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School Advisers

CRiCLE-Net: School Research Advisory Board

Agnieszka Ciepiela

Agnieszka Ciepiela | Polish/EAL

Agnieszka holds an MA degree with Honours in English Language Didactics from Academy of Humanities and a BA degree in English Philology from Jagiellonian University.

In the past twenty years she has held middle and senior leader roles in a number of educational settings in Poland, the UK and Hong Kong that predominantly focused on teaching EAL/ESL students. She is a licensed tutor for “LiLAC/TESMC” - teaching English in multilingual classroom “ and “How Language Works” awarded by Lexis Education – a leader in the delivery of train-the-trainer professional development courses addressing language, literacy and learning across the curriculum.

Her current role in a secondary school in London focuses on addressing EAL students’ needs through collaborative teaching and bespoke student focused approaches.

Rose Elgar

Rose Elgar | Race, Equality and Diversity

Rose trained as a teacher at Christ Church College, Canterbury, and spent two years with VSO training English teachers at the University of Dong Dok, Vientiane.

She completed an MA in Applied Linguistics at the Institute of Education, London and then worked in Milan teaching bespoke courses on English for Special Purposes.

While working in a multilingual secondary school in east London, she gained the RSA diploma in teaching ESL with distinction and contributed to the ILEA’s Centre for Urban Education Studies publication, Bilingual Learners in Secondary Schools (1989). In Calderdale, Rose delivered in-class support, training and advice for primary and secondary schools on including learners of EAL in lessons.

Rose has worked in a similar role for Cambridgeshire Race Equality and Diversity Service since 1995.

Yan Gao | Mandarin Chinese

Yan currently works as an undergraduate supervisor for the Chinese Tripos at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Studies of the University of Cambridge. She previously worked as teacher-in-charge of the Chinese programme at St. Mary's Senior School in Cambridge. Yan has been involved in various language translation and curriculum development projects including the MYLO project and the Cambridge English-Chinese Online Dictionary project. Yan's professional interests lie in Chinese language pedagogy, intercultural communication and computer assisted language learning. She holds a BA in English language education, an MA in linguistics and applied linguistics, and an MEd in TESOL.   

Anke Friedrich

Anke Friedrich | German

Dr. Anke Friedrich is the co-founder of the German Saturday School Cambridge which she led for 5 years.

While working on a CertHE in Charity and Social Enterprise she became interested in the general landscape of and provision for community language groups in the UK, and Cambridge in particular. Following on from this and to support local schools for bilingual children, Anke started Cambridge Bilingual Groups.

Apart from coaching and consultancy for individuals who start new schools, Cambridge Bilingual Groups organises training and networking opportunities for teachers and managers.

Katie Glenister-Soós

Katie Glenister-Soós | Primary Languages

Katie studied German as her undergraduate degree at the University of Chester and went on to work at an inclusive school in central Germany, before completing her PGCE Primary with a specialism in languages at the University of East Anglia.

She has worked across Norfolk and Cambridgeshire as a KS1, LKS2 and UKS2 teacher and tutor for secondary languages, as well as Foreign Languages Lead, establishing foreign languages policies and curriculum in primary settings.

Katie has taught German, Mandarin and Spanish at primary level and is learning Hungarian for personal interest. She has been involved in lesson studies regionally and internationally, including research on Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in primary education.

Rachel Hawkes

Rachel Hawkes | Secondary MFL

Dr. Rachel Hawkes is a classroom teacher of languages at Comberton Village College in Cambridgeshire with further roles including Assistant Principal, Advanced Skills Teacher, Specialist Schools Trust Advanced Lead Practitioner, Languages Advisor for TES Resources, and former Regional Subject Advisor for the new secondary languages curriculum.

She provides CPD to teachers on many aspects of languages teaching and leadership nationally, regionally and locally. Particular areas of interest and expertise include: maximising achievement in MFL; use of music, rhythm, song and movement in MFL; using the target language spontaneously; use of existing and new technologies in language learning; enhanced memory techniques; thinking skills; primary language teaching and Assessment for Learning.

She has a PhD from Cambridge University, focusing on teacher and learner interaction in the secondary languages classroom. She is a past president of Association of Language Learning.


Saussan Khalil | Arabic

Saussan is the founder and director of Kalamna C.I.C. (formerly Ahlan Arabic), a social venture offering Arabic classes for children and adults in Cambridge.

She teaches Arabic at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge with a PhD in Arabic Studies from the University of Leeds.

Saussan has previously moderated IGCSE Arabic examinations for Cambridge Assessment, and worked on the Collins Big Cat Arabic readers series for children, the new Oxford bilingual Arabic dictionary and the large-scale EU-funded research project Keewords for Language Learners - Young and adult alike (KELLY), delivering essential vocabulary lists for language learners in nine languages, including Arabic.

Irena Kell

Irena Kell | Russian

Dr. Irena Kell is Head of Studies at the Cambridge Russian Academy and previously had a similar role at the Cambridge Russian School, one of the largest Russian community schools in the UK.

She has developed the curriculum for both native and non-native speakers from beginners to advanced learners across all age groups. Irena also teaches the Russian IB course at a local Sixth Form college, is a senior examiner for a leading UK examination board and works as a consultant to Cambridge University International Examinations.

She has spoken on her work at a number of conferences across Europe. Prior to coming to the UK, Irena worked as a University Lecturer in Russia, publishing many research papers in Linguistics. Irena’s current research interests are language development in bilingual children and methods of teaching in community schools.

Emel Kilickaya

Emel Kilickaya | Turkish

Emel Kilickaya came to the UK in 2007 as a language assistant, through the Comenius Programme, soon after graduating with a degree in Early Childhood Education at the Middle East Technical University, Turkey.

Upon completing the programme, she was employed by the same school as a language assistant to support EAL students in their language and psychological development and lead the Turkish culture club.

Emel had worked collaboratively with the EAL department of Suffolk County Council to support Turkish speaking children, and established a supplementary school for children from ethnic minority groups. She currently leads Red Roses Weekend School in Ipswich as the headteacher.

Her main research and professional interest is to work on the positive impacts of teaching home languages on bilingual children. She is a social entrepreneur, and plays an active role in organising community events and participating in the charitable activities within Suffolk.

Joanne Lam

Joanne Lam | Cantonese

Ms Joanne Lam is currently the head of Cambridge Chinese School and has been actively involved in promoting Chinese language and culture via Cambridge Chinese Society.

She received her BA in Linguistics and MEd from Cambridge University and served as an examiner, school principal and on the editorial boards of some journals and presses in Hong Kong between 2005-2014.

Her enthusiasm in education has led her to work with groups of various ages and levels, from ECE to SEN. She was appointed President of Hong Kong Language and Liberal Studies Association in 2008. She is a part-time writer; her works include Teaching Is Fun and Music Theory Made Easy.

Her recent research is about Future Languages in the world, cooperated with several local schools in Cambridge.

Rob  Neal

Rob Neal | Mandarin Chinese

Rob is coordinator of the Swire Chinese Language Centre Manchester and recently graduated with a PhD in Education in Cambridge.

He has BA Hons (French and German) from Nottingham University and spent two years in Japan where he worked as an assistant English teacher. He then completed a Masters degree in TESOL at Lancaster University before teaching English for two and a half years at Peking University.

Upon returning to England he did a PGCE in Modern Foreign Languages at Sheffield University and currently teaches Mandarin at an inner city school in Manchester where most of the students are from minority ethnic backgrounds.

He is currently studying for an MEd/PhD at Cambridge University where he is researching why the acquisition of Mandarin tones is so challenging for Anglophone learners. He has been involved in the 'Our Languages' Project which emphasizes collaboration between 'mainstream' and 'community' schools.

Mahbub Rehman

Mahbubur Rahman | Bengali/Hindi/Urdu

Dr. Mahbubur Rahman has beee working at CREDS (Cambridgeshire Race Equality and Diversity Service) in Cambridgeshire County Council since 1994. CREDS works with schools, communities, parents, carers and Children, Adults and Family Service to support Black, Minority Ethnic (BME), Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) children and young people including EAL learners.

Mahbubur holds an MSc in Psychology from Dhaka University, Bangladesh and a PhD in Psychology from Delhi University, India. In 2005 he established grant-funded community language classes and has created opportunities for taking GCSE exams in various community languages in Cambridgeshire.

He was an active participant in a multilateral European project and has coordinated three bilateral Comenius Regio projects. His current areas of interest include the role of new technology in language learning, multilingualism, culture and identity.

Anna-Maria Norman

Anna-Maria Norman | Polish

Anna-Maria (Ania) Norman is Director of the Polish Saturday School, one of the oldest and largest community schools in Cambridge.

She studied English Philology at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and Intercultural Studies at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. She has taught at the Polish Saturday School in Cambridge since 1989, working with groups of various ages and levels.

Her main responsibility is overseeing the teaching and administration of the school. She has also taught Polish on adult education courses and run English classes for immigrants.

Her current research and professional interests include linguistic and cultural problems faced by migrants - adults and minors alike, as well as the challenges of a multicultural society to the individual learner and the community. 

Heidy Perez

Heidy Pérez Cordero | Spanish

Heidy is the chair of Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum and previous was Chair of the board of directors and the outreach community coordinator of Escuelita Community Interest Company, a Cambridge Saturday Spanish school specialising in the content and language integrated learning (CLIL) pedagogy.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Theatre in Colleges and Communities from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, and previously a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education with a major in Theatre from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras.

She has trained in social theatre and education with Teatreros Ambulantes troupe (under Dr. Rosa Luisa Marquez), Centre of Theatre of the Oppressed (under Augusto Boal), as well as performance studies with Malayerba (Ecuador) and Yuyachkani (Peru).

Her pedagogy is based on creative arts, democratic teaching and learning process, and teaching artistry. Her lifelong motto as an educator and artist is "Education is Action!". 

Giulia Portues-Williams

Giulia Portuese-Williams | Italian

Giulia Portuese-Williams is the adviser for UK and European schools. She is Director and founder of the European Cultural Centre, La Dante in Cambridge, Radio Dante (trilingual radio cultural
programme) and has been actively involved in promoting European languages via La Dante European Cultural Centre founded in 2008.

La Dante promotes Italian, Spanish and English language and culture. Since 2012, Giulia also founded a trilingual radio programme Radio Dante on promoting language and culture in Italian and Spanish.

La Dante is recognised as a not for profit cultural association by the Dante Alighieri Society with 500 offices around the world. Giulia has 10 years educational experience in running and coordinating teaching programmes, leadership and management at La Dante.

Her current interests are languages and bilingualism as well as research and development of Content and Language Integrated Learning. Giulia is also a campaigner for Speak to the Future.

Bethan Rees

Bethan Rees | Gypsy, Roma and Traveller

Bethan Rees was the manager of Cambridgeshire Race Equality and Diversity Service (CREDS), a Local Authority education service that works with schools and other services to increase the participation and achievement in education of Black, Minority Ethnic (BME) and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) children, young people and families, including those who have English as an additional language (EAL). CREDS offers bilingual support for newly-arrived pupils in schools in over twenty languages and also provides an interpreting service for schools and families.

Bethan has an MA Honours degree from the University of Cambridge in Modern and Medieval Languages, the RSA in TES/FL and a PGCE in EAL, linguistics and modern languages.

She has responsibility for equalities across the county’s Children, Families and Adults Services. 

Hiroko Roberts-Taira

Hiroko Roberts-Taira | Japanese

Hiroko Roberts-Taira is the administrator at the Kaetsu Educational & Cultural Centre. She graduated from Waseda University (Tokyo) and taught Japanese literature in Japanese high schools.

She also taught Japanese as a foreign language in The British School in Tokyo and Sheffield Hallam University & HE (UK). Hiroko founded Nihongo Club for Japanese bilingual children in the Cambridge area in 2002. She also started a Japanese studying group for Japanese bilingual high school students in 2012 and Japanese reading club associated to the International Children’s Bunko Association for young Japanese speakers in 2013.

She recently completed her MPhil in Research in Second Language Education at Cambridge's Faculty of Education.

Her current research interests lie in bilingual education, Japanese education in the UK, Japanese community school, language and identity.

Drew Willkins

Drew Willkins | EAL

Drew Willkins studied Russian at Aberdeen University, then did a PGCE. Later He completed an MSc in Applied Linguistics and an MA in Education. Between 1977 and 2000 he taught English in a variety of academic and industrial training contexts in Thailand and the Middle East. From 2000 to 2009 he was head of ethnic minority achievement at secondary level in Haringey.

He currently works as an advisory teacher with Cambridgeshire Race Equality and Diversity Service whose remit covers English as an Additional Language, Gypsy Roma and Travellers, and anything to do with equality and diversity.

With CREDS he has been involved in European projects, writing a toolkit for cultural competence with Polish colleagues and currently part of a project on religion.

Outside education he is a board member of the Institute of Equality and Diversity Professionals (IEDP).

Past School Adivsers

Hugh Michell

Hugh Michell | International Schools

Hugh Michell was Head of Italian and teacher of French at Hockerill Anglo-European College in Bishop’s Stortford and has recently moved to Cairo in Egypt to take on the role of Head of MFL at NCBIS - New Cairo British International School.

As an IB World School, it has a number of international students who are supported in maintaining education in their mother tongue as well as developing their English skills. The school also offers a well-established CLIL programme with History and Geography taught in French and German. He completed a PGCE in Modern Foreign Languages at the University of Cambridge during which he researched the effects of videoconferencing with a French school on students' perceptions of culture and language.

His Master of Education thesis then focused on students' motivation to write in a foreign language, taking into account individual preferences, the school context and variations in the prescribed curriculum.

Jeong-ae Ahn

Jeong-ae Ahn | Korean

Mrs Jeong-ae Ahn has a BA in English Language and Literature with a second degree in Teaching English at Kyunhee University, Seoul, South Korea. She also did an MA in Applied Linguistics at Birmingham University, UK.

Currently, she works at the Ministry of Justice, UK as her main job along with her charity work at Cambridge Korean School as a head teacher and trustee. She has improved the status of the Cambridge Korean School from an unincorporated association into a limited company by guarantee and a registered charity in order to fully support the school’s role as a supplementary community educational organisation in the UK.

She works as a self-employed translator and interpreter. Her main research interest lies in bilingualism and pedagogy focussing on socio-cultural, genetic and mental health aspects.