Reema Reid, Head at Hollydale Primary School in the London Borough of Southwark, is the charity’s first Ambassador. Reema was the keynote speaker at our 30th anniversary event, giving an inspirational speech on the importance of literacy, the challenge of getting catch up provision to work well and her experience of partnering successfully with the charity to close the literacy gap for children who need the most help.
Reema has been the Head Teacher of Hollydale since 2013. The school serves an area which is socially, economically and educationally deprived and where 45% of pupils receive Free School Meals. It is also a school which focuses on opportunity, with the ambition for all pupils to be the best that they can be and to reach their full potential.
The daughter of a Windrush immigrant, Reema first joined education as a lunchtime supervisor and a teaching assistant in Lambeth before becoming a qualified teacher and eventually Head of School. In 2021, Reema won the prestigious Gold Teaching Award for Headteacher of the Year in a Primary School in the Pearson National Teaching Awards. She is now a judge for the Teaching Awards and also a regular speaker at conferences.
“Over ten years ago when I was dropping my youngest daughter off to a school in Lambeth I noticed a brightly lit room with attractive reading displays and a rich literacy environment. I knocked on the door and asked what was the focus of this classroom. The tutors explained it was a dedicated Literacy Lab space run by a charity where they supported children to close their literacy gap and become confident with their reading skills. I observed expert tutors who were passionate and committed to helping children become readers”.“I vowed that when I became a substantive Head Teacher, I would work with such an intervention which could so effectively change children’s lives. I have been true to my word and I have seen the impact of The Children’s Literacy Charity on children at Hollydale School. Without specialist support, the most disadvantaged children will always struggle to catch up and I am delighted to be taking up this Ambassador role for this charity”.
In addition to her role as Head Teacher of a thriving school, Reema is also involved with Southwark’s Teaching School Alliance where she has helped to coach and mentor ethnic minority teachers to take up leadership roles in their schools and has empowered many educators and pupils to follow in her footsteps.
Head Office Team
Our small central team works to support tutors, schools and funders.
Julie Taylor – Education Lead
Julie has been a primary school teacher for over thirty years and has extensive experience across all areas of literacy.
For nearly 20 years she has specialised in supporting children with English as an Additional Language and led her school’s Covid Catch Up programme, developing and monitoring Literacy interventions across all age groups.
Julie is passionate about Reading for Pleasure and the relationship between oracy and reading and has implemented a very successful whole school Reading for Pleasure strategy.
Beata Gawthrop – Programme Delivery Manager
Following a special education degree course, Beata worked with individuals with learning difficulties. She also worked as a community interpreter with adults and children before becoming an EAL coordinator for a primary school.
“throughout my career, I have realised that there are so many factors which can influence a child’s life chances and this is what led me to the Children’s Literacy Charity and the opportunity to help those who for whatever reason – economic disadvantage, different cultural or linguistic background or not having a supportive family – struggle to access literacy skills.
Literacy is fundamental to the development of self-confidence, a sense of self-worth and an ability to navigate today’s world as an equal. For the children we help, the most important thing we do is to listen”.
Claudette Taylor – West London Zone Schools Programme Manager
Claudette’s background is in Further and Adult Education where she originally worked as a Senior lecturer in Adult Literacy for 20 years.
Having retrained to work with young children as an Early Years Teacher, she then worked with charities and community projects in collaboration with schools to support the development of young children.
She started with the charity in 2019 as a Senior Literacy Intervention Tutor and has been the Schools Programme Manager for the West London Zone since.
“My work in Adult Literacy really opened my eyes to the need for early intervention. Without the work of the Children’s Literacy Charity many more children would grow up with poor literacy skills.”
Finance & Fundraising
Halima Begum, Head of Finance
Halima has been working in the charity sector for the past 15 years, previously with a childhood cancer care charity and a maths education charity. She is excited to be part of the Children’s Literacy Charity, and to play her role in bridging the literacy gap and improving the life chances of our children.
Michelle Bennett – Head of Fundraising
Michelle has been a senior fundraiser in the arts and charity sectors for over 25 years and has extensive experience across all areas of fundraising, with particular expertise in trusts and foundations fundraising. She is passionate about tackling inequality and helping children to reach their full potential. When not raising funds for the charity, Michelle loves reading and is an enthusiastic book club member.
Susy Gould-Obiora – Senior Partnerships & Fundraising Manager
Susy has worked in fundraising roles for the charitable sector for over 15 years including with The Royal Academy of Arts, Leonard Cheshire Disability, the MS Society and Sands. Susy also leads on our Digital Engagement and Social Media and is excited to be part of the Children’s Literacy Charity. Susy is passionate about helping the charity raise funds, and ensure more disadvantaged children have the opportunity to catch up with their literacy.
Having been a trustee of the charity for three years, Isabel stepped into the CEO role in 2021.
Isabel has over 30 years’ experience in corporate communications and reputation management. For 10 years she was Managing Director of one of the UK’s leading public relations consultancies, working across both the private and public sector for clients undertaking significant strategic and organisational change.
Jeffrey Defries (Chair)
Jeffrey Defries is the founder and chief executive of icould, an online careers charity. Formerly chief executive of the specialist careers and research charity CRAC, Jeffrey started his career in university administration, before taking roles at the Institute of Cancer Research as deputy secretary then secretary. He then joined the Science Museum as assistant director, moving on to the London Business School as deputy dean and secretary, and later the NHS University (NHSU) as director of corporate services. CPFA qualified, Jeffrey has held a number of not-for-profit and charity board positions in the UK and Europe including as senior advisor to the European Foundation for Management Development.
Andrew Martin has 28 years’ experience working in education. His career began with teaching in the UK, Pakistan and Belgium and from there he became part of the national steering group for the NCSL, (Now NCTL) creating and launching the first national programme for middle leaders. In 2009 Andrew formed his own company and has worked nationally, supporting schools, academies, dioceses and Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) as an advisor, mentor, project director and director of business. He spent three years as academy advisor for the Church of England Education Office, supporting and engaging with their schools and dioceses and helping to shape national policy. Andrew continues to work with The Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership on their national MAT Steering Group, MAT CEO development programme and network activity.
Steven Artist has significant leadership and operational management experience. He has held several senior global positions for a large multinational bank, including COO, CRAO and Business Head roles. In his current role, Steven leads a global Credit focused domain with a team of c.2,500 people across 35 markets around the world. Steven has a had a long-standing relationship with The Children’s Literacy Charity as a supporter and adviser prior to talking up his role on as Trustee.
Professor Jenny Thomson is a senior academic at the University of Sheffield, having previously worked at the University of Cambridge, UK and Harvard University, USA. A speech and language therapist by training, Jenny’s teaching and research focuses on the links between spoken and written language difficulties, as well as digital literacy.
Nicole Magoon is a Partner at Bain & Company, a strategy consulting firm, which she has worked at since 2006. She has worked extensively on growth and customer strategy, including for literacy and literature-focused charities. She is passionate about children’s literacy and has an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, as well as a BA in Psychology and Education from Dartmouth College, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
We are grateful to our patrons for their on-going support: