Educational Trust Members


Margaret Bennett

I joined the Board in late 2021. I am a qualified accountant and experienced charity leader. I retired as Group finance and HR Director of Good Things Foundation in February 2022.

I have also been Deputy Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service and a Deputy Director in what was the Department for Education and Skills.

Edda Nicolson

Edda is a Lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton and specialises in the history of industrial relations and trade unions. Her GFTU-sponsored thesis, ‘Under One Banner: The General Federation of Trade Unions, c. 1899-1926’, was finished in 2022.

Before returning to university, Edda became interested in the trade union movement whilst working in a call centre. She is particularly interested in finding new ways that the movement can support people in finding the right education and training for them.

Simon Parkinson

Simon Parkinson is the CEO and General Secretary of the WEA, the leading adult education charity. 

Simon joined the WEA from Co-operative College where he was Principle and CEO for 4 years and previously worked for 19 years at the Royal Mencap Society, including as Director of Education, Learning and Work.  

Passionate about education and its ability to empower and inspire, Simon believes that through working together, individuals can have a hugely positive impact on their own lives and the wider community. 

Simon is involved in a range of networks and organisations both nationally and internationally.  He is currently a Board member of SOLIDAR and is vice chair of the SOLIDAR Foundation.  Simon also sits as a board member of the International Federation of Workers Educational Associations (IFWEA) and is a trustee of Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice 

Growing up in Salford, Simon left school at 16 but returned to learning as an adult attended both Salford University and Warwick University where he gained a Master’s degree in Public Administration. 

Angela Pratten

I have been a full and active member of a trade union since I received my B.Ed from Leeds University in 1971. Once I started work as a teacher I became a member of the NAS UWT until I qualified as an educational psychologist in 1987.

My change of profession required a change of union and I joined the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) once I started work the same year. The membership of our Association is exclusively for qualified (or qualifying) educational psychologists and in addition to a Masters (now a Doctorate) degree requires members to be registered with the HCPC. The AEP has grown from very simple beginnings as a professional association to become a very active trade union, supporting its members and working with government, other agencies, teachers and parents to promote the educational wellbeing of all children.

I quickly became active within our Union becoming a Local Representative of our members within the workplace, then the Secretary of an active branch in the East Midlands and on to be elected as a Regional Representative for the whole of the of the midlands region, undertaking some case work. I was elected to the AEP National Executive in 1993 first as the Regional Representative and then as a National Member in 2015.

I was selected by my Executive to represent the AEP on the GFTU EC and was subsequently co-opted onto the Educational Trust. I feel very privileged to remain as part of the GFTU and thereby providing a broader link between the AEP and the trade union movement.

Alice Prochaska

Alice Prochaska was the Principal of Somerville College, University of Oxford, and a Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University, until August 2017.

A historian and archivist by profession, Alice currently serves as a trustee of various bodies, including as chair of the Sir Winston Churchill Archive Trust, chair of the Institute of Historical Research Trust, and deputy chair designate of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission. 

Steve Orchard

Steve Orchard brings financial, media and coaching expertise to the Education Trust.

After an early career in the NHS and as a Social Worker where he was Shop Steward and Union Rep, Steve became a radio presenter. He is now recognised as one of the most experienced leadership figures within the radio industry having run stations and networks as diverse as Classic FM, Planet Rock, Capital and LBC. He is a Fellow of the Radio Academy.

A business owner and qualified executive coach Steve studied at the University of Oxford, the National Broadcasting School, and Henley Business School.

Nadine Rae

Nadine Rae is Organising Director for Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association leading on organisational change for equality, education and now health, safety and wellbeing.

Originally from Aotearoa New Zealand, Nadine has supported unions in many global contexts including India, South Africa, Chile, Peru, and South Korea.  

In 2019 Nadine was nominated as Future Leader in the UK British LGBT Awards for her role leading TSSA’s ground-breaking Inclusive Rail campaign, to make the rail industry inclusive of LGBT+ people by 2025.

Nadine has over 20 years’ experience in developing and leading trade union education and was a contributor to the GFTU inspired book Trade Union Education: Transforming the World.

In 2020, Nadine led the establishment of Communities of Practice at TSSA, revolutionising the way unions are thinking about education. Nadine has been a proud member of the GFTU Education Trust since 2015.

Ben Richards

I have been a GFTU trustee since December 2021.

I currently work for Community Union as an Education and Training Officer and I am involved with all the logistical elements of organising our Education programme.

In addition, I am involved with both the design and delivery of education and training materials.

Dr Mike Sanders

Dr Sanders is currently a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Manchester. He specialises in Victorian Literature with a particular emphasis on the literature and culture of the Chartist movement.

His publications include, The Poetry of Chartism: Aesthetics, Politics, History (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and Subaltern Medievalisms: Medievalism ‘from below’ in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Boydell & Brewer, 2021).  

He is currently part of the AHRC-funded Piston, Pen & Press project which explores the ways in which industrial workers in Scotland and the North of England, from the 1840s to the 1910s, engaged with literary culture through writing, reading, and participation in wider cultural activities.

Mike is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Society for the Study of Labour History. He believes that education is a lifelong activity and is very proud to be a trustee for the GFTU Educational Trust.   

Jill Westerman

Jill has worked in adult education for over 35 years and was principal of the Northern College in Barnsley until she retired in the summer of 2018.  She is a trustee and Vice Chair of FETL (Further Education Trust for Leadership) and a governor of City Lit. 

Jill has published a number of articles and chapters on leadership and teaching and learning and contributed a chapter to the GFTU book on trade union education.

In 2010 Jill was awarded a CBE for services to adult learning. 

Gawain Little