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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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’s 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!

  • Debbie Spens

    Debbie Spens – Counsellor

    Debbie’s 30 year career within boarding education, including as wife of the Head of a prestigious boarding school for 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.

  • Sarah Newitt

    Sarah Newitt – Area Manager

    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.

    Sarah enthusiastically supports our students in the SW England.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Pedja

    Pedja Bankovich – Area Manager

    Pedja moved from former Yugoslavia with his family almost 20 years ago.  As homemaker, he has supported many of his son’s international friends during their boarding education, welcoming them to their family and home. He continues to enjoy supporting our international students now his son is a successful professional.

    Pedja is a mindfulness practitioner and has a very calming influence, especially at exam time!

  • 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.

    Juyma will be the first point of contact for many of our prospective hosts.

  • Libby Wallace – Assistant Digital Manager

    Libby’s first-class honours 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 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.

  • Lionel Gauthier – Management Accountant

    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.

  • Sara Harvey – Guardianship Co-ordinator

    Sara supports our students in the Midlands and Hosts throughout England & Wales. She has hosted international students for 20+ years and so 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.

  • Sarah Mulholland - Guardianship Assistant

    Sarah first lived abroad during university when she took part in an Erasmus year in Sweden. Her interest in different cultures continued after graduation and she spent 3 years teaching English as a foreign language on the JET Programme (Japan English Teaching Programme). Sarah has spent the best part of the last 2 decades travelling between the UK and Japan for work in the travel industry and her first-hand experience of living abroad gives her a great understanding of the needs and concerns of our students. As part of our guardianship team, she draws on her wealth of international knowledge and experience to ensure everyone is happy and that our student arrangements run smoothly.

  • Becca Macauley – Guardianship Local Co-ordinator

    Becca enjoyed a 10-year career with Sussex Police, finishing as a Detective Constable in Child Protection and so has plenty professional experience working with children.  She ran her own guardianship business for 9 years but decided to join our team so she could continue her interest in supporting international children but as a professional team member rather than being solely responsible. As Becca also hosted students in her family home, she 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. Becca takes care of our students and hosts in SE England.

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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