This year’s NACE Cymru Conference will be opened by award-winning author and international expert on teenage brains Nicola Morgan – followed by updates from representatives of Estyn and EAS, and a selection of workshops led by experienced education practitioners, researchers and advisers.

Read on to find out more about the conference presenters, and click here for descriptions of each session.

Keynote speakers

Nicola Morgan

Nicola Morgan is a multi-award-winning author and international expert on teenage brains and mental health. Her expertise includes the impact of stress on wellbeing and performance, the effects of screens and social media, and the science of reading for pleasure. A former teacher and dyslexia specialist, Nicola was a prize-winning novelist whose career changed after the success of her bestselling examination of the teenage brain, Blame My Brain, shortlisted for the Aventis Prize, and The Teenage Guide to Stress, winner of the School Library Association award in both the readers’ and judges’ categories. The Teenage Guide to Friends, her popular teaching resources, and the forthcoming Positively Teenage and The Teenage Guide to Life Online, have established Nicola as the go-to expert in her field.

Debbie Harteveld, Education Achievement Service (EAS) for South East Wales

As Managing Director of EAS, Debbie Harteveld provides strategic direction and leadership for the development and management of the organisation. She works closely with key partners across the five local authorities within the region, as well as with other regional managing directors, Welsh Government and other organisations striving towards the objectives set out in the national action plan for education in Wales. In her previous role as EAS’s Assistant Director, Debbie oversaw the work of the regional Challenge Adviser team, working with school leaders to improve learner outcomes, provision and leadership across the region. Before joining EAS, Debbie gained extensive experience as a teacher, headteacher and local authority School Improvement Adviser. She is passionate about building capacity and creating networks within the school system to support access to high-quality learning experiences for both pupils and education professionals.

Liz Barry, Estyn

Liz Barry is a Her Majesty’s Inspector with Estyn. She inspects primary schools, all-age schools and initial teacher education. Her leadership responsibilities include supporting curriculum reform in Wales and working with two local authorities in South Wales. She was the reporting inspector for Estyn’s recent publication, “Supporting more able and talented pupils”. Before joining Estyn, Liz undertook leadership roles at the University of Wales, Newport, and at the University of South Wales, where she was deputy head of the School of Education, Early Years and Social Work. She was seconded to the South East Wales Centre for Teacher Education and Training as the strategic lead, where she worked across the University of South Wales and Cardiff Metropolitan University, to raise standards in initial teacher education. Liz is a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a recipient of the University of South Wales’ Excellence in Learning and Teaching Award. She has extensive experience as a headteacher of two primary schools and has provided support and guidance to teachers and teacher educators across Wales for over 20 years.

Workshop leaders

Prof. David Egan, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Professor David Egan is Emeritus Professor of Education at the Cardiff School of Education and Social Policy, Cardiff Metropolitan University. During his career, he has been a Research Fellow, school teacher, school leader, Principal Lecturer in Education, Head of a School of Education, an Estyn Registered Inspector and a government adviser, including being Special Adviser to the First Minister and Cabinet of the Welsh Government between 2005 and 2007. Professor Egan’s research expertise lies within the broad field of Welsh education policy, with special interests in educational equity, educational leadership, professional learning and enterprise education. He is Joint Editor of the Wales Journal of Education and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Education Studies and the Journal of Educational Leadership and Management. His public appointments include acting as chair of the Welsh Government’s Tackling Poverty Expert Advisory Group and as a member of the Welsh Government Early Years and Childcare Partnership Board, the Welsh Government Foundation Phase Expert Group and the Education Workforce Council Research Engagement Group. He is a trustee of Children in Wales and Play Wales.


Dr Susan Davis, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Dr Susan Davis is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education and Social Policy at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She teaches on the PGCE primary programme, is a module leader, lecturer and dissertation supervisor on the MA in Education and is the Pathway Leader for the Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD) within the school. Previously, she was a primary school teacher, specialising in foundation phase pedagogy. She has also taught in FE on early childhood programmes and at The Open University. Susan is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). She is also a member of the Welsh Government’s Foundation Phase Excellence Network. She is currently carrying out research into children’s wellbeing, looking at the implementation of an emotional literacy programme on quiet, shy and anxious children in the foundation phase setting. Other research interests include MAT learners and the effects of electronic media on young children.

Dr Louise Brown, Anglia Ruskin University

Having started her career as a medical researcher, Louise Brown went on to train as a secondary science teacher, spending 18 years teaching at a range of comprehensive and grammar, single-sex and co-educational schools in Essex. During this time, she took on roles as a subject leader, coordinator of school-based initial teacher training and STEM lead practitioner. She completed an MA in Education in 2007 and a Professional Doctorate in Education in 2017. She is currently a Senior Lecturer and Course Leader of the MA Education at Anglia Ruskin University. Her research interests, which draw on her experience as a classroom teacher and STEM lead, include: the impact of implicit theories of intelligence on able learners’ engagement with challenging tasks; developing the role of the teacher-researcher; STEM education and CPD for teachers; and promoting students’ voices in schools.

Donna Evans, Barry Island Primary School

Donna Evans joined Barry Island Primary School five years ago after gaining 12 years’ experience in a junior school. She quickly took on the role of Foundation Phase Leader, going on to join the school’s senior leadership team, and holds responsibility for initiatives relating to Welsh, more able and talented, student placements, pupil voice, e-safety, ICT and digital learning. Having recently led the school through the successful implementation of the Digital Competence Framework (DCF), she now provides guidance for other schools seeking to integrate the DCF. Barry Island is a Pioneer School for developing mathematics, which Donna leads on within the foundation phase. She believes successful learning and teaching experience can only be achieved through collaboration, sharing and effective teamwork. 

Cathryn Knowlson and Linsey Lewis, Cwmclydach Primary School

Cathryn Knowlson and Linsey Lewis are Headteacher and Deputy Head at Cwmclydach Primary School, Rhondda Cynon Taf. Cathryn is also lead MAT coordinator for the Tonypandy Cluster, while Linsey teaches nursey and reception. Cwmclydach Primary has held the NACE Challenge Award since 2012, having last been reaccredited in November 2016. Since September 2017 the school has provided training for schools across the Central South Consortium (CSC), supporting schools working towards the NACE Challenge Award as part of its role as a professional learning hub. 

Hilary Lowe, NACE

Having first became involved with NACE as a member, and then as a trustee, Hilary is now the charity’s Education and Challenge Award Adviser. In this role, she leads on the NACE Challenge Development Programme and supporting resources; oversees NACE Essentials publications; and contributes to NACE’s wider development and work at regional and national levels. Hilary’s career spans senior posts in comprehensive schools, teacher training and university lecturing. She has served as Associate Dean at the Institute of Education, Oxford Brookes University, and as Director for the Excellence in Cities National Training Programme for Gifted and Talented Coordinators. She has also been a member of several education advisory groups, and has written and presented widely on the education of more able learners, and on education leadership and professional development.   

Dr Ann McCarthy, NACE

Dr Ann McCarthy has been a NACE associate since 2017, with a focus on developing the charity’s more able school review work, guidance on the use of data to support more able provision, and action research programme in partnership with the University of Winchester’s Expansive Education Network. Dr McCarthy’s career has included extensive experience in school leadership coaching, training and consultancy, as well as teaching and leadership roles in both primary and secondary schools. She is currently Improvement Director for a multi-academy trust, working with primary and secondary schools to raise standards, develop educational policy and professional subject networks, identify opportunities, promote collaboration and raise aspirations.

Sue Mordecai, NACE

Having started her career as a history teacher, Sue Mordecai has worked in both primary and secondary schools, moving on to roles as Head of School Improvement in a local authority, Associate Tutor at Oxford Brookes University, and as an adviser to the International Charles Darwin Trust.
Currently a director on the board of a multi-academy trust, Sue has contributed to national materials commissioned by both Welsh and English governments, represented NACE on government advisory bodies, and authored many articles and resources related to more able learners, as well as contributing to the editorial board of the journal Gifted Education International. A former Chair of NACE, Sue currently serves as a trustee and a member of the charity’s education committee. She also delivers the popular "Challenge in the everyday classroom" seminar series, offered at various locations throughout the year.

Louise Rees, Tycroes School

Currently Deputy Headteacher at Tycroes School in Carmarthenshire, Louise has over 30 years’ experience of teaching in Welsh and bilingual primary schools across the county, and also works with ESTYN as a peer inspector. Specialising in mathematics, she has coordinated maths at school and cluster levels and worked on KS2-3 link projects with local secondary schools. Her role as assessment coordinator has enabled her to develop initiatives to increase the role of learners in marking their own work. Her recent work with more able learners has further extended these learners’ ability to self-and peer-assess.

Greg Scannell, The Brilliant Club

Greg Scannell is The Brilliant Club’s National Manager for Wales, overseeing the development and running of The Scholars Programme across the country. In this role, he brings together universities, colleges, schools and external partners to deliver university-style learning programmes that stretch and challenge young people, develop their academic skills and knowledge, and ultimately raise their aspirations towards attending top universities. Originally from Swansea, Greg completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Oxford, going on to work as a Widening Access Coordinator at the university. He then trained as a teacher and completed an MA in Education at the University of Cambridge, while teaching religious studies at a Swansea secondary school. He has also worked as a Leadership Development Officer for Teach First Cymru, coaching and mentoring new trainee teachers across Wales.

Claire Scotti, Coedcae School

Claire Scotti is Deputy Headteacher at Coedcae School, an 11-16 comprehensive school in Carmarthenshire. Her responsibilities include teaching and learning, curriculum and assessment.  During her 18-year career in education, Claire has worked as head of MFL in an 11-18 bilingual comprehensive school, where she taught French, Italian and Spanish at KS3-5. Before moving back to Wales, Claire taught in several secondary schools in Kent, including a grammar school and a language college. She has held the position of MAT coordinator in three different schools and developed a range of bespoke MAT provision. She currently leads a collaboration with local schools and the local FE provider to enhance MAT provision for learners in the Llanelli area.

Alison Sykes, Bishopston Comprehensive School

Alison Sykes is an Assistant Headteacher at Bishopston Comprehensive School, Swansea. During her 24-year career in education, she has taught in primary education, further education and for the last 18 years in secondary education. Alison regularly provides professional development learning opportunities to support teaching and learning, quality assurance and school improvement. Her current school responsibilities include: leading school improvement and development planning, teaching and learning, quality assurance, supporting national priorities, INSET and professional learning, and supporting teachers of the future as a school-based and induction mentor. As part of an ERW Professional Learning School, Alison supports schools developing their provision for more able learners, preparing and supporting bespoke CPD.

Steve Wilson and Rachel Rose, Bishop Gore School

Assistant Headteacher Steve Wilson and Head of Languages Rachel Rose are the lead representatives for Swansea’s Bishop Gore School in a project to develop school-to-school partnerships in MAT provision, coordinated by NACE and ERW. Steve and Rachel have both contributed to a range of MAT-focused initiatives within the school, including a KS3 skills-based cross-curricular thematic curriculum design which was recognised in a recent Estyn best-practice study. Other current initiatives include a project for the Arts Council of Wales to design and construct a bespoke Learning Pod, targeting underachieving MAT learners, and the introduction of termly MAT weeks with a focus on aspiration-raising.

View the full programme and book your place.