March 20th 2018 | Sheraton Hotel, Edinburgh


Shirley-Anne Somerville

MSP for Further Education, Higher Education and Science

Shirley-Anne Somerville returned to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 as the member for the Dunfermline constituency after previously serving as an MSP for the Lothians region from 2007 to 2011.

Educated at Kirkcaldy High School, she then graduated from the University of Strathclyde with a BA (Hons) in Economics and Politics (1996), followed by a Diploma in Housing Studies at the University of Stirling and a Diploma in Public Relations from Queen Margaret University College.

She has worked as a parliamentary researcher, a Policy and Public Affairs Officer at the Chartered Institute of Housing and as a Media and Campaigns Officer at the Royal College of Nursing.

Ms Somerville’s appointment as Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science is her first Ministerial role.

Stephanie Ebert

Head of Outreach, HYPED

Stephanie Ebert is part of the University of Edinburgh Hyperloop Team who built the first UK prototype of the 750mph mag lev proposed by Elon Musk. Stephanie is a second year civil engineer leading the outreach project – given the inspirational potential of the hyperloop technology, the outreach programme presents how studying STEM subjects could lead to one day being part of building that innovative system. By engaging pupils into hands-on activity related to designing, planning and operating a transport link, the programme underscores the societal impacts that a STEM career can deliver. The final aim is to encourage more 11 to 13 year old girls to choose STEM subjects for National 5’s/GCSEs.

Professor Phillip John

Executive Chair, SCHOLAR, Heriot-Watt Unviersity

Phillip John BSc, PhD, DSc is Professor of Chemistry and former Senior Dean of Heriot-Watt University.  He has a substantive research record and given numerous invited lectures at national and international conferences.

Apart from his teaching, research and administrative duties he has, since the inception of SCHOLAR in 1999 headed the academic development team and, since 2003, been Executive Chair of SCHOLAR ( which currently provides innovative online courses to all 32 Education Authorities, 5 Regional Colleges and 33 independent schools in Scotland.

Recently SCHOLAR has completed a major multi-million pound enhancement of National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher Maths, Sciences, Languages and Business subjects (33 courses).  A complete suite of National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher English courses was published in August 2016.

Phillip has been a founder member and former Chair of the burgeoning international e-Assessment Association which has over one thousand individual members and twenty corporate members. 

SCHOLAR is playing a key role in delivering the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) led by the Australian Council for Educational Research with Twig World as the other partner.  SCHOLAR is responsible for the provision of SNSA professional development training for teachers from nearly 3,500 schools across Scotland.

Sally Maidment

Education Engagement Co-ordinator, Material World/Scottish Textile Skills Partnership

As Education Engagement Co-ordinator at the Scottish Textiles Skills Partnership, Sally worked with industry, schools, colleges and universities to close skills gaps in the textiles, leather and fashion sectors in Scotland.  She led a programme of school activities, teacher training, masterclasses for students and staff, and industry/education collaboration events.

The online resource Material World was developed in consultation with teachers and companies to exploit the learning opportunities in textiles across the STEM and creative subjects. Through the use of video content and links to My World of Work the resource links learning experiences directly to jobs and skills required by employers in the workplace.

Sally has extensive experience as a project coordinator in the arts, higher education, community and health sectors, and has worked in Scotland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Spain, Cyprus and Malta.

Lizzy Jenkins

Education Liaison Officer and Reach Coordinator, University of St Andrews

I was a pupil from a local Fife school who participated in two of the University of St Andrews’ widening access programmes – First Chances and Reach.

After securing a place as a student at St Andrews, I volunteered as a student ambassador, mentoring pupils on the projects and helping at events.  In my final year, I worked as Vice Principal for Widening Participation, where I had further involvement in the projects.  These experiences allowed me to develop the skills that I needed after graduating for my current role as Reach Project Coordinator.  As education and widening access is so important to me, I will be continuing in a slightly different strand of this work as I look forward to training as a Primary School Teacher after this academic year.

Jo Blewett

Programme Manager, A9 Dualling Programme

Jo Blewett is the Programme Manager for the A9 Dualling  and has worked for Transport Scotland for 12 years within the Planning and Design team. Jo has a PhD in Geotechnical Engineering and more than 20 years-experience in Private and Public Sector Civil Engineering. Jo is a board member of the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre.

Christine Percival

CEO, The Knowledge Exchange Partnership

Christine is CEO of The Knowledge Exchange Partnership – (KEeP). KEeP is the Educational Consultant for The A9 Dualling Project – (Academy9) and The Queensferry Crossing.

Previously she was a teacher, teacher educator and course director at The University of Strathclyde, and a Curriculum Development Officer at (SCCC) now Education Scotland. Christine pioneered ‘Challenge in Learning’ at Strathclyde, leading the Innovative Routes to Learning team from 1999-2010. During this time she inspired and directed the accredited Summer Academy @ Strathclyde, a multi- education authority initiative to widen access to Higher Education and close the attainment gap, for which she was awarded an MBE for services to Education. Her work has been replicated in several European countries.

Grant Kearney

Depute Head Teacher, Pitlochry High School

Grant is Depute Head Teacher at Pitlochry High School and in this role has been involved with the Academy 9 project from the beginning.  Previously he was a Faculty Head of Design & Technology, Principal Teacher of Technology and a class teacher. 

Grant has also worked as a Mechanical Engineer, Fabricator and in the Construction Industry and still remains active in these areas.  He greatly values the importance of STEM subjects and is currently working on Career development in the STEM sector as part of the Developing Young Workforce strategy.

Cameron Grant Coupar

STEM Ambassador and Graduate Bridge Engineer, Jacobs

Cameron Coupar is a Graduate Bridge Engineer working in the Jacobs Glasgow Office. Cameron graduated from the University of Dundee in 2016 with an MEng in Civil Engineering, Design and Management. He started at Jacobs in September 2016 and is responsible for the production of a number of specimen design calculations and cost estimates for structures on the A9 Dualling Scheme.  

Cameron Coupar is a Graduate Bridge Engineer working in the Jacobs Glasgow Office. Cameron graduated from the University of Dundee in 2016 with an MEng in Civil Engineering, Design and Management. He started at Jacobs in September 2016 and is responsible for the production of a number of specimen design calculations and cost estimates for structures on the A9 Dualling Scheme.  

Dr Ollie Folayan

Chair, The Association for BME Engineers

Ollie Folayan is a chartered chemical engineer working in the energy industry and chairperson of the award-winning AFBE-UK Scotland. Ollie graduated with a BEng in Chemical Process Engineering with Fuel Technology from the University of Sheffield in 1999 and then earned a Doctorate (PhD) in Fuels and Combustion from University of Leeds in 2002 authoring five international publications in the field of combustion and engineering. To date Ollie has worked on Major CAPEX Front End Engineering Design, Detailed Design and commissioning Projects. 

Ollie has championed successful outreach programmes such as Making Engineering Hot, NextGen (Scotland), Transition and  Real Projects and has co-authored two publications on the influence of role models in the transition from academic study to the workplace and on the sustainability of the engineering profession in the UK.

In addition Ollie has also been involved with a number of successful community initiatives through organisations such as Shell and the Royal Academy of Engineering. Ollie has chaired a number of AFBE-UK annual seminars featuring key industry leaders and politicians and is a regular speaker at events on varied engineering topics.

Ollie is an avid sports fan and has other interests including singing, mentoring and reading on various subjects.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

President, Royal Society of Edinburgh

Jocelyn Bell Burnell inadvertently discovered pulsars as a graduate student in radio astronomy in Cambridge, opening up a new branch of astrophysics - work recognised by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor.

She has subsequently worked in many roles in many branches of astronomy, working part-time while raising a family. She is now a Visiting Professor in Oxford, a Pro-Chancellor of Trinity College Dublin, and (the first female) President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh – Scotland’s National Academy.

Much in demand as a speaker and broadcaster, in her spare time she gardens, listens to choral music and is active in the Quakers. She has co-edited an anthology of poetry with an astronomical theme – ‘Dark Matter; Poems of Space’.

Sarah Brown

Head Teacher, Kinross High School

A graduate from Strathclyde University, Sarah started her working life as a technologist with United Biscuits.  After working in factories and laboratories across England, she returned to Scotland where she retrained as a Chemistry Teacher. 

Sarah enjoyed passing on her love of science to young people through Chemistry and Science.  As a Principal Teacher and Curriculum Leader she developed the science curriculum to provide opportunities for hands on science.  She was passionate about finding opportunities to enrich the experience of young people through science clubs, industrial visits and competitions.  She completed a Masters Qualification which included Science Education and was involved in practitioner enquiry inspired by Science inside the black box.

As a Headteacher at Kinross High School, a large comprehensive school, Sarah has the opportunity to support her colleagues develop the pupil experience across STEM subjects.  The school now offers a programme for all S2 pupils in partnership with STEM employers and actively promotes STEM opportunities.  The school has recently acquired a plane which will be built, by pupils, in partnership with Aerospace Kinross.