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.

  • Louise Carson

    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’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!

  • David Hawkins - University Placement Consultant

    David Hawkins is our Global University Consultant supporting students to match courses in top ranked universities in the UK, USA, Canada and Europe. He is one of only 19 consultants to hold the gold-standard international affiliation with the Council of International Schools.

    An Oxford graduate, David was the Head of College Counseling at the International School of Brussels, the Head of Careers and a History teacher at Taunton School.

    David is a member of, and a former committee member of, the International Association for College Admissions Counseling, the Independent Educational Consultants Association and the Council of International Schools.

  • 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.

  • Sally Anderson - Student Application Support

    Originally from S Africa, Sally understands the international perspective when applying to UK education. 

    She successfully shares her extensive experience and knowledge of education and university applications to support our students build their personal statements strongly reflecting who they are and why they are the perfect candidate. 

    Sally has a BA in English and Latin, a Masters and a Doctorate in Education, a conversion Degree in Psychology and a Masters in Performance Psychology.

  • 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!


  • 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.

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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