About Us

Toucan Education was founded in 2016 by Philippa Vince, born out of a passion for understanding the complexities of how children learn and a determination to ensure everyone has access to the help and support they deserve.

After 20 years of teaching, the last 10 of which were in a specialist behaviour provision, Philippa had developed her classroom teaching to extend into leadership as a deputy head, SEN as a SENDCO and dyslexia specialist as well as being observed by OFSTED as outstanding. Keen to find ways of supporting children with additional needs, Philippa left her much loved job and started her own business to support children and adults throughout the North East.

Initially providing dyslexia assessment and consultancy for schools over the last three years the services she provides have expanded and diversified. Philippa delivers training across the country and internationally, provides assessments for adults and children, works within schools providing specialist support for children and dyslexia diagnosis. Last year Philippa held a successful training day with renowned dyslexia specialist Neil Mackay, and a very recent hugely successful day on dyscalculia. Keen to work alongside schools and families Philippa’s desire to improve provision and training in the North East for SEN has grown.

Philippa became increasingly concerned at the number of dyslexic children being put forward for tutoring and assessments. Aware that these children work extremely hard during their school day she felt for them that they then had to work even more outside of school. After a huge amount of research Philippa decided to launch the Toucan alternative provision offering an affordable option for schools and families to help support children. The options at the Toucan AP is to provide a maximum of two full day sessions – the maximum hours allowed is 17 (each one lasting 2.5 hours) led by a dyslexia specialist teacher, a teacher and two assistants with a maximum of ten children. Some sessions will include a speech and language therapist or occupational therapist and there is an option for bespoke 1:1 or 1:2 support.

Philippa now has a wealth of specialists working alongside her including occupational therapy, speech and language, child yoga, autism specialist and more. All of these specialists will be incorporated into a programme that fully meets the need of each individual child. This will provide a bespoke package that will support many children.

Toucan Education works with individual children with contracts with the local Authority. A forest school in Ryton is also used to provide a bespoke outdoor learning experience for children who find conventional teaching difficult. The goal is to work with schools and families providing a complimentary service to what they already receive and one that works in partnership. Toucan flexi school has been running since January 2020 and already we have seen unprecedented academic progress in the pupils that attend which has also been noticed by those that teach them. A holistic approach is taken in order to meet each child’s needs. Rather than children fitting into our way of working the staff work around them and their needs.

Together we can

The Toucan Team

Philippa

CEO & Founder
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Philippa has a wealth of knowledge and experience within the special educational needs sector, having worked as a specialist teacher in mainstream settings for 8 years, followed by 4 years as a deputy head teacher in a specialist SEMH school.  AMBDA (Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association) registered and SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator) qualified, she is able to asses for Dyslexia and for access arrangements for GCSE and GCE.

“I’ve always been interested in children who find it hard to read and write, particularly reluctant boys who have begun to fail in school. There’s always an underlying issue and once you find the route of the problem and build up a rapport with the child, their confidence grows and the barriers to learning begin to break down.”

Schools Out – Interior design is Philippa’s second passion. At the weekends you’ll find her pottering around vintage markets, painting pottery or scouring Instagram for ideas for her next interiors project. 

Amanda

Manager & ASD Specialist
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Amanda is an experienced Autism and behaviour specialist teacher who has worked for over 20 years’ with children and young adults. She began her career in the US within a residential high dependency unit for SEN and SEMH students before moving back to the UK and qualifying in Specific Literacy Difficulties, Assessment and Access Arrangements and Educational Testing. She is highly recognised for her support for young offenders, contribution to the new PMLD curriculum (Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties) and her Autism Outreach work.

“I really care about people who struggle emotionally and socially with communication and appropriate interaction and my goal is to ensure these children and young adults feel included in our society today.  A genuine smile, empathy and understanding from a teacher can be the beginning of that journey and the knowledge that learning can be fun.”

Schools Out – Sometimes it feels like it’s never out with 2 football, rugby, judo loving boys in tow but a long walk with her little dog Norman, or settling in with a scary thriller, occasionally does the trick.

Steph

ASD Lead & Manager
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Steph has an SEN teaching career that spans over 22 years.  Teaching in schools in London, Manchester and the North East working with children/young people with ASD, SLD and PMLD.  18 of these years have been dedicated to working in ASD provisions gaining a wealth of experience and supportive practice including completing an ‘Educating Children with Autism’ accredited course at Level 3.  Also courses in PECS, TEACCH, Social Stories. Singalong, Halliwick and multi-sensory masterclasses to name a few.  As a middle leader she coordinated transition from primary into secondary SEN settings liaising closely with local authorities, feeder schools, staff and parents. 

“I knew since being a teenager that I wanted to work with children that have additional needs.  I supported a weekly swim session for SEN children as well as using one of my free lessons in sixth form to take part in leisure activities with young people my age from a local special school.  It was a no-brainer to develop my skills by doing my teacher training degree and go straight into teaching children that give me the greatest challenges but the best work satisfaction at the same time.’

Schools Out – The coast is Steph’s other love.  There you will find her paddle boarding, running, walking, swimming and generally enjoying the great outdoors.  She likes nothing better than a trip away in a campervan or tent, attending music festivals and live gigs, and spending time with family and friends.

Karen

Dyslexia Specialist
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Qualified as a dyslexia specialist teacher, Karen has spent over 20 years’ working with primary aged children diagnosed with Dyslexia and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) to support them to develop their full potential. She focuses on phonological awareness, common word recognition and basic literacy skills and has a real multi-sensory approach.

“Bringing patience with me to work and building a relationship with each child, so they have trust in me are the most important parts of my job. There is such a calm and loving feeling at Toucan, which really cements these relationships, and I love that we all work together to continually improve what we do.”

Schools Out – Upcycling old pieces of furniture to bring them back to life keeps Karen busy out of hours as do long walks around the beautiful North East coast and country. 

Kelly

SEN & Behaviour Specialist
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Having worked in education for over 10 years, Kelly is experienced in working with children and young adults with physical disabilities as well as social and emotional mental health issues. She has a BA degree in Education and Curriculum and believes in using her creativity to help individual access learning.

“I love to bring creativity into my classes, which often involve sticking, cutting or sewing. This helps children develop their fine motor skills but also helps build confidence in themselves and their own abilities. Toucan’s flexible approach really compliments this style of creative learning.”

Schools Out – Kelly’s creative approach to life continues at home where she’s always making things and is rarely without a sewing or crochet project. Her 2 children, cats, dog and horse also keep her busy.

Paula

SEN Specialist
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With over 26 years’ experience working in an educational environment, Paula brings a wealth of experience to the Toucan team. Specialising in Autistic Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, Moderate Learning Difficulties and Social, Emotional and Mental Health, she particularly enjoys using Play

Therapy to help younger children tackle learning difficulties, reinforcing positive behaviour and teaching coping and calming strategies.

“Teaching is the best job in the world and being part of the team at Toucan Education is an absolute pleasure. Focused on the same journey, we all work together to equip these children with the tools they need to develop confidence and build an ‘all possibilities await them’ mentality.”

Schools Out –Paula enjoys interior design and has a love for photography and art. She view these as special hobbies that she can enjoy amongst her close friends and family. A happy place for Paula is dancing around the house with her family on a sunny summer evening.

Darren

Paediatric Physio & SEN Support
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Darren is a Physiotherapist with over 22 years experience working for the NHS within the musculoskeletal outpatient field. During his tenure he managed a busy department utilising his specialist knowledge in areas including Orthopaedics, chronic pain, sports injuries as well as rehabilitation. He also has over 10 years experience in Occupational health, private practice and worked within HMPS.

More recently Darren has developed a passion for working in Paediatrics and the Neuro Physiotherapy field. He is looking forward to expanding his role into the assessment of conditions such as Developmental Coordination Disorder and SEN within the Toucan team.

Amy

Pastoral Care & Safeguarding
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Amy has been degree educated for working with children and families since 2011 and further extended this with additional qualifications specialising with children since 2014. She has been working extensively with local authorities, helping to support family teams, child protection and fostering. Her passion is helping and supporting families in need, understanding the full family context and building positive working relationships with parents /carers to help them make and sustain change to improve outcomes for children. During her second university placement in 2013 at an SEN school setting she met Phillipa, our CEO, Amy loved her approach with children, how individual support is offered to them and how children’s plans were adapted to the child and their needs, rather than children being asked to “fit into certain box criteria”.

“Since becoming a parent of two boisterous boys, I fully appreciate and understand the challenges and demands of family life, as well as juggling the stresses of everyday life. It’s vital to support and engage parents, while having the empathy and understanding and sometimes just being that “sounding board” to let families off load and feel listened to, while working with multi agencies to get the right support for them.”

Schools Out – Amy enjoys walks and being outside with the kids at the beach, forest, messy play, sensory play, but also having time for herself at ZUMBA! Amy can also be found getting a fix of Latin salsa dancing for time to unwind and recharge.

Stephen

SEN Support
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Stephen’s bio will be updated soon!

Rachael

Specialist Support & Admin
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I have 9 years experience of working with children in the early years sector, I have been the manager of a nursery and bringing my knowledge to Toucan! I have a diploma in childcare learning and development and I have now joined Toucan Education hoping to further my knowledge and training to support school aged children in their learning and supporting them where I can.

“I have always enjoyed caring for children from a young age and since joining Toucan Education it’s amazing to see the children’s progress in their learning and confidence”

My hobbies outside of work are reading, kickboxing and completing my level 4 and 5 in higher level teaching assistant qualification.

Abigail

Dyslexia Specialist & Assessor
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Abigail worked as a class teacher in a primary school before becoming a specialist dyslexia teacher and assessor. Abigail is AMBDA (Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association) registered and is able to assess for Dyslexia. Abigail is currently studying to become a specialist teacher of mathematics and assessor for dyscalculia.

“As Albus Dumbledore said, ‘Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic.’ I am determined to help all children to experience the magic of words through both reading and writing. When working with children who have become disheartened by literacy difficulties, my aim is to use games and fun to build confidence alongside their literacy skills. It is a truly rewarding job which I am lucky to do.”

School’s Out – When she isn’t reading or walking on the beach, Abigail will be dancing.  She currently teaches an adult tap class, and attends ballet lessons.   

Anna

Speech & Language Therapist
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Anna has extensive experience working with children with a wide range of speech, language, and communicaCon needs (SLCN). She has worked in a special school seVng for over 8 years, assessing and delivering therapy to children with complex addiConal needs. She has also worked for the NHS where she ran a speech and sound awareness clinic. Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) and AssociaCon of Speech and Language Therapists in Independent PracCce (ASLTIP) registered, she is also currently working on gaining a Level 5 CerCficate in Dyslexia: Literacy, Support and IntervenCon with the BriCsh Dyslexia AssociaCon.

“I am very passionate about working with children with SLCN, to help them reach their communica>on poten>al but also improve their and their family’s quality of life. I understand the importance of sharing knowledge with the whole team around the child, including suppor>ng schools. I also have an enthusiasm for training others and am a licenced ELKLAN tutor”.

Schools Out – The great outdoors is another passion of Anna’s. At the weekends you’ll find her enjoying a hike or cycle or even paddle boarding at the beach – if it’s warm enough!

Holly

Speech & Language Therapist
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Holly’s bio will be updated soon!

Karen

Occupational Therapist
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Karen’s bio will be updated soon!

Alison

Occupational Therapist
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Having worked with autistic people and people with learning disabilities for all of her adult life, and having dreamed of being an occupational therapist since the age of 14, Alison finally took the plunge and returned to university as a mature student in her mid 30’s and made that dream a reality. Her passion has always centred around neurodivergent differences, and more recently the impact of the 8 sensory systems on development, attachment, early trauma/adverse childhood experiences, vice-versa, and the overall impact all of this can have on activities of daily living, behaviour and educational attainment. Having completed a post graduate certificate in Sensory Integration, Alison is able to assess sensory integration/processing difficulties, and provide both sensory based interventions and sensory attachment interventions.

“I’ve always been interested in childhood development, completing my first degree in Early Childhood Studies, as a fresh faced 18 year old. My dissertation at the time centred around the difficulties of children with SEN in mainstream primary school, and I followed this up with a dissertation on sensory-motor and handwriting difficulties in mainstream primary school children, when completing my degree in Occupational Therapy. I really enjoy exploring the underpinning skills needed in activities of daily living and working with children to help them achieve mastery and efficacy when they’ve faced adversity.”

Schools Out – Alison’s ‘happy place’ is the coast where you will find her enjoying a cold water dip in the north sea or collecting the treasures our tides bring to shore, namely sea glass and unusual shaped pebbles.

Jean

Dyslexia Assessor & Tutor
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With over 10 years’ experience across all education sectors Jean specialises in dyslexia and access arrangement assessment for school and university students. She also provides one to one specialist study tutorials focused on developing reading and writing skills around preferred learning style, exam and revision strategies and developing organisation skills. AMBDA registered and holds a Post Graduate Certificate in Dyslexia within the School Setting.

“I love being able to explain what dyslexia means to the individual and help them open the door that will lead to reaching their full potential. I’m never without my Critical Thinking handout, my one stop shop for describing, analysing and evaluating any piece of information. It’s the first thing I give to all my students.”

Schools Out – Watch out for Jean’s dance moves as her daughter’s love of Korean boyband BTS dance videos is catching! You’ll find her dancing around her kitchen after school, whilst making the tea.

Jane

Specialist Support & Dyslexia Assessor
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Jane’s bio will be updated soon!

Denny

Forest School Support & Pastoral Care
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Denny had his own business for many years but was regularly told by friends and family that he should work with children as he has a very special skill of being able to bring them out of themselves, and himself being able to harness his inner child to really relate them. He recently decided to make a career change, follow the advice of others and began to attend Toucan’s forest school provision to gain further experience of working with children. Enjoying this work and finding it very fulfilling, he now works for Toucan full time to pursue this different career path as one of our Pastoral Care team and supporting our specialists at our Forest School. Denny will also be starting the path to becoming a fully qualified Forest School Practitioner Lead.

“I enjoy working with children and helping to support them in a range of settings, particularly the outdoors. I believe that all children have special qualities and talents and it is my job to help them to discover these and to find their potential. I love the energy children have and I love seeing them learning and having fun at the same time.”

Schools Out – Trail and fell running is Denny’s favourite way of relaxing, you may also find him on the golf course.  He is an avid Liverpool FC fan and enjoys supporting his hometown team. Denny also loves going for long walks with his family and their Cocker Spaniel Sizzles.

Lynne

Teacher & Specialist Support
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Lynne has been teaching in Primary Schools for over 25 years and in that time has experience of teaching across the age ranges from Nursery to Year 6. She has been a class teacher , as well as learning support teacher working one to one and with small groups . She has also supported many children with ASD and speech and language difficulties.

“I have always strived to go the extra mile to support those children who find reading , writing difficult or maybe struggle with social skills . To develop their self confidence is key and the job satisfaction for example of helping a reluctant reader on their journey to becoming an enthusiastic reader, is priceless.”

Schools Out – Lynne enjoys up cycling furniture , reading, walking and catching up with friends, often involving tea and cake!

Nicky

SEN Teaching Support
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Nicky started her career as a Sound Engineer working in live music, theatre and then national broadcast television. She worked on ITV’s This Morning show for 8 years as well as freelancing on programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and the Children in Need Show. During her time in London she became involved with various Arts and Literacy schemes working with children in inner city schools. On returning to her native Northeast after starting her family, Nicky was offered the opportunity to Project Manage the design and installation of a multimedia learning space in a local SEN school. She went on to Manage the Media Arts Studio there for 11 years working with children with a range of SEND & SEMH aged from reception up to sixth form. Nicky wrote and delivered STE(A)M schemes of creative and cross curricular learning using animation, photography, filmmaking, coding, and robotics etc. The Media Studio facilities were accessible to the local partnership of schools and the wider community and so Nicky also delivered workshops to many schools across Northumberland as well as CPD and training for staff.

“As I’m dyslexic myself, and from a very neurodiverse family, I quickly realised how well the children responded to this type of learning. I loved watching young people grow in confidence and how proud they were of their achievements. I feel creativity and fun is vital to getting children thinking and learning.”

Nicky has had training to support children with ASD, ADHD, SpLDs in various ways and worked 1 to 1 with children who were having various problems accessing or engaging with learning in the classroom. She is a trained Lego Therapist and Arts Award Advisor and was a licenced Thrive Practitioner. She is always interested in multisensory and creative learning methods.
In her spare time Nicky loves reading, creating art and craft using a variety of mediums, including photography, writing (mostly science fiction and poetry). For relaxation she enjoys practising spinning poi and juggling flower sticks.
She loves to help in her local community providing workshops and organising family events and has recently started her own company ‘Thinky Dinky Do’ which aims to get children having fun while thinking and doing.

Caroline

Dyslexia Specialist & Assessor
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Caroline’s bio will be updated soon!

Suzanne

Forest School Practitioner
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Suzanne’s bio will be updated soon!

Holly

Business Manager
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As our business manager, Holly is often the first point of contact people will have with Toucan Education.

Joining the company in January 2020, from a background in finance and office administration, she is the helping hand that will guide you through your journey with us, be it the assessment process, navigating our learning support services or as our main liaison point for mainstream educational providers.

“Asking for help with dyslexia and navigating the assessment process can be daunting and confusing. I’ve always been super organised
so I hope that this, and my calm and friendly approach, helps create clarity, reassurance and a smooth passage for everyone that needs support from, or works with Toucan Education.”

Liam

Operations Director
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Liam is our Operations Director and part owner of Toucan Education. He comes from 20+years of working in commercial roles for global Blue Chip companies and also smaller family run businesses. Having moved over at the start of 2022 to work full-time helping to develop Toucan and also further support the team with his technical and commercial experience.

“Philippa’s (our CEO) passion for helping children through her business Toucan Education has been infectious, although I’m not an educator myself I thought my business experience over the years would really be able to help Philippa and her team fulfil their goals of helping children and families in the North East”

Schools Out – Liam is a keen traveller, whenever possible he’s making plans for his wife and son to visit far flung destinations with him. He’s also an avid Formula One racing fan, having been to several races in person, but more often watching the television coverage. For exercise he’s recently rekindled a passion for playing badminton, but still re-finding his skills from his younger years!

Callum

Specialist Support
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Callum’s bio will be updated soon!

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We regularly work directly with schools, local authorities, parents and businesses across the North East. Many of our assessments, consultancy services and training are available countrywide and internationally.

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