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About Us

The MTPT Project was founded in June 2016 by Emma Sheppard and is the only organisation in the UK that focuses on the impact of the parental leave period on teaching.  We are now supported by a team of nine volunteers who represent us across the country and contribute to our Accreditation process, as well as 22 Advocates who support us more informally.

Our Team

Regional Representatives

Claire Nicholls, @bristol_teacher
South West Representative

Claire represents The MTPT Project in the South West by presenting at Teach Meets, conferences, organising meet ups and connecting members of The MTPT Project community in her region.

Claire is currently Deputy of Inclusion at a Bristol School and an SLE for SEN and Inclusion. She qualified as a Primary teacher in 2008 and has taught across Key Stages in mainstream and special education. She has continued her love of learning with a Masters in Education, National Award for SEN Coordination and the Teaching Leaders Programme. She is passionate about inclusion and equality, and an advocate for #WomenEd.

Charlotte Bell, @cslbell
West Midlands Representative and Social Media Secretary

Charlotte represents The MTPT Project in the West Midlands connecting members of The MTPT Project, hosting coffee mornings and speaking on behalf of the project at various networking events.  She also hosts our monthly #MTPTchat as she embraces her new role as Mummy to little boy, Jack.

A Teach First ambassador, Charlotte is now the Leader of GCSE Literature and Media at a small state secondary on the outskirts of Birmingham having joined the teaching profession after completing her PhD in Social Engaged Art and Performance on/about Social Housing Estates.

Libby Merritt, @Libby_Merritt
East of England Representative

Libby represents The MTPT Project in the East of England, hosting coffee mornings in Cambridge, netowkring and working in partnership with our Cambridgeshire and Suffolk schools.

Libby completed her teacher training at Roehampton in 2010.  She has taught History in London, Peterborough and Cambridge.  She recently made a small contribution to a GCSE text book on the Norman Conquest and is currently working on an MSc in Educational Psychology.  She is particularly interested in inclusion, mental health and wellbeing.

Libby had her son, Ben, in June 2017.

Kat Howard, @saysmiss

Kat represents the MTPT Project in the East Midlands, connecting members of the MTPT Project, organising meet ups and speaking on behalf of the project at various networking events.

Coordinator of Litdrive, a collaborative shared resource used by English teachers around the world, Kat also recently secured the role of More and Most Able Coordinator at her school upon returning to work.

She has two sons: Noah, a self-sufficient, inquisitive and politically minded nine year old and Ted, currently in training for Baby that exists on least amount of sleep 2018 (undisputed 2017 champion).  With another small human on the way, Kat is about to embark on another period of maternity leave and looks forward to sharing her CPD experiences once the time arrives.


Emma Sheppard, @Comment_Ed
Founder and London Regional Representative

Emma is the Founder of The MTPT Project and London Regional Representative.  She is addicted to the @maternityCPD Twitter handle and keeps on top of The MTPT Project’s social media presence.

Emma trained as an English teacher in Watford with Teach First in 2010 before moving to the British International School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  She returned to the UK in 2013 and began working as a Lead Practitioner in South London.  Emma founded The MTPT Project during her first maternity leave in June 2016.

Emma has a daughter named Lucie, born in January 2018 and a toddler named Hugo.  Mostly, Hugo can be found crushing Lucie, but she doesn’t seem to mind.

Frances Ashton, @FKAEnglish
Family Friendly Schools

During her second maternity leave and when she returned to work, Frances blogged for The MTPT Project, focusing on her own CPD reflections and her work on creating family friendly school cultures.  As part of both her SLT and SLE role and her work for The MTPT Project, Frances continues to focus on how practical strategies can make teaching  a more sustainable profession for parents and positively impact teacher wellbeing and retention.  

Frances completed her PGCE through Oxford University in 2008 before getting a job in an all girls comprehensive in Oxfordshire.  Having worked as a Second in Department, Advanced Learner Leader and a Lead Practitioner, she is now Assistant Head for Teaching and Learning.

She has two daughters born in February 2014 and September 2016 who conspire to make sure she rarely gets a chance to sit down. 

Lucy Braidley, @Lucy_Braidley
Press Officer

During her third parental leave, Lucy blogged for The MTPT Project as well as writing for the TES and TeachWire as part of her own professional development.  Now back in the classroom, Lucy continues to write on behalf of The MTPT Project and handle all of our media enquiries.

Following a career in Communications, she decided to become a teacher whilst on her first maternity leave and trained at Reading University through their Graduate Teacher Program.

Based in a small rural primary school with 120 pupils (one of whom is her daughter), Lucy is currently class teacher in year 2/3 and subject leader for English and Art. She also visits other schools as part of her role as KS1 moderator.

Angharad Salazar Llewellyn, @TheMumDiary
Brand Strategy Consultant

Currently on her second maternity leave, Angharad provides advice and coaching on our branding, website and social media strategy.

Passionate about supporting return-to-workers, she is the founder of The Flexwork Network, a series of events and a weekly newsletter to support flexible workers.

Angharad is also Editor of Pillow Magazine, a beauty, travel and parenting online publication, and a freelance Content Strategist, Social Media Consultant and journalist with over 15 years of experience.


Accreditation Coaches

Alice Ballantine Dykes
Accreditation Coach

Alice trained with a PGCE in Primary education in 2000, and as an Advanced Skills Teacher has worked closely with many teachers, developing strong partnerships to bring about confidence and change in the classroom.

Happiest outside the box. since 2008, she has also been involved in a number of (unaccredited!) research projects with the likes of Human Scale Education and Explorium, to design experimental and ground breaking learning environments for young people.

Since having children (Betty, born Dec 2014 and Ronnie, born Sept 2017) Alice has been working on a large research project into Psychological Well Being at work, including theories on automony, motivation and meaningful work.

Having trained last year as an Executive and Personal coach, Alice has joined The MTPT Project team as an Accreditation Coach. She is also designing coaching opportunities for mums and dads from a range of industries, returning to work after starting their family.

Charlotte Andrews, @Charlotte_Coach
Accreditation Coach

Charlotte trained as an English Teacher on the FastTrack teaching programme at Cambridge University in 2004. She started her career in Hertfordshire, where she led Teaching and Learning groups and CPD programmes. She then moved to the Cayman Islands, where she was Head of English.

She became interested in the way that coaching can inspire, empower and connect in an educational setting following a training course she attended, and when she returned to the UK in 2014, began studying for diplomas in life coaching and coaching within education alongside teaching English in Cambridge.  

As part of her commitment to support other women in education, Charlotte has signed up to the DfE’s coaching pledge, and is The MTPT Project’s dedicated Accreditation Coach.

Charlotte is currently on maternity leave, embracing the joys, challenges and opportunities that motherhood brings, following the birth of her little boy in April 2017.  

Naomi Ward, @Naomi7444
Accreditation Coach

Naomi has 14 years’ experience as a secondary English teacher, Head of English and Head of Faculty. 

After leaving teaching, she retrained as a professional coach and received her CPCC certification in 2018, founding Education Connected to work with teachers and students in schools.  For the last two years, she has focused on collaborative projects  between schools and employers, delivering training on teacher wellbeing and working with school leaders, teachers and apprentices.  Naomi also coaches as part of the DFE National Coaching Pledge Programme.

She was the Editor of the #teacher5aday Handbook and journal and is a regional leader for #WomenEd in the South East.

Naomi is mother to three young boys.


Our Advocates
Our advocates contribute more flexibly, but no less passionately to the development of The MTPT Project.  They are great cheerleaders for the issues that we explore and are essential in inspiring, empowering and connecting parent-teachers, school leaders, CPD providers and other MTPT community members across the UK.
Sam Collins, @samschoolstuff

Wellbeing Advocate

Sam is a primary teacher based in Devon, and the founder of Schoolwell, a staff wellbeing resource and blog. She also has a wealth of experience working flexibly, part time in job shares and as a supply teacher.

Her advocacy for the MTPT project sits within her wider work, promoting wellbeing and work life balance for all school staff on the site and at in person at CPD events.

Andrea Jennings, @lady_stow

HR and Support Staff Advocate

Andrea is a qualified HR Manager who lives and works in north east London with her husband and two children.  She has worked in secondary education for 14 years in 4 different schools and is passionate about flexible working, staff wellbeing and mental health.  As well as The MTPT Project she supports the Pregnant Then Screwed campaign and Flex Appeal, working as a moderator and giving advice on their joint forum Work It Out.

Bretta Townend-Jowitt, @2106Head

Oxfordshire Advocate

Bretta is a Headteacher in a rural primary school in West Oxfordshire. She has one son and has experience of being a teacher and senior leader with a young child. She is passionate about supporting parents undergoing fertility treatment and in ensuring parents are able to find a good work-life balance.  Bretta advocates for The MTPT Project in Oxfordshire.

Lucy Rose, @luceassociation and Lindsay East @mumsyme

Flexible Working Advocates

Lindsay and Lucy are Teach First ambassadors based in London. As well as teaching Economics and English, respectively  they run a project called Flexible Teacher Talent (#flexibleteachertalent) promoting flexible working in schools. They advocate for The MTPT Project at events, on social media and through collaborative research.

WomenEd, @WomenEd
UK Advocate

WomenEd are an international network who connect and inspire women in education.  Their UK branch have advocated for The MTPT Project since its inception, providing key connections to parties interested in the project’s work and by creating facilitation and presentation opportunities to spread the MTPT message at conferences and via social media.

Hinal Bhudia, @hinalbhudia
Maths Advocate

Hinal is an Associate Assistant Principal in West London, a position she fulfils 4 days a week and secured less than a year after returning from maternity leave.  She has one child and advocates for The MTPT Project across Maths networks, both digitally and in person.

Kristy Turner, @doc_kristy
Greater Manchester Advocate

Kristy is a Chemistry teacher and university lecturer, splitting her time between the University of Manchester and secondary teaching.  She has one daughter and advocates for The MTPT Project across a number of Scientific and Higher Education networks, both in person and via social media.  You can read her #MaternityTeacher story on our Case Studies page.

Kerry Fraser, @mrsfraserphs
Scotland Advocate

Kerry is an English teacher in Perth, Scotland and mum to a little boy and girl.  She has completed a variety of CPD during her two maternity leaves, including reading, exam marking and running social media accounts for her department.  Kerry advocates for us in Scotland.

Jenny Holder, @JennyHolderLiv
Liverpool Advocate

Jenny is a primary school teacher who used her maternity leave to develop her subject knowledge of YA fiction.  Following the birth of her daughter, she was appointed as Reading Coordinator for Liverpool Learning Partnership, a role which sees her developing opportunities for pupils across the city to read for pleasure.  Jenny advocates for us in Liverpool.

Nicole Ponsford, @NicolePonsford
EdTech Advocate

After her first maternity leave, Nicole transitioned from a school leadership position to the world of EdTech.  She co-founded her own consultancy, TechnoTeachers and advocates for The MTPT Project on multiple EdTech platforms.  Mum to three children, including twins, her #MaternityTeacher story can be read on our Case Studies page.

Mal Krishnasamy, @MalCPD
Dorset Advocate

Mal is independent consultant, coach and trainer, and former senior leader of Teaching and Learning and CPD.  She now lives in Dorset with her partner and two boys having relocated from London and retrained as an Executive Coach whilst on maternity leave. Mal is also a Regional Leader for WomenEd South East and is a keen advocate of the MTPT project in Dorset.

Leanne Shaw, @LeanneShawAHS
Yorkshire Advocate

Leanne is a Maths Teacher and part of the T&L team at her school in York.  She has one son and has supported The MTPT Project by taking part in our pilot accreditation process during her maternity leave.  Leanne advocates for us across Yorkshire.

Rebecca Cramer, @Bex_Cramer
Leadership Advocate

Secondary Head Teacher and Co-Founder of the Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ all-through school, Reach Academy Feltham, Bex Cramer advocates for The MTPT Project in school leadership circles.  You can read her story of balancing new motherhood and established headship in our ‘Motherhood and Headship‘ interview series.

Nicola Mooney, @nicksnook

IVF Advocate

Nicola is a Science teacher and middle leader working in Gloucestershire.  She is mother to four boys and is currently on maternity leave with her new baby, Oisin.

Her two younger sons were born following a miscarriage, and several years of fertility treatment.  She is passionate about supporting parents, especially teachers, going through IVF.


The Central Exchange, @Central_Exc
North East Advocate

The Central Exchange are a Skills Development and Co-working space based in North Shields, North Tyneside.  They are committed to providing baby and parent-friendly spaces for teachers and those involved in education and are advocating for The MTPT Project across the North East.

Kate Fiddian, @kfiddian
Bristol Advocate

Kate is a Science Teacher and Assistant Headteacher who looked after the @maternityCPD Twitter handle and represented The MTPT Project at various events and meet ups in the South West whilst on her first maternity leave.  Now heading back to school, she will continue to advocate for us in the Bristol area.

Madeleine Fresko-Brown, @M_X_F
North London Advocate

Whilst on maternity leave with her daughter, Madeleine blogged for The MTPT Project and took part in our pilot accreditation scheme.  Now back at work as an Assistant Principal in charge of Teaching and Learning, she advocates for us in North London.

Nikki Kaiser, @chemDrK
Norwich Advocate

Mother of three, Nikki is a Chemistry Teacher and Research Lead.  She advocates for us in Norwich and across a number of Scientific networks in person and on social media.  You can read her #MaternityTeacher story in our Case Studies.

James Ashmore, @ashmore_edu

PaternityTeacher Advocate

James is an Education Consultant and English SLE, and co-author of ‘The New Middle Leader’s Handbook’.  He lives in Holmfirth, Yorkshire and has three children.  James advocates for The MTPT Project on all things paternity related, following his experience of taking three extended paternity leaves.

Grainne O’Hallahan, @heymrshallahan
Essex Advocate

Grainne is a KS4 English Lead and mum of three. She is also a very active member of the community and the resources she has created before, during and after maternity leave are much loved across the country. Grainne advocates for us in Essex.

Kat Gillett, @gillettscience
Hertfordshire Advocate

Kat is a Director of Science in Harefield.  She completed CPD whilst on maternity leave with her son that was both topically and geographically varied – from gender equality at the UN in New York to FutureLearn courses on AFL from the comfort of her own home.  Kat advocates for us in Hertfordshire.

Bridget Clay, @bridget89ec
CPD Advocate

Bridget uses her CPD expertise to advocate for The MTPT Project across the country.  In particular, she has supported the development of our pilot accreditation and provides valuable contributions on the theories and research behind approaches to professional development in education.

Our Supporters
We are grateful to the following organisations who support us with advice, research and promotional opportunities.