Vanessa Nichols and Marie Hirst are co-founders of Breakthrough Learning. They are experienced professional mediators with a passion for and belief in the learning potential of all children and adults, particularly children with special needs. They are building a team of trained mediators to enable people across the UK to benefit from learning how to learn.
Co-founder and Director of Breakthrough Learning
Vanessa has a Certificate from the Institute of Administrative Management, and has extensive experience in Counselling.
She is a qualified Feuerstein Mediator in Basic Level 1 and 2 and IE Level 1 and 2 and a Basic 1 Trainer. She has two children and has been involved in running parenting courses and has experience of Early years work.
Vanessa is also trained in Makaton, Shape coding,and has an NVQ3 in Elklan Speech and Language Support for children from 5 to 11 years old.
Co-Founder of Breakthrough Learning
Marie has a degree in International Business and a PGCE in MFL (French/German).
She is a qualified Feuerstein Mediator in Basic Level 1 and 2 and Standard Level 1. She has four children and has been involved in running her own company, tutoring children and adults in French and has gained experience of Early Years work in various settings for the last 13 years.
Marie is also trained in Shape Coding and holds an NVQ3 in Speech and Language Support for children from 5 to 11 years old as part of an Elklan course.
Karen joined the Breakthrough Learning team in 2017 and completed the Feuerstein Basic 1 training in February 2018.
Since 2010, she has been working to support the learning and development needs of her son, Zak who was born with Down’s Syndrome.
She is keen to expand her knowledge and share it widely to support other children as they learn how to learn and learn how to live in the 21st century.
Karen’s personal experience, her training as a Feuerstein Mediator and broader background in marketing and PR make her a welcome member of the Breakthrough Learning team.
Jolanta joined the Breakthrough Learning team in 2018.
In 2015-2016, she qualified as a Feuerstein Mediator in IE Standard (3 levels) and in 2018 she qualified in IE Basic Level 1. She also has a degree in economics.
While raising her three children, she observed how regular teaching methods are not always suited to everyone and is very excited about using mediation to help children and adults reach their full potential, regardless of their ages and the challenges they face.
Caroline Joined the Breakthrough Learning team in January 2018, and is qualified in the Feuerstein Basic 1. She is CIMA qualified and has a background in Finance.
As a mother of three young children, she has first-hand experience of how difficult it can be to help a child reach their full potential in a rapidly moving world. She engaged with Breakthrough Learning after discovering that accessing help through CAMHS or mainstream schooling can feel impossible.
The approach that Breakthrough Learning takes with children is exciting as it can help to bring about changes in a child’s abilities in all areas of home and school life.
Caroline joined Breakthrough Learning in 2017 and provides admin support to Vanessa and the team.
She has a 30 year background in the banking sector, working in a variety of roles, until semi-retiring in 2014.
Caroline has known Vanessa and her husband, Paul, for many years. Having seen first-hand the effect Mediated Learning is having on their daughter's development, Caroline jumped at the chance to be involved with the charity. She is delighted to see it expanding, enabling more people to benefit from this approach to learning.