Our people

Director of the Education Leadership Academy 

Colin Diamond

ELA colleagues

Simon Asquith

Associate Professor and Director: PGDip, MA, MEd and Senior Leader Apprenticeship Programmes in Educational Leadership, School of Education

+44 (0)121 414 7607
Simon Asquith

Dr Dawn England 

Associate Professor
Head of Postgraduate Taught Programmes

Dr Dawn England

Dr Karl Kitching

Reader in Education Policy


Karl Kitching

Dr Tarek Mostafa 

Associate Professor in Education and Public Policy
School of Education

+44 1 214 143 467


Tarek Mostafa

Dr Meng Tian

Associate Professor in Educational Leadership
School of Education

+44 (0) 121 414 4864


Meng Tian

Our guest lecturers

Herminder Kaur Channa JP OBE

Herminder is currently Regional Director for Oasis in the Midlands, Lead Ofsted Inspector, a Local Leader of Education (LLE) and a Magistrate. Prior to this, Herminder was Executive Principal at Ark Schools.

Herminder Channa

Sajid Gulzar OBE

CEO, Prince Albert Community Trust. Sajid was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday honours list 2019 for services to education.

Sajid Gulzar

Kirsty Tinsley 

Research and Development Lead, Windsor Academy Trust.


kirsty tinsley

Our Seminar Leaders

Ava Sturridge-Packer CBE

Former Headteacher of St Mary’s CofE Primary School in Birmingham and currently DfE and Birmingham Education Partnership adviser. In 2000 Ava was made a CBE for services to education. 

Sir David Carter

Sir David Carter was CEO at the Cabot MAT in Bristol before becoming the first Regional Schools Commissioner for the South West of England. He then became National Schools Commissioner and, as an authentic education leader, was a strong influence on government policy.  

Steve Munby CBE

Steve Munby has spent his whole career in education, first as a teacher and then as an adviser before moving into leadership roles. Between 2005 and 2017 he was Chief Executive first of the National College for School Leadership in England and then of the Education Development Trust, an international education charity. He is now a self-employed consultant and speaker on leadership and on system reform. Steve is also a visiting professor at University College London Institute for Education and is the facilitator for the Atlantic Rim Collaboratory (ARC) summits, which bring together education systems from across the world. He was awarded a CBE in the New Year honours list in 2010. His book Imperfect Leadership: A Book for Leaders who Know They Don’t Know it All was published in 2019  to critical acclaim. 

Dr Kulvarn Atwal

Dr Kulvarn Atwal FCCT has spent his entire career teaching and leading in East London schools and is currently Head Teacher at Highlands Primary School. Highlands was recently awarded the Mayor of London's Schools for Success award for the third year in a row; one of only 30 primary or secondary schools in London to achieve this award. He is also currently Interim Head Teacher of Uphall Primary School, which is one of the largest primary schools in the country. 

Kulvarn specialises in teacher professional learning. He has recently been awarded Fellowship Status at the Chartered College of Education and has published his first book, 'The Thinking School. Developing a Dynamic Learning Community'. He occasionally tweets @thinkingschool2

Ela McSorley

Ela McSorley FCCT has worked in education in and around Birmingham for the last twenty-three years, eighteen of which within senior leadership teams. She has worked across a variety of different schools, including some time in international education, within a small multi-faith Trust as a Director of Learning and Teaching and a variety of schools across the midlands as deputy headteacher and now Principal of a large all-through school, in Small Heath, Birmingham. She has also worked as a curriculum advisor at QCDA and an English subject lead for ITT at the King Edward’s Consortium. 

Ela is a founding fellow of the Chartered College of Teachers. She has worked as a leader in a pathfinder school on the Ethical Leadership programme and has been a member of the advisory group, developing the Chartered Teacher Programme and support for the early career teachers. 

Advisers and guest speakers

Dr Kulvarn Atwal
Highlands Primary School

Mr Sajid Gulzar OBE
Chief Executive Officer
Prince Albert Community Trust

Ms Emma Knights OBE
Chief Executive Officer
National Governance Association (NGA)

Ms Priya Lakani OBE
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Century Tech

Mrs Ava Sturridge Packer CBE
National Leader of Education & former Headteacher
St Mary’s CofE Primary School Handsworth

Hon Professor Mufti Sir Hamid Patel
CBE, CEO Star Multi Academy Trust 

Dame Rachel de Souza
Children’s Commissioner England 
Inspiration Trust

Sir Mike Tomlinson
Former HMCI and DfE Commissioner for Birmingham

Mr Colin Townsend
University of Birmingham School

Mr Les Walton CBE
Association of Education Advisers

Honorary Fellows

Ava Sturridge-PackerAva Sturridge-Packer CBE

Ava Sturridge -Packer CBE was Headteacher at St Mary’s C of E Primary school Handsworth, for 22 years. She led the school from Special Measures, to Ofsted Outstanding. In January 2000, she was awarded a CBE, for Services to Education. In 2009 she was designated a National Leader of Education and since this time, she has led on school to school support. This includes, leading St Michael’s C of E Primary Handsworth, from Special Measures in 2011 to Ofsted Good. Ava was previously an Ofsted additional Inspector.

Since 2018, she has been working as a school Improvement adviser for Birmingham Education Partnership, as well as working with a range of Academies and Trusts.

  • Knowing your authentic self and your own moral compass.
  • Having a clear vision and the ability to influence others, to follow your direction.
  • Holding in mind, the vision for success, whilst understanding the current reality.
  • Knowing how to navigate the route, to lead the team to the expected goals.
  • Ensuring that the team has, the appropriate tools, knowledge and skills.
  • Being knowledgeable and aware about cultural diversity and equality.
  • Having a strong awareness of the organisation’s climate and culture and how to embed the trust and confidence of the team.
  • Working together, in the context of distributive leadership.
  • Constantly reinstating the vision, in terms of its impact.
  • Being proactive, looking ahead. Always improving on the previous best.

Sajid GulzarSajid Gulzar OBE

Sajid is Principal at Kings Barsha School in Dubai.

He is the founding CEO of the Prince Albert Community Trust (PACT), a MAT of five Primary Schools and one new secondary school. All PACT schools are exceptionally ambitious for their pupils. He is is a National Leader of Education, speaks nationally on educational leadership and has worked internationally on behalf of the National Association of Special Educational Needs (nasen).  Sajid is a guest lecturer at the University of Birmingham’s Education Leadership Academy and served on the West Midlands Regional School’s Commissioner’s Advisory Board from 2017 until 2022.     

In June 2019 Sajid was awarded an OBE for Services to Education. 

"Leadership is working in service to those you lead. It is the responsibility of creating a culture that enables those you lead to be successful. It is about helping them to understand and define what success looks like. In education it is to make  a positive, lifelong and life-changing impact on the communities that we have the privilege to serve. It is about making the best decisions possible considering all of the information and advice it is possible to have at any given time whilst working with integrity and being driven by strong moral purpose."

Rosemary Campbell-StephensRosemary Campbell-Stephens MBE

Rosemary is an African Caribbean veteran educator of Jamaican parentage. Described as an edgy keynote speaker and author, she frames her work through a critical race lens and describes herself as an anti-racist, humanist and womanist. She is currently amplifying discussions about how a Global Majority mindset and framework can positively disrupt systemically racist policies and practices that are presently baked into all previously colonised and colonising systems.

As a critical part of the decolonisation process, she rejects minoritising labels such as ‘ethnic minorities’ as they incorrectly label the Global Majority as ‘minorities’ subordinating them to a white minority norm. 

"My leadership work as part of the UK government's multi-million-pound London Challenge Initiative from 2003-to 2011 was developing a leadership preparation programme focusing on increasing the numbers of Black and Asian leaders in London Schools for the Institute of Education (UCL). The programme Investing in diversity became the catalyst for all subsequent education leadership programmes addressing the under-representation of Black, Asian, and ‘minority ethnic’ leaders in England's school sector since 2003. The programme aimed to go beyond simplistic discussions about representation and inclusion, seeking to humanise educational spaces by not just changing the face of leadership, but the heart." 

Herminder Kaur ChannaHerminder Kaur Channa OBE

Herminder is currently Regional Director for Oasis in the Midlands, Chair of Trustees for Prince Albert multi academy trust, a National Leader of Education (NLE), and a Magistrate.

Her work on Character Education with the University of Birmingham’s Jubilee Centre has been formally recognised and in July 2022 Herminder was awarded “Ambassador for Character” status from the Jubilee centre. 

Herminder’s chapter titled “Authentic Leadership” in The Birmingham Book - Lessons in urban education leadership and policy from the Trojan Horse affair has received much attention from the educational sector. In September 2022 Herminder was conferred as an Honorary fellow at the University of Birmingham’s Faculty of Education engaging in research focusing on school improvement through character education.

"Leadership for me is rooted in the understanding that we are here to serve humanity selflessly through the vehicle of Education. Being blessed with an Education carries profound responsibility. Educational aspiration must now evolve beyond simply acquiring subject knowledge; it is incumbent on all educationalists to ensure we intentionally nurture future generations with the gift of phronesis. If we are truly to serve selflessly as leaders, we must lay the foundations in our time, so an excellent education does become a birth right for all." 

Meena Kumari WoodMeena Kumari Wood

Meena Kumari Wood is a former HMI Ofsted, Principal of Adult College, Principal of Secondary Academy. Inspired by her varied leadership roles, she recently authored the popular ‘Secondary Curriculum Transformed; Enabling All to Achieve’ (Routledge 2021). This features as core reading for the MEd in Educational Leadership (University of Birmingham).

 As a widely experienced International Educational Consultant she conducts training in the UK, Dubai and India for peer reviews, instructional coaching, inspection and governance. along with in-school reviews of curriculum and assessment. Meena regularly publishes articles for a range of educational publications and is a key- note speaker at Edu-Conferences.

MBA Educational Leadership FRSA MCCT

"Clear vision and passion are key as an educational leader to inspire and motivate staff, students and the local community. Through a  values-led curriculum and restorative behaviour strategies, students access flexible learning choices, so they achieve their own educational goals.  A strong culture of trust supports distributive leadership with teachers and leaders responsible, accountable, resilient  and prepared to take risks. They work as a collaborative, inclusive learning community and sustain a sense of belonging. Leading by example as teaching Principal means high visibility, walking the talk with an open-door policy for students and parents. Empowering teachers and cultivating leadership skills happens through peer reviews and dependent on the context, adopting the appropriate leadership style; albeit, democratic, coaching, directive or transformative." 

Adrian PackerAdrian George Packer CBE

Adrian Packer is the Founder and CEO of CORE Education Trust was set up by Adrian in the wake of the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham. He has gone on to establish CORE as an award winning, nationally respected multi academy trust serving under-represented communities.

Adrian has worked at every level in every sector of education: adult, HE, FE, Secondary, Primary, State, Independent, Specialist, Alternative Provision, Special and PRU. He has dedicated his professional life to champion children and families from under-represented backgrounds from many different parts of the world. He is a passionate social justice advocate and has been recognised for his achievements using cultural, arts and sports partnerships to facilitate positive social change.

"Effective leadership pivots on a nuanced balance of strength and humility: to know when to go bold or go gently; to stand tall or keep a low profile; to make a big noise or serve quietly. 

Effective leaders can read the room. They are able to reason the need, assess the mood, calculate the risks and seize the moment. 

Effective leaders in education never lose sight of their vocational endeavour and civic purpose. They take care to always make judgments in the best interests of the communities they have the privilege to serve. And in doing so, they are motivated by the success of others and excited at the prospect of leaving the shirt in a better place." 

Razia ButtRazia Butt MBE

Razia is an independent education adviser who has worked with schools and local authorities in navigating challenging intersectional spaces in relation to safeguarding, children’s rights and issues of equality.  She is the lead adviser on the Birmingham global partnerships initiative with the British Council in Indonesia, the lead for the UNICEF Rights Respecting Schools programme and directed the response to Relationships Education during the 2019 school protests.

Since 2016, Razia has been contributing applied practice learning to Initial Teacher Training and to Educational Psychology and is supporting a range of research initiatives within the School of Education.

"Leadership, whether bestowed or achieved, is a multi-faceted opportunity to become a change maker, to inspire others to find their groove and flourish within it.

Effective leadership requires authenticity, the courage to influence change and to motivate others to be the best version of themselves; to foot the ladder, not pull it up.

At its best, leadership transforms people and places, it can be disruptive, it is a vehicle through which to nurture a legacy that will be carried on by others long after the leader has left the building. Leadership is as much service, as it is a privilege.