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 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.

Jane Warren: Representative on SASC

I 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 Curriculum Review  Committee, Student Affairs Group and 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 to manage the JISCmail e-fora and website and now have a position on the board of directors as Treasurer .  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.  I also chair the GuildHE student support network.

Tanya Zybutz –  Deputy Chair : Quality Assurance Officer

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

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.

Mark Worrall – Regional Officer

I am a Specialist Study Skills Tutor and Assessor, working part-time at the University of Gloucestershire. I have been working in a tutoring context for the past 10 years, starting as a Personal Tutor at Cardiff Metropolitan University, before specialising in the area of Specific Learning Differences (SpLD’s). My background has developed from working in the Substance Misuse field with young people and adults, educating in harm reduction strategies, mental health issues, and dealing with crisis management.

I have been responsible for numerous and varied projects throughout my working life. More recently, at Cardiff Met I was responsible for assisting the implementation of the Cardiff Met SpLD Students’ Forum, and liaising with Student Services to develop inclusive learning environments, including the implementation of Diversity Awareness workshops for staff and students. Since working at the University of Gloucestershire, I set up Chaired the Continuing Professional Development group for Specialist Study Skills Tutors.

As someone who had a late diagnosis of Dyslexia, my main area of interest lies in the socio-emotional issues of SpLD’s, and the importance of recognising and supporting people affected by these. 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 students and ourselves. As Regional Officer, I oversee the work of the Regional Group Coordinators, assisting in the development and delivery of effective group meetings, encouraging networking between regions and cross regional support.

Cheri Stone
Cheri Stone

I embarked on a degree as mature student, I am dyslexic and the first in my family to study at this level. One thought I did have while studying was that I didn’t want to become a professional dyslexic, but as they say you teach best what you need to learn. While there have been many positives from the degree process, confidence not being the least of them, it has not been an unmitigated success given the current working climate. However, what it has left me with is a profound respect  for the students and a real passion to support them in overcoming the barriers to education that they encounter. Right from the beginning aDSHE has been part of  this development of understanding for me, from one of my first dyslexia tutors who was a founding member to the present where the 7 principles are emerging as the solid underpinning of my practice from a case study I am currently conducting  and much else in between. I hope that my contribution to the executive will help to develop and continue this good work.

Gemma Holtam – AT Officer 
John ConwayGemma first began working in the field of disability support in 2006. She has worked as a support worker, assistive technology trainer and specialists tutor at 4 universities (Leeds Trinity and All Saints, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Sheffield and De Montfort University). Gemma has been in her current post as Specialist Tutor at De Montfort University since 2018. She decided to specialise in dyslexia support after receiving her own diagnosis in 2010.

Her relevant qualifications include a PG Cert in Dyslexia Research and Practice (University of Chester, 2017), an MA in On-line and Distance Education (Open University, 2016) and a PGCE in Lifelong Learning (University of Huddersfield, 2011). Gemma is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2017).

Before accepting her role with ADSHE, Gemma was a Director of the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) where she represented the views of the higher education sector. Gemma is also the co-founder and chair of the AT Network, which is a national peer support group for assistive technology specialists working in further and higher education. In recognition of the work Gemma has undertaken to develop the skills of staff working with assistive technology, she was awarded the AT Award at ADSHE’s 2017 annual conference.


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