Meet the Handsam Team
Handsam's head office team are here to help
Simon has been the managing director of Handsam Ltd since 2010. After spending over 20 years working in the entertainment and publishing industries as an editor, producer, stage manager and author, Simon brings a huge amount of experience in systems, IT, technology and TV production to Handsam’s unique suite of online management modules and E-Training Centre. He leads the company’s strategy and is an acknowledged expert in academies and the support networks that trusts need to underpin their success, often being asked to speak at national seminars.
Jonathan Lowe is a graduate of European Business and Technology from Coventry University and worked for QGP Ltd before founding and becoming a director of Handsam Ltd. He has passed the preliminary IOSH course on Health and Safety and Risk Assessment and has worked in conjunction with his father Dr Chris Lowe for many years. Jonathan holds a Radiation Protection Officer certificate from CLEAPSS and has taken training from the FPA for fire risk assessment.
Client Support Executive Team Leader
Claire started work at Handsam Ltd in January 2016 as a member of the Client Support team. She has a wealth of customer service experience having worked directly with the public for the past 25 years. Starting out in the Finance Department of Birmingham International Airport, Claire worked her way up to a data supervisory role and gained various qualifications in business, finance and computer programming. She then transferred to Airport Security for 15 years and worked as a visual display representative for 10 years.
Helen is a web developer with over 20 years of experience behind her. She began working with computers in the 1990s when they usually came with a 10MB hard disk and ran on DOS. She worked for Price Waterhouse until their merger with Coopers and Lybrand in 1999 and then set up a consultancy where she spent her time developing bespoke applications and fixing systems that looked fantastic but didn't deliver as expected. Helen is now working on Handsam's brand new web system.
For 20 years Kath climbed the ladder in various accountancy firms large and small, from PwC to a two-partner firm, specialising in insolvency in both Cardiff and London. She is a qualified insolvency practitioner and uses her experience and knowledge investigating errant company directors and trading companies in administration. In 2010, Kath took on the role of finance director with Handsam, overseeing the accounting function of the company and reporting to the Board.
Trained in commercial and general insurance with 12 years of experience in accounts, Sarah joined QGP Ltd in 2006 as an administrator in accounts and marketing before the company joined the Handsam Group in 2010. Sarah now deals with accounts, licence renewals and head office administration. She is fully trained in Emergency First Aid at Work and PAYE.
Ian joined Handsam in April 2019, bringing with him 20 years of experience in the education sector. He is a former Media, Music and English teacher and has written for a number of online and print publications, specialising in music and lifestyle. Ian is the sub-editor at Handsam and creates content for the half-termly online magazine Compliance Matters, in addition to answering client queries, proofreading, writing and amending our many Quick Guide documents.
Meet Handsam's Experts
Handsam's team of educationalists and consultants are unrivalled for their expertise
Data Protection Expert
Daisy is a graduate of two red brick universities in English and Literature and holds a distinction level Master's degree. She has extensive knowledge of the education and health and safety sectors, specialising in data protection guidance. Daisy has a NEBOSH National General Certificate and is experienced in editorial and composition work with inspection capabilities. At Handsam, Daisy provides editorial support and advice, maintains data protection resources and delivers DPO services to schools across the country.
Former Headteacher and General Secretary of ASCL
Brian Lightman was General Secretary to the Association of School and College Leaders from September 2010 to January 2016. He is now an education consultant providing advice and support to school leaders. Brian is acknowledged as an authority in the English and Welsh education systems. He regularly contributes to seminars and conferences on education, writes extensively and has frequently appeared in the media. His experience includes two headships, seats on UK and Welsh Assembly Government committees and has been an external examiner and Estyn inspector.
Brian is a Patron of the National Citizen Service, serves on the board of the Careers and Enterprise Company and the PiXL Edge Charity. He was included in the 2014 Debrett’s list of the 500 most inspiring and influential people in the UK.
Former Headteacher and Educational Consultant
Madeleine Vigar is a former executive principal of an All-Through Academy Trust and has a vast array of experience working with pupils, students, teachers and governors to improve outcomes. She is a qualified Ofsted inspector and is currently chair of the Suffolk Association of Secondary Headteachers. She is also a mentor headteacher for the Future Leaders Trust and is currently working with principals of schools in challenging circumstances in the East of England.
Madeleine is a National Leader of Education (2011) and has experience working as an education design manager, advising on the creation of new school buildings nationally for the projects branch of a major construction company. Between 2013 and 2014, Madeleine was seconded part-time to Suffolk County Council, bringing together all Suffolk headteachers (both primary and secondary) in a partnership to facilitate the Raising the Bar programme.
Chartered Member of IOSH and School Safety Expert
Stuart is a highly experienced Chartered Health and Safety practitioner with over 20 years of experience. He cut his teeth as a Local Authority Enforcement Officer before moving into consultancy and becoming Managing Director of two safety companies for a UK risk management plc. During this time he focussed on helping schools with safety management, training and cultural improvement programmes, becoming one of the most respected practitioners in the UK in the process.
Stuart has been used by the National Association of School Business Managers (NASBM) as their competent person to advise their membership on health and safety for many years. Stuart also designed both the SafetyMARK and EdSafe audit systems and has audited hundreds of schools producing action plans and assisting schools in implementing them in the process. He helps schools to drive a safety culture that is both strategic and proportionate.
Dr Alan McMurdo
Former Headteacher and CEO of a Multi-Academy Trust
After over 30 years in education, more than half of which was spent in senior leadership positions, Alan set up his own consultancy company to focus on the areas he is most passionate about:
Improving school standards, particularly in teaching and learning
Science education and the assessment of learning across all age ranges
Strategic leadership and support
Accountability structures and processes
His extensive headship experience put him at the heart of the specialist school and academy movements. He set up a new phase 1 academy that (uniquely at the time) replaced three separate schools. He set up a Multi-Academy Trust for a HE sponsor and has been involved in international school improvement projects with the University of Cambridge.
As a supporter of leadership development, he has worked with a number of academy trusts as well as through e-learning platforms. He has also worked as a school improvement partner and Ofsted inspector.
ASCL National Negotiator
Martin enjoyed a teaching career in a wide range of secondary schools spanning 33 years, with 24 of them in senior leadership positions including two headships. His experience as a headteacher in the Catholic sector gives him a unique insight into Faith schools. His successes are rooted in his track record in improving student outcomes through high-quality leadership and management and the effective use of resources. He has specialised in leading schools in challenging circumstances and demonstrated that an unflinching focus on core functions will raise standards. He always maintained a teaching commitment in all of his leadership roles.
In addition to his role with Handsam, Martin also provides support for schools with improvement projects and reviews of all key areas including governance, senior and middle leadership, organisational structures, individual subject reviews, assessment, student behaviour and provision for the disadvantaged. His role as Chair of a PRU in the East Midlands has provided him with valuable insight into alternative provision and federated models of schooling.
Freelance Writer, Teacher and Expert on SEN, Care in Schools and Behavioural Issues
Julie Whittingham is a qualified teacher with a wealth of experience encompassing both maintained and academy sectors, mainstream and social, emotional and mental health schools. She has taught across the key stages from foundation to Year 11, for students of varying ability and in several subjects.
Julie brings to Handsam her expertise in special educational needs provision, medicines and behavioural issues. Julie holds a law and politics degree, a master's in education, a forest school qualification and has served as a union representative. She currently works across multiple publications as a freelance writer, authors her own blog and is a frequent contributor to Handsam's online publication Compliance Matters.
School Trips, Adventurous Activities and Overseas Travel Expert
Julian holds full national occupational health and safety qualifications with specific expertise in travel, adventure and educational visits. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, former Trustee of the Institute of Outdoor Learning and has 20 years of experience in managing risk in a variety of environments around the world.
He has specific expertise in critical incident response from being a Commissioned Officer in the British Army, and latterly as a Director within one of the world's largest school travel companies World Challenge. Julian is also a member of IOSH and has a NEBOSH Diploma.
Chartered Accountant and School Finance Expert
Tom is a Chartered Accountant, who qualified with Big Four Accountancy firm Deloitte & Touche. Prior to that, he obtained a Master's degree in Engineering from the University of Cambridge. He is now a leading financial expert for schools and has helped shape the government’s Schools Financial Value Standard. He has a broad range of experience across different sectors and industries and has worked for a wide range of clients. As well as many years of experience in the education sector, he has a background in financial services, manufacturing, retail, utilities and other areas of the public sector, enabling him to bring a wider perspective to the financial management of schools.
Chartered Member of IOSH and School Safety Expert
Paul Knight has been working in operational risk management and health and safety for 20 years. He spent several years as a principal consultant for a large corporate insurer and has been involved with a diverse range of clients spanning many sectors including construction, utilities, health & social care, charities, publishing, retail and education. Paul has developed and delivered numerous bespoke training courses and is an IOSH and NEBOSH accredited trainer. He is a graduate member of the Institute of Fire Engineers, a chartered member of IOSH and an associate of the Institute of Risk Management.
First Aid Trainer and Paramedic
Martin has worked as a first aid trainer and paramedic for over 15 years. His experience began in the army as a specialist canoeist. He has worked all over the world and was also a lifeboat volunteer when he was stationed in the northeast of England.
Dr Chris Lowe CBE
Former Headteacher and President of ASCL
Dr Chris is a lawyer with a doctorate in educational law, a former comprehensive school headteacher, and visiting professor of educational law. He has written extensively on education, employment and health and safety law. He is also a former president and legal secretary of ASCL, chair of EVAC (Educational Visits Advisory Council) and president of the European Secondary Heads Association.
Former Headteacher and current Chair of Governors and Clerk to the Governors
Michael Howells, formerly headteacher of two voluntary aided schools in Cardiff, has extensive experience of management and governance within the further education, secondary and primary sectors in Wales. He was governor of an FE College for 26 years and has been a clerk to the governing body of the only sixth form college in Wales for 18 years.
Following devolution from 1999 to 2008, Mike was appointed as the first field case officer for Wales for SHA Cymru (Secondary Heads Association), now ASCL, handling complex matters regularly while advising and supporting colleagues or carrying out investigations.
At present, he is chair of two voluntary aided schools in Cardiff. Additionally, Mike serves on the Cardiff Governors' Management Committee and is a trained admissions appeals chairman for the ArchDiocese of Cardiff and the Diocese of Menevia.
Josh first joined Handsam as an apprentice in November 2017 after finishing his A-levels in Maths and Physics and his BTEC in IT. During his apprenticeship, he gained valuable experience in the workplace and enhanced his vast knowledge of programming languages. Josh’s ability to quickly solve problems saw him become a full-time employee, where he fixed bugs and designs and developed new features and modules on the Handsam system. He has since moved on to another company but is still a valuable contributor to Handsam's programming.