Dr Deborah Holt


Dr Deborah Holt is a former head teacher with a PGCE in Early Years Education (following a BA in Languages and Linguistics) and a Doctorate in Education. Dr Holt has a wealth of knowledge about Curriculum for Excellence, built up since its implementation in 2010. Specialising in health and wellbeing, Dr Holt is the lead HWB on a range of Primary Education programmes at MHSES. Her Doctorate looked at the primary school teacher's responsibility to promote positive mental health.

Sue Palmer

Childhood Campaigner

Described by The Scotsman as one of the country’s ‘new radical thinkers’, Sue is Editor of 'Play is the Way' and founder of Upstart Scotland - campaigning for a statutory Kindergarten for all children under 7., She is a former headteacher, a literary specialist and author of over 200 books (notably child development focussed 'Toxic Childhood'), as well as serving on the Scottish Government’s Early Years Task Force.


Julia Whitaker

AUTHOR & Play Specialist

Author of newly published Play for Health Across the Lifespan, and one of the few registered Play Specialists in the country, Julia's work expands what we already know about children’s play to examine how play habits developed in childhood go on to influence health and wellbeing throughout the course of our lives. Her research found that without play and creative doing, we are depriving children of the opportunity to protect their own mental health. Play, and having a playful attitude, not only enhance lived experience, but can also determine how well – and even how long – a person might live.

Willie French

Head Teacher, Haddington Primary

With more than 30 years experience at the chalkface, as headteacher he is now responsible for the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence at the 900-pupil primary in East Lothian, Scotland. Willie sits on the Board of a Scotland-based charity advocating raising the school starting age to seven.

Lisa Gordon

Waldorf Steiner Teacher

Class 1 Teacher at Edinburgh Steiner School, where uniquely the children start formal learning at aged 6 or 7 (the norm in most European countries and around the world). With over fifteen years experience in early years and primary education, Lisa has worked in a Scottish P1, P2 and P3 classroom as well as Steiner Waldorf schools in Scotland and internationally.