Meet the Team

Alicia is Head of Service for Specialist Employment, strategically leading the service to support those with disabilities to move into sustainable employment. She continues to shape strategic positive outcomes for clients with disabilities at a national level with the Department for Education, the NHS and the Department of Work and Pensions. Alicia has worked at a senior level in the private, charity and public sector. As a professional careers guidance practitioner and educationist, Alicia has been a Head of Careers in a large secondary school, before progression to advising schools on their career education provision and obtaining careers quality standards.

During her time in Kent, Alicia has held a senior position with a large charity supporting young people and adults, implementing and managing major national projects across the South East of England before moving to the Local Authority, where her work has included developing the Kent Supported Employment team and taking it to a nationally recognised level of quality.

Alex Gamby is Head of Early Years and Childcare for The Education People, a role she previously held for Kent County Council from 1999 – 2010 and 2013 to August 2018.  Alex has extensive experience as a senior leader in the early years and childcare arena.  She is a teacher by profession, with a Bachelor of Education Honours degree, particularly qualified to teach children and young people with special educational needs and with a Theatre and Drama studies specialism.  Alex also holds a Masters in Business Administration, Diplomas in Management and Strategic Management and is an accredited mediator.

Key features of Alex’s career include being Head of the Primary Department in a large, inner London school for pupils with severe learning difficulties, coordinating Home School Liaison Support for children under five with special educational needs across the Inner London Education Authority, being Principle Under Fives Officer for a north London borough followed by Head of The Children’s Service in a south London borough and a secondment from KCC to the (then) Department for Education and Employment during 2002 and 2003 as Adviser to London boroughs Early Years Development and Childcare Partnerships.

On a more personal note, Alex was the founder and Artistic Director of a London amateur musical theatre company which ran during the 1990s. The Company was for children, young people and adults with special needs and disabilities and their families and friends, seeking to promote and support equality and inclusion through the medium of musical theatre.

Celia is the Principal Lead for School Improvement for Secondary and Special Schools and PRUs, and Skills and Employability for 11-24 year olds across the county. She has extensive experience in education and engagement delivery across multiple sectors, in particular developing creative delivery solutions and securing rapid improvements. She has achieved the National Professional Qualification for Head teachers and has had strategic leadership experience in both the Education and Business sectors.

Celia’s work has included the strategic oversight of PRUs in Kent, developing models of delivery which puts the control back into the hands of the schools and their head teachers. She has extensive Headship experience, having been the Executive Head teacher across 3 PRU provisions, merging these into one effective and financially viable service and an Executive Principal at a large Secondary High School, developing community engagement and enterprise. Creating and leading 2 integrated 14-19 College Provisions for Enterprise Education and Alternative Provision.

Celia also has a background in business, previously setting up and operating as a founding director of 2 limited companies, including a parent company, supporting young people in development of their new businesses.

Claire has managed the Education Safeguarding Service in Kent since 2016 and is committed to all aspects of safeguarding children. She is an experienced and registered social worker, having qualified in 1999 before completing a post graduate Advanced Award in Social Work (AASW) and MSc in Social Work (Children and Families) in 2005. Claire joined the service in 2006, initially working as the County Lead for Early Years before becoming an area safeguarding lead for both settings and schools.

Claire and her team have comprehensive experience and knowledge of practice, legislation and statutory guidance including:
 
⦁ Extensive frontline child protection experience and management in children and families social work teams;
⦁ Managing allegations in the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) role
⦁ Active membership as education lead on a variety of multi-agency panels, including for Child Death, Domestic Homicide Reviews and Serious Case Reviews, child exploitation, Prevent, Online Safety and Honour Based Abuse
⦁ Policy and procedure writing and contribution to government working parties and consultations on behalf of the Local Authority
⦁ Independent Management Investigations for complaints and allegations against Headteachers, other staff and volunteers
⦁ Supporting schools in assessing sexual harassment and sexually harmful behaviour by pupils
⦁ Writing and delivering a comprehensive training and conference programme for Designated Safeguarding Leads and whole staff groups.

Jo manages Professional Development and has extensive experience in education. Her teaching career has been entirely in Kent secondary schools before joining the curriculum team at Kent County Council in 2005. Since then her roles have included Senior Teaching and Learning Adviser, School Improvement Adviser and Senior Improvement Adviser working with schools across the county before taking up her current role as Head of Professional Development for The Education People.

Jo oversees The Education People’s professional development programme and online services for schools as well as the Kent Appropriate body for Newly Qualified Teachers. The Education People produce a high quality training programme across the services and includes both face to face and bespoke courses as well as conferences that attract both national and international speakers.

Jo’s experience as a school governor helps to ensure that the programme is up to date and relevant to all those who teach, support and govern schools. There are some exciting opportunities and developments ahead and her team are looking forward to the challenge.

Linda Pickles is the Principal Adviser for Primary Standards and School Improvement. Linda leads a team of senior improvement advisers with responsibility for the performance of primary schools across Kent.

Before working for Kent Local Authority, Linda held a number of leadership positions and has been headteacher of two primary schools.

She has extensive experience of working in schools experiencing challenging circumstances and, following a secondment to Ofsted HMI, was a lead Ofsted inspector for six years.

Niall leads The Education People’s Outdoor Learning Service, which provides a wide range of high quality outdoor learning day and residential experiences across 5 outdoor learning centres in Kent and Wales. The service also provides educational visits advice, guidance, training and support for schools, youth and community groups.

With over 20 years of experience as a outdoor learning practitioner and qualified teacher, Niall brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team, including:

  • An accredited Outdoor Education Advisors Panel (OEAP) Outdoor Education Advisor, with 12 years of experience of providing advice, guidance and training for schools and youth groups in Kent and London
  • A member of the OEAP training group developing Educational Visit Coordinator (EVC) and other outdoor learning training courses at a national level; along with supporting the development of the OEAP National Guidance for educational visits
  • A wealth of experience as an outdoor learning practitioner and instructor across a wide range of activities from water sports, mountain activities, forest schools and bush craft to field studies and environmental education
  • An experienced and qualified teacher, across primary and secondary phases.
  • Extensive experience of working with schools to develop and integrate outdoor learning into the curriculum - using the school’s own site, local area along with educational visits and activities further afield
  • Expert at designing outdoor learning experiences and interventions to meet schools specific needs and challenges - from dealing with behaviour issues and supporting special needs, to driving improvements in literacy and numeracy through use of outdoors.

Suzanne is head of Governor Services and has worked in education for 15 years. She started working for the teaching union, NASUWT where she worked with teachers, leaders and union representatives. Suzanne also has a school background and has  worked in both primary and secondary phases including the role of Clerk to Governors in a Secondary Federation.  She has a Diploma in Support Work in Schools.

Suzanne joined KCC in 2014 to lead the Leadership and Governance Admin team.  Her interest in schools, governance and enthusiasm to be fully involved in school improvement led her to apply for the role of Area Governance Officer in North Kent.  Suzanne fostered good relationships with the schools, headteachers, School Improvement Team and Governors and from there stepped into the role of Governor Services Manager.

With her background Suzanne has a clear understanding of the importance of relationship building and the skills Governors need to fulfil their core duties.  Her passion is training and ensuring Governors have access to a full and varied training programme that supports the work they do to improve the life chances of young people in both Kent and beyond.