Mark Neale (Chair)

Mark Neale is currently Chief Executive of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). He has a long and successful career across many government departments having served in the Cabinet Office; the Department for Education and Science; the Treasury; the Employment Service and the Department for Work and Pensions, before becoming a Director General at the Home Office and then returning to the Treasury to be Director General for Budget, Tax and Welfare. 


His considerable educational experience within government included responsibility for the establishment of polytechnics as independent institutions, and authorship of the report which set up the universal regular inspection of schools and the establishment of OFSTED. Mark is also a trustee and director of the University of Roehampton, and lives in utney with his wife and two children. 


Penny Chapman

Penny Chapman is a Partner and head of the charity law team at Bircham Dyson Bell solicitors. A graduate of Somerville College Oxford, she has particular expertise in advising charity trustees on their roles and responsibilities and on all aspects of charity governance. 


Penny is a trustee of the College of Radiographers, the Marjorie Deane Financial Journalism Foundation and World Book Night. 


Sultana Choudhry

Sultana is currently a lecturer at the Centre for Psychiatry, based at the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine. She leads on the MSc. course on Cultural and Global Perspectives on Mental Health. 


She is also a Director of Research at the University of East London, as well as Company Director and Research Director of Browny Blue Ltd, a production company for television and films. Sultana has published academic books and had a successful career as a Course Director for the MSc. Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Course. Before this she worked in the Cabinet Office, the Home Office, and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister as a senior policy analyst. Working closely with ministers and across government, she led on a range of issues such as Criminal Justice System Efficiency, Human Rights Legislation, race and religion, extremism and social exclusion. 


Sultana's expertise is in children and adolescent psychological development and mental health. She is committed to these issues as well as in mental health generally. 


Peter Elfer

Peter Elfer is Principal Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies and Convenor of the Masters Programme in Early Childhood Studies at the University of Roehampton, London where he has been for the last thirteen years. Prior to this, he worked for ten years in the Early Childhood Unit of the National Children's Bureau in London. 


He has a long standing interest in the wellbeing of babies and children under three and has published a number of general media (Siren Films; magazine articles) as well as academic papers on this theme. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development, Chair of the Froebel Research Committee and a Vice President of Early Education.


Michael Pearson

Michael Pearson is CEO of Sharp Surveys, a business he founded to help organisations collect feedback and opinions more easily, and use them to make better decisions. 


Previously he was CFO for a variety of real estate services and investment businesses, where he led successful debt and equity fundraisings in excess of $10 bn. 


Michael studied at Magdalen College, Oxford gaining a BA in Mathematics. Subsequently he became qualified as a Chartered Accountant, registered with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales. 


Michael has a keen interest in early childhood wellbeing, and brings his financial expertise to his position as Treasurer and Trustee. 


Sue Robson

Sue Robson is Principal Lecturer and Subject Leader for Early Childhood at the University of Roehampton. Her research interests include young children's self-regulation and metacognition, the development of creative thinking, children's voice and children's perspectives in research and practice, and the contribution of the physical environment to young children's wellbeing and development. She has published extensively in these areas. 


She was a member of the Froebel Research Fellowship Project, 'The Voice of the Child: Ownership and Autonomy in Early Learning'. Sue is also interested in the development of teaching and learning in Higher Education, and is a National Teaching Fellow. 


Before moving into higher education, Sue worked in early years and primary schools, including as Deputy Head of a large infant and nursery school, and leader of a 102 place nursery. 


Jane Whinnett

Jane is head teacher of two maintained schools in Edinburgh. After studying in Edinburgh, she completed her PGDE at the University of Christchurch in Canterbury. She taught throughout the primary school before specialising in the early years. While studying for a Diploma in Professional Studies in Early Education at the University of Edinburgh, she met a Froebelian and was inspired to continue her studies at the University of Roehampton. Most recently, she is a founder member of the Edinburgh Froebel Network and a tutor on the Froebel course at The University of Edinburgh. 

Executive Team

Sacha Powell

Chief Executive Officer

Before joining the Froebel Trust, Sacha was Professor of Early Childhood and Director of a research centre at Canterbury Christ Church University. In 2018, she became an Honorary Professor at the Education University of Hong Kong. Her first degree was in Modern Chinese with Japanese from the University of Durham and she has a postgraduate diploma in International Marketing. While living in Beijing in the 1980s, Sacha worked as a nanny and subsequently as an EFL teacher in a kindergarten in Taibei. After five years as an International Officer at The British Academy, she gained a PhD in Early Childhood Education while working part-time in schools and nurseries in Kent. She has 20 years' postdoctoral research experience and has shared her learning through many talks, books and articles. 


Oksana Lissovets

Finance Manager

Oksana joined the trust in February 2012 and was appointed as Finance & Grants Manager in May 2015. She brings more than 18 years of experience, previously holding various financial roles for leading UK companies.


Victoria Arneil

Programme Manager (Events & Training)

Victoria joined the Froebel Trust in June 2017. She has considerable long term experience in working with children, young people, families and schools. Victoria has management experience in both the private and charity sector. 



Valeria Scacchi 

Research Analyst & Administrator

Valeria Scacchi joined the Froebel Trust in January 2019 as a Research Analyst and Administrator. Valeria is a PhD candidate at the University of Roehampton, in the last year of a doctorate with the Early Childhood Research Centre, her thesis is titled 'Reconceptualising Professional Learning and Development through a Froebelian lens: early childhood educators’ perspectives on professional identities in the UK and Italy’. Valeria has experience in the academic field as a Visiting Lecturer in the Early Childhood Studies BA and MA at the University of Roehampton and has supported the Early Childhood Research Centre as a Research Officer for several years. Her most recent publications include the collection of bibliographic lists ‘Social and Conceptual Spaces, Froebelian Geographies’ and the chapter ‘Archival research, different themes pursued drawing together the ‘Social and conceptual spaces – Froebelian geographies’ project for the Froebel Archive Collection located at the University of Roehampton’ published in the Routledge International Handbook of Froebel and Early Childhood Practice edited by Tina Bruce, Peter Elfer, Sacha Powell and Louie Werth.


Her practice experience ranges from being an Early Years educator specialising in the care and education of children under 3 years of age for several years, to being part of the Soweto Project from 2014-2016 with a team of academics lead by Prof. Tina Bruce, working together with the staff of an early years centre in Soweto (SA) to create a sustainable learning environment which was appropriate to the cultural heritage of the place. Due to her research and practice experiences Valeria’s interests sit mainly, but not exclusively, in the field of professionalism in early childhood education, initial and in-service teacher education and alternative research methods’ development with a Froebelian underpinning to her philosophy of practice and research.




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