We start the year with a 'double feature' in our series introducing key members of #TeamTLI staff.
Louise Bennett - FdA Inclusive Education Course Leader (Acting)
Louise’s background is in secondary education where she undertook a range of leadership roles, including being Principal of a school in the East Midlands. Louise’s roles were varied and included developing a coaching ethos in a multi-academy trust, supporting many ITT students and developing CPD programmes both in house and contributing to supporting those undertaking SSAT and NCSL programmes.
Louise has a passion for inclusive education and believes that every young person (and adult!) can thrive in the right environment. Her work in practice focused on ways to capture the child’s voice, engaging parents and carers, and building cohesion with the community the school served. The removal of barriers to engagement were a key priority in the ethos of the school.
Louise has been part of Team TLI for the past 6 years and is based largely in London for her face-to-face work. She has written a number of new modules, including FDLI1003, Promoting the Enabling Environment, which is a focus very close to her heart.
In her spare time, Louise is a keen triathlete and has represented Great Britain in her age group at numerous European Championships.
Josie Cuffe - Careers adviser, module leader, PAT and tutor
Although the majority of Josie’s working life has been within the field of education, her career journey is more crazy paving than straight line. She believes no experience is ever wasted and summer jobs as a greengrocer, care worker and (reluctant) cleaner, as well as several post university ‘gap years’ travelling and volunteering abroad, led her to the one thing as a teenager she’d vowed never to do - teach teenagers!
Specialising in RE and outdoor education, she was head of department at a large Devon secondary school, and co led expeditions to Iceland and Norway, as well as more regular trips to the mountains of North Wales and the Lake District. Passionate about outdoor learning, particularly its impact on students whose experience of school is less than positive, she has set up and run outdoor courses for groups of disadvantaged young people, aimed at developing self efficacy and other key qualities. She also gained a research fellowship with Oxford University looking at the relationship between spiritual development and the outdoors.
Returning from a year spent travelling in Australia and New Zealand with her then young family, Josie spotted an advert for the Connexions service; a new initiative that offered holistic support for disadvantaged young people. Working for the service gave her the opportunity to retrain as a careers adviser, specialising in post-16 transition. Collaborative working, advocacy and empowerment are all vital for her, and she was involved in the writing and implementation of Devon’s SEND post-16 transition plan. She also led the Independent Support Service in Plymouth aimed at helping parents, carers, children and young people with the transition to the new SEND Code of Practice.
In addition to her roles with The Learning Institute, Josie still works as a self-employed careers adviser in Devon schools. This can be a challenging juggling act, but as an Aries she likes variety and she cannot imagine not working directly with teenagers. She finds the career adviser role, both in school and for The Learning Institute, extremely rewarding. It is easy to be paralysed by indecision in the face of an uncertain and volatile world, and to feel scared and apprehensive about the future. Talking to students about their motivation, values and dreams, and helping plan some action, which could be as small as deciding to talk to someone who does something that interests them, often means they leave the meeting excited and optimistic.
In her spare time Josie can be found doing anything to avoid housework, usually on or in water. She is a coastguard, loves outdoor swimming, surfing and kayaking, and is currently training for the world gig rowing championships in May. Easier said than done, but she tries to live by her own advice: think flexibly, be curious and stay open to opportunity.