MA History (University of Edinburgh) MSc Applied Linguistics (University of Edinburgh)
Hamish McIlwraith is an international education specialist who has 30 years of experience as a teacher, lecturer, trainer and consultant in Asia, North Africa and the Middle East and Eastern and Central Europe. He advises a wide range of public and private educational institutions as well as government departments on education policy and its implementation. He is particularly interested in language policy, helping to create education systems in developing countries, trainer training and in multilingual education.
He first worked as a teacher at Amentego Girls’ Higher Secondary School in the Northern Province of Sudan in 1984 before taking up a position as a lecturer at Beijing Foreign Studies University in 1986. In the early 1990s he was a lecturer and teacher trainer at Jilin University and Tangshan Institute of Science and Technology (now Hebei Polytechnic University). He was then a lecturer for three years in the Department of English and Applied Linguistics at the University of Brunei before moving to Bulgaria as Peacekeeping English Project (PEP) Manager. He developed language and testing systems for interoperability of the Bulgarian Armed Forces with multinational forces in a context of Armed Forces reform and NATO/EU accession. He later helped form an international testing group across NATO accession countries, which involved postgraduate training at Lancaster University. He was also Regional Co-ordinator for South-East Europe (Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania) and managed the PEP Summer Schools programme (covering 24 countries in Central Asia and Central Europe).
Hamish lectured for three years on the MSc TESOL programme at the University of Edinburgh and supervised students completing their dissertations. He founded McIlwraith Education in 2004, and has steadily built the company’s client-base to include UNICEF, DFID, the British Council and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and partners such as the African Academy of Languages (ACALAN).
BA English Literature and Philosophy (Edinburgh) MSc Teaching English for Specific Purposes (Aston) MA Mass Communications (Leicester) MA (Distinction) Language Testing (Lancaster)
Alistair Fortune is a hugely experienced consultant, trainer and project manager with extensive qualifications and a sustained record of achievement in the field of English language education particularly in teacher training and testing.
After working for three years for VSO in China as a lecturer and teacher trainer in the early 1990s, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in English Language Teaching at Sofia University in Bulgaria, and then as Methodology Advisor for Pre-Service Teacher Training in the University of Novi Sad in Yugoslavia. Between 1999 and 2009, Alistair worked as a Project Manager for the British Council’s Peacekeeping English Project (PEP), firstly in Estonia and then in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Since 2009 he has worked as a consultant. Recent consultancies for the British Council have involved the development of a strategy for the introduction of English as a Means of Instruction (EMI) in universities in Afghanistan, a review of ELT in the state education system in Iraq and Kurdistan, and the evaluation of the UK’s only education project in North Korea.
He has also worked for many other agencies such as the Scottish Qualifications Agency (SQA) where he worked on a project to benchmark SQA Modern Languages examinations to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). He also helped develop English language tests for the BBC Janala Project through BBC Media Action. This involved developing standards and criteria for test assessments, a test writers’ manual and sample test material. BBC Janala is part of the English in Action (EIA) project, a major DFID-funded project (developed initially with the help of McIlwraith Education), which has an overall objective of improving English language skills for 25 million people through improved teacher training, mobile device materials, TV, radio, and adult learning. In the area of testing and assessment he has recently worked as a consultant and trainer in Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Mongolia and Serbia.
His publications include a series of practice test books for Sofia University and he is one of the co-authors of the British Council-EAQUALS Core Inventory for General English (2010). The aim of this book is to make the CEFR accessible to teachers and adult learners of General English and to provide support and guidance in what the CEFR levels mean in terms of classroom aims.
Alistair was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty the Queen in 2009.
Dr Claire Whittaker
Doctor of Education (TESOL) (University of Exeter) MA in TEFL (University of Reading)
Claire is an ELT consultant and trainer with 20 years of experience gained as a teacher, trainer, project manager and consultant in countries in Central, East, and South-East Europe, North Africa, South and Central Asia. She is a member of the British Council’s English Language Advisory Group (ELAG) and an ELTons judge (an award that recognises and celebrates innovation in ELT). Her areas of interest lie in blended learning, course design, teacher and trainer training, and quality assurance in language education.
Claire’s career started as a summer school teacher in Cardiff, teaching general English to French teenagers. From there she moved onto teaching exam courses to adults at what was formerly known as Reading College of Arts and Technology. This whetted her appetite for overseas work and resulted in a posting with International House to the historical city of Krakow in Poland. Here she completed her Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (DELTA) before joining the British Council and helping them to establish a new teaching centre in the same city. After two years at the centre Claire moved onto the British Council’s Peacekeeping English Project (PEP) initially as a trainer in Ukraine, then as a trainer in Uzbekistan and finally as a manager in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Her time in BiH led her to write a chapter for the British Council’s publication: Managing Change in English Language Teaching in which she gives an overview of the redesign process of a range of blended learning English language courses in the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH). On moving back to the UK, after 12 years overseas, Claire took up a post with Bell Cambridge as the Learning and Teaching Manager before re-joining the McIlwraith Education team.
Claire is committed to professional development and to that end has questioned and investigated her working practice with the theory derived from MA and EdD qualifications. Her doctoral thesis was on blended learning course design (blended learning is a mixture of face-to-face and online course delivery). She has used her experience to co-edit the British Council publication: Blended Learning in English Language Teaching: Course Design and Implementation, which includes twenty case studies from around the world describing blends being employed on EAP, ESP, Teacher Development and general EFL courses. She has a chapter in Using Technology in Foreign Language Teaching called Blended Learning in EFL: Adopting a Principled Approach to Integrating Technology. She has also has written an article on using the E-Delphi Technique in ELT research, which is a method for building consensus between professionals, for the ELT Research journal.
BA (Hons) Geography (University of Southampton) MEd (Distinction) E-Learning (University of Hull)
Rob Buckmaster is an education specialist who has over 20 years of experience as a teacher, trainer and consultant in Eastern and Central Europe, Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. He works as a lecturer at the University of Latvia as well as being a consultant for McIlwraith Education.
He started teaching English as a foreign language in Warsaw, Poland in 1991 and he took his Certificate in Teaching English at International House, Poznan in 1993 with an A grade. He taught at the British Council Studium, Warsaw University of Technology and at the British Council Teaching Centre for the rest of the nineties. During this time he also taught at the University of Edinburgh as a teacher trainer, trained school teachers in Latvia and began consultancy work with two visits to Uzbekistan for the British Council and World Bank. He gained his RSA Diploma in 1997 and followed that with the Advanced Diploma in Language Teaching Management in 1999. In 2001 he moved to Estonia to take up the post of Justice and Home Affairs consultant for the British Council Peacekeeping English Project (PEP).
In the five years he managed this project he worked with and trained police and border guard teachers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as well as elsewhere in the PEP network. He advised the Ministry of Interior on language policy and enabled the transformation of language teaching operations at the Ministry's educational institutions. During this period he completed his MEd in E-learning.
More consultancy work followed in Libya, Croatia and Slovenia, and also work training Iraqi police teachers for McIlwraith Education. He has carried out scoping studies and trained teachers in all aspects of language teaching and run specialist courses on materials development, both face-to-face and online.
He was the Director of Studies at International House Riga for five years to 2013, managing and training a large teaching staff, before leaving to concentrate on his PhD in Applied Linguistics.
He is an examiner and examiner trainer, and regularly presents at conferences in the Baltic regions and invariably provides the closing plenary at the Latvian Association of Teachers of English annual conference. He has also trained teachers for Macmillan and Cambridge University Press.