The voice of specialist further education

Meet the team

Clare Howard, Chief Executive

Clare HowardWith 25 years’ experience in the public, private and voluntary sectors, Clare became chief executive of Natspec in January 2016. Clare worked at the Association of Colleges for six years and her career has included posts in local authorities, funding agencies, schools and colleges. As a consultant in the 2000s, Clare worked on more than 200 projects and took interim posts across the education, sport and health sectors, developing a passion for further education and a particular interest in services and education for people with learning difficulties and disabilities. She has worked with special schools, specialist colleges and national disability organisations and her expertise includes organisational development, funding bids, training, change management and governance projects.


Ruth Perry, Senior Policy Manager

Ruth Perry

Ruth joined Natspec in January 2017 following 12 years as an independent consultant specialising in special educational needs and disabilities. She worked across the full range of providers, including specialist and general FE colleges, independent training providers, adult and community and offender learning providers and with a range of organisations including local authorities, government departments, awarding and sector bodies and membership organisations. Ruth began her career teaching English and drama in secondary schools before moving on to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) where she had the policy lead for foundation learning. She is passionate about young people and adults with learning difficulties and / or disabilities having the chance to fulfil their potential – and ensuring national policies support them to do so.


Kirsten Jones, Policy Officer (Wales)

Kirsten JonesKirsten joined the team following five years as Vice Principal of specialist further education college Coleg Elidyr. Since 2016 she has served  as a Natspec Director where she has played a key role representing the sector as Additional Learning Transformation in Wales progresses. Previously, Kirsten worked for 15 years in higher education as a Senior Lecturer in psychology and departmental head, widening access to higher education to disadvantaged groups in the south Wales valleys. She is a Doctor of Education and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her research areas include SEND, vocational curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Kirsten has strong project management experience and a keen interest in how specialist further education impacts positively on individuals’ life chances.


Beth Mobbs-White, Office and Business Support Manager

Beth Mobbs-WhiteBeth started as Natspec’s Office and Business Support Manager in June 2019. She has previously worked in senior administration positions at Nottingham Trent University and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. When not working, she can be found drinking coffee or boarding a plane. If you have any queries around events, membership, health checks, or anything else you think Beth may be able to help with, please get in touch.


Fathia Saripuspita, Office and Events Administrator

Fathia SaripuspitaBefore joining Natspec, Fathia worked  in human resources and learning and development in hospitality, property management, and education settings. Passionate about improving people’s lives through learning, Fathia supports training and events held by Natspec. Outside of work, she enjoys exercising, movies, and cooking.


Amanda Tribble, Communications, Marketing and Publicity Officer

Amanda TribbleAmanda joined Natspec in March 2019. She previously worked for the University of Cambridge in the Department of Chemistry designing documents and communications, and has experience doing illustration, social media, communications and website management. Outside work, she blogs about film and television as well as making illustrations and comics.


Yola Jacobsen, Natspec Transform Manager

Yola Jacobsen

Yola joined Natspec in July 2019. Previous work includes independent consultancy, staff training and, teaching people with learning difficulties. At Ambitious about Autism she managed a DfE national project on transition from school to college and the development of the Autism Education Trust’s post-16 staff training programme. At NIACE her work focussed on policy, including the 2014 SEND reforms, staff training, project management specialising in supported employment, apprenticeships, and person-centred working. Whilst at NIACE, Yola was seconded to the Department of Health’s Valuing People Support Team as the expert advisor on post-16 education.


Fil McIntyre, TechAbility Manager and Assistive Technology Lead

Fil McIntyreFil is passionate about the advantages the right technology can give to enhance life, learning and communication. He has provided training in assistive technology hardware and software to a wide range of professionals from schools, colleges, universities, charities and healthcare. Fil moved to managing TechAbility full time in February 2021 after three years in a split role between TechAbility and Beaumont College in Lancaster.  At Beaumont College, Fil was the Lead Assistive Technologist where he managed a team which assessed and supported students to gain maximum advantage from technology. Prior to Beaumont College, as part of The BRITE Initiative, Fil delivered Assistive Technology training and support to every college in Scotland. He has also been part of the training team at Inclusive Technology and developed the first assistive technology post at Seashell Trust specialist school and college.


Neil Beck, Assistive Technology Projects Lead

Neil BeckNeil has experience at local, national and international levels through roles to support both in specialist and mainstream environments. His focus for TechAbility is on projects such as Champions, the webinar programme and much more. He has a record of delivering high quality training, assessments, webinars, seminars and projects and is passionate about using what he has learned to improve educational outcomes and standards of living. European experience has come about through Erasmus project work and International experience through work in India. Sitting on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology and the subsequent DfE expert group has enabled him to learn about and contribute to policy – notably the 2019 EdTech Policy. Neil has a background in delivering care/education and is interested in politics, nature, yoga, computer-building and volunteers to help refugees with technology.


Andrew Evans, Learner Voice Co-ordinator

Andrew EvansAndrew started as Natspec’s Learner Voice Co-ordinator in November 2020. He previously worked for Gloucestershire College, leading bespoke programmes for young people with BESD as well as providing behaviour and classroom management training to trainee teachers. Andrew has a range of experience working with people with physical and learning disabilities in FE and specialist colleges, previously managing learner programmes at National Star. Andrew now leads on Learner Voice at National Star and has a passion for promoting, listening and responding to the voices of students and young people.


Shannon Howarth, Sport Development Officer


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