Co-Directors

Liz Robinson

Liz is a school and system leader, working to ‘change the story’ about how education is delivered in England. As head teacher of Surrey Square in Southwark for 13 years, Liz used values as a key driver to redefine the purpose of the school and radically reshape the teaching approaches. The school was judged Outstanding by Ofsted and is widely celebrated for its work, serving a highly challenged community. 

As a National Leader of Education, Liz worked with many schools to develop practice and raise standards. 

Since September 2018, Liz has worked as co-founder and co-director of Big Education, a new organisation running schools and programmes to inspire and provoke change in the sector. She created The Big Leadership Adventure, a flagship programme supporting changemaker leaders in the sector. 

Liz has a particular interest in developing values-led leadership, and has worked extensively as a speaker, trainer and coach. She is passionate about asking bigger questions about what school can or should be about and finding new ways of working. Liz is a Trustee for the National Literacy Trust. As mum to two young girls, Liz works flexibly to manage her roles.

Peter Hyman

Peter is the co-founder and the first headteacher of School 21, a pioneering 4 to 18 school that opened in Stratford, East London in 2012. The school has a growing reputation for developing oracy (speaking) skills having set up Voice 21, a charity working with more than 400 schools across the country. It has also developed sophisticated programmes for real world learning and wellbeing.

For nine years to 2003, Peter worked as a strategist and speechwriter to the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. He left to become a teaching assistant in a challenging Islington school, before training as a history teacher and working his way up to become a headteacher. He is author of 1 out of 10, from Downing Street Vision to Classroom Reality.

Heads of Schools

Dr Nicola A Mason Headteacher of School 21

Educated in the comprehensive system, attending an 11-16 secondary school and then sixth form college in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, Nicola was lucky enough to attend a school with a one to one instrument programme where her love of music was generated. Outreach programmes with institutions such as the Royal College of Music allowed her to develop an aspiration for higher education providing the encouragement to be the first in her family to attend University.

After completing a Biology degree at Queen Mary and Westfield College, Nicola was awarded a Royal Postgraduate Medical School Scholarship, undertaking medical research with pioneering scientists, the late Dame Julia Polak and Sir Professor Magdi Yacoub investigating factors contributing to post-lung transplant success. Following the award of a PhD in 1999, Nicola continued with post-doctoral research at Imperial College researching pharmacological interventions for lung and heart disease.

Following teacher training at the Institute of Education in London with placements in schools in Camberwell and Kingston, Nicola started her teaching career at Tiffin Girls’ School. This was followed by five years teaching and leading at Ryde High School (now Ryde Academy) on the Isle of Wight. With a desire to broaden her horizons and teaching experience Nicola relocated to Malaysia, where she was Head of Science and then Deputy Head before being promoted to Head of Secondary School at Garden International School in Kuala Lumpur. Garden International has a reputation for innovation, skills-based learning and high quality professional learning and educates children with over 70 different nationalities. After 8 years in Malaysia Nicola relocated to Portugal to take up the Headship at St Julian’s School in Lisbon, Portugal. St Julian’s is a leading British International school in Europe, with over 45 different nationalities and a reputation for strong academic results as part of an inclusive, holistic approach to education.

She is extremely excited about starting her role as Headteacher of School 21 after watching its progress from afar for some time. School 21 resonated with her for its strong core purpose of empowering young people to take on the world, its commitment to innovative practices and to changing the shape of education in the UK. She is a passionate believer in the power of education to make a difference in the world and is very much looking forward to taking the school on the next steps in its journey as a key part of the Big Education Trust.

Nicola has always loved London, valuing the amazingly rich cultural diversity. She is really excited about relocating back to the UK and ‘squaring the circle’ – getting back to London where she ‘grew up’ as both an adult and educator.

Nicola Noble
Co-Headteacher of Surrey Square Primary School

Nicola is the head of Surrey Square Primary School, having worked as co-head with Liz Robinson since 2014. Nicola is a passionate teacher, rooted in the potential of every child, and always looking for engaging and meaningful contexts for learning. Among many things, she has lead the development of Surrey Square’s approach to ‘REAL’ project based learning, and brought the values to life with the design of the values characters.

Nicola has worked extensively as a coach and trainer, notably devising and running a DfE funded programme for women leaders, with the Southwark Teaching School Alliance in 2016-18. She is Trustee for the food poverty charity Magic Breakfast. Nicola is mum to two young children and works flexibly in her role.

Matt Morden
Co-Headteacher of Surrey Square Primary School

Matt joined Surrey Square back in 2015 as Deputy Head Teacher and moved into the role of Co-Head Teacher in 2019 alongside Nicola Noble. Matt is passionate about the education of children in the primary phase. He has worked in a number of schools and has developed curriculum content which is relevant to the context of the schools he has worked in.

Matt believes that it is our responsibility as educators to give all children the tools to be able to thrive in life. At SSQ, we call this personal and academic excellence; ensuring that there is a high focus on the personal excellence – developing the character traits that we believe and know make successful citizens of the future – is essential.

Matt is currently part of the Big Leadership Adventure, working with other leaders in the profession who are passionate about changing the story of education – offering a richer curriculum and “bigger” education for all children.

Andrea Silvain 
Co-Headteacher of
School 360

Andrea trained as a primary school teacher and has worked in education for the last 12 years. She was born in Newham and has spent her career working in and around East London.

Prior to teaching, Andrea worked at the BBC and in theatre in diverse roles that have provided opportunities that enhance her skills as an educator and leader. She is an advocate of the Arts and worked as a Stage Manager in theatrical productions across the country. Using creativity-driven thinking, Andrea enjoys crafting the big picture and shaping this into an on the ground reality. This has directly translated into her work building and developing the Middle School at School 21, where, as Deputy Head, she specialises in wellbeing and embedding school culture.

Andrea is a skilled teacher and holds a particular interest in the Early Years and is passionate about the development of the whole child – head, heart and hand. Her drive and passion centres around social mobility, equality and the empowerment of young people. She thrives on developing those around her and being authentically engaged within all aspects of the community she serves.

The opportunity to build Big Education’s New Primary as co-headteacher is an incredibly exciting next step in her journey.

Sarah Seleznyov
Co-Headteacher of
School 360

Sarah Seleznyov has worked in London schools for over 25 years. She has been a Deputy Head, a School Improvement Consultant and still works as a School Improvement Partner. Before leading the alliance, she worked at The London Centre for Leadership in Learning, UCL Institute of Education, where she designed and led a range of research-informed programmes for school leaders and teacher enquiry projects. She also acted as a facilitator on the National Professional Qualification for Executive Leaders.

During her career, Sarah has also worked for the Fischer Family Trust and the National Literacy Trust. She is a specialist maths tutor on the Cognitive Acceleration research project based at King’s College University: www.letsthink.org.uk.

Sarah’s research specialism is Japanese lesson study, and she has published widely on the use of lesson study outside Japan. She is a member of the Collaborative Lesson Research UK group. She is very excited to be shaping the new Big Education primary school.