Will Ferguson and Richard McLauchlan...
were two knobbly-kneed primary school pupils back in 1993. Though they were just a year apart and knew each other from across the playground, they didn't actually exchange words until 2010, when they started their Masters degrees at Cambridge. As they both stayed on to do Ph.D's, Will and Richard had plenty of time to discuss their learning experiences.
Throughout his studies, Richard found that exploring what he loved made learning not just easier, but fun. Will's education had a profound and positive effect on his life, but he felt that the institutions he attended often had a frustratingly limited mix of people, and he wanted to broaden the scope of who could have access to the types of education that he had.
These experiences, combined with Will's time volunteering with The Access Project in London and Richard's work with the Sutton Trust, compelled Richard and Will to start Light Up Learning -- a charity dedicated to inspiring a love of learning in young people.
Director, Mentor and Co-Founder
A native of Edinburgh, Richard was lucky enough at school to be taught by a teacher who fired his imagination and showed him what it was to love learning. This experience propelled him to degrees at the Universities of St Andrews and Cambridge, where he studied theology, completing a Ph.D. on the poet R.S. Thomas. Whilst at Cambridge, not only did Richard enjoy teaching undergraduates, but also working with the Sutton Trust, helping non-privileged young people discover the joy of studying poetry. Having finished his studies, he spent a year bagpiping on the streets of Cologne, and then returned to Scotland to establish Light Up Learning with Will.
Currently learning… the language of the ancient Greeks.
Daniela DiGiacomo is originally from Southern California, though her heart also belongs to the many European and Latin American cities in which she has lived. Whilst doing a Masters at Cambridge University, Daniela became excited by the unbounded potential of learning, when involving a diverse mix of people being encouraged to pursue their own interests. Deciding to dedicate her working life to addressing educational inequality, she now supports teachers in fostering a love of learning in young people from diverse backgrounds. Daniela received a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Human Development from the University of Colorado, and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Riverside
Currently learning… how to make young people feel valued in educational settings.
Originally from Belfast, Lisa moved to Scotland to pursue a career as a full-time Judo athlete. At the same time, she began studying Psychology at Heriot-Watt University, becoming increasingly fascinated with the subject. Her sporting prowess took her all the way to the Olympics, and Lisa feels privileged with the experiences and people that have come into her life along the way. Since retiring she has moved into working with young people, motivated by a passion to help them raise their ambitions and achieve their best. Lisa's main aim is to be a positive influence in the lives of others.
Currently learning about... mental health.
Culture & Community Manager
Erin has made a career out of combining her lifelong love of culture with a natural talent for organisation. Moving from pure management (of small arts companies) into roles with an increasing focus on communication, she is fascinated by all things digital – and particularly the possibilities it presents for education. Light Up Learning has given Erin the perfect remit, combining all her varied skills, from event management to partnership building. Still benefitting from mentoring to this day (particularly from her female peers in the industry), Erin would not have taken the various leaps that lead her here without a few pivotal interventions from those that cared.
Currently learning… about the origins of language, and how accents develop over time.
Mark was born and raised in and around Edinburgh, where he lives today. After his high school English teacher encouraged him to harness his love for a good argument (sorry, debate), Mark enrolled to study Scots Law at the University of Edinburgh. It was here that he discovered a passion for learning about the legal rights and welfare of children and young people. Whilst studying, Mark started volunteering with his local Citizens Advice Bureau, going on to work for a number of years seeking to improve social justice in Scotland.
Currently learning… about the language and linguistics used by modern day UK political party leaders.
Head of Mentoring, Lasswade High School
Steph is originally from Bath, but moved up to Edinburgh after falling in love with the city while visiting her sister. She now studies Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh. At the age of 13, Steph missed a year of school due to illness, and worked with a tutor, Paul, to help her catch up. Steph's dyslexia had made lessons sometimes very daunting for her but Paul approached teaching in a way that was completely new, instilling Steph with a new confidence that helped her discover a love for maths. This experience, along with a summer spent volunteering in a disabled boys' orphanage in Moldova, has reinforced Steph’s passion for inspiring others in the same way.
Currently learning… about autoimmune diseases and whether specific diets/nutrition can help rather than medication.
Co-Founder and Chair
Will grew up in Edinburgh and was lucky to have a mother who was thoroughly excited by learning. At school he initially struggled with undetected dyslexia and disciplinary problems. Things improved when he moved school at age 13, and he eventually studied history at Harvard, before gaining a Ph.D. from Cambridge. Taught by a string of outstanding teachers, Will developed the sense that learning could be thrilling and life-enhancing… but with that came an awareness of the inequality surrounding access to these elite institutions. Motivated by this, and a year working as a mentor with The Access Project in London, he founded Light Up Learning with his friend, Richard McLauchlan.
Currently learning… about Bolivian and Peruvian history, with a particular interest in Wari art and architecture.
Lynsey grew up on the west coast of Scotland, and loved learning from the start of her school career – largely thanks to inspiring and engaging teachers. After studying English and Media at university, she completed her PGDEd in Glasgow before taking up her first teaching post in the north east of Scotland. Lynsey spent a number of years as an English teacher and Faculty Head of English & Literacy, and she is now currently a Depute Head Teacher in Midlothian. As an educator, Lynsey is passionate about promoting creative approaches to pedagogy and challenging assumptions about ‘what works’.
Currently learning… about motherhood and Persian cookery.
Jane is a product and marketing guru from Sydney Australia, who is currently living and working in London. With over nine years experience working in media publishing, business support and financial services, she is passionate about building successful brands, and is currently completing her MBA. Having been lucky enough to have the support of several inspiring mentors of her own during her career, Jane wanted to find a way to give back, so has volunteered to share her experience and expertise with Light Up Learning.