Associates Team

Our associate team provides exceptional experience in SpLD. 

They come extremely well qualified, with abundant knowledge based on research and their own time in specialist education. 

As advisors, our team will provide the benefit of both their experience and the latest research, to support an outstanding CPD and training scheme, and cutting edge curriculum design at Abbot's Way.  They are advocates for our forward thinking approach and holistic environment    'This is how every child should learn' 'Your setting is so impressive, exactly what your students need'.

We look forward to working with our professionals in order to assure exemplary practice and provision.

Professor Sean F. MacBlain

C. Psychol., C. Sci., BA, MA, M.Ed. Psychol., PhD (Exon), Dip. SpLd, FRSM, AFBPsS, FHEA, AMBDA

Continued Professional Development Associate

  • B.A. Hons. Psychology
  • M.A., Special Education in the Mainstream School
  • M.Ed., Psychology (Professional Training as an Educational Psychologist)
  • PhD. (Exeter)
  • Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties/Dyslexia (Dyslexia Institute, Bath)

We welcome Sean to our AWS team.

Sean will support with the assurance of an innovative, fluid approach to learning in an advisory capacity.

Professor Sean MacBlain PhD is an internationally recognised author and academic whose publications include: MacBlain (Sage, 2020) Child Development for Teachers; MacBlain (Sage, 2018) Learning Theories for Early Years Practice, MacBlain, Dunn and Luke (Sage, 2017) Contemporary Childhood; MacBlain, Long and Dunn, (Sage, 2015) Dyslexia, Literacy and Inclusion: Child-centred Perspectives; Gray and MacBlain (Sage, 2015) Learning Theories in Childhood; MacBlain (Sage, 2014) How Children Learn.

Before retiring, Sean worked as a senior academic at the University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth where he lectured in special education and psychology and prior to that as senior lecturer in special education and developmental psychology at Stranmillis University College, Queen’s University Belfast.

Sean has worked within the field of special educational needs in primary and secondary schools and set up and led the postgraduate programme for teaching children with dyslexia at Bridgwater College, Somerset. Sean was also employed as a specialist dyslexia tutor at Millfield School. In addition to his many years of experience as a teacher, Sean is also a qualified educational psychologist and has worked in this field for over thirty years.

Sean has also been external examiner to postgraduate Master’s degree Level programmes in dyslexia at a number of universities and continues in this role at present.

Membership of professional bodies

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society
  • Chartered Psychologist, British Psychological Society
  • Chartered Scientist, British Psychological Society
  • Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association

Cathy Papworth

‘Learn to Thrive’ Curriculum Development Associate

  • MSc  Geography  Cert. Ed. 
  • Level 7 Diploma in Specific Learning Difficulties

We welcome Cathy to our AWS team

She will support with the assurance of a dynamic, forward thinking education and pastoral framework in a research and advisory capacity.

  • Cathy has 28 years of experience in education:
  • working initially in the state sector with 11-18 year olds, teaching Mathematics and Geography.
  • 2 years in Accra, Ghana helping to establish The New Horizon School, the first provision in the country for children with Special Needs.
  • 22 years at Millfield Prep School in the Junior department, the Maths department, the Language Development Centre and later on as Head of Geography with 11-13 year olds liaising with Millfield Senior School.

Although now retired, she has a continuing interest in and passion for education, with particular interest in curriculum development and Specific Learning Difficulties.

Craig Glen - Therapy Associate 

Specialist Paediatric Occupational Therapist and Holistic Coordinator.

  • 20 years experience within the SEN educational system 
  • BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy 
  • Post graduate Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • Post graduate Sensory Integration

Welcome to the team Craig 

Craig has offered his private consultancy services to families and schools across the UK, France and Switzerland respectively. Craig will provide supervision, guidance and advice to our Occupational Therapy department at Abbot’s way School to ensure the very highest standards are offered and maintained. 

Professional bodies: 

  • HCPC 
  • BAOT 
  • SIUK 

Sam Jackson

Venture Associate; Outdoor Learning and Forest School 

  •  B.Sc. Hons. Countryside Management & Ornithology
  • Level 3 Forest School Practitioner

Sam will support and advise with the assurance of exciting and positive outdoor learning experiences.
He has over 20 years of outdoor learning and Forest School experience. Before setting up his own company Sc.out.ed (Science and Outdoor Education Specialists) in 2013, he worked for organisations including the RSPB and EDF Energy, where he managed Education Centres.

Sam and the Sc.out.ed team offer engaging outdoor learning experiences to over 500 schools a year, encouraging experimentation and, in keeping with Abbot's Way, 'daring to learn'.

Sam believes learning outside the classroom provides a stimulus that cannot be found indoors. This ‘creative curriculum’ approach stimulates children’s natural curiosity where children learn key skills in a practical way – developing teamwork, decision making skills and confidence. 

Sam also delivers Professional Development for schools and trainee teachers.  He will be actively contributing to our INSET and CPD programme.

Sam is co-author of ‘100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Outdoor Learning’ (Bloomsbury, 2020).

Harriet Birt 

Branding and Design Associate

Harriet is an award winning Graphic & Digital designer with 12+ years of experience running a small design consultancy in the heart of the mendips just outside of Bristol.  Harriet is used to working specifically with social enterprises, charities, and public sector bodies that do good in particular, challenging briefs and suggesting potential solutions, across branding, literature and digital products, such as websites and mobile apps.

In 2015 Harriet also Co-founded Holbirt - A Low environmental impact online shop, selling pieces of unique artworks that are FSC certificated and plastic free.

Being diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 6, Harriet benefited from a specialist education herself after attending several different schools. Harriet is committed to ensuring that her input contributes to driving the success of Abbots Way’s vision and the progress of all students to achieving their potential. With her specific flair, she will focus particularly on our branding and unique USP as well as ensuring that there is evidenced accountability across all areas of school.

Chris McShane

Strategic Leadership Associate

We welcome Chris McShane, as our Strategic Leadership Associate.

Chris is CEO of Learning 3D, an education development company he co-founded in 2019.  Learning 3D promotes dynamic education, assisting schools with innovative pedagogy and practice.

Chris has over 30 years of experience in education, 13 of those as a Head, in both the state and independent sector.

He is recognised and awarded as an innovator in learning, presenting nationally and internationally on topics such as curriculum development, technology in learning, alternative qualifications, and schools as active agents in their communities.

In 2012 Chris co-founded the Headteacher’s Roundtable, a progressive think tank that has used its influence to support and challenge education policy.

We look forward to working closely with Chris, ensuring a vibrant and visionary future for Abbot’s Way School.

Abbots_Way_Associates_Tom_McLaughlinTom McLaughlin

Tom is a children’s author and illustrator who’s written over 20 books, from picture books for little ones to chapter books for older children.  He is best known for the ‘Accidental’ series that’s been translated into over a dozen languages. 

His books have been read on TV by some notable celebrities including Tom Hardy, Simon Pegg and Sir Sam Mendes. 

As well as writing and illustrating childrens books, he has also worked as a script writer, animation designer and an occasional columnist for The Guardian where he has written about his experiences of dealing with dyslexia.