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.


Kike Agunbiade

National Programme Director

Kike joined The Brilliant Club as National Programme Director for Researchers in Schools in October 2017. Prior to this, Kike was a Senior Education Lead at SSAT, the Schools, Students and Teachers Network, where she led on a number of high profile projects including middle and senior leadership programmes, Teaching Schools and their school improvement framework. Kike spent five years working at Teach First, where she was North London Manager, and has also worked for a range of charities in roles to support and develop teachers. Kike completed the Teach First Programme as Science Teacher in North London. She holds an MBA (Education) from Keele University and a post graduate certificate in Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education from the University of Edinburgh. Kike graduated from Merton College, University of Oxford, with an MChem in Chemistry.


Charlie Ledley

School Programme Director

Charlie 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.


Rachel Lawrence

Curriculum and Development Director

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.


Nicholas Cater

Recruitment Director

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. He is also Researchers in Schools’ biggest/only Huddersfield Town fan.


Amy Broom

School Partnerships Manager

Amy is driven by a desire to increase the number of subject experts teaching in non-selective schools. Having completed her Masters in Engineering at the University of Cambridge in 2008, she undertook teacher training in South East London through the Graduate Teacher Programme. As Head of Physics at a new build academy Amy focussed on developing metacognitive approaches and promoting practical and thinking skills in science through evidence-based strategies. Prior to joining Researchers in Schools Amy was Director of STEM at a UTC in Kent, overseeing an enhanced curriculum in Engineering and Construction, employer engagement and CEIAG. Outside of work Amy is a keen equestrienne.


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.

Rosa Smith

Rosa Smith

Programme Officer

Rosa joined the RIS team as Programme Officer in September 2017. She studied English (BA) at the University of Exeter, and became interested in Widening Participation whilst working in local schools as part of their student ambassador programme. She then worked for CRUK before completing the Teach First programme as part of the 2012 cohort. She taught English for five years, progressing to become KS5 lead and then Head of 6th Form at a secondary school in South-East London. Whilst there, she also mentored trainee teachers and NQTs. She remains committed to improving access to selective universities and raising student aspirations.


Joanna Clark

Programme Officer

Joanna joined the RIS team as Programme Officer in October 2017. In 2008, she spent the summer working in California as a Camp Counsellor with 9-17 year olds, and it was here that she decided she wanted to pursue a career working with young people. After graduating from Queen Mary, University of London with a BA in English, Jo worked as a Teaching Assistant, before training as an English teacher through the Graduate Teaching Programme in 2011. She joined the English department at Morpeth Secondary School in Bethnal Green as an NQT, and later became the Deputy Head of English and KS3 Coordinator. Outside of work, Jo enjoys travel, live music and keeping fit.


Gil Brandt

Curriculum and Development 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.

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Beth Collier

Team Administrator

Beth joined the Researchers in Schools team in September 2017 as the Programme Administrator. Prior to this Beth completed a Linguistics degree at University College London, where she gained an interest in sign language and completed a level one BSL qualification. Following this, Beth worked as the Assistant Director of a children’s maths and English tuition centre. Working within a low socio-economic area, Beth gained experience of the difficulties children can face throughout their primary education and is excited to continue improving their success through to a university level. Outside of work Beth enjoys running and baking.