Conference speakers

We have a fantastic line-up of keynote speakers waiting to take you through every stage of a child's education from early years to post-16, including:

Emma Lewell-Buck MP - Shadow Minister for Children and Families

Emma Lewell-Buck is the Labour Member of Parliament for South Shields. Before entering the House of Commons, Emma worked as a child protection social worker. She served as Councillor for the Primrose Ward in South Tyneside and as Lead Member for adult social care. Emma was first elected as MP for South Shields in 2013. Emma was born in South Shields and is the first woman to represent the Constituency in Parliament. She has been a member of the House of Commons Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and the Work and Pensions Select Committees. Emma has served in the Shadow Front Bench Team as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Home Secretary and to the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. She has been a Shadow Minister within the Communities and Local Government team and is currently the Shadow Minister for Children and Families in the Education Team. Emma is a founder member of an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger. The group aims to raise awareness around the problem of hunger in this country, to try to understand the underlying causes and to explore ways of addressing the issues.

Anne Longfield OBE - Children's Commissioner for England

Anne Longfield OBE was appointed the Children’s Commissioner for England in March 2015. Her role is to bring about long term change and improvements for all children – and in particular the most vulnerable children in care. The Commissioner is independent of Government, children’s agencies, the voluntary and private sector. Anne is a long-standing and passionate champion for children, with over thirty years’ experience of developing, influencing and shaping the national policy agenda for children and families. She spent many years campaigning for better childcare, often at a time when many saw the issue as obscure or niche, and worked in former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Strategy Unit devising the Sure Start children’s centre programme. Prior to her appointment as Children’s Commissioner, Anne was Chief Executive of a leading national children’s charity. Recently, the Commissioner has worked on issues affecting children’s mental health, put forward proposals for giving children more power over their digital lives, published new research on children in care ‘pinged’ around the system, and launched a major study into the outcomes of children growing up in the North of England. Anne’s priorities for the year ahead include further work on issues affecting children’s mental health, such as anxiety and self-esteem, and a focus on children ‘hidden’ or ‘invisible’ within the care system. Anne was born and brought up in Otley, West Yorkshire. When she is not in London, she lives in Ilkley with her husband.

June O'Sullivan MBE – CEO of London Early Years Foundation (LEYF)

An inspiring speaker, author and regular media commentator on all things Early Years, Social Business and Child Poverty, for the past 10 years June O’Sullivan has been instrumental in driving a major strategic, pedagogical and cultural shift for Early Years education, introducing a new childcare model and stronger social impact through her work at the award-winning London Early Years Foundation (LEYF). Currently Chief Executive of LEYF, the UK's largest childcare charitable social enterprise with a family of 39 nurseries across London, June continues to break new ground with LEYF’s scalable social business model. She is a tireless campaigner, seeking new ways to influence policy and make society a better place for all children and families. June’s vision and passion for the long term social impact of community-based, multi-generational Early Years education, means she regularly advises Governments and the Mayor of London plus a diverse range of organisations, academics and services, at home and overseas. June is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Trustee of London Hostels Association, Director of Social Enterprise UK, Founding Member of International Early Years, a board member of the Early Years Nutrition Partnership and Generation Success. She was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours in 2013 for her services to London’s children, won the Social Enterprise UK Women’s Champion Award in November 2014 and in February 2015 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Middlesex. In 2016, June was voted one of Debrett’s most influential 500, in 2017 she won the NMT Most Influential in Early Years Award and was the runner up for the 2018 Veuve Clicquot Social Purpose Award which honours female leaders whose organisations are championing social purpose.

Dr. Tim Coulson - Chief Executive of Unity Schools Partnership and Chair of Norwich Opportunity Area

Dr. Tim Coulson has been a headteacher in London with leadership roles in Reading and Camden councils, Director of Education in Essex, National Director of Numeracy Strategy, led Lambeth Education Action Zone and was East of England Regional Schools Commissioner. Tim is currently Chief Executive of Unity Schools Partnership and chair of Norwich Opportunity Area

Thelma Walker MP - Education Committee

Thelma Walker was elected to parliament in June 2017, representing the Colne Valley constituency in West Yorkshire. Prior to becoming an MP, Thelma worked as a teacher and head teacher for over 30 years, working in several schools in deprived areas in Kirklees. Thelma has taught in primary schools, secondary schools and 6thForm Colleges. In September 2017, Thelma was appointed to the Education Committee, and has drawn on her experience to ensure that the voices of education professionals and young people are heard through the Committee’s work. In January 2018, Thelma was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell MP.

Carol Shanahan - Managing Director, Synectics Solutions

Starting her working life at the tender age of 17 as a main-frame computer operator for Hoskyns Systems, Carol moved onto CMC, installing and supporting data prep and distributed data processing systems. It was here that she met Kevin when she was teamed with him on the British Leyland account. She's been juggling a career in the IT industry with family-life ever since. Carol’s firm-held belief that companies have an obligation to give equal importance to nurturing their relationships with customers and staff, as to generating profit, has been at the heart of Synectics Solutions' ethos since its inception. As one of the three companys shareholders (Kevin and Rob Moorhouse being the other two) she's able to ensure that all decisions made truly align to the company's unique values. Carol spent many years as Synectics Solutions HR Director and Company Secretary, however since September 2015 she has been both the Managing Director and fulcrum from which the entire business changes, adapts, innovates, and delivers organisational growth.

James Bowen - Director, NAHT Edge

James Bowen is the Director of NAHT Edge, a teaching union for middle leaders. Prior to joining NAHT, James was the Headteacher of a large junior school in Hampshire. He has held a range of senior and middle leadership positions in schools including SENCo, Deputy Head and maths leader. James leads the development of NAHT’s Early Years policy and writes regularly for TES on this and other subjects.

Sam Butters - CEO, Fair Education Alliance

Sam brings ten years of experience in strategy, business and organisational leadership, and is committed to bringing her skills and experience to having a social impact and creating a fairer world. She is passionate about social change, and has a strong belief that social mobility and a strong education system are critical to improvements in society. Sam studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Warwick, and started her career on the Deloitte ‘Scholar’ scheme in Audit, gaining a strong grounding in business and accountancy. She then re-joined Deloitte as a Management Consultant on the graduate programme and was a Manager in Public Sector Consulting, before she left to join Teach First in 2014. In the last three years she has been a key member of Teach First’s Strategy and Planning team, most recently as Head of Strategy and Planning, and before that leading Strategy and Planning for Delivery of Teach First Programmes across England and Wales. She has led on Teach First organisational strategy and worked closely with the Executive Committee on strategic projects and organisational change, providing support and challenge to ensure that all activity is aligned to the organisation-wide strategy and the 2022 Fair Education Impact Goals.