2022 Board candidates

English UK Board | 2022 board candidates

Elections to the English UK Board of Trustees take place each year ahead of the AGM. The Board has 12 seats in total, seven seats are up for election in 2022.

Board members serve for a maximum of three years and are eligible for re-election for a further period of three years. The chair and vice-chair are eligible to serve for a maximum of nine years. 

We had 11 candidates standing for the seven vacant seats. Voting opened on 27 April and closed at 17:00 on Friday 13 May. 

The election results will be announced at the AGM on Friday 20 May 2022

The board candidates

Listed alphabetically by first name.


 Catrin D 130x170

Catrin Diamantino, Bell English

Originally from Sweden I have spent 25 years in the EFL industry as Sales & Marketing Director for a small school which eventually became a large global chain. Since 2018 I have been the CEO at Bell based in Cambridge. We also have a year-round London school and a number of young learner centres.  

I'm really proud of our industry and of the English UK team who have done an amazing job supporting our industry during these last two incredibly challenging years. We have faced incredible challenges but thanks to our association we have not had to face them alone. Never have I valued the collaborative spirit of our industry more. 

I feel that continuity on the Board is important, and I would really welcome the opportunity to continue the work we have started together with the Executive Team in looking ahead and shape the recovery of the industry. I believe I can add value to the strategic plan we started working on at the end of last year and feel I have a good understanding of the critical issues for our members.  

Most of us represent small businesses but when we come together we can achieve great things. 

> view Catrin's nominee video

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Farhan Quraishi 130x170

Farhan Quraishi, Speak Up London

I am the CEO and co-founder of Speak Up London, as a board member of English UK for the past 6 months I have passionately and proactively driven for a speedy recovery of our sector.  Before even becoming a trustee, I was already campaigning for: 

  • ID card travel for juniors
  • switching providers for students on the 11-month short-term study visas
  • fighting for student work rights
  • switching visas in-country
  • getting Accreditation UK recognised as a valid educational oversight body.

...and realized that being given a chance to join the board, strengthens our efforts even more.  

Most of the above has taken place through our roundtable discussions with the Home Office which I attended and wish to continue the great progress that we have already started to make.  

Additionally, I have campaigned vigorously for business rates relief and grants and presented our sector's case at the APPG for international students, campaigned for our local MP to contact the Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. 

We have a lot of work to do, and if elected, I will continue to give 100% to bring the desperately needed change, recognition and support our industry needs and deserves.  

> view Farhan's nominee video

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Francesca Giacomini 130x170

Francesca Giacomini, North West Academy of English

My name is Francesca Giacomini and I am director and shareholder of the North West Academy of English in Northern Ireland. I have been in this role for 15 years. During that time, I helped develop the school in terms of student numbers and new markets.

As a family run school based in the largest city on the UK/ EU border we have felt first-hand the effects of Brexit. This challenge coupled with the Covid pandemic has tested me personally and professionally. I believe it has improved me as a director and strengthened my organisation.

It is worth noting that our sector in Northern Ireland received no government's support during Covid.

I am standing for election because I believe the next five years are crucial. Markets will take time to recover and as Brexit begins to bite, we need to be at our strongest as a sector. I believe English UK should represent every region and I want the voice of Northern Ireland heard.

I speak four languages and set off more than 25 years ago to the UK for an ELT experience. My passion for English has never dwindled.

I want to assist in helping the ELT sector's recovery and I believe my skills, vision and passion can contribute to the Board. 

> view Francesca's nominee video

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 Jaqui Fox 130x170

Jacqui Fox, Twin

I like to think of myself as a calming, methodical and experienced leader who enjoys working collaboratively to improve performance.  

Having grown the business through periods of dramatic change and challenge, I feel that I have the required experience and would dedicate the time to work with English UK to drive growth in membership. 

I strongly believe in the accreditation system, the collective value and support it provides members when lobbying government to accept the key role our industry plays in bolstering, HE, leisure, tourism and UKPLC. 

We will continue to face challenges as a sector, let us embrace each challenge as a new opportunity not a crisis. I am excited by change, I believe when one door closes, a new door opens. 

I bring: 

  • 30 years' experience with focus on positive change management across HE and private sector education
  • 27 years' experience in developing and delivering vocational, work experience opportunities
  • experience in developing graduate university placements services
  • understanding of UK funding channels to support the wider English UK membership, keen to explore new opportunities, working with DWP, LSC, Erasmus+ and other funders of education and training 

I love: 

  • our sector   
  • innovation – creating new programmes 
  • change and new opportunities  
  • professional development  
  • opportunity for all  

Thank you.  

> view Jacqui's nominee video

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Jose B 130x170

Jose Brinkman, Country Cousins

Why am I standing for election, my relevant experience and what I hope to contribute to the board of English UK? 

For those of us who have survived the pandemic, you'll agree that our industry is at its knees, with financial difficulties, Covid uncertainties, affected by rising fuel and insurance prices, not in control of external factors like UK Border decisions, airlines changing routes and times constantly, etc. 

The English UK board must ensure that it adapts and flexes to the changing context in which its members find themselves. It must be able to provide the required and beneficial support to members as they take on the difficult work of building up over the next 2-3 years. 

It is vital that the English UK plays a substantial role in this recovery process, advocating where necessary and diversifying its activity to ensure that it is relevant to the post-covid age and the present demands of its members. Our membership is at an all-time low, we need to act now more than ever. 

Today, Country Cousins is the only school in the world to win a British Council ELTons award for local innovation (2014). I believe this testifies to the innovation I can contribute to English UK. I want to join the English UK board because I really want to make a difference in our industry.

> view Jose's nominee video

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Mark Rendell 130x170

Mark Rendell, International House London

I am as passionate today about English UK and the ELT sector as I was six years ago when I first stood for election. As a trustee and the current Chair of the Board I have been given the opportunity to help steer English UK and the sector through the most challenging period in its history. It is vital that we maintain stability and utilise this experience as we reposition ourselves for recovery and growth.  

Our industry may have been badly damaged, but we remain hugely relevant as a force for change and a force for peace. We open priceless life opportunities and educational experiences to people from all over the world. Through English UK we will continue to tell this story, to maximise partnerships, project our influence and build a better future for our members.  

Should I be elected for a third term, as Chair, I will ensure that your board and your executive team always bring their 'A' game and work together with a shared purpose. Under the talented leadership of Jodie Gray, we will focus on delivering our recovery strategy, give our members a strong voice, share expertise, promote tolerance, diversity and sustainability, and practice good governance.   

> view Mark's nominee video

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 Mary Doody Photo 130 x170

Mary Doody, Kings Young Learners

I'm Mary Doody, Director of Kings Young Learners, part of Kings Education. 

Having trained as a state school teacher in Ireland and then teaching for a short period in a large comprehensive here in the UK, I moved into the world of International Education and have worked in many different roles with young learners right from Activity Leader up to Operations Manager, I moved into the role of Director at Kings Young Learners in 2014. I love it here – working alongside like minded industry experts with students needs at the centre of all we do. With so many years and over 30 summers under my belt there is little I haven't encountered and yet each season brings new opportunities and challenges. 

I have just finished my tenure as Co-Chair at Young Learners English UK, the single biggest special interest group in English UK. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and was involved in setting up our first ever conference as well as speaking myself at various Young Learners English UK events and playing an active part in further professionalising the delivery of young learner courses. 

I believe we are now moving to a time for more strategic creative thinking in our industry and I hope if elected I can bring some ideas for change and development to the sector. I am a good listener, a collaborative worker and an able leader and I would value working alongside a team of friendly competitors to help further improve the offering to our international students and support recovery of the industry that I love. 

> view Mary's nominee video 

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 Neil Harris 130x170

Neil Harris, CELT

My time as English UK Wales Chair, membership of the Enterprises Board and my 29 years working in ELT have given me the experience to represent the wider English UK membership at a time of great change. I bring extensive strategic leadership and community building volunteering skills from serving on Scarborough's Town Team Executive, which I will use to serve all members to the best of my ability.  

In particular, I will offer a strong voice for the devolved nations and smaller ELT destinations to ensure their representation on the board. I have had leadership roles in seasonal multi-centres, private language schools and UK universities in teaching, training and sales & marketing and have in-depth understanding of both academic and business functions. I understand the different challenges facing the range of member institutions and the importance of all things digital as the industry moves forward. 

I am a skilled networker and listener and believe that collaboration is key to ELT's future. As an openly gay man in the workplace, I champion Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and sustainability plus common sense. My focus will be on developing workable day-to-day solutions and helping to sustain English UK as the leading member institution globally. 

> view Neil's nominee video

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 Richard Simpson 130x170

Richard Simpson, University of Sheffield English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC)

I have worked at the University of Sheffield English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) for 27 years and have been Director since 2007. Previously I studied and worked at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne's Language Centre after returning from teaching in the private sector in Japan and Italy. I am also a student on the University's part-time Doctor of Education programme.

Since taking over as director of ELTC I have encouraged active engagement with English UK and English UK North. We have participated in many English UK and English UK North marketing events and agent visits.

I served as an English UK board member from 2015 to 2018, and have continued to contribute as a member of the external affairs advisory group.

The current board has no members from the state sector. I was invited to sit on the board as an observer to represent statsector members. I am keen to rejoin the English UK board as a trustee. I feel representation from the state sector is important and valuable. If elected I will continue to encourage better participation from other HE and FE members

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 Spencer 130x170

Spencer Fordham, Capital School of English

My name is Spencer Fordham, co-founder and MD of Capital School of English in Bournemouth. Having served an initial three years as a trustee and during arguably the most challenging period in the history of our wonderful sector I am keen to continue serving our members along with my fellow trustees.

I have a background of over 23 years working in the International Education sector. I have experience in all areas of English language school ownership and management having started my own school with my wonderful wife Paulina. 

My core strengths when representing the sector include persistence, getting our messaging heard, collaboration and innovation. 

My passion for the sector, locally, nationally and internationally and my drive to have BRAND English UK front and centre in all the work I do will never waiver. 

We must all work together to get our sector back on track. The barriers that are currently in place and preventing growth should be our focus. To achieve measurable gains, I am driven more than ever to return our industry to its rightful place. 

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 Tatiana Giannakoura Vassilakis 130x170

Tatiana Giannakouri, English Language House

My name is Tatiana Giannakouri and I am the director of English Language House, Milton Keynes. 

I have been involved in EFL since 1981 and have worked for the British Council in Athens and Thessaloniki, Greece, for Bell in Saffron Walden, Essex and for Thornton College, Buckinghamshire.

I set up English Language House in Milton Keynes in 1998 and have been involved in all aspects of school management ever since although I still very much enjoy teaching and teacher training whenever time allows.

Strengths (according to colleagues!!!) 

  • Ability to think outside the box and find solutions to problems which may seem "unsolvable" 
  • Strong negotiating skills 
  • Diplomacy 
  • Approachability 
  • Compentence and ease in facilitating conversations and social interaction in awkward situations. 

I am happy to stand for election and, if chosen, will aim to help address any concerns members have regarding the future of the EFL industry in the UK and the role of English UK in "leading, representing and supporting our EFL community to achieve its full potential". 

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