Our Team


The Board are accountable to our donors and the UK Charity Commission and are responsible for the charity's compliance with charity regulations and UK law including safeguarding and data protection. They are also volunteers, providing their time, practical advice, skills and raising funds.

Phil Hawkins, CEO

Phil is the founder of Aprender.


He has 20 years’ teaching experience in the UK working in schools in Croydon, London. He holds a Post-Graduate in Education and the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) and a Diploma in Whole School Evaluation.


He was Deputy Head Teacher for 5 years before moving to Brazil for 6 years, returning back to the UK in 2016 where he now works in international education development.

Neil Walker, Chair of Trustees

Neil currently works in the IT sector and brings business and corporate governance experience from the retail, financial services, information services and health industries to the Board. He is involved with a number of charities and community groups which gives us a wider perspective.

Helen Gash

Trustee - Treasurer

Helen has worked as a member of school support staff in leadership roles for the last 5 years. 


She is currently HR Manager for a Surrey Multi Academy Trust, but also has a background in school finance. 


She has also been involved in fundraising for local charities.

David Plummer, 

David works as an advisor to entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders and senior teams on strategy, growth, performance and leadership.


He works with leaders who challenge consensus and the status quo, with restless people that don’t conform and don’t fit, and stakeholders who believe good business is good for all.

Mary Nima, Trustee
Lead on Safeguarding

Mary Nima is a highly experienced secondary English teacher who has management responsibility in a large, outstanding state school.


Curriculum planning, assessment systems, pedagogy and teacher performance management are some areas of her expertise but she is very interested in connecting with students and educators.

Waheeb Nima, Trustee

Waheeb Nima is a Syrian-born university professor who has taught English Language and Literature in Syrian, Lebanese and Jordanian universities.


For the past 16 years he has been based in the UK and now runs a computer-hardware computer solution company.

Josebene Lima,
National Coach for Brazil

Josebene is a trained teacher with extensive experience in education development, particularly working across different cultures.


After working with indigenous tribes in the Amazon, Josebene started to work with Instituto Total, our partner organisation, and now both coaches and trains head teachers and staff in both government schools and education projects across Brazil.

Rachael Underwood,
Early Years Consultant

As a qualified Early Years Teacher Rachael works with young children in educational and care settings.


She has over 30 years of experience to share and has been an Associate Trainer with the National Children's Bureau.


Rachael has worked as an Early Years Consultant with the Aga Khan Development Network and HighScope Educational Research Foundation.

Gail Hard

Primary Years Consultant

Gail is a recently retired primary headteacher with a teaching career spanning more than 35 years. She has worked in infant, junior and primary settings both in the UK, and in the Middle East.

As Deputy Head of a large junior school in West Sussex, Gail played a significant role in the development of a ‘creative curriculum for learning’ to inspire pupils and engage them in topics of interest to them.  

Gail brings a wealth of experience of working with children from diverse backgrounds and is passionate about making their learning child-centred, meaningful, relevant and exciting.