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Meet our Directors

Professor Geraint Jones

Professor Geraint Jones founded NITE and is its Executive Director & Associate-Pro-Vice-Chancellor.

Geraint’s breadth of leadership spans across the educational landscape. He has led within higher, secondary and primary sectors in both state-maintained and independent institutions in the UK and internationally.

Headshot of Professor Geraint Jones

Formerly, he was Chief Education Officer at Cognita Schools, one of the world’s largest school groups. He was also Dean of Education at the University of Buckingham, an Ofsted Inspector and Head Teacher.

Geraint writes and speaks on educational matters in the national media in the UK and is a columnist for the Times Educational Supplement (TES).

Geraint won an international education award for pioneering a new school day structure. He also wrote Wake ’n Shake, a globally successful physical activity programme for school children, which he gave to schools for free.

He was involved in implementing the education strategy for London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games, and he represented UK schools at the announcement ceremony in Singapore.

He has advised government education ministries in the UK, South East Asia and the UAE.

To contact Geraint E:

Published Columns »

Louise Jakes

Director of Business Implementation

After graduating with a degree in motorsport management, Louise began her career in conference and event management. She was responsible for delivering multiple large-scale events, partnering with businesses around the world.

Headshot of Louise Jakes

Louise then joined the University of Buckingham’s School of Education and became its Director of Operations, overseeing the operational function of all postgraduate degrees within the School.

In 2019 Louise joined NITE as one of its founding Directors and led the establishment of professional and operational functions within the Institute. These included student recruitment and selection processes, course management functions and quality assurance systems for school placements.

As Director of Business Implementation, Louise now oversees the entirety of NITE’s pre-enrolment processes for students and ensures the effectiveness and efficiency of internal systems to enable the smooth running of the Institute.

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Claire Hawtin

Director of ITT (Initial Teacher Training)

Claire gained her first degree in English Literature with Physical Education and Sports Science from Loughborough University, before training as a teacher and enjoying a successful career in primary education. She continued her passion for sport and physical education in her role as PE subject leader and as part of the School Sport Co-ordinator (SSCo) Programme.

Claire Hawtin.jpg

Claire held leadership positions in schools as a member of Senior Leadership Teams, an Advanced Skills Teacher and a Mentoring Lead. Claire was also part of the inaugural Mathematics Specialist Teacher (MaST) programme, in which she gained accreditation as a teacher of Mathematics.

In 2012, Claire began her career in teacher training within Nottingham University’s School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) Programme, before moving to Pilgrim Partnership SCITT and the University of Hertfordshire. In her roles she gained extensive experience in Initial Teacher Education, leading on the delivery, support and assessment of a variety of routes into teaching.

Claire joined NITE in 2020, becoming its Director of ITT in 2022.

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Dr Becky Geeson

Deputy Director of ITT (Initial Teacher Training)

After qualifying, Becky taught in primary schools in the East Midlands. She became a senior leader and Advanced Skills Teacher predominantly teaching in Key Stage 2, specialising in Mathematics and Art.

After eleven years teaching in schools, Becky moved into Higher Education and Initial Teacher Training.

Dr Becky Geeson.jpg

As Programme Leader for two undergraduate teacher training degree programmes at Bishop Grosseteste University, she successfully led student journey, curriculum design, and recruitment and admissions for multiple cohorts. Becky also took on the role of Head of Programmes, overseeing all undergraduate and postgraduate primary ITT provision.

In 2017 Becky was awarded a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Association (SFHEA) and in 2021she completed her doctoral studies at the University of Nottingham. Her research focused on professional identity development of teaching assistants who train to become teachers in a community of practice.

Becky leads NITE’s international development, including the iPGCE with iQTS programmes, supporting schools around the world to upskill their teaching staff and supporting teachers in their continuing professional development.

Published work »

Becky’s published works include:

  • Geeson, R. and Clarke, E. (2022) Crossing the line: Constructs of TA Identity. Pastoral Care in Education. ISSN 0264-3944
  • Paige, R., Lambert, S., & Geeson, R. (Eds) (2017) Building skills for effective primary teaching (2nd Edn). London: SAGE

To contact Becky E:

Chris Mather

Director of Partnerships

Chris joined NITE in 2023 to set up and lead the Partnerships team, with a remit to grow our customer and partner base in the UK and internationally.

Chris brings extensive commercial experience from outside the education sector, having previously held senior leadership roles in Transport for London (TfL). As their Chief Customer Officer, he shaped the growth marketing and customer strategy, increasing use of public transport away from private cars. Prior to TfL, Chris was a director of an international marketing agency with clients in both the public and private sector.

Throughout his career, Chris has delivered award winning programmes, including improving public health via smoking cessation campaigns for the NHS. More recently, Chris led an Environmental Social Governance (ESG) programme to reduce the car use of 10 million customers.

He was co-founder of the ‘RideLondon’ cycling event, a legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games, and now the largest festival of cycling in the world; inspiring 30,000 people to start cycling every year.

As NITE’s Director of Partnerships, he is growing and strengthening our links across the education sector, to connect both aspirant and established teaching professionals around the world to NITE’s career development pathways.

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Neale Pledger

Director of Programmes

Neale spent twenty years in state-maintained secondary education in England as a qualified teacher of History, Politics, and English, before rising through the ranks as Head of Humanities, Head of Year, Assistant Principal, Deputy Head Teacher and Head Teacher.

For a decade as a senior school leader, Neale led on teaching and learning, safeguarding, whole school curriculum, and staff professional development and recruitment. He also spent time in Africa, working with the Ghana Education Service and school leadership teams to develop school improvement programmes. Through this experience Neale recognised the importance of building strong stakeholder relationships, and this continues to drive his education philosophy.

As a Deputy Head Teacher, he was instrumental in setting up a new school including the building programme to construct new premises. Neale was subsequently appointed Head Teacher and led the school to its most successful student outcomes.

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