Advisory panel

The advisory panel meet through video conferencing every few months to make suggestions, share ideas and offer advice about how the Hands up Project is developing.

Rida Thabet

I’m from Gaza, Palestine. I hold a bachelor degree in education, a higher diploma in translation and a masters degree in teaching English. I currently work at UNRWA as an educational specialist. I support English language teachers by holding professional development training courses. I’m interested in various topics such as using music, drama and art in teaching English to young learners, education in emergencies, special educational needs and using technology in teaching English. I also work as a team leader at UNRWA TV, producing educational programmes to support the learning of young learners.

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Nicky Francis

I am an international ELT consultant based in Paris, France, specialising in using authentic English storybooks to teach early years and primary children (ages 3-11). I’m particularly interested in the importance of movement and art when designing courses. I am currently Head of Partner Schools for British Council, Paris, as well as Coordinator for the IATEFL Young Learner special interest group.

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Jane Willis

I started out  teaching French and English in Ghana and Cyprus, then taught English and trained language teachers in  Iran, then Singapore (where I started writing A Framework for Task-based Learning).  Back in UK, I taught on Aston University Masters in TESOL programmes and wrote English for Primary Teachers (with Mary Slattery) and Teachers Exploring Tasks in English Language Teaching (with Corony Edwards). My latest books are: Doing Task-based Teaching (with Dave Willis), and English Through Music (with Anice Paterson) .I am now enjoying my retirement, living in the English Lake District near my five grandchildren and teaching Taichi.  I am still involved in ELT – see  and am more than happy to be involved in the Hands Up project.

David Heathfield

Through my work as a storyteller/ language teacher I strive to build bridges between people and between cultures. As well as numerous articles about  student creativity and making learning personal, I am the author of the practical teacher resource book Spontaneous Speaking: Drama Activities for Confidence and Fluency and the teacher development book Storytelling With Our Students: Telling tales from around the world (both published by DELTA). I am glad to be an advisor to the Hands Up Project which celebrates through vibrant story and playful learning what all we humans have in common.

Ahmad Al-Rashid

I am from Aleppo, Syria. I studied English language and literature before fleeing the country. I have worked as a volunteer teaching English in the Syrian refugee camps and later on joined the UN to work for both the Syrian refugee response and the Iraqi displaced people response. My work has given me the opportunity to be in direct contact with people who have survived horrendous circumstances. Since being granted asylum in the UK, I have been working with various groups defending refugee rights and children refugees. I have spoken at the UK Parliament on several occasions and also appeared on BBC, ITV and Zagros. I have written for  the Guardian and the Independent, and taken part in panels, public debates and other events at school and universities to raise awareness about the plight of refugees.

Ahmed Alajrami

I grew up in Jabalia Refugee Camp in northern Gaza. I did a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering at the Islamic University of Gaza in 2010. I worked as a teaching assistant in the Computer Engineering department at the IUG, and then worked for about two years as a software developer at UNRWA in Gaza. I hold a master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Manchester. My master’s dissertation was about Information Extraction and Natural Language Processing. I am interested in a broad range of topics related to how computers can create meaning and understand human languages.