Executive Committee

Lisa Cooper – Chair

lisa cooperI work as an SpLD Tutor and Assessor. My role takes me into many HEI’s, colleges and schools, as well as running my own education centre in Essex. This diverse working environment has allowed me to develop a very good working knowledge of the many issues faced by members of ADSHE, including the on-going changes to the funding of the support we provide to students.

I have experience of being a member of the ADSHE Exec for the past 6 years, initially as a co-opted member before moving into my previous role as Freelance Officer and now as Deputy Chair. During this time I have become increasingly aware of the difficulties faced by members and the students we support; it has not been an easy time for us all.  We continue to be in a rather daunting phase in relation to DSA and the greater emphasis of inclusive practice being placed on HEI’s in terms of reasonable adjustments.

My role is to support the membership by promoting the voice of ADSHE as an organisation of specialist practitioners who are pioneering quality provision in the field of specialist support to learners in higher education.  It is vitally important in these changing times that ADSHE maintains its strong position and voice on the many groups it participates in, as well as representing members on the issues they face. I aim to be a strong advocate for the membership, whilst maintaining an objective perspective on matters relating to DSA provision. However, is imperative that the specialisms we bring to the DSA process are acknowledged and sustained. I hope that my vast and knowledgeable perspective on matters relating to NMH and DSA will allow me to promote ADSHE and enable me to support the Chair, the exec and the members to achieve this.    lisacooper@education-matters.net

Jane Warren: Representative on SASC

JW photoI have been an ADSHE member since 2005; my local region is Southern. In 2005 I became a dyslexia tutor assessor at the University of Southampton, so I have strong experience in teaching, screening and assessing students with dyslexia and am now on my fourth PATOSS APC. Since autumn 2011 I’ve held a senior teaching fellowship on Southampton’s MSc Ed SpLD, accredited for both AMBDA and AMBDA FE/HE and training a new generation of specialists. I combine this with a part-time post at Reading University doing diagnostic assessments.  I have been an active forum member and greatly value the networking opportunities and resource sharing in what, as we all know, can be a lonely role. I support ADSHE’s vital contribution towards maintaining and enhancing the professional standing of dyslexia specialists, especially through the quality assurance initiatives, at this very uncertain time for our profession.


John Conway –  Treasurer.       Website & Jiscmail co-ordinator

John ConwayI am Head of Disability at the Royal Agricultural University, a post I created in 1999,when I set up the Disability Service initiating and managing the support provision for all disabled students and also responsible for developing inclusive teaching, learning and assessment strategies. The Royal Agricultural University has the fourth highest proportion of  dyslexic students in the country so we work hard to make the teaching and learning environment fully inclusive.  As a full time academic I also have a direct impact on teaching and assessment methods through ex-officio membership of the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Committee as well as contributing to a project team working to develop holistic student support services. I also sit on the Academic Board.  I’m also a Fellow of the HEA.  I believe very strongly in the right of every student to access education according to their abilities and not to be restricted by any impairment. I was elected to the NADP Board of Directors in 2006 where I am both Treasurer and Company Secretary.

I was invited to the National Executive of ADSHE in 2009 and have a permanent position with the Exec to manage the JISCmail e-forums and website.  I was invited to chair the STEM Disability Committee promoting inclusion in the various STEM degrees and careers.  STEM DC is composed of representatives of the major scientific societies including the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Institute of Physics, the Society of Biology, the General Medical Council, Royal Academy of Engineering and many others.

Most recently I have been invited to sit on the Disabled Students’ Sector Leadership Group, created to advise the government on Inclusive Practice. john.conway@rau.ac.uk


Tanya Zybutz –  Quality Assurance Officer (shared post)

I first became interested in the quality side of 1:1 specialist support around 10 years ago when I was part of a discussion at an ADSHE event.  Colleagues were sharing how students responded to the support they received from us, their 1:1 tutors. The response, “I could never have done this without your support” was an extremely common feedback phrase from our students. We all took this as evidence of the quality of support we delivered. The prevalence of this feedback, led to me to think about what we as professionals were actually doing in our 1:1 support sessions and also how we might go about ensuring the quality of the provision both for our professional development and also, for the students who were recipients of the 1:1 specialist support.

I have since been involved in the development of the ADSHE QA process from its inception, led by Janet Skinner who chaired the QA Working Party. We have led workshops and been involved in Professional Peer Supervision development and training. I have been committed to seeing this process integrated within ADSHE membership as it becomes part of the landscape of our professional practice. We have now achieved this and our QA procedure has been praised by those who manage the DSA, as a model of excellence.

In a demanding and often uncertain funding climate, I believe it is crucial that ADSHE’s QA process is steered by people who have a proven track record of working effectively and professionally with a commitment to making ADSHE Quality Assurance both meaningful to us as practitioners as well as ensuring professional standards across the sector. I believe that, as a team, this is what Janet and I can offer ADSHE. Furthermore, adding a training component to this Exec role will open opportunities for our professional body to lead the way in developing training pathways to suit the needs of our membership.


Janet Skinner –  Quality Assurance Officer (shared post)

I have been involved with ADSHE Quality Assurance from the outset.  Together with Tanya and others on the Quality Assurance team, I have been involved with the development of the Quality Assurance policy, including the Tutor Audit and Professional Peer Development.  We have run several workshops and given presentations to inform members and other interested parties about the principles behind the Quality Assurance initiative.  I have also been involved with the setting up of the Register.

I believe very strongly that as a profession, there is a need for dyslexia practitioners to demonstrate that we are suitably quality assured as this demonstrates both our commitment to the students we work with and our professionalism.  It also demonstrates to stakeholders that the service we provide for students is worthwhile and of the highest quality. Sharing the role of Quality Assurance Officer with Tanya, I am able to continue to promote ADSHE’s principles about the importance of quality assurance for dyslexia professionals in Higher Education.


Rob McLaren – Assistive Technology Officer I work as both an AT Trainer and a Specialist One-to- One Study Skills Support Tutor. I also develop workshops and resources for other SpLD professionals: I’m a member of the Diversity and Ability (DnA) CPD Team and editor of the DnA apps guide. As well as this, I work on policy initiatives relating to AT in Higher Education. This includes working as part of DnA’s Campaigns Team, the AT Network’s Steering Group, and the British Computer Society’s Digital Accessibility Specialist Group.

Technology is becoming more and more important in Higher Education so making the most of technology is now a key study skill. My main objective as AT Officer is to help other members feel confident to bring assistive technology into their study skills tutorials – discussing, signposting and even modelling AT for students. I also intend work on policy issues in my capacity as AT Officer.  This includes exploring how universities can use technology to make themselves more inclusive and how study skills relate to such technology.

I made use of the DSA as a dyslexic undergraduate and the support I had was crucial to my positive experience of university. And I continue to use assistive technology every day as a tool for my own work. So I’m passionate about making the case for the value of SpLD support and exploring how it can be improved, in both policy and practice.



Dineke Austin – Freelance Officerdineke

Having worked for Dyslexia Action for many years since, as specialist teacher/assessor for two different centres, and tutoring in their Training Department, I have gradually moved into what can be termed a ‘portfolio’ of freelance work. This has included work for Patoss and my local BDA group, as well as working for almost 5 years assessing and supporting mature students in an adult education college.Currently I tutor and assess as an independent practitioner: assessing students for DSA purposes, as well as primary and secondary aged pupils; I also carry out tutoring for Real Training, on their CCET, AAC access arrangements, and Professional Report Writing modules. I also support a range of pupils and students across the sectors, including NMH DSA work.

I have been a member of ADSHE since moving from adult education into HE settings, greatly admiring the role it plays in supporting individual members, developing Quality Assurance, and in fighting its corner professionally yet robustly in increasingly challenging times.

As another Executive Member has said, working independently can be very lonely: we are all feeling vulnerable and uncertain as a result of changing DSA provision, whether employed directly by HEI or working from without. I am aware of being a newcomer to the Executive, and have a great deal to learn; however, I am committed to contributing to ADSHE’s work in whatever ways I can, and am convinced that our best way of managing DSA changes is by working together: HEI staff and ‘freelancers’ united.

I hope that members will confirm me in this role, allowing me to develop if; and look forward to receiving members’ views of what ADSHE can do to further support freelance members.


Mark Worrall – Officer without Portfolio 1

For the past 8 years, I have been working part-time at Cardiff Metropolitan University as a Personal Tutor. This is a pastoral and academic support role in the School of Management, which includes supporting neurodiverse students. It was through this work that I decided to undertake a qualification to become a Specialist Study Skills tutor, a role which I perform two days a week at the University of Gloucestershire, alongside my work at Cardiff Met.

I have been responsible for numerous and varied projects throughout my working life, and recently at Cardiff Met I have been responsible for assisting the implementation of the SpLD Students’ Forum, and liaising with Student Services to develop inclusive learning environments. We now have Diversity Awareness workshops embedded in the curriculum at all undergraduate levels throughout the School. Since working at the University of Gloucestershire, I have set up and currently Chair the Continuing Professional Development group for Specialist Study Skills tutors. We meet once a term to share best practice (between ourselves and other departments), participate in Peer Supervisions, and participate in Assistive Technology demonstrations.

As someone who had a late diagnosis of Dyslexia, I am very aware of socio-emotional issues that can affect our students, and the importance of both recognising and supporting these as necessary. This is my main area of interest. By serving on the Executive Committee, I aim to focus on how we can best support all our students, especially those with socio-emotional needs. This will be particularly important as the current changes to funding through the DSA take effect, along with the ongoing implementation of inclusive learning environments in HE, and the challenges these may bring for both our neurodiverse students and ourselves.

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and I have completed a PG Certificate in teaching adults with SpLDs and, more recently, a PG Diploma in assessing for Dyslexia and Dyspraxia in FE and HE.



 Ivan Newman – Officer without Portfolio 2

 With so much change in our world, ADSHE will be called upon to react quickly to events.  I see the role of Officer without Portfolio as helping to make that rapid response through delivering on specific projects as required.

My 30+ years in corporate life involved managing diverse and numerous projects, so I feel I have the right kind of skills for this role.  My projects have ranged over technical, marketing, legal, recruitment, health and safety, internal service and consultancy. I enjoyed the challenge of their variety and multi-disciplinary nature. Colleagues kindly tell me my strengths are in process, organisational and linear thinking.

In 2012 I left corporate life, and now manage a business delivering specialist study skills support across a number of HEIs plus in the workplace and, from this year, disability adviser services, I have long and close familial experience with SpLDs.

In addition to the PG Cert, I hold a PG Dip in Assessing SpLDs as well as an MA in SpLDs. I have published a number of papers in the area and run workshops at ADSHE and NADP conferences. I am currently researching the effect of the DSA ‘modernisation’ and inclusive learning environments as doctoral studies. My original qualifications were a Physics and Computing degree, followed by an MBA and gaining Chartered Engineer status.


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