Meet the Team at Academic Families

Fully accredited by AEGIS,the Boarding School Association and British Council trained, we support parents to educate their children internationally.  We are Safer Recruiters so our team and hosts are all recruited inline with safeguarding guidelines.

  • Lorna Clayton

    Lorna Clayton - Managing Director and Founder

    Lorna founded Academic Families in 2012 following her 13 year overseas career in Australia, South America and East Africa. She founded a Kenyan education charity, Assist a Child To School (ACTS) in 1998 funding and placing needy students in education. With 20+ years’ experience in business and as an expat mother, Lorna leads the Academic Families team to deliver our premier personal and professional service. As a British Council trained Agent, Lorna’s knowledge and expertise ensures that our students receive the best possible advice and support leading to their educational success.

    Lorna and her team are recognised by the British Council, AEGIS, Boarding Schools' Association, English UK and Youth Mental Health England for their top-quality service.

  • Roni Jennings

    Roni Jennings - School Placement Consultant, Child Protection Officer

    Roni heads our Placement and Guardianship teams and is our designated Child Protection Officer.

    She has taught overseas for 20+ years in British curriculum international schools, latterly as Deputy Head in Kenya. Her insight into the challenges moving cultures, curriculum and learning styles enables her team to ensure students are well prepared. Roni's British Council training, experience and expertise placing students in closely matched schools ensures their happiness and success and her child-centred focus ensures their safety and wellbeing.

  • Louise Brunton

    Louise Brunton - Business Development Manager

    Louise has spent most of her life living outside the UK in SE Asia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Working for international travel and relocation companies has developed Louise’s cultural intelligence ensuring her excellent international understanding and relationships.

    Coming to the UK for her own boarding school education and selecting the best boarding schools for her own 3rd culture children has given Louise a wealth of personal and professional experience. She is a great support to our parents – understanding their dilemma of choosing the right education for each child. Louise is responsible for introducing our services to families around the world, ensuring we provide the support they need.

  • Sophie Clayton

    Sophie Clayton - Guardianship Manager

    Sophie has lived in Kenya, Australia and the UK. At school, she swam competitively at national level then taught and coached swimming for 7 years at top schools, clubs and Loughborough University. Her natural teaching skills and easy rapport with our students ensure their education goes beyond the classroom as they develop their independence safely and happily.

    Sophie manages our Guardianship support and is responsible for our students’ UK arrangements and safety. Her UK-wide team of Area Managers provide local support. Sophie's British Council training ensures her comprehensive knowledge of the UK education system and visa regulations ensuring our families are professionally supported at all times.

  • Louise Carson - Guardianship Assistant

    Louise studied Spanish and Italian at the University of Glasgow. As part of her degree, she taught English with the British Council in Italy and took part in an exchange programme working in Uruguay. After graduating she continued to teach in Italy and specialised in IELTS and Cambridge exam preparation. Having lived abroad and learning to adapt to life in a foreign environment, she is able to empathise with our students who come to the UK.  

    Louise manages the UK wide travel and hosting arrangements for our Spanish students.

  • Lisa Guo

    Lisa Guo – Chinese Language Support

    After a business career in China, Lisa came from Beijing to the UK in 2001. Now married with a school age son, Lisa teaches secondary Chinese.  Her first-hand knowledge of both education systems enables her to support our Chinese families understand everything you need to know about UK education and culture.

    Lisa also ensures our schools understand some of the cultural background our students come from so everyone learns together!

  • Lionel Gauthier – Head of Finance

    Lionel has managed accounts for a variety of businesses and enjoys the international aspect of our business. Although French, Lionel has lived in the UK since childhood but maintains his accent and ties with France. Additionally, he has a strong connection with Japan where he has a holiday home and visits regularly.

    Lionel manages all our finances and so is in contact with our parents and hosts if they have any queries.

  • Libby Wallace – Assistant Digital Manager

    Libby’s degree in Business Enterprise and Marketing from the University of Strathclyde combined with her 4 years’ experience working as a counsellor then group leader, at an American summer camp means that she understands many aspects of our business first hand and is an important member of our marketing team. 

    In her spare time, Libby continues to dance although not to the competitive level she reached during her student days.

  • Juyma Fernandez Sanchez – Guardianship Assistant

    Juyma was born and grew up in Havana, Cuba where she studied and graduated as a piano and chamber music teacher. After moving to France and having the first of her children, she re-located to the UK and retrained as a PA.

    Her first-hand experience of living abroad and assimilating allows her to expertly support our students through any cultural adjustment issues they may face.

    Juyma brings efficiency and problem-solving skills to her role ensuring our students and hosts are all well matched and she is the first point of contact for many of our prospective hosts.

  • Heather Roy – Communications Assistant

    Heather studied English, Film and Media at the University of Stirling and studied abroad during her degree. As a TEFL certified teacher, she has taught English in Nepal and in her spare time, Heather is a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines across the world.

    As Communications Assistant, Heather brings her knowledge of writing for a global audience to ensure that we share our knowledge and expertise succinctly.

    Heather’s international and work experience ensures she relates well to our international pupils and understands the importance of providing a supportive environment for them to learn in.

  • Sarah Mulholland - Guardianship Assistant

    Sarah supports our students in Scotland.

    Sarah studied in Sweden before teaching English as a Foreign Language for 3 years in Japan.

    Working in the travel industry, Sarah has worked and travelled between the UK and Japan for the last 20 years. Her experience of living abroad gives her great empathy with our students.

    Sarah has hosted students before joining us and draws on her wealth of international knowledge and experience to ensure her students are safe and happy and that their arrangements run smoothly.

  • Becki Gregory – Guardianship Local Co-ordinator

    Becki supports our students in the North of England.

    She has had a career in education for ~20 years and has a vast amount of experience working with children of all ages. She has supported her own children throughout their education giving her a profound and personal understanding of the challenges that can be faced by school children. With a love for the pastoral aspect of education, Becki is always on hand to support and solve problems. She draws on her experience and expertise to ensure that our students are safe, happy and achieving their best.

  • Sarah Newitt

    Sarah Newitt – Area Manager

    Sarah supports our students in the SW England.

    Sarah has lived in the UK, Germany and Canada and both of her children boarded from an early age so she has a profound understanding of the issues involved in being away from home from both the parents’ and child’s perspective.

    Her girls went to boarding schools which attracted numerous Spanish and Mexican students, many of whom became frequent guests! As a result, she is hugely empathetic to children arriving from abroad for their education and passionate about the importance of providing a warm, welcoming and safe environment for them both in and out of school.

  • Sara Harvey – Guardianship

    Sara supports our students in the Midlands and Hosts throughout England & Wales.

    Having hosted international students for 20+ years, Sara fully understands the hosting experience and requirements, making her ideally placed to recruit, support and match our hosts with students. She is also a grandmother with a daughter living in Germany.

    Sara has worked in sales and customer facing roles across different sectors and is approachable and pragmatic. She is enthusiastic about helping students overcome any challenges and make the most of their British education.

  • Becca Macauley – Guardianship Local Co-ordinator

    Becca supports our students in the SE England.

    Becca enjoyed a 10-year career with Sussex Police, finishing as a Detective Constable in Child Protection.  She ran her own guardianship business for 9 years before joining our team. Becca also hosted students in her family home, so has an excellent understanding of the hosting process and the importance of creating a welcoming home from home for international students. Her guardianship experience has given Becca a real insight into boarding life and the level of support that a professional guardian must provide. 

  • Debbie Spens

    Debbie Spens – Counsellor

    Debbie’s 30 year career within boarding education, including as wife of the Head of Fettes College, a prestigious boarding school, (19 years), has given her great experience of the issues facing our international students as they adapt to, and benefit from, their boarding education.

    Debbie’s career includes Special Educational Needs teaching with a special interest in pastoral care within the school boarding community.  As a Mental Health First Aid Instructor, she has trained the Academic Families team to ensure we understand how to best support the wellbeing and mental health of our students. Debbie has a post graduate diploma in Careers Guidance enabling her to support our students' choices.

  • Claire Renaud – Travel

    Claire managers our student transfers. She was born in France where she lived until re-locating to the UK in 2016.

    She has extensive management and customer support experience and 10 years' volunteer experience as a Scout Leader.

    Claire has two young children so understands the importance of being able to reassure our parents that their child’s travel arrangements are always meticulously organised.

  • Catriona Murphy – Comms and Marketing Assistant

    Catriona graduated with a degree in Spanish and Italian from Durham University and studied at the University of Salamanca, and in Florence, during her degree. After graduating, she returned to Italy and taught English at schools in Lombardy. Catriona also volunteers as a Youth Worker at charity-run summer camps in Scotland that welcome children from all over the world and she has received training in Child Protection.

    Catriona works in the marketing team and her experiences living abroad and working with children allow her to relate to our community of international students.

Free consultation

Get in touch and we will contact you to discuss your child's needs and explain how we can help you year-round.

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