Inclusion & Wellbeing MENA 2020 - Speakers

Wednesday 5 Feb 2020 - Thursday 6 Feb 2020
Crowne Plaza Dubai, UAE

Emma Dibden, Inclusion Champion, JESS Schools

Emma was a mainstream class teacher in the UK for 7 years, after which she trained as a Reading Recovery teacher and Better Reading Partnership trainer. Following her move to Dubai in 2012, Emma completed the National Award for SEN Coordination and in 2014 became Head of Learning Support at Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS).  In September of this year she was given the responsibility to lead inclusive education provision across the JESS schools (3-18) as their Inclusion Champion.  Emma has presented and written case studies for GL, Education Journal Middle East, Informa, Incluvision, Teach Middle East, TextHelp, Cricksoft and Independent Education Today.

Ashley Green, Wellbeing Coordinator, JESS

Ashley has found a way to amalgamate her passions for both education and for the wellbeing of children with a particular focus on mindfulness. She has recently launched a website,, as a platform for educators and parents alike to share mindfulness and wellbeing activities and ideas, all to help young children develop an awareness that prepares them for life's occurrences.

Victoria Mckeown

Victoria has an MA in Psychology from Edinburgh University.  From her studies she gained a deep interest in child development and in turn this led to a career in teaching.  Having lived in the region for 25 years, she has spent most of that time working in schools in Dubai, Bahrain and KSA.  At the forefront of Victoria's philosophy in leading inclusive provision at Regent International School is her underlying desire to approach inclusion from a holistic perspective and the understanding that anxiety is often a significant component for many children facing challenges in school.  She supports a holistic approach to anxiety, recognising that there is no simple 'answer' to overcoming the symptoms of anxiety has but, rather,  there are many small steps which combine to reduce the impact of anxiety on a person's daily living.

Catherine O’Farrell (PGCBA, BSc-Psych, B-Ed), Psychologist and Consultant

Catherine O’Farrell (PGCBA, BSc-Psych, B-Ed) is an experienced psychologist & consultant. She has worked in educational and medical institutions across Ireland, UK, Australia and the UAE for over 15 years. She is currently a Group Head for the Athena Group in Dubai and Director of Phase 2 for the Dubai Inclusion Network.

Natalie Packer, Independent Education Consultant, SEND

Natalie is a UK based Independent Education Consultant focusing on SEN and school improvement. She develops and delivers a wide range of training and support to schools and other organisations nationally and internationally. Natalie is an Associate Consultant for the national association of SEN (nasen) and supports the Whole School SEND (WSS) review process. Natalie is also a consultant governor for the School of Research Science (SRS) in Dubai and a trustee of a multi-academy trust in the UK.  Natalie has previously worked alongside the UK Department for Education (DfE) and as a local authority Adviser for SEN

Lorraine Peterson OBE, Director of Chadsgrove Teaching School Alliance

Lorraine has 25 years’ experience in the mainstream school environment as a teacher and Head Teacher. From 2004 – 2013 Lorraine was CEO of nasen, a charitable organisation supporting all those who work with children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.Lorraine in currently Director of Chadsgrove Teaching School Alliance and is a Governor at Chadsgrove School. Lorraine has recently qualified as a Mental Health First Aider Instructor.

Dr Ruba Tabari, Educational Psychologist and Teacher

Dr Ruba Tabari is a British trained educational Psychologist and qualified teacher. She obtained her doctoral degree from University College London in 2012 with a focus on school development and reform.  She has close to twenty five years’ experience in the field. Dr Tabari has worked with a vast array of schools and institutions in the UK and the Gulf region. Her experience covers all aspects of child and education psychology work. She has led and contributed to a number of working groups on matters such as child protection and effective inclusion. Dr Tabari has extensive experience in case management leading multi professional teams in highly complex cases.

Ayukta Thakur, Co-Founder and Education Development, Integreat Center

A passionate SEND educator and a proud entrepreneur, Ayukta has been in the Special Needs field since 2012. Ayukta was raised in Kobe, Japan and completed her Undergraduate in Communication & Media Studies from Northeastern University, Boston, United States of America. Soon after Ayukta received a Diploma in Special Education Needs Support. And Ayukta currently completed her Master’s in Science in Mental Health Psychology from the University of Liverpool. Her thesis analyzed the psychosocial wellbeing of neurotypical siblings who grew up with a sibling with special needs.


Keep an eye out here: more speakers to be announced soon