Gary Foxcroft  BA (Hons), M(Res)

Gary Foxcroft BA (Hons), M(Res)

Gary has 15 years of experience of managing organisations and working with governments, donors and educationalists in Africa to deliver improvements in reading and writing for children. His vision, drive and commitment to raising literacy levels have seen thousands of teachers access high quality literacy training and support.

Gary has a particular passion for working with partners to enable less privileged children to access their right to a decent level of education. This has led to him co-founding charities and schools in Nigeria, presenting papers at international academic conferences and hosting government delegations at the Houses of Parliament in London.

Through his work with Universal Learning Solutions, Gary intends to build upon these successes and provide the support and leadership needed in order to enable millions more children around the world experience the wonder of being able to read and write.

 

Naomi Foxcroft BA (Hons) PGCE

Naomi Foxcroft BA (Hons) PGCE

Technical Director

After obtaining a First Class Degree in Primary Education and Geography, Naomi worked as a primary school teacher for ten years. She has worked extensively with Primary and Nursery children. Whilst working with young children, Naomi developed an interest in how best to teach them to read and write.

A range of options were made available to her, but she soon noticed that the synthetic phonics method lead to reading success for all children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and children who spoke English as a second language.

Excited by the impact of synthetic phonics in the UK, Naomi chose to travel to Nigeria to establish a school in Nigeria. The school was unique in that all teachers were trained in synthetic phonics,using the Jolly Phonics programme. The results speak for themselves. Pupils’ writing is so impressive that it can be confused with that of the teacher and their reading is clear and fluent.

Naomi has since facilitated the training of thousands of teachers in Nigeria and in the Gambia and she continues to advocate for synthetic phonics tuition within a rich literary environment in every classroom throughout the globe.

Louise Gittins LLB PGCE PhD

Louise Gittins LLB PGCE PhD

Projects Director

After graduating from Lancaster University with First Class Honours in International Law LLB, Louise undertook a graduate scheme with educational charity Teach First where she worked and qualified as a secondary school English teacher in a challenging inner-city school.

As almost all of the children Louise taught had English as an additional language, with many children starting the school being completely illiterate even in their first language, ensuring that the children gained essential basic literacy skills was of primary concern.

A synthetic phonics approach was introduced throughout the school and Louise was involved in teaching a number of schemes to whole classes as well as on a one-to-one basis. The results were fantastic and the school is now a model for others with similar issues. Having witnessed the potential of this method, Louise is now an advocate for synthetic phonics and has facilitated the training of thousands of teachers in Nigeria as well as advising State and Federal level government on how to successfully introduce it.

She has presented at the Reading Reform Foundation conference, attended a number of Jolly Phonics Trainers’ conferences and has completed the online Jolly Phonics course as well as having experience of adapting and using the Early Grade Reading Assessment. Louise has a PhD on a rights-based approach to improving early grade literacy in Nigeria.

Patrick Nkem-Uzu

Patrick Nkem-Uzu

Nigerian Country Director

Patrick is an experienced educationalist with a great passion for improving the lives of young people in Nigeria and around the world.

Through his work with as the Founder/ Executive Director of Tomorrow Leaders Foundation, Patrick has been instrumental  in the increasing use of the synthetic phonics method across Nigeria. In addition to co-ordinating a number of state-wide pilot and implementation projects, Patrick has been at the forefront of the push for the Nigerian Federal Government to incorporate the synthetic phonics method in the national curriculum. This has recently seen him work closely with the Nigerian Education and Research Development Council to develop a draft curriculum for this method.

Patrick is also a motivational speaker, and a trained life coach and counsellor. He has written several books targeted at developing the youths, some of which includes Jackie Goes to School, Two Wrongs Do Not Make a Right, Amaka’s Dream, and The King’s Akpa. He also organizes workshops to empower and motivate youths and teachers.

He was born in Nigeria in 1965 and is married to his lovely wife, Stella. They are blessed with two children, Japheth Somtochukwu and Chiedu Victory. They live in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Katy Davies BA (hons) PGCE MA

Katy Davies BA (hons) PGCE MA

Chief Operating Officer

Katy originally trained as a secondary school teacher before starting her career in international development over 15 years ago. Since then she has managed health and education programmes across East Africa specialising in operations, logistics, organisational development and change management. Katy also has a Masters in International Development from Manchester University.

Working at grass roots level in East Africa for many years Katy has advocated for bottom up approaches to development. She continues to be driven by working in partnership with governments across Africa in order to enable children to access their right to education.

At Universal Learning Solutions Katy manages our rapidly expanding team along with our operations across the world.

Keri Brown

Keri Brown

Finance Manager

Keri is a part qualified accountant, studying CIMA, who has over 15 years’ experience of working with not for profit organisations after making the career decision to leave Commercial accounting. Keri divides her time between managing the finances for Universal Learning Solutions along with our overseas finances. Keri prefers to work in the voluntary sector as the ethos of non-profit fits with her passion of working to help others.

Victor Poluektoff BSc MPH

Victor Poluektoff BSc MPH

Senior Project Manager

Victor spent his early twenties volunteering for educational and health projects in Ghana and Nigeria where he also completed research projects for International Water Management Institute and WHO. Back in the UK he worked for Food Standards Agency Scotland and NHS absorbing unique lessons of managing large-scale projects.

His keen interest in education and synthetic phonics in particular brought him to Asia where he spent five years perfecting his teaching skills and researching the impact of Jolly Phonics on primary schools students.

Victor works tirelessly at Universal Learning Solutions where he manages the Jolly Phonics programmes in pursuit of accessible literacy for disadvantaged children.

Richard Turnbull BA (Hons)

Richard Turnbull BA (Hons)

Senior Project Manager

Richard has spent most of the last decade organising volunteer development projects in Africa and Latin America. Working at a grass roots level in rural communities, he has endeavoured to provide access to basic human rights, especially within the fields of education and nutrition. In his previous job, Richard was the Operations Manager for Latin America of a social enterprise which provided vital learning experiences for young people from around the world.

Richard has an undergraduate degree in Arabic and Spanish from the University of Leeds and is passionate about learning languages and the opportunities this can create. Through his role with Universal Learning Solutions team he channels his love for languages into making a positive impact on literacy in the developing world.

 

Nicholas Ochojila

Nicholas Ochojila

Project Officer

Nicholas Ochojila is a Project Officer with Universal Learning Solutions in Nigeria and also a State Manager in Rivers State for the Low Cost Private Schools project. He has a B.A in Theatre Arts and a post graduate diploma in International Relations. He has a passion for helping children to achieve their potential. He is married to a wonderful lady Treasure who also loves working with children and trains in Jolly Phonics. They have two boys William and John.

Tony Horsfall

Tony Horsfall

Southern Programme Coordinator

Tony is a hard working, dynamic enthusiastic member of our Nigerian team with a huge passion for helping young people in the areas of Leadership, Character Education and Literacy. He holds a B.Sc in Marketing from the University of Port Harcourt.

He has featured in two Movies and a TV Reality Show called the Gulder Ultimate Search Season 8 named the Contest of Champion.

 

Chijioke Ogbonnaa – Njoku

Chijioke Ogbonnaa – Njoku

Finance Officer

Chijioke has prior accounting experience working with Nigerian SMEs in the capital, Abuja. He holds an accounting degree and is part qualified accountant with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Working with Universal Learning Solutions in Nigeria, Chijioke utilises his accounting knowledge to improve early age literacy quality in Nigeria and he feels very lucky to be part of the process.

Gilbert Jolly

Gilbert Jolly

Technology Partner

Gilbert Jolly is an Software Developer who has transitioned from working at high growth start-ups in the UK and USA to creating software for social enterprises in the developing world. He has lived in Nairobi working on Pay as you go solar, and worked in Nigeria with Universal Learning Solutions.

He has been responsible for creating the Jolly Phonics Lessons app, which is used by tens of thousands of teachers in Nigeria.

He is now creating systems to enable scalable and efficient management of our teacher, school and training data, to enable us to reach even more children.

Helen Thorogood BA (Hons), MSc

Helen Thorogood BA (Hons), MSc

Project Officer – South Africa & Namibia

Helen attended The University of Manchester where she achieved her undergraduate degree in Human Geography and postgraduate Msc degree in International Development specialising in poverty, inequality and development from the University’s Global Development Institute.

Throughout her time at University, Helen pursued her ever-growing passion of working towards improving the lives of other young people facing challenges such as access to quality education and skills and employment opportunities. She has volunteered with youth-focused charities both in the UK and overseas (Zimbabwe and Uganda).

Originally beginning her time with us as a volunteer intern to assist with the UK launch of our documentary “Nigeria’s Reading Revolution: The Story of Africa’s Largest English Literacy Project”, Helen is now supporting our rapidly expanding projects in Southern Africa as a Project Officer.

Umar Faruk Bello

Umar Faruk Bello

Regional Project Officer

Umar Faruk Bello attended Katsina Teachers College, obtaining a Grade Two Teachers Certificate. He also attended the former Advanced Teachers College, Azare, as a pioneer student, where he obtained the Nigerian Certificate of Education. He is also a graduate of former University of Sokoto, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and History.

Mallam (Teacher) Umar has been a classroom teacher in a number of Primary and Secondary schools in Kaduna and later Katsina State. He has served as Principal of five public secondary schools in Katsina State over a period of seventeen years. He was promoted to an Assistant Director in charge of schools and later Director in charge of policy implementation and monitoring at the Katsina State Ministry of Education for a period of four years.

Mallam Umar joined the Universal learning Solutions in October, 2017 as Project Coordinator and has moved through the ranks to Regional Project Officer. He joined Universal Learning Solutions to bring his wealth of experience and connections in the public and private sector so as  to contribute in changing  the narrative in literacy and educational development in Northern Nigeria and beyond.

Mallam Umar is married with fifteen children.

Kate Howell BA (Hons)

Kate Howell BA (Hons)

Literacy Project Officer

Kate has always been passionate about reading and literacy, which led her to study English Literature at the University of Sussex where she achieved a BA Hons degree.

Kate’s degree led to an interest in the education sector and she has since worked and volunteered for a number of organisations who focus on education quality.

In the last few years Kate has enjoyed working in international settings, including Zambia, Australia and New Zealand and loves learning about new cultures and sharing experiences with new people.

 

Niki Dancy BA, MQM

Niki Dancy BA, MQM

Literacy Project Officer

Niki has spent the past 20 years working in education and training in the Middle East. She has solid experience of managing large scale education and training development projects and has worked internationally in countries such as U.A.E and the UK.

Niki has a background in Psychology and Quality Management and brings a wealth of experience to Universal Learning Solutions. Her experience spans teaching and facilitating in the classroom, training in workshops and seminars and project managing groups of managers, customers and employees. She has also worked as an educational programme manager, student mentor, a distance-learning support tutor, and a personal counsellor.

Niki enjoys the challenge of teamwork, team leadership, and meeting the needs of stakeholders through flexible and rewarding relationships. She is prepared to go the extra mile for colleagues and truly believes in the positive impact these actions can have on project and organisational success.