Who are we and why do we do things we do?

In 2009, someone said, '... you go around lighting up learning'. 

It stuck. 

Described as catalysts, we seek to support leaders and teachers to make the changes they want and need to ensure the young people of today become the adults of tomorrow: the articulate, confident, free-thinking global leaders they need to become. 

Why affect change?

This sounds grand, but the time to rethink education is now. We need to move away from today's revolution against policy and seek to evolve education through cultural change over time. As an organisation, we strive to combine experience, research and theory to enable schools to  represent the broad and rich communities they are part of.

As a group of practising teachers and leaders, we work on the ground in classrooms, staff rooms and boardrooms to affect practice and policy both in the UK and overseas. Having worked internationally, we have a unique worldview of education and we seek to bring this learning throughout what we do.  It is important to understand that we do not make the change; we are not a SWOT team. We help affect change on the ground by working alongside people in schools, trusts and charities for the long haul. We mark our success when we are no longer needed; evolution takes time.

How do we affect change?

As an organisation, we are relentlessly curious about the people, places and stories relevant to the local communities we work within. It’s about making learning and leadership relevant by looking at how the world is represented throughout time. We regularly work behind the scenes and stand on the sidelines, watching and listening. We have deep discussions with leaders when challenges arise. Our independence and neutrality could be seen as silence on pertinent issues facing our society today; this is not the case. We choose when to be provocateurs by actively staying connected to the agendas that affect the communities we work with. We are active without being activists and this is how we are able to work with schools with 80 to 800 learners, from calm, rural, mixed-aged village schools to large, intense urban academies. We watch, listen, think, review and reflect on how existing and emerging agendas might affect longitudinal cultural change. And we can do this because we don’t force ourselves to take a position on a single agenda. We work globally as well as nationally. Nicholas has worked in over 20 countries and has affected whole country policy from changing the way teachers are trained in Colombia, to writing a coaching framework for leaders in Jamaica, Social Action Projects in Sri Lanka post Tsunami to creating Integrity Councils as part of Bangladesh's Anti-Corruption Act. As individuals, we are members of the British Education and Research Association, Chartered College of Teaching, subject associations and steering groups. 

In terms of our public voice, we tend to live vicariously through the voices of others, predominantly through Twitter, by promoting and championing change. We regularly retweet the work of others as a way of demonstrating our support and involvement and avoid championing agendas that can be linked to individuals. 

Our work is subtle and considered. We create catalytic frameworks for others to add their own content using research, theory, empirical evidence and experience so leaders and teachers can make informed decisions. Curious-city is a prime example of this with representation, addressing the past, present and future. We weave in opportunities to address some of the most challenging issues of our time, including homelessness, gender and heritage. We do this through the threads of ‘faith, community and culture’ that bind enquiries together, and enable schools to engage in a broad range of issues with added room and space to concentrate on what matters to them. They make the decisions to dial up and down certain agendas to match the needs of their communities, not what we say they should. 

We also work with ‘non-schools’. We were commissioned by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) to create a nationwide learning programme and are currently working with the newly formed League of Animals (the education arm of the League Against Cruel Sports) to create a new learning space to promote conservation and animal welfare.

Lighting up Learning stands for what our name embodies, and our primary job, our core purpose, is to empower others to interpret the moment, embrace local opportunities and capitalise on the faith, community and culture that they are steeped in. This means that we’re in it for the long haul, because we ‘change the way people think about leading and learning’. 

Meet the team

Teachers, leaders and specialists: every single member of the team has passion for change and works in and with schools and charities, on the ground.  Every team member is part-time as they have leadership roles in schools, organisations or charities.

Dr. Nicholas Garrick, Founder & CEO

Nicholas is an EYFS & Curriculum Specialist and has taught and led a range of primary and SEND settings since 2000.  Lighting up Learning was founded in 2009 whilst Nicholas worked part-time as a SENDCo, and since then, he and his team have worked in over 20 countries around the world, set up sector changing initiatives like Coaching for Leadership in Jamaica as well as Student Leadership projects in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.  He puts in as much energy into a total curriculum redesign of a small rural school, as he does to a country-wide policy reform.  Ultimately, he is passionate about capturing people's voices as is Lead Researcher for a sports chairty, Star Scheme.

He completed his doctorate in July 2021 where he looked at how career changing trainee teachers experience ITE. You can read his work here: Garrick, N. Experiencing Initial Teacher Education as a career changer in England: A Constructivist Grounded Theory exploration of trainee teachers' perceptions of learning. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/7020678.

In his spare time, he makes locally foraged gin as The Clevedon Distillery. 

Ali Camp, Managing Director & Curriculum Specialist

Passionate about everything history and heritage, Ali knows (almost) everyone and if she doesn't, she knows who to ask. Ali's understanding of cultural capital and it's connections to engagement and locality is deep. She believes in ensuring that every school and setting know the people, places and stories that surround it and have the know of and know how to embed these into experiences and enquiries. Ali's work in inner-city schools has always focused on looking out from a school to include its community in the curriculum it offers.

Before going into teaching, Ali worked in International Marketing for large multinational organisations for over 15 years and brings this external perspective to her work in schools.  She is a Trustee of Devon-based Community Interest Company, Knead to Connect; which focuses on bringing people together through food.

Kevin Jones, Co Director and Partnerships & Trusts Specialist

Kevin has a lifelong fascination with learning, leading and curriculum. After a 20 year-plus career of teaching and leading in primary schools across the south west he now works across both primary, secondary, special and independent sectors helping both young people and educators reach their full potential. 

He is a strong advocate of coaching as a means to improve school leaders’ capacity and self-awareness, and is currently completing his Institute of Leadership and Management Level 7 Coaching qualification with the University of the West of England, Bristol.

He also acts as a Trustee for the 401 Foundation, a nationally recognised charity dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues.

Amy Garroch, Curriculum Architect, English Specialist

Amy has taught across the primary age range in a variety of settings, from large inner-city primary schools to small village schools. She has experienced the power of books to inspire, motivate and empower learners and she believes that high-quality texts should be at the heart of every curriculum. As an English Specialist, Amy works with schools to evaluate and develop their English provision, supporting them to plan and embed rich reading and writing opportunities across the curriculum. She thrives on working collaboratively with teachers and leaders to ensure that their learners receive the best possible learning experiences.

Amy is also part-time Deputy Head at Old Sodbury Primary School, a village school on the edge of the Cotswolds, where she is Curriculum Lead.

Ed Harker, Curriculum Consultant and EYFS Specialist

Ed is passionate about early education and the lasting impact it can have on young lives. He loves working with EYFS teams to review and refine their learning spaces, curriculum and practise. He was a Nursery teacher for fifteen years, Headteacher of an Infant School for twelve, and chair of BANES Schools Forum 2015-19. 

He also works for Brighter Futures in Bath as a Senior Consultant and Thrive Practitioner.

He is a member of the Education Committee for Urban Sketchers, an international charity dedicated to fostering a global community of artists who practice on-location drawing.

He is Chair of Trustees for House of Imagination, a local charity ‘creating places and spaces to understand, share and celebrate the power of imagination in children's lives’.

Suze Pearce, Curriculum Consultant and EYFS Specialist

Suze is a firm believer in empowering children to explore and engage with their environment, especially within Early Years. She is dedicated to supporting young minds to take ownership of their learning journey, fostering pride in their accomplishments and a genuine eagerness to share their knowledge.

She has worked within the EYFS for over ten years, gaining valuable insights and experience from progressive outdoor nurseries and primary schools. Suze is also deeply committed to developing special needs education with over 15 years of experience in the US and the UK. 

She is a member of the Trustee Board for The John McNeill Opportunity Centre, The District Specialist Centre and South Wiltshire’s only specialist nursery for children with difficulties and disabilities.

She is also the multi-age infants class teacher and SENCo at Pitton C of E Primary School, a small primary school in South Wiltshire.