|Ram Todd (1932-2020) - in his own words
Ram arrived in London from Mumbai as a penniless student with the aim to educate himself and to improve his future life prospects. He started work as a messenger boy in a London advertising agency and attended evening classes to qualify as an advertising and marketing professional. Fortunately, he had a number of lucky breaks and made good progress early in his career, specialising in managing fast moving consumer products. He met and married Helga Drews from Germany, who had come to London to work as an au pair and to learn English.
Later he joined Cadbury UK, later working in various international positions in Africa, Asia and London. After over 20 years with Cadbury international he took early retirement to live somewhere interesting and warmer in the southern part of Europe.
Following Helga’s death in October 2003, Ram decided to devote his time, knowledge and experience to return something to society, particularly in the five countries - England, Germany, India, Indonesia and Nigeria - where they had lived and worked. He decided to establish a charity in memory of Helga and so the Helga Todd Teachers’ Education Foundation was registered with the Charities Commission England in March 2008, to advance teacher education and training.
Ram believes in the following three philosophical and humanitarian teachings:
“Just as little drops of water together make the ocean, so little acts of kindness and compassion can and will make a difference”.
“The truly wealthy man is not one who has but one who gives away what he has”.
“Worldly possessions matter very little. We cannot take them with us to the world beyond”.
UK Education Specialist
Kate has extensive experience in curriculum, assessment and professional development, at school, local authority and national levels in England. Trained in both primary and secondary phases, she has been adviser and inspector for the humanities in two local authorities and for OFSTED. As Curriculum Adviser for the now defunct Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Kate worked across the curriculum and across all phases, monitoring the English (national) curriculum and developing guidance for the wider curriculum (3-19).
Since her retirement, Kate has worked as a consultant to schools, local authorities and national bodies, as a tutor for teachers in training and as subject adviser (history and humanities) for several London local authorities. She is Honorary Fellow for the Schools History Project (Leeds Trinity University)
As trustee and volunteer, Kate co-ordinated the Helga Todd training programme for young women in Northern India (Punjab) to teach 3 - 7 year olds in rural schools. She chairs the Education Sub-committee.
Retired Management Consultant in International Development.
Richard Pook is married with two grown up sons, one of whom is a teacher, and lives in London. Richard has worked in International Development for over 30 years and has so far worked in 26 different countries including many projects for the likes of the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the EU etc.
He is a civil engineer by background, but having undertaken an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he now specialises in the strategic and organisational side of business. It is this side of his skills and expertise that he brings to the Foundation as well as his knowledge of working in different countries and cultures.
Trustees welcomed Denise Rearden as a trustee in 2023. Denise trained in the primary phase and went on to teach in further and higher education as an early years’ specialist, becoming Programme Director of the Department of Childhood Studies at Canterbury Christchurch University in 2006 and leading in several national education initiatives.
Since retiring in 2015 she has published a third edition of her book Early Years Teaching and Learning (pub. Sage and co-authored with two colleagues Dilys Wilson and Dympna Reed). Denise currently sits on the EY ITT advisory board at Middlesex University and is a member of the world pre-school association OMEP an international non – governmental and non-profit organization with consultative status at the United Nations and UNESCO.
Ben Taubman joined the HTTEF in 2015 and became a trustee in 2016. He taught in secondary schools in London for thirty six years, first as a history teacher and later as a deputy headteacher responsible for curriculum development and Teaching and Learning.Ben has been involved in a number of international curriculum developments working with both primary and secondary schools across Europe and Africa. He has extensive knowledge of working in India in a variety of schools both in Bangalore and Delhi.
At HTTEF, Ben has been responsible for developing and delivering a successful mentoring programme for our partner schools in Delhi. He is also responsible for a number of new initiatives that HTTEF is involved in.
Retired, living in Caerphilly, Wales
Marion joined HTTEF in 2016 to teach on Helga Todd’s Teaching & Learning professional development course for practising teachers in Delhi. During a second stint in 2017 during which she visited every nursery classroom in “our” twelve Delhi schools, she wrote the five day CPD2 course for early years’ teachers. She is now co-ordinator for the Helga Todd Bursary for NQTs. (see Our Activities) “I have loved working for the Helga Todd education Foundation, as it has enabled me to visit magnificent India and work with some extremely dedicated and enthusiastic teachers”.
Marion had 34 years’ teaching experience, all in North London, working in primary schools for 3-11 year olds. She held various subject leadership roles including art, music and special educational needs. Her final management roles were as deputy and headteacher. A project experience in a secondary school determined the focus of her Masters in Education - the transition of pupils from primary to secondary schools.
“ When I retired I moved back to the area where I grew up and am enjoying pursuing my delights in my home country, by painting and rediscovering the beautiful countryside around me.”
Anne has worked with Helga Todd since 2011, at first co-planning the two-year long early years’ training course for young Sikh women in Chandigarh, North India. She went for five months to teach the course as one of a sequence of seven UK volunteers working alongside Indian colleagues and has visited most years since then until 2019.
She says “After Chandigarh, I had learned so much about Indian education, that I took on the management of the Helga Todd Bursary Programme for newly qualified teachers at the start of their careers.” Marion Thomas leads the programme now, and although the scheme was suspended after 2019 the Foundation is still committed to working with young teachers.
Anne qualified as a secondary teacher in English, after a spell in arts administration. Her subsequent extensive cross phase experience in education, comes from her work as a teacher, examiner, adviser, CPD provider and teacher trainer in London and the home counties. “I always enjoyed being a classroom teacher and have a huge admiration for the job teachers do. My conviction is that if things are to be the best possible for children, one has to look after teachers and find creative ways to provide them with opportunities and impetus to develop and nurture their skills and knowledge.”
Our Delhi based colleague, Dr. Renu Bala, started working with the HTTEF in 2019 as the Indian co-ordinator of the joint venture with Akal University, Talwandi Sabo nr Bathinda for the Early Years’ Teacher Training programme. Her speciality is teacher and child psychology, in particular, guidance and counselling. Her PhD in Education includes research & statistics along with educational technology in the broader perspective.
Renu taught kindergarten, primary and elementary students at the start of her teaching career and has been a teacher trainer for the past 10 years. Renu says “I am a passionate learner and very open to new ideas. I strongly believe in team work and love to work with like-minded people. I am a free soul and find hard to work where I have to compromise with my own thoughts and ideology.”
She currently acts as an Indian representative for HTTEF, helping in establishing and overseeing collaborations with the various organisations who seek the charity’s help in teaching and training. Working internationally gives a refreshing experience to the thinking process and already learnt skills. “It has obviously made me more visual, punctual and organised in my professional as well as personal life. The global experience undoubtedly helps to think out of the box and nourish your senses.”
I joined the HTTEF in the summer of 2019 as part of the team setting up a new early years’ teacher training course for graduates at a university in rural Punjab, India. This has been an exciting venture, hard work but very rewarding in working with new colleagues both in the UK and in India.
Prior to retirement, I worked in primary education for nearly 40 years, as headteacher of two schools for the last 31 years, overseeing all aspects of the leadership and management, as well as changes in the curriculum and assessment. During this period, I was seconded to be trained as an Ofsted inspector and inspected a number of primary schools across the country. I was also seconded to work as a county adviser to help implement workforce reform and planning, preparation and assessment time for teachers. More recently I was a member of the board on the Cambridge University Faculty of Education PGCE course for primary and early years’ teaching.
Working in teacher training in India has been a wonderful opportunity. The added bonus for me has been that as I was born in the Punjab, but left at the age of 2 years. Working with the HTTEF has given me the opportunity to give something back to the area I was born in.
Our Delhi based partner
As an international educator and qualified teacher, Payal has played a variety of roles - teacher, learner, mentor, administrator, consultant and advisor. She has taught primary, middle and high school grades, following national and international curricula in geographies from Indonesia to Canada. This experience of about two decades has enriched her with a holistic understanding of developmental and contextual needs of students across the continuum of schooling.
Payal believes that collaboration, communication and community make learning meaningful. Over the last few
years in India, she has worked extensively in curriculum design, teacher training and programme evaluation of national and IB schools in India. Payal works with Helga Todd as a consultant on all our programmes. She is also a soccer mom, a drummer, and a tea-addict.
Chris joined HTEF at the beginning of 2017 as a volunteer consultant trainer on the “Investigating Good Practice in Teaching and Learning” course for serving teachers in Delhi. She is now committed to working with the team at HTEF to develop new programmes and materials.
Chris has extensive experience of working with a wide range of people from different ethnic and social backgrounds. Throughout her professional life, she worked in primary schools in inner London to improve the educational opportunities for children in challenging circumstances and has comprehensive class teaching experience as teacher and headteacher.
Later, Chris was seconded to East London University as a senior lecturer, teaching on education courses and providing tutorial support for students in training.
After her Headship, Chris continued in teacher education, supporting and guiding trainee teachers’ professional development through observations of their teaching and providing oral and written feedback on their practice and assignments. She is currently Chair of Governors of a primary school in London.
Sandeep has been working with HTTEF since 2018. Trained as a finance professional, and having worked with leading multinational brands in financial consulting and corporate finance for over 20 years, Sandeep started working with education service providers in 2008. In his role as India coordinator, Sandeep brings with him a vast understanding of the Indian education industry and uses his consulting acumen to provide insights into HTTEF programs and relationships.
Sandeep believes that “working with schools, teachers and pupils is the best job in the world. Observing pupils grow and develop their personalities and capacities is a rewarding experience that no amount of money can buy.”
Sandeep is keenly tuned to the changing demands that 21st century has on current education systems and philosophies. With rapid technological changes, especially in AI and automation technologies, the approach to education and skill-sets we develop in our classrooms has to change. As per Sandeep “these are exciting times and I wish to be a part of the solution”.
Hilary Street worked in inner London as a classroom teacher, head of department, a local authority advisor and as Deputy Director of a comprehensive sixth form centre. She spent six years in Hong Kong managing a project for ‘more able children’ for the English Schools’ Foundation, Hong Kong Open University and taught English as a second language to adults. Hilary is currently a governor at her local primary school, where she chairs the Teaching, Learning and Achievement committee.
From 1992, she was a senior associate of the London Centre for Leadership in Learning at the Institute of Education and worked with schools throughout the UK. The focus of her work has been effective teaching and learning, school improvement planning and evaluation, and the associated leadership and management issues. She has written extensively on these matters as author and editor of the Primary and Secondary Leadership paper series for the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), as well as writing an online leadership development programme for Fieldwork Press, and co-authoring a book on school improvement.
Hilary’s work with the HTTEF, has been to teach on our continuing professional development - CPD1 - initiative with 12 Delhi schools and to plan and deliver the follow up CPD2 working intensively with just two schools.
Catherine Thompson joined Helga Todd in 2018 to deliver a new CPD programme on early years’ teaching to Sikh schools in Delhi. Since then she has been involved in helping develop and deliver the Akal / Helga Todd early years’ training course in the Punjab.
Catherine had a varied career as a social anthropologist, a development officer in the voluntary sector and finally, 20 years working in early years’ education. Along the way, as well as a PGCE, she acquired a Masters in Early Education and Early Years Professional Status. Catherine retired from a full-time post as head of a children’s centre in 2018. Before that she worked as quality improvement officer for early years in Brent, and as a teacher in schools and children’s centres in different parts of London. She also served as governor of a local primary school. Currently, she is a part time tutor on Early Years Initial Teacher Training Course at the Institute of Education, London.
She writes: “I came across the Foundation by chance through an advertisement in the Guardian. 40 years ago I completed a doctorate in social anthropology, spending a year in a village in central India. Helga Todd has provided me with a unique and unexpected opportunity to combine my passion for early years’ education with my longstanding interest in India. My experience as a development worker working with large and small voluntary groups and government agencies has also been useful. However, the bottom line is that both here and in India have gained as much as I have given!”