Caroline Thraves

Caroline Thraves | The University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Caroline Thraves

I joined the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in 2009 and have successfully led several schools since joining the university and have a proven track record of turning underperforming areas into successful areas.

I am currently Head of the School of Fine and Media Arts at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David with management responsibilities for the departments of Fine Art, Photography, Film, Music and Performing Arts. Prior to this I spent 16 years working in Further Education. Before beginning a career in education I studied fashion and worked in the clothing industry as a pattern cutter. My first job in education was on the bottom of the ladder so to speak as a technician and I worked my way up into teaching roles, head of department and head of curriculum after which point I joined the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. I have studied a lot whilst working full time as I strongly believe in the power of education to empower and develop potential. It was not easy to find the time to study whilst working but I knew this along with my determination would pay off. I achieved a PGCE, BA Education MA Education and MSC Management. My personal beliefs in the value of education for transformation have not only enabled my professional development but this has also been fundamental to my approach to leadership.

Sadly, I am the only female manager within Swansea College of Art, UWTSD so I recognise the challenges that women face in the workplace, particularly within academia where gender pay gaps are evident. I am a busy working mother to a 4 year old daughter and so I have a personal understanding of the challenges that working mothers face attempting to balance work and life commitments. I believe in the importance of flexible working to enable women to be able to manage the roles of mother and manager. I try to be a visible working mother and manager for other women to recognise that it is achievable to be both manager and mother and that women do not have to adhere to gender specific norms and behaviours in order to achieve success professionally. I suffered from post natal depression when I had my daughter and I rushed back to work when she was 4 months old to try a present this image of being on top of everything. I didn’t share this with my male colleagues who I knew would have no understanding of what I was going through. It took me a long time to realise that it was not a sign of weakness and it didn’t make me bad at my job, it was just all part of the human condition that we live through. I wasn’t weak, I know that now that I am strong enough to recognise this. This led me alongside a few other colleagues to set up the UWTSD Women’s Network. The Network was established in 2018 to support female staff across UWTSD in both professional and academic posts. The network provides a support mechanism for females within the institution. The network currently has approx. 80 members across four campuses. I volunteer my time to the network because I feel so passionately about it. I manage the communications, emails, newsletters, set up events, speakers, coffee mornings and mentor and support other female members of staff.


Aimee Atkinson

Aimee Atkinson | UWE Bristol

Aimee Atkinson

I’m a Faculty and Service Liaison Manager within the Student Journey Programme, based at UWE Bristol.

The Student Journey Programme is a series of projects that seek to transform the way UWE works, and enhance the student journey. Having worked at UWE Bristol since 2016, I am really excited about the scope of the programme, and the potential for wide scale improvements that these projects offer.

Before this I worked in, and managed both prison and public libraries. I also worked as a Library Development Officer, where I was responsible for managing ten branches, and facilitating their transition to volunteer run community hubs. I think what links my work in libraries to my current role is people, and the fact I like to talk, be that training a group of volunteers, or presenting project plans to stakeholders. I thrive on the excitement that comes from change projects.

In addition to my day job I have a number of other roles, I am one of the Coordinators of UWE Bristol's Women's Forum, a staff network. As a direct result of my work we have become a donation point for the Red Box Project, which sees the sanitary products donated by our staff given back to schools in the local community.

I mentor a number of colleagues; I enjoy mentoring others and seeing them develop and their confidence grow.

I’m part of the City Girl Network, which is a social network for young women living in cities. I write monthly articles for the City Girl Magazine.

I’m also the Board of Trustees for Jacari, a charity that works with universities to pair university students with students from local schools who speak English as an additional language. They work together to improve students English speaking abilities, which in turn boosts their overall academic potential.

I continue my passion for promoting reading and literature by acting as a voluntary judge for BBC Radio 2's 500 words competition on an annual basis.


Joanna Donegan-Edwards

Joanna Donegan-Edwards | Dartford Science and Technology College

Joanna Donegan-Edwards

I have been a teacher for 15 years and have held a variety of roles working my way up from being a science teacher to a middle leader but one of the common themes in my entire teaching career has been my work in the area of STEM and promoting females into this area (especially Physics).

I remember being told at Secondary School that ‘Physics was not for girls’ and so I set out to prove that teacher wrong! In my quest, I have worked for WISE and the IOP on their gender balance programmes, researching how we can improve uptake of female students in this area and I regularly attend WES events, celebrating women in engineering. My local school is an all girls’ school and so I am able to share my passion with the students and aim for them to aspire to be the next generation of engineers. I am the first teacher to attend UCL’s MSc in Engineering and Education course and hope this will enable me to bridge the gap between schools and universities and positively encourage females to take up engineering at a higher level.


Kerry Pace

Kerry Pace | Diverse Learners Ltd

Kerry Pace

I was a young carer who dropped out of my A-levels twice and as a result had to leave home aged 18.

I signed up to be a Community Service Volunteer as the voluntary role came with accommodation (that meant I wouldn't be homeless) as well as offering me the opportunity to work who had people who had disabilities - the area I knew I wanted to make my career. During my time as a CSV being a full-time carer, to support a disabled student attend Leeds university, I explored courses to become a sign language interpreter but most required qualifications or lots of money. After a lot of perseverance, I found an in-house course at Wolverhampton University to become a Communication Support Worker for Deaf People (CSW) as it required very few qualifications and had no course fees. I went to another new city and used housing benefit to gain accommodation and started the course. I met my husband on the course and after qualifying we both worked as CSW's in mainstream schools and 6th form colleges whilst studying with the Open University (OU) to gain a degree. After sitting my final OU exam, whilst 8 months pregnant and being violently ill, I applied for a temporary post at a local university as a Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD) tutor supporting students who had dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD as well as other disabilities.

Within weeks the post was made permanent but also found out I had dyspraxia, Sensory Processing Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder. I had also fallen into a research group due to my curiosity and asking questions regarding the equity of support for all students on all courses as I wanted to increase access to specialist support for students like nurses, social workers, teachers and physiotherapists. During 2007 -2012 I participated in 4 research projects linked to dyslexia, nursing education, use of mobile devices in healthcare settings and use of Skype to enhance access to support for students on health and social care placements / courses. The final project using Skype to increase access to specialist support for students was not adopted by the university, so I decided to leave and found my company Diverse Learners. The hospital my husband worked at as a nurse had just closed and he was without a job but we both believed in the model of support so strongly that we went for it. It was the best thing that could have happened and I have grown in confidence, harnessed my passion and enthusiasm to provide other services too: inclusion training with a specialism for healthcare settings, supporting other parents whose children have dyslexia or dyspraxia, supporting other small business owners who also have a disability, job coaching via Access to Work.

I vlog with my daughter on YouTube - Dyspraxia Tips for Adults and set up Diverse Nurses a lived experience project celebrating the positive attributes of trainee and qualified nurses who have a dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD. I blog and write articles about dyslexia, dyspraxia, inclusion, nursing, use of technology in education and healthcare settings. Diverse Learners opened in 2012 and was unique as we are open from 9am-10pm, 7 days a week, all year around and use Skype to deliver tutorials, training, speaking events and more. This model of support was based on the findings of the research project but experienced a lot of negativity from my peers, sector and other professionals regarding the use of Skype to deliver tutorials. However, in 2018 I was given an award from my professional body recognising me as an exceptional practitioner breaking down barriers through innovative and accessible practice and campaigning for disabled students in higher education. I am proud of my part in bringing about awareness and change and that many of the Diverse Learners team have a disability.


April-Louise Pennant

April-Louise Pennant | University of Birmingham

April-Louise Pennant

April-Louise is a firm believer in the importance of “lifting as you climb” and she has consistently demonstrated this with her active and passionate participation in leading, organising and supporting a range of events and activities aimed at empowering and inspiring others, alongside developing her academic career.

Driven by her desire for social justice, especially within the education system, she has personally used education as a tool for herself to open her own mind to the possibilities of change, to build effective relationships with a diverse range of people at all levels, and to utilise every opportunity to develop herself both professionally and personally.

After 20+ years in the education system (from primary school until PhD level) she truly has faith in the transformative power of education and hopes that everyone will have the chance to be able to enjoy and thrive within the education system. This has translated into her own research and extra-curricular activities, where she contributes to enriching the educational experiences and journeys of others; working tirelessly to create inclusive, diverse and supportive environments for all.

After gaining First class honours at the end of her undergraduate studies at the University of Kent, April-Louise was awarded the prestigious Economic and Social Research Council Studentship to complete both her Masters and PhD studies at the University of Birmingham. She is currently in the final year of her PhD where she explores the ways in which 25 recent Black British female graduates have navigated, strategised and engaged with/in the English education system, identifying the barriers which may have hindered their progress and recommending ways to counter these. Alongside this, she is alsothe Westmere Scholar for the College of Social Sciences at her University where she organises PhD researcher development and community building activities and events.