You are here

Trustee profiles

Jo Armistead

Chair of Trustees and North East England representative

Jo Armistead was a founding member of the York branch of Early Education and has been Branch Secretary for the past five years, and on the committee since it was established. Her experience working in the area of early education includes being an early years support teacher, working with young children and their families, as part of a child development centre team, and advising schools and other providers on SEN provision and practice. She spent a period as an early education policy officer, for a local authority, during the critical and exciting years of expansion of the sector. Since then she has completed doctoral research focusing on children’s perspectives on quality within early years settings, and this remains an ongoing research interest. She is semi-retired now, but still works as an associate lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, within the education and child studies department. Jo has several years’ experience of being a school governor and is a trustee of a charity that runs three small day nurseries.

Noreen Dawes


Noreen Dawes retired from London Metropolitan University in 2014 after twenty one years service. She was Head of the Accounting Subject Area within the Business School for over fifteen years and her teaching areas were financial accounting and taxation.

She is a qualified accountant with ACCA (now registered as retired). She was a member of the ACCA Public Sector Panel for four years. She was also a member of the Executive of the Committee of Heads of Accounting, a networking group drawn from accounting departments of UK Universities.

She has previous experience of being a Treasurer and holds a long interest in charity accounting. Her Master's dissertation from the University of Essex in 1997 looked at the impact of SORP 2 (1995) on the charity sector. She has extensive management experience from her role at the University that she can contribute to the Board of Trustees.

Claire Quinlan

Midlands and East of England representative

Claire Quinlan has recently retired as Headteacher of Highters Heath Nursery School in Birmingham.

Maureen Lee

Midlands and East England representative

Maureen has been Director of Early Years at Best Practice Network since 2006.  She came to this role from primary teaching and school leadership, followed by local authority advisory roles and consultancy to national bodies including the Teacher Training Agency to develop strong support for Newly Qualified Teachers. 

For the past 10 years Maureen has taken the lead in establishing Graduate Leadership programmes for early years practitioners across England -  initially focused on Early Years Professional Status and more recently Early Years Teacher Status.  

Maureen has been a member of several national expert panels and working groups focused on setting the vision and frameworks for the development of highly skilled and qualified children’s workforce. She writes regular articles for early years journals, always focused on showcasing excellent practice in settings.

Based in Essex, Maureen is delighted to be working with young children on a regular basis as a volunteer in a vibrant local Infants School.   

Sandra Mathers

South East England representative

Sandra Mathers began her career as a primary school teacher and is now a senior researcher and Principal Investigator at the University of Oxford. Her main research interests are the quality of early years education and care, and the relationships between quality and children’s development. Sandra’s research is strongly policy-focused, and she has led a number of large-scale government evaluations of early childhood initiatives. Recent research studies have included the Evaluation of the Graduate Leader Fund, the Evaluation of the Early Education Pilot for 2-Year-Old Children, Improving Quality in the Early Years, Sound Foundations, 2-Year-Olds in England: An Exploratory Study and - most recently - Quality and Inequality, which considers whether disadvantaged three and four year olds receive comparable quality early years provision to children from more advantaged backgrounds. Outside her work at the University Sandra is a co-Director of A+ Education, which supports local authorities and early years practitioners in improving quality, and is a co-convener of the local authority ECERS Quality Improvement Network.

Sue Allingham

South East England representative

Sue has been a member of Early Education for at least 25 years. Her expertise and passion for teaching and learning in the Early Years started with classroom experience and Senior Leadership roles.  As she developed her career both in school and as a Lead Teacher and trainer for the local authority, she also undertook research to gain an MA in Early Years Education from Sheffield University.  This achievement consolidated Sue's thinking and practice and her work has a solid grounding in research as a result. 

Sue has continued to research and now has a Doctorate in Early Years Education – also from Sheffield.  She writes regularly for Early Years Educator magazine and sits on their Editorial Board, and has published Transitions in the Early Years with Practical Preschool Publications (now in its second edition). 

Sue likes to think ‘out of the box’ about pedagogy in the Early Years, and her consultancy work is always based on wider reading and the question ‘why?’.  Her philosophy is always that: Education must be based on research and reflection.  Pedagogy must be underpinned by understanding of children and developmentally appropriate practice.

Verity Campbell-Barr

South West England representative

Verity is a lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at Plymouth University where she is involved in teaching on both undergraduate and post-graduate courses.  She comes from a policy background having worked for a local authority and the Policy Studies Institute. In both of these roles she has been involved in researching issues relating to the supply and demand of early years and childcare services. More recently, in her role at Plymouth, she has focussed her research on the quality of early years and childcare services and writing about the position of the child in early childhood education and care policy developments. She has undertaken projects on exploring understandings of quality for working with two year olds and European comparisons on the skills needed to be a ‘good’ practitioner. She is currently writing about quality and the role of the workforce in the early years and has developed a particular interest in the position of emotional competences for early years practitioners.  (More details on Verity’s research and publications can be found here: ).

Verity took on the role of Chair of the Cornwall and Devon branch of Early Education (formerly the Central Devon branch) in 2013. She is keen to work with local members to develop events and engage in critical discussions.

Sally Jaeckle

South West England representative

Sally Jaeckle is Head of Early Years Services, Bristol City Council.  She was previously Senior Early Years Adviser for the National Strategies in the South West.

Junnine Thomas-Walters

Wales representative

Junnine is the Programme Director of  two Master of Arts Programmes at University of Wales Trinity Saint David. She is also the CPLD Leadership and Quality Assurance Manager overseeing all aspects of continuing professional learning and development and the UWTSD Coordinator for the Outstanding Teacher Programme (OTP) and the Improving Teacher Programme (ITP).

Her teaching career began in 1995 as a Reception class teacher where she predominantly taught Early Years within the Primary sector before moving into HE in 2006. Her particular interests are in Early Years, ALN, CPLD and Mentoring and these have become the focus of for her professional work within HE. She is currently Vice-Chair of Governors in a Primary School in Swansea.

Junnine is currently studying towards her PhD which is centered around creative and imaginative play in the Foundation Phase in Wales.

Ann-Marie Gealy

Wales representative

Following a career in banking Ann-Marie qualified as a primary school teacher. After teaching, she became a lecturer and trained primary school teachers.  She subsequently joined the School of Early Childhood, at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David as a senior lecturer and is currently the Head of School.

Ann-Marie is a Fellow of The Higher Education Academy and has been an accredited Estyn Inspector for the Primary and Foundation Phase age. She has published children’s books in relation to learning in the outdoors, with a focus on practical play activities and has also published support handbooks and DVDs for training early years practitioners.  

Kierna Corr

Northern Ireland representative

Kierna has built a reputation as a risk taking, pioneering early years teacher, and through her enormously popular blog, No Such Thing as Bad Weather, has reached thousands of schools and settings across the world.  Her approach to outdoor learning and play is focused firmly on the benefits to children and her planning always begins with 'how will this help this child develop and learn?'. 

Since 2006 Kierna has transformed her own class's outdoor play space into a haven of exploration, challenge and generosity - generosity of resources, of time and of attitude. It has been visited by teachers and pedagogues from the UK, Europe and beyond and Kierna's authoritative voice is regularly called upon to contribute to outdoor issues in the media.  Her unique insights and spirit of innovation are grounded in an abiding belief in the transformative qualities of the natural world, but also reflect the practicalities of delivering the curriculum on a daily basis. 

Strong and respectful relationships with parents are vital in order to ensure the outdoors is valued by all the adults in each child's life and study tours to settings in places as diverse as Iceland and Poland has enabled Kierna to enrich her own understanding of what outdoors can offer young children. 

Dorothy Petrie

Scotland Representative

Dorothy Petrie has been a member of the Association for more than thirty years. During that time she has been an active branch committee member, a branch representative at Scottish area level, a Scottish development officer employed by the Association, and a trustee at national level. Dorothy is currently the local secretary for Early Education’s branch in Aberdeen.

Dorothy’s early career as a nursery and primary teacher provided many opportunities to link with Early Education, and as a headteacher she set up a multi-locational nursery based across three Local Authority settings in rural Aberdeenshire. During a period of secondment by Aberdeenshire Council, Dorothy was able to focus directly on promoting strategic development in the Local Authority’s nursery/primary sector. This led to Dorothy’s subsequent appointment as an Adviser (0-14) in 1997 with Angus Council and a lead responsibility for all Angus schools in respect of Pre-five provision/early stages and Early Intervention.

Following a career break as a new mum, in 2003 Dorothy took on the role of Development officer for Scotland with Early Education and worked to support and develop the Scottish Branches by setting up courses and conferences, managing the publicity of Scottish Early Education CPD opportunities and encouraging two-way communication i.e. as the voice of Early Education in Scotland and the voice of Scotland in Early Education. This role lasted until 2006 when the funding for this post came to an end.

In April 2008 Dorothy was co-opted as Scottish Representative and Trustee and at the AGM in November 2009 was elected national chair. At the AGM in September 2011 she stood down having overseen the development, and publication, of Early Education’s current governance document.

Sharon Hogan


Sharon Hogan has been Headteacher at Midland Road Nursery School since January 2012. Currently she is currently Acting Executive Headteacher of Midland Road, Strong Close and Abbey Green Nursery Schools in Bradford. Previously she has been Head of Centre at Canterbury Nursery School and Centre for Children and Families in Bradford following which she was a School Improvement Partner/Early Years Adviser in Leeds and Head of Centre at Early Excellence in Huddersfield. She has contributed to a number of early years articles and publications and is a National Leader of Education.