Meet the Inspire Steering Committee

The Inspire Programme Steering Committee is comprised of St John’s College Fellows, headteachers from schools across London and Oxford and education professionals. You can meet the members of the committee below:

St John’s College

Professor Maggie Snowling, CBE FBA FMedSci

The President, St John’s College

Professor Maggie Snowling
Professor Maggie Snowling

Maggie has been President of St John’s since September 2012, as well as an Honorary Professor in the Department of Experimental Psychology. She holds an honorary contract as a clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry. Before this, she was Professor of Psychology at the University of York where she co-directed the Centre for Reading and Language.

She completed her first degree in Psychology at Bristol and her doctorate at University College London under the supervision of the eminent psychologist, Uta Frith. Later she qualified as a clinical psychologist. She is a Past-President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading and was one of the Joint Editors of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. She served as a member of Sir Jim Rose’s Expert Advisory Group on provision for Dyslexia in 2009 and as an expert member of the Education for All: Fast Track Initiative group in Washington DC in 2011. She has offered advice to the Government Departments of Education and of International Development, particularly in relation to the early years and specific learning difficulties (SpLD).

Maggie is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She holds honorary doctorates from Goldsmiths London (2010), University College London (2014), Warwick University (2016) and University of Bristol (2019) for contributions to the science of reading and dyslexia and was appointed CBE for services to science and the understanding of dyslexia in 2016.

Dr Sandra Campbell

Dr Sandra Campbell, Fellow for Access and Admissions
Dr Sandra Campbell

Tutor for Access and Admissions, Supernumerary Fellow in Physiology

Sandra is the Fellow for Access and Admissions for St John’s, directing an extensive range of outreach projects including the pre- and post-GCSE Inspire Programme. She leads our team of 5 access and admissions staff, all of whom are passionate about making a difference for disadvantaged pupils. She is also involved in other aspects of College life, including teaching, welfare, discipline, presidential collections, various committees and alumni interactions. Sandra has worked in higher education for the last 25 years. She has been a tutor in Physiology at Oxford for the past 13 years, teaching within the Medicine, Biomedical Sciences and Experimental Psychology courses for both the College and the University. Outside her teaching interests, she manages a team facilitating the development of laboratory imaging biomarkers for tumour detection and monitoring for use in patients.

Denise Cripps

Head of Communications, Executive Officer to the President

Denise Cripps
Denise Cripps

Denise is Head of Communications for St John’s and Executive Officer to the President, working on a wide range of projects including strategy, speech-writing and governance. She is also a member of Professor Maggie Snowling and Professor Charles Hulme’s research team working on interventions looking at children’s language and learning difficulties and how best to ameliorate them. The team recently published the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (OUP, 2018) and are now working on an effectiveness trial of the programme in 200 schools. Before joining St John’s, Denise worked in educational publishing for 25 years, after two years teaching English in state high schools in Japan. She was a Board Member of the Educational Publishers Council and Governor and Chair of Governors at Combe Church of England Primary School in Oxfordshire.

Dr Matthew Nicholls

Dr Matthew Nicholls
Dr Matthew Nicholls

Senior Tutor

As senior tutor, Matthew has overall responsibility for the provision of teaching in College, from the strategic level to working with individual students, helping the College to deliver the best possible education to all its junior members. He also plays a part in the overall governance of the College, and in its relations with the University.

He was a student in St John’s for eight years, as an undergraduate, graduate, and then North Senior Scholar before heading to Queen’s as a Junior Research Fellow and thence to the University of Reading, where he became Professor of Classics.

His academic work is in Roman history. In particular, he works on books and libraries in the Roman world, and on the 3D digital reconstruction of ancient Roman buildings, and of the entire city of Rome, for which he has won several teaching awards. He has also written popular books on the ancient world, including two books for children.

Professor Mark Cannon

Previous Tutor for Access and Admissions, Tutorial Fellow in Engineering

Professor Mark Cannon
Professor Mark Cannon

I give tutorials in college on a range of topics within Mechanical, Civil and Information Engineering. My tutorials for the first year students cover the structures and mechanics courses. For the second and third year core course I give tutorials in structural analysis, dynamics and control. At the Engineering Department I give first year lectures on dynamics, second and third year lectures on control systems, and specialist control engineering options for the fourth year. I also supervise third and fourth year undergraduate projects.

My research is concerned with automatic control of dynamic systems, which involves a mix of physical modelling, optimization theory, statistics and stability theory. The aim is to optimize the performance of dynamic systems, taking into account physical, environmental or economic limits on operation, and also accounting for uncertainty in system models or physical measurements. Particular problems are how to build guarantees of stability and constraint satisfaction into control algorithms and how to keep their computational complexity within reasonable limits. I am interested in applications in power generation, robotics and process industries as well as econometric systems.

Dr Kate Doornik

Dr Kate Doornik
Dr Kate Doornik

Supernumerary Fellow in Economics, previous Academic Dean and Equality Fellow, Tutor in Economics

I am responsible for organising economics teaching at St John’s. I teach the first and second year core microeconomics and macroeconomics courses. I also give tutorials and classes for the finals options in Economics of Industry and Microeconomic Theory.

I use microeconomic theory, especially game theory, to study how contracts work – and particularly what happens when they don’t work well. For example, I am interested in “relational contracts”, which are contracts or agreements between parties that are self-enforced, due to the lack of legal enforcement. I have also looked at how optimal contract design is affected when the parties take into account the potentially high costs of contractual disputes. I am also working on some areas at the intersection of law and economics, particularly the effects of pre-trial mediation on settlement rates and total legal costs.

Professor Kate Nation

Previous Tutor for Access and Admissions, Tutorial Fellow in Psychology

Professor Kate Nation
Professor Kate Nation

As Tutor for Psychology, I am responsible for making the arrangements for the Experimental Psychology (EP) and Psychology, Philosophy & Linguistics (PPL) students at St. John’s. I provide undergraduate tutorials across all three years, covering a range of topics in psychology.  I also contribute to the Psychology for Medicine course. I’m College Advisor to a number of graduate students in College who are researching a wide variety of topics in psychology and neuroscience.  In the department, I give a 2nd year lecture course on Developmental Psychology and a 3rd year advanced course on Reading and Language: Development and Disorder.  I supervise postgraduate students working in the field of psycholinguistics (the psychology of language), especially written language.

I am based in the Department of Experimental Psychology.  Broadly, my research is concerned with the psychology of language, especially reading and its development.  I am interested in how children learn to read words and comprehend text, and more generally, the relationship between spoken language and written language. A key aim at present to specify some of the mechanisms involved in the transition from novice to expert. We also study language processing in skilled adults, addressing the issue of how skilled behaviour emerges via language learning experience. Alongside my research on typical development, I study language and cognitive processes in children with developmental disorders that impact on language and literacy development, including language impairment, autism and dyslexia.

External Advisors

Tim Polglase

Tim Polglase
Tim Polglase

School Governor for Fulham and Tower Hamlets Academies

Tim attended non-selective state schools in Cornwall before studying law as an undergraduate at St John’s in the early 1980s. He subsequently qualified as a solicitor and was a partner in two major City of London law firms for 24 years, including holding various leadership roles there. He is currently a governor of two non-selective academies in Fulham, having previously served as a governor of another non-selective academy in Tower Hamlets.

Katherine Ryan, MBE

Head, Matthew Arnold School, Oxford

Katherine Ryan
Katherine Ryan

Katherine brings a lifelong commitment to improving education and a particular interest in success and progression for learners of all ages and backgrounds. She has been Headteacher of Matthew Arnold School since 2006 and has focused on ensuring that all learners are able to succeed and to progress to positive destinations when they leave school. As Chair of OCL (Oxford City Learning) from 2009–2017, a network of secondary education providers across the City, she worked with colleague Heads and Principals to improve achievement and raise aspiration for all learners. In 2015, she led the development of a multiacademy Trust, the Acer Trust, which consists of primary and secondary schools across Oxfordshire, with a core aim of ‘Achieving Excellence for All’. Prior to taking up the headship of Matthew Arnold School, she was the Principal Advisor for Secondary School Improvement at Birmingham City Council. Her career includes advisory work in science education and education leadership in three Local Authorities, as well as teaching in a range of comprehensive schools across Oxfordshire and the West Midlands. She has also worked in Higher Education as Science Education Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham.

Rachel Kruger

Rachel Kruger
Rachel Kruger

Head, The Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls, Ealing

Rachel has taught in comprehensive schools both in the UK and in South Africa, twice in girls’ only schools, and is currently the head of The Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls in Ealing. She is passionate about girls’ only education. As a third generation university qualified female in her family, she works very hard to inspire girls to go to university and specifically into STEM careers. Her school has been part of the Inspire program for some time. At EWS, 99% of the Year 13 pupils go on to University, 25% to Russell Group universities and 40 % to follow STEM related courses. A significant number of the pupils are the first in their families to go to University. Rachel is on the board of the Ealing Learning Partnership and chair of their Pathways and Progression Committee, where they consider the future opportunities available to pupils from Ealing. She is a life-long learner with a very broad field of interests – she has degrees in Music and Maths and an MBA, and is currently studying towards a Law degree.

Susan Hammond

Head Teacher, Whitmore High School, Harrow

Susan Hammond
Susan Hammond

After studying Natural Sciences and Chemical Engineering at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Sue joined BP and worked in various engineering and commercial roles in the UK and USA. Sue then moved into teaching and is currently headteacher of Whitmore High School in Harrow, an inclusive community school with 1700 pupils. Sue is Chair of Harrow’s High School Headteachers Group and Schools’ Forum and committed to ensuring all young people have fair and equal access to a high quality education.

Madeleine Swords

Madeleine Swords
Madeleine Swords

Access and Admissions Policy Consultant, University of Oxford

Madeleine Swords has a background in qualifications development, assessment and evaluation. She has worked for the Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach of the University of Oxford since 2016 where she has led on the evaluation and expansion of the UNIQ access programme and the development of the online residential. Madeleine also reviewed and  rewrote the online admissions interview training for tutors. She is currently working on the implementation of college outreach consortia. This initiative aim to tackle the under representation of some regions amongst Oxford’s undergraduate population by improving the targeting of outreach at students and schools that need our help the most. Immediately prior to joining Oxford Madeleine ran a number of raising attainment projects across primary schools in Mitcham, south London and before that for UCAS on the development of their qualifications tariff system. Madeleine has a degree in occupational psychology and an MBA.

Matt Gompels

Director of Lumina, Harrow School

Matt Gompels
Matt Gompels

Before joining the teaching staff at Harrow School in 2017, Matt worked with a variety of outreach organisations as both an undergraduate and graduate student, serving as the Access and Outreach Officer for Keble College JCR, and working with Oxford UNIQ amongst other university outreach initiatives. At Harrow School, he now works as the Director of Lumina, a free summer school for Year 12 pupils from maintained schools who are considering Oxbridge and top Russell Group universities. Lumina is a joint enterprise between Harrow School and Twyford CofE Academies Trust in Ealing, supported by John Lyon’s Charity and the Harrow Development Trust. Since its inception in 2014 it has grown from supporting 50 pupils from 13 different schools to 280 pupils from 45 schools. Lumina is accessible to pupils from nine different London Boroughs, including Harrow and Ealing, and also provides support to teachers at participating schools. Matt is passionate about extending fair and equal access to higher education to pupils from all backgrounds, and look forward to working with the Inspire Programme.