Meet The Team
The School of English and Culture is headed by a team of outstanding teachers who between them have a wealth of experience in language schools and other teaching environments, along with a passion for delivering innovative and exciting learning experiences for young people. It is a unique strength of the School that this team of teachers will also provide the pastoral care in the boarding houses – they believe strongly in the idea of a holistic education in which teachers and students work together inside the classroom and live together outside it in a dynamic, exciting environment designed to maximise the learning experience and help the students to reach their potential.
Sam Ponsford, Director of the School of English and Culture
Sam has taught English as a foreign language for many years both in the UK and in his current home of Galicia, North West Spain. Having grown up in Marlborough and attended the College he went on to work with young people in a diverse range of educational contexts. These have included residential schools, care homes and in the outdoors, where his love for adventurous activities has allowed him to help students to grow in confidence. He takes great pleasure in bringing together his many passions and interests to create memorable and enriching educational experiences that are of use far beyond the classroom. He brings this approach to his role as Director of The School of English and Culture to create a course that is dynamic, engaging and inspiring for the students and that they will remember long after the course has finished.
Tom Burgess, Head of Activities
Tom has a wide range of experience working with young people in different learning environments; from teaching English as a foreign language in Thailand, to working as a Housemaster in a boarding school. Tom’s expertise is using the outdoors to engage people in meaningful and memorable experiences. A background in play and youth work means Tom has an arsenal of fun activities that can be employed to inspire personal development and promote positive relationships. Tom brings together all of his huge range of talents, interests and inspiration to design and deliver an extra-curricular programme of activities and excursions that ensures all students have a truly memorable experience during their time in Marlborough. If you wish to develop your creativity, adventurous spirit and sense of fun, Tom and his programme will make sure you're not disappointed.
Grace Swordy - Head of Open Minds
Grace is a facilitator, educator and theatre practitioner who has worked with young people and diverse community groups on a range of projects and performances. Excited by questioning human experience and political issues though art and group response, she loves running workshops and creating original work with groups on the issues that are important to them. Over the last two years, Grace has been working in Bristol on a national disability and community heritage project, as well as running a youth theatre. Alongside this she has run workshops and events for 5x5x5=creativity, Bristol City Council and festivals, engaging with the outdoors, art and learning. Previously, Grace was the education officer for MED Theatre in Devon. She has worked as a facilitator and company manager for the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain for over four years and assistant directed with The Common Players. She has put on shows in England and Barcelona with her two theatre companies, The House Party Collective and Dustyapple Theatre Company. She worked teaching English for two years in Spain and developed innovative drama and art techniques for young people's education projects. Grace is incredibly excited to be guiding the Open Minds course as it develops and to be working with such an inspiring team of tutors.
Nicola Mitchell - Head of Learn English
Nicola has worked as an English teacher and manager for over 12 years in the UK and Spain and is enthusiastic about educating and caring for young people. Having studied her degree in modern languages, Nicola has a profound understanding of language acquisition and grammar and applies this knowledge to her pedagogic approach.
Nicola has trained and professionally developed teachers for over a decade and has given workshops and presentations on a wide range of topics related to English language teaching. She is also unceasingly curious and as a result, is always interested in experimenting with innovative methodologies and cutting-edge, educational technology. This, however, is achieved whilst always sticking to her core educational principles of the development of a love of learning, a focus on authentic communication and the creation of a safe space where the students feel comfortable expressing themselves freely.
As a mother of two young girls, Nicola understands the importance of a nurturing environment and strives to create a homely atmosphere for the students at camp. She is creative and has a passion for the arts, which she believes is a great medium for developing self-confidence and harvesting imaginative and independent ideas.
Nicola is excited to be able to combine her maternal instinct with her passion for education and language in her role at the School of English and Culture.
Susie Ponsford - Learn English
Susie began her teaching career in Colombia, teaching English as a foreign language to children with Fundacion Mariposas Amarillas. This instilled in her a passion for language and the experience of other cultures. She has continued to pursue these interests in her current role as an English teacher in Galicia, Northern Spain, where she teaches a range of ages and abilities. In recent years she has worked as a manager of an academy, in which she has enjoyed creating new syllabuses for students and leading professional development seminars for her colleagues. Susie has a keen interest in literature and creative writing which she believes can be a valuable addition to the EFL classroom and has used to great effect in previous summer schools at the Liverpool School of English and Liverpool International Language Academy.
Ed Mishan - Learn English
Ed is an English teacher currently working with professionals in Madrid. He creates fun classroom environments in order to provide the best platform for improving fluency and understanding in the language. He believes the best way to learn a language is through engaging with the student's passions and interests, while relating the learning experience to understanding a deeper meaning in the world around us. Ed is also passionate about sports and plays rugby and football in his spare time. He has coached youth football and led physical education classes for children with special needs in Dallas, Texas. He finds that sports can be a great tool for learning. Ed is a history graduate and still maintains a strong passion for the subject, he is particularly interested in how our history's social purpose relates to our current lives and the decisions we make. He's excited to be returning to the team this year, and looks forward to contributing to all aspects of the course both in and outside the classroom.
Steve Howe - Learn English
Steve hails from the UK but lives and works in Barcelona, Spain. He has spent 6 years working with young learners in the UK, Spain and Italy and as a teacher and activities coordinator he has a wide range of skills to make sure students are able to make the most of their time inside and outside the classroom. He believes in engaging with individual student's personalities and interests and tailoring classes to bring English into their everyday lives. His own interests are drawing funny pictures and climbing big rocks and he enjoys any opportunity to bring those interests into the classroom too. In his work at SEC he particularly relishes the challenge of bringing the English language alive through dynamic discussion and debate and loves the opportunity to really help the students to reflect on their lives and the world around them whilst developing their language skills.
Lerato Islam - Learn English and Creative Expert
Lerato Islam is a freelance youth drama practitioner and director in London, where she has been living for the past 2 years. After completing her studies at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, she now works with various youth theatre groups across London, at venues such as the Kiln Theatre, the Arcola and Theatre Peckham. Lerato combines her theatrical training with her passion for education in her work as a co-facilitator on a Creative ESOL scheme- Drama through English- where she teaches English as a second language to migrants. Lerato delivers fun, high energy classes focussed on confidence and self-expression, and specialises in devising plays alongside her groups. Her hobbies include cooking and Japanese anime, and she is proficient in French and Portuguese
Thom Glinch - Learn English
Thom is originally from Leeds, Yorkshire but has been teaching English in Barcelona for the last seven years. Thom enjoys working with students of all abilities, finding ways to unlock their English potential through communicative, diverse and entertaining classes that make full use of his unique brand of humour. In his spare time he enjoys watching- rather than participating in- sport, though he is partial to a game of football. He also enjoys cooking to the best of his abilities and eating out when those abilities fail him. When not in the classroom, he takes the opportunity to travel as much as possible to experience new cultures and meet new people.
Maya Rainey - Learn English
Maya began TESOL in southern Spain in 2010 and continued to teach English in Galicia for 5 years. She moved home to the UK in 2015 when she was diagnosed with cancer, where she maintained her mindful attitude and positive spirit. She is delighted to say that she is now cancer free and currently teaching Spanish near Birmingham in the UK. Maya does lots of charity work both in and out of school and is very proud to have raised over £2,500 for Cancer Research since her diagnosis.
Maya believes the best way to teach young people is through creating strong, positive relationships with her students from the very beginning of their learning journey. She has always felt passionate about creating a dynamic classroom environment and her students feel safe and supported to take risks with new language. They also feel nurtured through the difficulties of learning languages and Maya enjoys challenging her students to ensure they reach their full potential.
Maya loves to spot those easy-to-miss, beautiful moments, capturing them through her experimental photography. She has a love of modern poetry, soul music, and expressing her creativity through cooking and crafts. Maya always strives to find inspiration in all the positive elements of life, both for herself and others around her.
Maya is very excited to be joining the team this year and looking forward to learning with and from everyone involved in these courses.
Oliver Bancroft - Open Minds
Oliver is an artist, filmmaker and facilitator based in London. As an artist, Oliver has worked creatively in a wide variety of mediums – oil paint, celluloid film and digital in particular. His work has been exhibited worldwide including in Zimbabwe, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and across the UK.
Oliver’s work draws on a wide range of influences from early renaissance altar pieces and the fantastical landscapes of Hieronymus Bosch to cartoon drawings by the likes of Philip Guston and the paintings that cats make!
As a facilitator, Oliver has worked with a wide spectrum of people. He believes that the creative process can be a catalyst for people to improve their lives and this inspires him in his work developing people’s creativity.
Oliver brings his enormous depth of film-making experience and his infectious enthusiasm to the Open Minds course to create a truly remarkable experience.
You can click here for more information on Oliver's work.
You can click here for more information on Oliver's work.
Will Golding - Open Minds
Will is a community education worker, currently based in Scotland. He has worked for several years in a variety of educational contexts; in Scotland, the Basque Country and the United Arab Emirates. These include; Adult Education (community-based, literacy, ESOL and University lectures); Youth Work (summer schools, school-based, youth clubs, project-based and political/critical literacy); Science Communication, and Community Development work.
A key part of his practice is working alongside communities, to build on existing experiences and knowledge, and to use this to act on social issues. He's excited to be working with a dynamic team of practitioners at Marlborough that brings together a love, commitment and shared understanding of experiential education. He believes in education as a source of hope, curiosity, motivation, and the means to imagine new possibilities and act on these, engaging the 'Head, Heart and Hand', throughout.
'We risk ourselves in creation', and it is through the ever-renewed act of creation in collaborative educational pursuit that Will aims to work. Will is also the Chairperson for a charity that is creating a community-owned and run Centre for Outdoor-Based Learning, Eating and Exercise in Edinburgh.
Giuls Bianchini - Open Minds
Giulia is a theatre practitioner, with over ten years of experience directing, facilitating and producing arts projects with people. Giulia likes people, and the way theatre can allow people to unite, share and ultimately understand one another a little more.
Giulia has worked in creative learning since graduating in Drama and Spanish from the University of Bristol in 2010. Through her experience Giulia has worked on a wealth of devised projects with people of different ages, abilities and worldly walks in the UK, Mexico and Spain, with companies including The British Council, Travelling Light Theatre Company, Dragonbird Theatre, Bamboozle Theatre Company, Bristol Drugs Project and Wyldwood Arts.
Central to her practice is the creation of a safe, open space for free expression. Giulia also regularly works in therapeutic arts settings and outdoor education, and has been involved in the charity Forest School Camps since she was 12.
Beth Godfrey - Open Minds
Beth Godfrey is an actress, communicator, and writer and often works where education, creativity, and community meet. She is passionate about words, about people, and about work that moves, inspires and adds value.
As a performer she has performed to critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe, been a street performer in Abu Dhabi, deviser and actor on interactive site-specific theatre events for major Scottish festivals, toured the length of Scotland delivering Educational Theatre for children, and performed in a tiny caravan in Northern France at Le Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes.
As a writer, Beth has written scripts for Strange Town Youth Theatre which were performed at The Scottish Storytelling Centre and been published by Oxford University Press in One of their English Starter Plus textbooks. Beth has performed her Spoken Word at poetry and music gigs, community events and curated house parties. One of her most satisfying creative experiences is the electric train ride when the whole room is united in their connection to the present, to the story.
As a Facilitator, she has been a development tutor/arts leader at The Princes Trust, taught improv to international university and high school students to promote fluency and worked with the Children's Parliament to help children lead workshops on their perception of Human Dignity. Beth has lead arts workshops in a refugee camp in Greece and been a storyteller for teenagers at creativity camps in England with LifeBEAT and Embercombe.
Ari Cantwell - Open Minds
Ari Cantwell currently runs the Coexist Community Kitchen at Hamilton House- this is a non-profit cookery school where the team uses food as a way of bringing people together and as a vehicle to combat issues such as social isolation, low self-esteem, and marginalisation as well as just having fun!
Ari's background is in the social sciences and community projects. Having just completed an MA in Applied Anthropology and Community Development at Goldsmiths in London, she feels that it is important to integrate theory and practice in order to address issues in our society in a holistic manner. However, she also feels that you cannot do any of this if it isn't integrated with colour, fun and tasty foods!
Ari has worked with young people from all over the world and facilitated education projects and camps in diverse locations. She is looking forward to bringing her knowledge of community connection and empathetic activism to her module looking at how social media continues to shape human interactions.
Christopher Harrisson - Open Minds
Christopher Harrisson is a theatre maker, writer and illustrator based in Bristol. He trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris and ran the award-winning theatre company Rhum and Clay between 2011 and 2016. He now makes solo performance, including the critically acclaimed The North! The North! and Film de Mime, and works with others as a director, performer and illustrator/animator.
Phoebe Cottam - Open Minds
Phoebe is a filmmaker from Scotland, based in London. She has made documentaries, music videos, campaign films and video art. Her film 'Hold' was shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival, London Short Film Festival and won Best Documentary at Cheap Cuts Festival in 2018.
Alex Day - Creative Expert
Alex Day is an artist, graphic designer and workshop facilitator. He has led creative workshops for all ages at Central St Martins, Bristol Museum, Affordable Art Fair, Hampstead School of Art, and East Bristol Contemporary; spanning subjects such as clay sculpture, zine making and costume design. His workshops emphasise an experimental approach, involve modern technologies and collaboration. They provide a safe and supportive environment to experiment with new processes and ways of thinking. His own practice involves digital media, drawing, print making and collage. He has shown work for 24JAM and PAPER Arts at The Island, Space, Trinity Centre and The Old Fire Station in Bristol. He currently works as the art director for Oscilla Sound. alexander007.com