microlink

After working in education for over 20 years as a teacher, school leader, trainer, and coach, Nic wanted to find an accessible means to make ordinary classrooms extraordinarily inclusive. In 2017, Nic set up the GEC to address 'one of the biggest issues in education' - diversity and inclusion.

Nic is dedicated to transforming the lives of underrepresented young people and ‘usualising’ difference. She is an experienced interviewee and speaker, a Doctorate Researcher #CEMPDOC, a Fellow of both the RSA and IESE for work in education and inclusion, and an award-winning ed-tech leader with a demonstrated history both in the classroom and in the e-learning industry.

Emil Zankov

Emil Zankov, Leader of Innovation and Enterprise at Pedare Christian College

Emil is a visionary leader in the field of education, currently serving as the Leader of Innovation and Enterprise at Pedare Christian College. With a career spanning over a decade, Emil has been at the forefront of digital technologies education since 2008. His passion for advancing digital education is evident through his tireless efforts to bring educators together through his organising and running of running conferences across South Australia specifically tailored for Digital Technology Educators. In his other role as President of the Design and Technology Teachers Association of South Australia, he collaborates with fellow educators to shape the direction of design and technology education in the region, ensuring that students have access to innovative and relevant learning experiences.

Greg O'Connor

Greg O'Connor, Head of Education AsiaPac, Texthelp

Greg has been actively involved in supporting learners across all levels of education for over 30 years. During this time he has worked as a classroom teacher, school executive, consultant, regional manager with the New South Wales Department of Education, and technology coach. As the Head of Education for Texthelp’s AsiaPac Team, he helps to make sure that the over half a million users of Texthelp products across the region get the most out of this technology.

Gustavo Ebermann

Gustavo Ebermann, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Texthelp

Born in Peru, lived in Mexico and now based in Northern Ireland, Gustavo’s multicultural background and personal experiences have shaped and solidified his commitment to contributing to a more inclusive and diverse education experience. Gustavo helps Multi-Academy Trusts and school groups achieve digital inclusion at scale. He works in partnership and in collaboration to ensure they have the knowledge, strategy and implementation guidance to make it happen, to drive positive change for teaching & learning and empower every learner.

Jilanne Littlechild

Jilanne Littlechild, Specialist Diverse Learning, Education and Research, Sydney Catholic Schools

Jilanne has over three decades experience in education, focusing on fostering diverse and equitable learning environments. She holds a Master's in Inclusive Education, a Master of Curriculum, and a Graduate Certificate in Information Technology. Jilanne’s career spans from classroom teaching to Assistant Principal, and she has also worked as an EALD (English as Additional Language and Dialect) and Diverse Learning Teacher. In her current role as a Specialist on the Sydney Catholic Schools Diverse Learning Team, she shares her passion for pedagogy and the use of assistive technology to support schools in creating inclusive and thriving learning environments.

Kate Davies

Kate Davies, Lecturer in Special Educational Needs (Dyslexia and Dyscalculia) at Edge Hill University

Kate started her career as an offender learning teacher before working in special education. She became a specialist dyslexia teacher and has worked in further/higher education assessing and supporting individuals for dyslexia. She currently lectures on the Postgraduate Certificate in SpLD (Dyslexia) and is team lead on the Postgraduate Diploma in SpLD (Dyscalculia) at Edge Hill University. The Dyscalculia course was the first course in the UK to be accredited by the British Dyslexia Association for Associate Teacher Status (ATS). She was the first person to deliver this course.

Lindsay Fuller

Lindsay Fuller, SENDCo, Northampton School for Girls

Lindsay has worked as a history teacher for the last 24 years and is also currently SENDCo at Northampton School for Girls. She is passionate about inclusion and providing students with the right support they need to succeed and achieve their full potential. She is constantly developing as an educator, having recently qualified as a dyslexia specialist teacher.

Loren Swancutt

Loren Swancutt, Education Consultant, School Inclusion Network for Educators (SINE)

Loren is an accomplished classroom teacher and school leader who is committed to advancing the realisation of inclusive education within the Australian context. She has designed and led successful whole-school inclusive reform at a complex and challenging high school and has been a teacher and school leader across both primary and secondary school settings. She has fulfilled system level advisory roles focused on building the capability of Principals, school leaders and teachers to engage in inclusive school improvement across both Catholic and government school systems.

Loren is highly regarded for her innovative work in the areas of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), inclusive curriculum provision, and instructional practices that support students with complex learning profiles. She is the co-founder and National Convenor of the School Inclusion Network for Educators (SINE), co-founder and Board Chair of Inclusive Educators Australia (IEA), a Doctoral candidate at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), and a research student member of the Centre for Inclusive Education (C4IE).

Paddy McGrath

Paddy McGrath, Head of Education Strategy, Texthelp

Patrick is an educator, international speaker, blogger, podcaster, Honorary Fellow at UU and Head of Education Strategy at the Texthelp Group - the world's largest specialist assistive technology company. Patrick is passionate about ensuring that technology has a positive, meaningful and sustainable impact on teaching & learning through a focus on inclusion, accessibility and universal design.

Rachel Coathup

Rachel Coathup, Customer Success Director, Texthelp

Rachel has a passion for supporting educators to use technology to enhance teaching and learning. She has worked with schools for the last 2 years, delivering training in using EdTech. Prior to joining the world of EdTech she was a Primary Teacher for 6 years in the public and private sectors. She is also an ISTE Certified Educator, Google Certified Trainer and Innovator, and Microsoft Certified Educator.

Susan Ward

Susan Ward, Quality Improvement Officer (Digital Inclusion and Learning), Midlothian Council

Susan is an experienced school leader who has worked with schools and settings over many years to support thoughtful, creative and sustainable approaches to using digital tools to enrich learning. She leads the Digital Inclusion and Learning Team in Midlothian Council, focused on ensuring all Midlothian learners are equipped with the digital skills they need for learning, life and work. Midlothian’s award-nominated Equipped for Learning project has seen every young person of school age supplied with a 1:1 device for learning.