Our Advisory Board

June O'Sullivan, Earlyarts Advisory Board and thought leader in children's learning

June O’Sullivan
Chief Executive, London Early Years Foundation

An inspiring speaker and regular media commentator on Early Years, Social Enterprise and Child Poverty, June has been instrumental in the London Early Years Foundation‘s significant increase in both profile and profitability. June is a champion of community-based, multi-generational projects and a great believer in the potential of greater social and cultural capital as a means of delivering long-term social impact.

June is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Director of Social Enterprise London and Trustee for the Daycare Trust and the National Day Nursery Association. June is a qualified Social Worker and published author with an MA in Primary & Early Childhood Studies and MBA from London South Bank University.

June is establishing a Social Franchise model for childcare providers with Middlesex University, has written the first National Standards for Early Years Chefs and works with the Department for Education to develop and implement a new vision for the Early Years. June focuses on social enterprise in early education with the Earlyarts Advisory Board.


James Huggins, Earlyarts Advisory Board and thought leader in children's learning

James Huggins
Managing Director and co-founder of Made in Me

Made in Me is a children’s digital publishing company founded by James and his brother-in-law, Mike, in 2009 to inspire young children to learn by exploring their creativity and imagination. The company partnered with Ladybird to launch the award-winning and BAFTA nominated The Land of Me, an interactive picture book world where young children and adults can play together across a variety of activities including music composition, dance choreography and storytelling.

In late 2011, Made in Me launched Me Books, a picture book reader app that allows children to create their own interactive versions of classic stories. The company has fostered relationships with major publishers including Penguin, Lego, Disney and Save the Children to introduce more titles to this exciting new publishing platform. Prior to Made in Me, James was the Managing Director of Escape Studios, which became one of the foremost visual effects academies in the world. James focuses on children’s media and publishing with the Earlyarts Advisory Board.


Sydney Thornbury, Earlyarts Advisory Board and thought leader in children's learning

Sydney Thornbury
Chief Executive of The Blackheath Conservatoire

Having established WebPlay as a valuable network amongst UK and USA schools, Sydney understands the different languages, services and approaches needed to face the diverse markets that buy into or sell through a community of interest. Sydney now runs The Conservatoire in Blackheath, bringing highly creative leadership approaches to support families in the area.

Sydney has been pioneering in bringing together technology and business models, specifically to support the children’s theatre sector, and is widely respected for her contribution to the cultural sector. Sydney has overall responsibility on Earlyarts’ Advisory Board for advising on Earlyarts’ social business model, finance and marketing strategies, always with one eye on ensuring Earlyarts is a sustainable business.


Joanne Albin-Clark, Earlyarts Advisory Board and thought leader in children's learning

Jo Albin-Clark
Early Years Senior Lecturer, Edge Hill University

Jo Albin-Clark is a trainer and consultant specialising in early years. She is a former primary school deputy head and early year’s advisory teacher. Now working as a senior lecturer in Early Years education at Edge Hill University, Jo provides consultancy across Knowsley’s Children’s Centres. Her latest project has been developing Experiential Learning, which focuses on children’s emotional well-being & involvement in play.

Jo has worked on projects with the Halle orchestra, National Museums of Liverpool and Rochdale’s M6 Children’s Theatre. Jo was involved in the national consultation on the Arts Council England’s Artsmark for Early Years, and is one of Earlyarts’ founding members. As well as being a mum to three kids, she likes a chippy tea (with mushy peas) & a nice lie down. Joanne focuses on early childcare training and university engagement with the Earlyarts Advisory Board.


Natasha Holmes, Earlyarts Advisory Board and thought leader in children's learning

Natasha Holmes
Artistic Director at Tell Tale Hearts Theatre Co.

After working as a performer for some of the country’s leading children’s theatre companies, Natasha founded the highly regarded international company, Tell Tale Hearts in 2004, devising and delivering visual theatre productions exclusively for children. Each new production is researched with a group of nursery or school children, ensuring that the final show is not just age appropriate but is made with the children’s collective creative input.

Natasha has directed recent successes, ‘From Here to There’ which has toured the UK, India and Washington DC, and a participatory dance theatre show, ‘Yummm!’, inspired by children’s relationship to food and their eating rituals. Natasha has researched European approaches to theatre for early years through  Earlyarts’ Dandelion Programme and is committed to designing specialist educational programmes to enable schools to embrace a more creative curriculum. Natasha focuses on arts and culture in early education with the Earlyarts Advisory Board.


Amanda Pearce-Burton, Earlyarts Advisory Board and thought leader in children's learning

Amanda Pearce-Burton
Director of Formation Training

As Director of Formation Training, Amanda is a business leader, innovative trainer and strategic consultant in the public, voluntary and private sectors. Amanda has worked with the Department of Education, government agencies, local authorities, schools, the voluntary sector and SME’s. Her work includes helping organisations develop strategic direction, delivering leadership training and change management, and developing quality monitoring and evaluation projects.

Formation Training designed the first assessment process for Early Years Professional Status and, for six years, they acted as the national external moderators of the EYP standards and monitored the training and assessment provision for CWDC. Amanda is Vice Chair of Governors for a primary school, a Director of the Flying High Trust and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Her knowledge extends to specialist subjects including creativity and problem solving, leadership, Emotional Intelligence, team dynamics, NLP and partnership working. She is also an accredited trainer of the Action Centred Leadership (ACL) model through Adair International. Amanda focuses on business growth and professional development with the Earlyarts Advisory Board.


Ruth Churchill Dower, Earlyarts Advisory Board and thought leader in children's learning

Ruth Churchill Dower
Director of Earlyarts

Earlyarts operates through a pioneering approach to creative early education, working in collaboration with our Affiliate Training partners who train 600 arts and early years professionals each year. This enables the company to have a positive impact on the lives of 20,000 children and families. In 2009, Ruth won the Ogunte Women’s Social Leadership award for her work in building Earlyarts, and in 2012 she won the runner up Social Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Ruth is a fellow of the RSA and member of the Cultural Learning Alliance, Social Enterprise UK, Small Size, and supports the government task force on Early Years Foundation Stage. A renowned author, advisor and media commentator, Ruth helps strategic thinkers to make sense of complex agendas, always keeping the focus on how any policy, curriculum, research or practice will impact positively on a child’s life. Her favourite activities are paragliding and puddle-splashing in the Yorkshire hills with her two young children.