Our Team

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Kiran Gill - Founder & CEO

Kiran began her career in inner-city London, as an English teacher in schools serving the most deprived postcodes in the country.  After five years on the frontline, Kiran left to work in education policy, searching for solutions to the rising number of vulnerable children who fall through the gaps.  Kiran was working at Social Mobility Commission when she conceived the idea for The Difference.  She has led its work full-time since January 2017.

Kiran is driven by her own family experiences. Growing up with two adopted sisters, Kiran witnessed the long-term effects of childhood trauma and the lack of support for young people with complex needs. This insight is what keeps Kiran striving for the most vulnerable children to get the education they deserve.

You can find out more about Kiran and what drove her to set up The Difference in these Schools Week, Guardian and TES interviews, and in these pieces she has written in The Times, Schools Week and TES.

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Sarah Worth - Chief of Staff

Sarah worked with excluded pupils as a teaching assistant, but found herself expected to plan and deliver maths and English lessons without teacher training! This injustice brought her to The Difference, where she manages our office and partnership relationships with schools and supporters. Sarah is a proud alumna of Year Here.

Danny Swift - Operations

Danny taught and led maths in Manchester’s Moss Side and later in inner-city London. Curious about the pupils who disappeared from his school register and where they went, Danny was drawn to a research project at IPPR, researching school exclusions for the Making the Difference report.

Danny leads Operations at The Difference and leads on finance, legal, contract management, CRM, monitoring and evaluation, and data research. Danny’s data analysis has featured in Prospect Magazine, Sky News and The Times.

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Shaun Brown - Head of Community & Inclusion

Shaun is a specialist in whole-school inclusion, trauma-aware practice, multi-agency working and contextual safeguarding. After working as a Head of Geography for several years, Shaun became more interested in the pupils who were falling through the gaps. This inspired Shaun to spend a decade teaching and leading in pupil referral units, before returning to mainstream to apply that knowledge to reduce exclusion. Shaun’s innovative safeguarding work has achieved national recognition from Ofsted. Shaun is driven by the vision of a generation of leaders who rarely resort to exclusion, because they can train staff to approach behaviour differently. You can read about Shaun’s career and experiences in these TES and Schools Week articles.

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Will Moss - Head of Learning & Leadership

Will is a specialist in teaching and learning, and school improvement. Will has led initial teacher training courses and in-school professional development, recognised as Gold standard by the Institute for Education. His experience in school turnaround has led to him providing consultancy leadership support to failing schools and transforming teaching and learning capacity, as recognised by improved Ofsted judgements.  Will’s career started as a leader of vocational learning and he is driven by the vision of an education which sets pupils up for success in the workplace. Read about Will’s career and his passion for working with vulnerable children in TES.

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Katie Mond - Head of Recruitment

Katie is a specialist in recruiting exceptional people to public service. Katie has led recruitment and selection at children’s social work charity, Frontline. Working over four years, Katie’s team raised the status of the formerly ‘low status’ social work profession, co-designing a 2017 attraction campaign (driving 40% year-on-year application increase) and attracting over 15,000 applications for children’s social work. Katie is a Teach First alumna and is driven by a desire to see working with vulnerable learners as a high status career route for teachers.

 

The Difference Board

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Our Executive Chair: Sophie Humphreys, Child Protection Expert, Founder of Pause

Sophie is a highly experienced independent advisor on child protection and safeguarding, providing expertise to central government and local authorities.

Sophie is known for her innovative approach to services to protect children and vulnerable adults, and most recently providing a response to one of the most pressing challenges to society today; the repeat removals of children into care from the same women year after year. As Founder, Sophie has led the organisation from its initial Pause Practice in 2013 in Hackney to operating across over 24 local authority areas and in development across Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Sophie is a member of the Ministerial Female Offenders Advisory Board and the Children’s Commissioner’s Advisory Board, and provided advice to the Oxfam GB Independent Safeguarding Review Panel

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Chris Wright, CEO, Catch 22

Chris Wright is Chief Executive of Catch22, the social business driving public service reform. He leads the team of 1,800 staff and volunteers that last year supported 64,000 people across England and Wales.
With 30 years’ experience across the social care and criminal justice systems, his background spans practice (Chris originally trained as a social worker and probation officer, establishing Nottingham’s first multi-agency Youth Offending Team) and policy (as Head of Performance at the Youth Justice Board).
Chris has long advocated the need for radical reform of a wide range of public services. Under his leadership, Catch22 has not only delivered significant frontline impact, but has grown its work supporting others to transform their services; from advising government behind closed doors through to supporting and investing in big ideas and small delivery charities.
Chris is a 2017 Grant Thornton ‘Face of a Vibrant Economy,’ a Fellow of the British Exploring Society, a trustee of Community Links, Only Connect and Launch22 and a non-executive director at social investor Numbers for Good and a non-executive director at Big Society Capital.

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Josh MacAlister, CEO, Frontline

Josh is Frontline’s founder and chief executive. Josh is a former secondary school teacher and an alumnus of Teach First. He taught in schools across Greater Manchester where he first developed the ideas that would lead to Frontline. He was a head of department before setting up Frontline in 2013. Since then Frontline has brought hundreds of new professionals into social work, secured widespread and cross-party support and expanded to become a national charity.

Josh grew up in Rochdale and has degrees from the universities of Edinburgh and Manchester. He sits on the Children’s Commissioner’s Advisory Board, is an associate fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and was recognised in 2017 by Forbes as one of their ‘30 Under 30’ social entrepreneurs in Europe.

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Darren Xiberras, CFO and Executive Director for Charity Services, Teach First

Darren leads financial strategy at the education charity Teach First and oversees the HR, Technology, Workplace & Contracts & Procurement functions.  Teach First recruits and trains high potential graduates to become teachers working in schools serving the most deprived postcodes in England and Wales. Darren’s career in financial management has spanned commercial and charitable organisations

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Carly Mitchell, Principal, Oasis Academy South Bank

Carly Mitchell is Principal of Oasis South Bank, an inner-city secondary school. Carly is a strong proponent of inclusive leadership and has helped The Difference to shape its vision of Difference Leaders’ future impact

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James Benamor, CEO, Richmond Group

James invests in, and builds companies which aim to change the world by focusing on deep, unsolved problems. Richmond Group has a specific focus on education, having invested in more that 30 companies in the sector. James has previously volunteered as a teaching assistant within a PRU and supported a number of projects aiming to improve outcomes for excluded children.


Our Supporters

Our work delivering the Difference Leaders programme is possible thanks to:

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Over the past two years, The Difference has grown from concept to reality thanks to a growing group of fantastic organisations. 

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Without you, the issue of school exclusion may not have gained the public attention and political focus which was so long overdue, and the journey towards making The Difference would never have begun.

 
Teach First Innovation Award Winners 2017

Teach First Innovation Award Winners 2017

Fair Education Alliance Member   We are delighted to be a supporter of the Fair Education Alliance, a coalition for change in education comprising of the UK’s leading organisations. The aim is to work towards ending the persistent achievement gap between young people from our poorest communities and their wealthier peers. Committed to this common goal, the Alliance will both work collectively to find solutions to address educational inequality, as well as annually monitor the progress made to narrow the gap.

Fair Education Alliance Member

We are delighted to be a supporter of the Fair Education Alliance, a coalition for change in education comprising of the UK’s leading organisations. The aim is to work towards ending the persistent achievement gap between young people from our poorest communities and their wealthier peers. Committed to this common goal, the Alliance will both work collectively to find solutions to address educational inequality, as well as annually monitor the progress made to narrow the gap.

 

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“The educational underperformance of children who are multiply vulnerable is a complex challenge. Yet this is also where stakes are highest, and where successful innovations can truly change lives. That is why I am pleased to support The Difference, which seeks to raise the status of and evidence-base for teaching the most vulnerable learners, and to improve capacity for collaboration between schools and other agencies so troubled young people get the right support at the right time.”
— Edward Timpson, Former Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, 2012-17

The Difference also benefits from the support of organisations with similar aims and objectives.  Our work to date has been strengthened by the support of:

Frontline, Pause, Right2Succed, Oasis Community Learning, ARK, Chartered College of Teaching, ASL, Teacher Development Trust, LKMCo, Education Datalab, Education Policy Institute, Anna Freud Centre, Wellspring Trust, TBAP, Place2Be, Jamie’s Farm, Hackney Learning Trust, Unlocked Grads, Think Ahead, The Brilliant Club, Get Further, Ten Years Time.