Founder Sarah Chapman

Sarah Chapman, Founder and CEO, Operation Diversity

“I know that being a parent or carer of a neurodivergent child with Special Educational Needs (SEN) of any kind, even today, can be so isolating and overwhelming, particularly when you are not receiving the help and support you so badly need and want for yourself or your children. Sometimes you feel like you don’t even know where to start and it causes so much frustration and heartache.

When children’s needs are not appropriately identified and supported it can also be detrimental to them long term, impacting on their academic achievement, life-chances, mental health and emotional wellbeing and believe me when I say, I know what this feels like as a child. The world of SEN can quite literally be a minefield and with so much conflicting information, at times it can be extremely difficult to navigate. As a member of the Operation Diversity Academy I want to help you to feel supported, empowered and armed with the right tools and knowledge so that both you and your children’ will feel inspired, motivated, confident and bursting with a positive mindset. The Academy is a safe place where I can bring in a diverse range of professionals and inspirational people to help and support you and your family, whilst helping your child to embrace their Neurodivergence!”  

Sarah Chapman xx

Dr Leanne Short

Company Director & Senior Specialist Educational Psychologist (EP) 

Dr Short is the founder and Company Director of Aroa Educational Psychology Services Limited and has worked as an EP for over 12 years. For over 7 years, Dr Short has supported young people and their families and school as an Independent EP. 

She has extensive experience of the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) process and has supported hundreds of young people in and out of school,
across England and Wales. Dr Short achieved a Bachelor of Science (BSc) Degree, with honours, in Psychology in 2007, from the University of Liverpool. During this time, she worked with families with children being home educated due to SEND, with young people in Children’s Homes, and with young adults with severe learning disabilities. In 2009, Dr Short proceeded to obtain a Master of Science (MSc) Degree with Distinction, in Mental Health Practice, at The University of Manchester. During this time, she worked for Wigan Eating Disorders Service. 

In 2010, Dr Short began her Doctorate in Applied Educational Psychology at Newcastle University, and worked at Educational Psychology Services across the North
East. In 2013, Dr Short secured employment as an Educational Psychologist for Liverpool City Council Educational Psychology Service, during which time she formed part of the Liverpool diagnostic team for Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC), she was the Educational Psychologist for Home Education across Liverpool, and supported the delivery of early intervention support across Nurseries and Early Years settings.
In 2015, Dr Short began working as an Independent EP across north England & Wales. Over this time, Dr Short developed a highly regarded reputation supporting young people struggling to access education in the North West. In July 2022, whilst also raising her own four young children, Dr Short founded Aroa Educational Psychology Services Ltd to provide exceptional psychological services across England and North Wales.
Dr Short has training in the areas of Women and Girls on the Autism Spectrum, and extensive training and experience in Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) Syndrome. She is trained to administer the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, 2nd Edition (ADOS-2) and has achieved Level 2 accreditation in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Dr Short also has training and extensive experience as an Expert Witness.

Sarah Gillie

Educational Consultant and Specialist Dyslexia Assessor
Beacons Unique

An educational consultant with a background in teaching, Sarah is researching for a doctorate in education. She combines her passion for learning with a parents’ perspective; her own children’s assessments include ADHD, auditory processing, autism, dyslexia and visual stress.

Sarah has AMBDA status as a specialist dyslexia assessor and SpLD teacher and is a member of PATOSS. Her research article on the potential for executive function targeted support was published in the 2018 Dyspraxia Foundation professional journal.

Sarah works with learners from Early Years through to Higher Education, and she believes that understanding each student’s strengths and needs is essential to provide timely, effective support and advice.


Gwendolyn Jones

Behaviour Intervention Specialist, Neurodivergent Parenting Coach, Motivational Speaker
The Skilled Parent

Gwendolyn comes to us with a very unique set of skills. Not only is she neuro-divergent herself, she is also the mother of 4 children, 2 of whom are neuro-divergent! Professionally, Gwendolyn taught for 9 years in the USA and the UK. Her teaching career focused on Special Educational Needs (SEN) in children with emotional and behavioural concerns. She retrained as a parenting coach and therapist so that she could follow her true passion of empowering parents and enriching the lives of families.

Libby Hill

Specialist Consultant, Speech and Language Therapist
Small Talk, Speech & Language Therapy

Libby Hill spent many years in the NHS as a highly specialist Speech and Language Therapist working with children and young people with ASD. Now she is a consultant for ‘Small Talk Speech and Language Therapy’ in Staffordshire which was set up to bridge the ever-widening gap between the increasing number of children with communication problems and the shortfall within the NHS. They take speech & language therapy referrals from all over the UK.

Sara Bierer

Chartered Educational Psychologist
Sara Bierer Ltd

Sara is an experienced Chartered Educational Psychologist who combines private practice with working as a Senior Educational Psychologist in a Local Authority. Sara has worked with children with a wide range of complex difficulties in a variety of pre-school and school settings. She is also a qualified teacher. Sara contributes to SEN Panels and has been an expert witness at Tribunals.

Sara works closely with parents and educators to develop a shared understanding of a child’s strengths and needs. She works holistically, looking at a child’s development, experiences and learning skills both at home and in the educational environment.

Alison Hart

Consultant, Occupational Therapist
Children’s Choice Therapy Service

Alison Hart is an Occupational Therapist and Founder of ‘Children’s Choice Therapy Service Ltd’, a group of specialist OTs working across health, education and social care, as well as independently, and from one of the few Ayres SI and independent OT clinics in the UK.  Alison is also a Senior Lecturer at the University of Derby, training Occupational Therapist’s.

Alison qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1993, and has completed post graduate training in Sensory Integration and a further Masters degree in OT, as well as being a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Alison works nationally delivering training, consultancy and education, as well as clinical assessment and interventions.

Jude Philip

Consultant Speech and Language Therapist
Grow Communication

“Passionate about unlocking potential” is how Jude describes what drives her as a Speech and Language Therapist.  After many years working in the NHS, Jude and her business partner Katy Bennet founded Scotland’s first Social Enterprise offering Speech, Language and Communication therapy support.  Jude has built up a specialism in additional support needs, including Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Developmental Language Disorders, Learning Disabilities and rare genetic conditions. Implementing Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a further passion. She carries out diagnostic Autism assessments with her multidisciplinary team, writes and speaks about supporting additional support needs, and provides expert assessment and reporting for complex cases.


Fintan O'Regan

Behaviour and Learning Consultant, Trainer
Behaviour Management Training

Fintan is currently consulting for a number of schools and educational organisations both within the UK and internationally. 

He was the Headteacher of the Centre Academy from 1996 -2002, which was the first specialist school in the UK for students between the ages of 7-19 specialising in issues related to ADHD, ASD and ODD.  

He is an associate lecturer for Leicester University, the National Association of Special Needs, the Institute of Education, The Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre and the former Vice Chairman of the UK ADHD Network and of the European ADHD Alliance.

He has written a number of books and published articles on the subject of ADHD, Behaviour and Learning issues.

Dr Lindsay Peer, CBE

Educational and Chartered Psychologist, Speaker, Author and Expert Witness
Peer Gordon Associates

Educational & Chartered Psychologist, Speaker, Author & Expert Witness, Lindsay is widely recognised as an expert in the range of specific learning difficulties, SEN & mainstream education. In 2002 she was appointed CBE for services to Education & Dyslexia. In 2011 she was awarded the Outstanding Lifetime Academic Achievement Award by the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). She is a Patron of GroOops, a charity dedicated to creating an emotionally healthy dyslexia aware world. Lindsay has lectured extensively as keynote speaker internationally since the late 1980s & has advised governments, policymakers, lawyers, adults, schools, psychologists, therapists & parents.

Steve Chinn, (PhD, AMBDA)

Internationally trainer and lecturer in Dyslexia, Mathematics and Dyscalculia
Maths Explained Tutorials

Steve Chinn’s experience spans over forty years of work and research in special and mainstream education. In 1986 he founded and then developed and built a specialist secondary school for dyslexic boys, a school which won major national awards. He is now an independent consultant, researcher and writer and has presented papers, contributed to conferences worldwide (over 30 countries). He also delivers training courses for psychologists, teachers, parents and support assistants.

Pauline Grant

Education Consultant – Hearing Loss & APD Chair-British Society of Audiology APD Committee
Listen to Learn

Pauline Grant is the lead consultant for Listen to Learn.  After teaching English and Drama in London comprehensive schools and a short career break, she studied for the postgraduate mandatory qualification which entitles her to be known as a Teacher of the Deaf, graduating in 1989. Pauline also has a particular expertise in the educational management of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). She is a member of the British Association of Teachers of the Deaf and the British Society of Audiology; she is currently Chair of the BSA Special Interest Group for Auditory Processing Disorders (APD).

Dr Judy Eaton

Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Help for Psychology

Dr Judy Eaton worked for the NHS for many years before working independently. She has also worked within adolescent inpatient hospitals. Her work has involved assessment, diagnosis and intervention with a large number of children and adults with Autism, in a variety of settings and she has developed a particular interest in the PDA profile. She has written a book entitled ‘Mental Health Issues for Girls and Women on the Autism Spectrum – Diagnosis, Intervention and Family Support’. Judy speaks regularly at training events and conferences about autism, mental health and PDA and has recently been appointed a visiting researcher at Kings College London.

Dr Gavin Reid

International Educational Psychologist, author and conference speaker
Dr Gavin Reid Education Consultants

Gavin Reid Ph.D., M.A, M.App.Sci, M.Ed., B.Ed, AMBDA, Assoc. F. B.P.S is an independent international educational psychologist. He is a director of the Red Rose School in the UK and Global Educational Consultancies (GEC) and a consultant to the Institute of Child Education and Psychology, Europe (ICEPE), the Open University and the BBC in the UK and the Child Early Intervention Medical Center (CEIMC) in Dubai.

He is an ambassador for the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre (UK) and has written 27 books in dyslexia, literacy, learning styles and motivation. These are used as core course texts in courses worldwide and some have been translated into Arabic, Polish, French, Italian and Greek.

Mike Tholfsen

Principal Product Manager
Microsoft Education

Mike Tholfsen is a Principal Product Manager on the Microsoft Education team focusing on Learning Tools and OneNote Class/Staff Notebooks, and Microsoft Teams for Education. He is passionate about education and has been regularly working with students and teachers around the world over the past ten years to create products that improve student outcomes.

Mark Greaves

Old Square Chambers

Mark joined Old Square Chambers in 2017 following his successful completion of pupillage. He has experience before the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Education Needs and Disability) representing parents in appeals relating to the contents of EHC Plans (Sections B, F and I) and at multiple exclusion hearings at Governing Body and Independent Review Panel level. Mark also has a particular interest in judicial review challenges arising out of funding and SEN-related disputes.

Laith Dilaimi

Old Square Chambers

Laith Dilaimi has a wide-ranging practice in education law: his practice covers SEN appeals, discrimination, judicial reviews, admissions, exclusions, safeguarding, examination malpractice, school funding, claims against universities, and teacher misconduct. Laith advises on and acts in cases in the First-tier Tribunal, the Upper Tribunal, the County Court and the High Court, among other forums. Laith chairs Independent Appeal Panels and Independent Review Panels for two London borough councils in relation to school admission appeals and school exclusion reviews. He has a particular interest in disability discrimination and has written a handbook on discrimination law for the National Deaf Children’s Society.

Chris Hargreaves

Specialist Speech and Language Therapist
Chris Hargreaves Speech Therapy

Chris Hargreaves is a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist. He is a member of the Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists (RCSLT) and Healthcare Professions Council (HCPC). Chris is also recognised by the Association of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent Practice (ASLTIP) and a qualified ELKLAN and Talking Partners tutor. His style of working is family and child-focused. He provides fun, interactive and tailor-made support and interventions across South Wales, which help children to achieve their communication potential.

Karen Pollard-Rylance

Specialist Dyslexia Assessor and SpLD Teacher
Karen Pollard Rylance Dyslexia Assessments and Teaching

Karen has more than 20 years teaching experience.  When she first graduated, Karen taught in various FE/HE SEN settings throughout the North West, managing and co-ordinating several additional learning support departments.  In 2014 she attained her Masters in SpLD/Dyslexia and for the last 10 years she has specialised in SpLD/Dyslexia teaching and assessing, to all age groups.  She has given webinars and presentations relating to Dyslexia identification, screening and assessment.  Karen regularly updates her professional practice, to include knowledge of all neuro-divergent conditions and has the AMBDA recognition and APC, affiliated through PATOSS. Karen is also a senior Irlen Assessor.

Dee McAlinden

Coach, Teacher, Public Speaker, Writer
Thrive with Autism

Dee McAlinden was formally identified as an Autistic (Autism Spectrum Difference) Person in July 2015. She also has two children who were identified at the ages of 20 and 10 years. Since then she’s enjoyed working as a speaker, trainer, teacher and coach for people connected with ASD. She works with Teachers, Psychologists, Charities, Individuals and Families to help them understand the condition. As a person who has succeeded in many areas of her life because of and despite her unidentified ASD, Dee’s keen to share her stories and techniques to help others.

Adam Otterway Friel

Partner, Head of Education Law

Geldards LLP


Adam Otterway Friel, Partner and Head of Education Law, has over 10 years’ experience and expertise in this specialist field.

His interest in education law was sparked as a consequence of his own learning difficulties (dyslexia) and the issues he faced both at school and university. He is therefore genuinely passionate about his work and totally committed to achieving outstanding results. 

During his career he has developed a modern approach to his practice and prides himself in achieving clients’ results as swiftly as possible, with a straightforward, jargon-free style. 

He is very passionate about education rights and has been involved in a number of pro bono projects, including free charity monthly advice clinics. Adam is regularly invited to be a speaker at events, talks, workshops and conferences to charities, parent groups and schools regarding educational issues.

Kevin McManamon

Senior Associate 

Geldards LLP

Kevin is a Senior Associate specialising in Education law and Mental Capacity law, and acts for families across the whole of England and Wales. He is the only solicitor in the country to have genuine expertise in special educational needs law as it applies to the separate jurisdictions in England and Wales, combined with Mental Capacity law in both jurisdictions. 

Having previously practised in City of London firms, Kevin has also headed up a Court of Protection Department and is a member of the Education Law Association and the Court of Protection Practitioners Association. 

With over 15 years’ experience and expertise in these specialist fields, he has advised a huge number of families and individuals on education law, disability-related matters and public law.

Salise Dourmoush

Senior Associate

Geldards LLP

Salise Dourmoush, Senior Associate, has over 10 years’ experience in the legal field and 6 years with a specialist practice in SEN. Salise has worked on behalf of parents at a leading Appellant City Law Firm and on behalf of local authorities as their in-house SEN and Education Lead. This has provided her with 3-dimensional understanding of the field and an enhanced approach to her practice. Salise uses this experience to assist children and young people with SEN to achieve their best possible outcomes in their education and future lives. 

During her career, Salise has developed a jargon-free, practical, and collaborative approach, to try and achieve the best results for her clients as quickly and as cost- effective as possible. 

Salise is an experienced advocate and holds many training sessions for those wanting to learn about SEN Tribunal processes and final hearings. She is a member of the Education Law Association. 

Salise is also bi-lingual and can speak fluent Turkish. 

Douglas Hamer


Geldards LLP

Douglas works in the Education Team advising and assisting parents and young people on a variety of education issues, with a particular focus on special educational needs and appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. 

Douglas has six years’ experience in education law, covering higher education, disability benefits, section 444 attendance issues, care issues, admissions appeals and exclusion appeals. 

The majority of Douglas’s work is in connection with appeals to the SEND Tribunal, covering all types of appeals including refusals to undertake needs assessments, refusals to issue and EHC plan and appeals about the contents of a plan. In addition, he has worked on numerous complex cases with National Trial elements, care proceedings, attendance proceedings, disputes with independent schools, and EOTAS/elective home education. 

Enrolement is currently closed

Hello and thank you for your interest in joining the Operation Diversity Academy.

As you have landed on this page it means that enrolment is currently closed. However, we are pleased to announce that the doors to the Operation Diversity Academy open again in 2020 – dates to be announced.

All you need to do is enter your name and email address in the box and you will be the first to know when membership reopens for new registrations. Even better, we will drop some time sensitive discount codes direct to your inbox! You will need to be quick to snap up the codes before they expire!!!

See you on the inside!

Sarah Chapman
Founder and CEO, Operation Diversitiy

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