Simon Coyle


Simon Coyle is a Co-Founder of RIS and oversees the business operations of the programme and strategic development. He read Economics and Politics at the University of Warwick, before going on to study for a Masters degree in Political Theory at the University of Sheffield. He joined the Teach First Graduate Scheme in 2008 and taught Citizenship and History at Kingsmead School, Enfield for two years. He left classroom teaching to co-found The Brilliant Club with his colleague Jonny Sobczyk, motivated by his experience of working with talented young people in the state sector and also by the opportunity to promote university-style learning in schools. Simon grew up in rural Nottinghamshire and outside of work is a keen musician and follower of Nottingham Forest.


Dr Chris Wilson


Chris is a Co-Founder of RIS and oversees the recruitment and university relationships. Chris became interested in medieval history at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge where he completed his undergraduate and MPhil degrees, receiving a double first and ‘distinguished performance’ (distinction) respectively. During this time there he was awarded the Taylor Scholarship. After leaving Cambridge he spent two years working as a government lobbyist in London for Keene Public Affairs. During the course of his PhD research at the University of Exeter he taught on the Department of History’s Foundation Course for three years and was a lead tutor on the course for two. During this time he became an Associate of the Higher Education Academy. Chris’ research focused on thirteenth-century ecclesiastical history and was generously funded by a University of Exeter College of Humanities Studentship.


Jed Cinnamon

National Programme Director

Jed is National Programme Director at Researchers in Schools and oversees the development of the programme, including managing school relationships, recruitment and participant training and support. After graduating from New College, University of Oxford  with a degree in History, Jed completed the Leadership Development Programme with Teach First in the East Midlands. He then led the English Department and literacy team at Prendergast Vale College, an all-through school in Lewisham, South-East London, before joining the Teach First London team to support trainee teachers and develop school relationships. Outside of work, Jed is a governor at a primary school in South London, and is a keen Tottenham Hotspur supporter.


Charlie Ledley

Senior Programme Manager

Charlie is a RIS Programme Manager and is passionate about improving opportunities for young people from all backgrounds. After graduating from Lancaster University where she studied History and Politics, Charlie helped to establish a community radio station which had a particular focus on enthusing young people and encouraging them to take a more active role in their local community. In 2012 Charlie joined the Teach First Leadership Development Programme teaching English at Lodge Park Academy in Corby. Since then, Charlie has worked as a Teaching and Learning Associate at Barnwell School in Stevenage where she mentored trainee teachers and provided twilight CPD sessions for more experienced teachers in order to improve pupil progress. Outside of work, Charlie is a keen sports fan.


Alexandra Tanner

Programme Officer

Alex joined as one of the first RIS Programme Officers in August 2016. Alex joined the Teach First Programme in 2013, which involved teaching science in Manchester and following this was a Year 8 science teacher at a school in South London. Alex graduated with a Bachelors degree in bioveterinary sciences from the University of Liverpool and is particularly interested in STEM education and extra-curricular opportunities for students. In her spare time, she enjoys attending science lectures and events, fencing and running.


Sarah Brennan

Programme Officer

Sarah is a Programme Officer for RIS and is passionate about widening participation at highly selective universities. She studied French with Linguistics at the University of York and Université de Nantes. In 2009, Sarah completed a PGCE in Modern Foreign Languages in North Yorkshire. She taught MFL for six years and was Head of Department at St Michael’s Catholic School, an all-through school in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Outside of work, Sarah enjoys theatre and live music, she is also a keen baker.


Rachel Lawrence

Teaching and Learning Manager

Rachel read Theology at Trinity College Oxford, before doing a PGCE at St. Mary’s University College Twickenham. She later completed a Masters in Teaching at the Institute of Education, and is currently in her second year of an Educational Doctorate at Kings College London. Rachel worked as an Advanced Skills teacher for Hounslow LEA and London Challenge. She worked with primary and secondary teachers and in various subject areas including Humanities, Maths and Science. As part of her work as an AST she also worked as a visiting lecturer at St. Mary’s University College, Twickenham. She became Head of Religious Studies at Lampton School in 2011 and in 2012 led the department in their application to be one of the pilot schools for the national RE Quality Mark. The department was awarded the Gold Award which recognised the work of the department as consistently outstanding. Rachel is an Associate Senior Leader at Lampton School.


Gil Brandt

Teaching and Learning Officer

Within his role, Gil is responsible for delivering teacher training content for participants on the programme. Gil taught Mathematics in a secondary school in Leeds, Yorkshire for two years as part of the TeachFirst Leadership Development Programme (2012 cohort). He then went on to work as a curriculum coordinator in a South London school . He has also been on the Education Policy Network committee which organised discussions and debates for teachers around contemporary policy issues. Gil read History and Social Sciences at the University of Manchester. In his spare time Gil is as rock-climber, avid Leicester city fan and foodie.


Nicholas Cater

Recruitment Manager

Nicholas is responsible for all aspects of the programme’s recruitment processes, from initial attraction and advertising, through to assessment and placement. Since graduating from Durham University with a degree in Modern Languages and a Masters in Translation, Nicholas worked initially as an Accountant, then freelance translator, before finally settling on recruitment. He worked at a boutique recruitment firm in Central London where he was responsible for the delivery of several national graduate schemes. Outside of work, Nicholas enjoys keeping his languages up to scratch and is a keen traveller, particularly around Europe and Russia.


Holly Howarth

Recruitment Officer

Holly supports participants from application to on-boarding, and manages the assessment centres. Holly has worked within the third sector both in the UK and overseas since graduating from the University of East Anglia with a BA in History of Art in 2011. She has been involved in numerous arts and cultural organisations, with a focus on youth development and global education, including international projects with the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts and NCS The Challenge. Holly worked for the British Council on the co-funded DfID programme: Connecting Classrooms, and over the last two years has had stints working in Central America for Raleigh International as a Programme Manager. Outside of Researchers in Schools, Holly is a freelance Creative Consultant.


Daniel Knight

Corporate Partnerships Manager

Dan is responsible for managing the relationships with Researchers in Schools’ Industry Partners, working to create mutually-beneficial partnerships that have a positive impact for the organisation, our corporate partners and the schools we work with. After graduating from Reading University where he studied Psychology, Dan entered the charity sector, managing a diverse range of high-profile corporate relationships, first for a large financial charity, and more recently, for a national membership organisation. In his spare time, Dan is passionate about live music and Tottenham Hotspur FC.


Thaiba Akhter

Programme Administrator

Thaiba studied Law with European Studies at Portsmouth University. After graduating, she undertook various internships in law firms: shadowing solicitors in clinical negligence and commercial litigation within the public sector and charities departments. Thaiba then went on to work within the education sector, for a literacy and language company specialised in improving educational outcomes.

Dylan Davies

Recruitment Administrator