University of Kent Campus
Canterbury Innovation Centre, University Road,
Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7FG
Tel: 01227 811813
or 01227 211070
Text: 07742 188458
Norma Kitson - Director / Centre Manager, Diagnostic and Needs Assessor
BA (Hons) PGCE PGCert (SpLD) RSA-CELTA AMBDA (FE/HE)
Before completing her degree in English and History and Theory of Art at The University of Kent at Canterbury and her PGCE at Christ Church College, Norma worked in research and personnel management. Since being in the educational sector, she has worked in a range of environments, including teaching foreign students and adults learning English as a second language, Year 6 pupils in mainstream school, of whom a high proportion had special educational needs, and lecturing at GCSE and A level in FE to adults and students with severe and complex disabilities. For six years, she taught at a specialist school for pupils with severe dyslexia and associated conditions of dyspraxia, ASD, ADHD.
Norma was the Dyslexia Adviser and also Specialist Tutor at the University of Kent at Canterbury. She was also Head of the Dyslexia Unit at a Sixth Form College where her responsibilities included diagnostic testing for pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLDs), mentoring students with Asperger’s Syndrome and other disorders, and overseeing Sixth form transfers to FE/HE institutions. Norma also ran staff development days and workshops for parents, and was involved in the LADS trials for Hull University involving the evaluation and monitoring of a computerised SpLDs screening program, for students aged 16+, and later a further project involving the analysis of control groups for a computer screening program for adult dyslexics in Higher Education.
Prior to setting up and running Iona Kent and South East, a DSA-QAG Accredited Assessment Centre, Norma assessed disabled students in HE for numerous London Universities, including the University of Westminster, Imperial College, Royal College of Art, Royal College of Music and The Open University. She was also a QAG Auditor for other Assessment Centres.
Norma founded the DSA Forum SE in 2005 for students, parents, teachers and other professionals and DSA stakeholders supporting disabled students in education. The inauguration of the DSA Forum SE bi-annual Educational Conference followed in 2008, working with AimHigher, local Schools, FE and HE providers and other organisations such as National Autistic Society (AS); Rethink and Mind Mental Health Charities; RNIB/Action for the Blind; Dyslexia East Kent Support (DEKs); Working with Dyslexia and The Professional Association of Teachers of Students with Specific Learning Difficulties (PATOSS).
Norma regularly provides educational assistance and guidance and her time and expertise, pro-bono, within the education domain. Input includes interview panels for disability staff; DSA talks in schools, colleges and organisations and consultancy on Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) for specialist support and strategies, assistive technology and software strategies. Where necessary, assessments for students with no DSA funding have been provided.
James – Iona Kent and South East Needs Assessor & Head of Student Services & Accessibility
(Joined/trained with Iona 2005)
BA English RNIB Cert. Braille RCM Cert.Vis.Imp. MA Philosophy
James is the Head of Student Services & Accessibility at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where he also undertakes assessments for Iona Kent and South East. He has been at Trinity Laban for 10 years and has made a significant impact on the provision for disabled students, gaining specific expertise in supporting visually impaired musicians and students with Asperger’s.
Prior to working at Trinity Laban, James worked for Mencap as a Health and Safety Officer / Tutor and delivered disability awareness training to external organisations. He has also worked as a private tutor for children with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism. James has an MA in Philosophy from the Open University and is also a keen musician.
Elizabeth - Iona Kent and South East Needs Assessor, Disability Adviser and MH Mentor
(Joined/trained with Iona in 2007)
B.A., FCIPD, T Dip IT, HE Certificate in Counselling, MSc Mental Health, PGCE
Elizabeth read English and History at University College Dublin. Following this, she took a graduate Diploma in Business Studies at Rosse College in Dublin. She then moved to London and worked as a Courses Convenor for Birkbeck College. She qualified as a teacher of Information Technology and taught courses in the subject for a few years. Following this she qualified as a member of the Institute of Personnel and Development and moved into personnel/HR managerial roles, initially working for private sector companies, including Reuters Limited and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. Elizabeth then returned to work within education in HR roles within the HE sector, including a number of years as Deputy Director of HR at St George’s, University of London. She was a Director on the Board of Trustees for SAUL (Superannuation Arrangements for University of London) for several years, advising on employment matters. Elizabeth is also a trained mediator and continues to use these skills in aspects of her current work.
She changed career direction some years ago and trained as a counsellor and mental health practitioner while at the same time moving into the areas of counselling, mental health support and disability advice within further and higher education. More recently she qualified as a specialist teacher and assessor. She currently works part-time as a Mental Health and Dyslexia Adviser for the University of London. She also works on a freelance basis in the areas of DSA assessing, mentoring and provision of consultancy advice in regard to disability practice and legislation within both the FE and HE sectors. She has a particular interest in the way that accessing education can promote greater practical and emotional independence for students with mental health difficulties and other disabilities.
Jonathan - Iona Kent and South East, RNIB/Action for Blind People Needs Assessor
(Joined/trained with Iona 2009)
Studies include work towards the Certificate in Health Sciences, which includes courses on Diabetes Care and Understanding the Autistic Spectrum.
Before going on to Higher Education, Jonathan enjoyed time spent travelling and working his way around Europe and Australia. He had the opportunity to assist with UNICEF and VSO work in Ethiopia, as a teaching assistant for local children helping with sport and other activities and also experience and involvement in other charitable work such as water pump installation projects and the ‘Food Run’ in Addis Ababa – the ‘Food Run’ involved nightly delivering of food parcels to homeless children and young people.
After returning to the UK Jonathan studied Business & Marketing at CCCU. He moved to London to work in marketing and corporate training where his responsibilities included travelling to the USA to negotiate contracts with new and existing clients. Jonathan continued to work in the corporate world in London, which gained him valuable experience and many skills but did not offer personal satisfaction.
When offered redundancy, he took the opportunity to restructure and change the direction of his career. Jonathan is an accredited Needs Assessor carrying out assessments for the Iona Centre in Canterbury and the Iona Outreach Centre in Greenwich; he also carries out assessments for the RNIB/Action for Blind People DSA Centre where he completed training for the assessment of students with visual impairment. Ongoing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses and DSA-related training includes Psychometric Testing; ASD/Asperger’s Syndrome and Mental Health. Jonathan has proved to be a valued member of the IONA team.
Lynne - Iona Kent and South East Assessor and HEI Student Support & Wellbeing Manager
(Joined Iona 2009)
BSc (Hons) Psych, BA (Hons) Hum, MEd, Cert Health Sci, Dip ELS, Adv Dip Ed, PGDPSE
Lynne Regan graduated through the Open University with a BA (Honours) in Humanities with English Language and continued her studies obtaining a Diploma in English Language Studies, Advanced Diploma in Child Development and Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Studies in Education, before going on to complete a Masters Degree in Education and BSc (Honours) in Psychology. Recent qualifications include the Certificate in Health Sciences, which included modules on Diabetes Care and the Autistic Spectrum. Lynne is currently studying towards a Masters Degree in Higher Education (completing 2017). Lynne joined IONA in 2009 and in the course of her work as an Assessor, has specialised in physical disability, including assessments of students with Cystic Fibrosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Cerebral Palsy, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, as well as various Specific Learning Difficulties and students with mental health and Autistic Spectrum conditions. Alongside working part-time as an Assessor for Iona Kent and South East, Lynne also works in Higher Education as Student Support & Wellbeing Manager, the remit of which includes the role of Disability Adviser.
Robert - Iona Kent and South East Needs Assessor and MH Mentor
(Joined Iona in 2013)
BA (Hons) Philosophy, MA Philosophy
Robert has spent much time in higher education and continues to study, although his PhD in the Philosophy of Psychopathology is presently awaiting completion because of competing family and professional commitments.
Robert’s career in disability support began twenty years ago when he joined the National Schizophrenia Fellowship (now known as Rethink) as a volunteer. The experience that he gained over six years with the NSF encouraged Robert to combine this with experiences gained as a student in higher education. He subsequently gained employment by the University of Sussex as a mentor to students who were subject to study difficulties associated with mental illness and autism spectrum disorders. Robert followed this by taking a position at the University of Brighton as a mental health support officer. During six years in this role, Robert established and managed what became a thriving mentoring service as well as developing his professional interests in supporting students with mental health difficulties and Asperger’s syndrome. Following a brief episode training and practising as a freelance DSA needs assessor in Southampton Robert returned to mentoring. He continues to work in this area and has recently taken employment with IONA as a freelance DSA assessor.
Anna - Iona Kent and South East, Registered British Sign Language Interpreter (TI) NRCPD Registration ID: 1013649
(Joined/trained with Iona 2008)
BSc (Hons) Sports Science; Project Management Prince2 Practitioner, CACPD Level 1,2,3 and 6 in BSL (British Sign Language), Post Graduate Diploma in Interpreting and Translating.
After completing her BSc (Hons) Sports Science, focusing on Biomechanics, Physiology and Anatomy, Anna moved into Project Management staying within the scientific arena. Building on her career within this field, she became accountable for Research and Development projects on both a European and Global basis. Anna then moved into Freelance Project Management and Business Management where her involvement with Iona began.
Since joining Iona on a freelance basis, Anna has completed DSA Needs Assessor training as well as working with Iona on a corporate level streamlining business processes and creating documentation, including the Assessor and Office Staff Training Programmes and Manual.
With a personal interest in British Sign Language, Anna chose to specialise within the Deaf and Hard of Hearing domain and completed her Post Grad in Interpreting and Translation, graduating in January 2014. She is currently studying to qualify as a Lipspeaker, which comes to fruition at the end of 2017. Present work involves providing interpreting and translation support to Deaf students at University and College level and also for Deaf professionals within the workplace with experience across a range of domains including education, media, film, banking, social services, Deaf awareness and on-the-job training. Anna has additionally had the pleasure of working on Deaf short films, written and directed by up and coming Deaf talent. When Anna isn’t working she has a passion for travel, planning trips around destinations such as China, Ethiopia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cuba and Europe with her sights on Cambodia and India in the near future, incorporating visits to local Deaf schools. With her exposure to such a wide and diverse range of environments and subjects, Anna has a solid understanding and awareness of Deaf students’ needs.
Shirley – Iona Kent and South East
(Joined/trained with Iona 2005)
Adv Cert. Post-Compulsory Ed (Cert.Ed); OCN Supporting Dyslexic Learners; CACDP BSL level 1 & 2; Level 3 Deafblind Communication, Guiding and Awareness; CACDP Deafblind Tutor / Assessor; OCN Adv Dip IT
Shirley has extensive experience practising in the Health, Well-being, Disability and Assistive Technology field. Shirley is a qualified hardware and software technician and has been an approved Disabled Student Allowance Assessor since 2003. She is an experienced Disability Consultant Assessor and works with all areas of disability, including single/dual sensory loss, specific learning disabilities, mental ill health and complex medical conditions.
Shirley is an approved Access to Work, Disabled Student Allowance and Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People (CACDP) Assessor, working with people who have single and multiple complex disabilities. Shirley is also a member of Centre for Accessible Environments CAE, National Association of Disability Officers (NADO) and (CACDP).
The following are also members of the Iona team:
Emily - Assistant Centre Manager
(Joined Iona 2018)
BA (Hons) MA MCLIP
Emily joined Iona in December 2018 as Assistant Centre Manager. She is a qualified, chartered library and information professional with 15 years’ experience in supporting students in the education sector, primarily in further and higher education and latterly in the independent sector.
Emily’s experience encompasses leadership and advocacy; strategy, planning and management; customer focus, service design and marketing; IT and communication. Her background has provided her with library and information professional expertise in the following areas: organising knowledge and information; knowledge and information management; using and exploiting knowledge and information; research skills; information governance and compliance; records management and archiving.
In addition to the above qualifications, Emily holds City and Guilds 7302 Level 3 Certificate in Delivering Learning: an Introduction, NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Conflict Management and BCS Qualifications ITQ and ECDL.
Emily volunteers in the role of Trustee and Secretary of the PTA of her children’s school. She is also a Professional Registration Mentor for CILIP: The library and information association and has recently joined the Kent sub-region committee in a media role.
Sarah - Assessment Co-ordinator
(Joined Iona 2011)
BSc (Hons) Analytical Science; NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health & Safety
Sarah is originally from a research science and quality audit background.
As well as holding a BSc (Hons) in Analytical Science, Sarah holds many diplomas including an HNC for Applied Biology, a General Certificate in Occupational Health & Safety (NEBOSH) Managing Safety Certificate (IOSH); Lean Sigma Yellow Belt and Pitman Training Qualifications in Microsoft Office Plus. In addition, Sarah holds Diplomas in Secretarial, Medical Secretarial; Legal Secretarial; Executive PA; Business IT with HR; Accounting Technician and Office Management.
Before joining Iona, Sarah worked for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Quality Assurance. Over a period of eighteen years, Sarah rose to become Senior Quality Officer for the company. During that time she was a T&G Union Safety Representative and also a founder member of the onsite Ergonomic Improvement Team, carrying out Risk Assessments for COSHH, Manual Handling and General Operations and helping in improvement initiatives for workplace design and lifting technology implementation.
After leaving GSK, Sarah acted as PA to the Managing Director for a computer repair company. It was there she acquired extensive technical knowledge and understanding of computers and technical problems and was able to advise customers on repair options and costs.
Since joining Iona in December 2011, Sarah has obtained in-house accreditation in quality assurance, has attended DSA-related training sessions, which include extensive AT training and has been involved in the organisation of several Iona events. As a committed life-long learner, Sarah has continued with her studies and research to gain an understanding of the medical conditions, physical and learning difficulties faced by students in Higher Education.
Hazel – Administrator / Assistant to Norma Kitson
(Joined Iona 2010)
Hazel was born and brought up in Kenya, speaks Swahili fluently and has a strong affinity with Africa - a place she returns to every year. Having gained her Pitmans and RSA typing and shorthand qualifications, a BHSAI Riding Instructor, Hazel has worked as a PA, Safari guide, cook and also in the retail sector.
Three years ago Hazel gained her CELTA qualification (teaching English as a foreign language to adults) and has worked with children and adults from a wide variety of countries. Since joining IONA in 2010, Hazel has observed assessments, completed Quality Assurance training and taken part in several DSA-related Symposiums and AT training sessions.
Hazel’s range of experience has made her very flexible in her approach to work. She is now well versed in the intricacies, sensitivities and regulations associated with the DSAs and has a wealth of experience dealing with student queries and liaising with parents, students, educational and DSA-related organisations, such as NADP, NNAC, Funding Bodies and Further / Higher Educational Establishments.
Augusta - Administrator
(Joined/trained with Iona in 2015)
Augusta had been providing administrative support at the Oaks Nursery and at Kent Union Mandela Building. She has a Law Degree and a Masters in International Conflict Analysis, both from the University of Kent. Augusta has a strong connection with Kent and the University and extensive experience supporting students and young people. She previously worked as an Outreach and Recruitment Ambassador at the University of Kent and an Academic Peer Mentor at the Kent Law School, and recently moved to London to start a new position as a Youth Advocate at Just for Kids Law. She also has a passion for volunteering and helping others; her previous roles include sitting at the Kent Union HR Committee Board and three years of experience working at the Kent Law Clinic. Augusta continues to be a dedicated member of Iona’s staff team and supports with administrative tasks, outreach, marketing and training.
Sue – Quality Assurance/Administration
(Joined/trained with Iona 2005)
Sue took a degree in Mathematics at Edinburgh University and worked for some years in the Financial Sector of the City of London before moving to Kent. For a while she taught EFL before moving into the educational sector as secretary, and latterly administrator, in a specialist school for children with SpLDs. In the course of her work, she has prepared many books, papers and reports on dyslexic people, as well as working with them every day, and she has a thorough knowledge of the problems they encounter.
Kirsty - Administration Assistant
(Joined/trained with Iona August 2016)
Kirsty has extensive administrative and secretarial experience, having worked in a variety of roles before joining IONA in 2016. Her broad-ranging work experience has given her an excellent grounding in all facets of office organisation. Kirsty is helpful and efficient and has admirable inter-personal skills.
During a career break, while her children were small, Kirsty took part in research, at the University of Kent, into changing mental health stigma. Kirsty gained a great deal of insight into mental health problems and this cultivated her interest in attending conferences and related events on children’s mental health services.
Kirsty's son has ADHD and also had speech delay as a young child, which resulted in regular attendance at speech therapy sessions over a two year period.
More recently, Kirsty was invited to contribute background information for a friend, regarding a diagnostic assessment for Asperger's. This was carried out by the Tizard Centre at the University of Kent, in Canterbury.
Kirsty is well-placed to utilise her skills and personal experience to guide and support students and parents through the DSA application process.