Our Team

Maurice Irfan Coles


MAURICE IRFAN COLES has worked in the public and private sectors for 50 years. He began his career as a teacher and advisory teacher in London. As a Staff Inspector in Birmingham he specialised in anti-racist education. Over eighteen years he held eight different portfolios and led two large support services. Maurice was a registered OFSTED inspector in all 3 education phases and he was the first CEO of the School Development Support Agency (SDSA), a social enterprise based in Leicester City which continues to operate with an annual turnover of £3 million.

He has led on a number of collaborative projects including the internationally acclaimed Islam and Citizenship (ICE) Project; Curriculum Enrichment for the Common Era, a company dedicated to producing heritage materials and the Sacred Spaces Project which placed artists in four faith based supplementary schools. Maurice has published extensively on School Improvement, Race Equality, Intercultural Education and Continuing Professional Development. He has published three books; Faith, Interfaith and Cohesion: The Education Dimension (2005), Every Muslim Child Matters (2009) and Towards the Compassionate School: From Golden Rule to Golden Thread (2015).

In 2006, as the first CEO, Maurice launched The CoED Foundation at the British Parliament. As an inveterate traveller he has been to over a third of the world's countries. He comes from a Christian background, converted to Islam, and has been married to a Hindu for over 40 years. He believes compassion; humour, collaboration and service are the keys to stopping conflict, and building a just and cohesive society.
Email: maurice@coedfoundation.org.uk

Tasawar Bashir


During the 1990s Tasawar worked for Cinephilia, The Drum, BBC Radio One, and Channel Four. He became Head of Cinema at mac in Birmingham in 1998, where he developed international Film Festivals with the BFI. In 2002 he became Head of Cultural Projects for the Birmingham European Capital of Culture bid team where he produced international projects for the CBSO, Fierce Earth Festival and RIBA. In 2005 he began series of on-going Sufi-inspired collaborations with AR Rahman. Since 2006 he has worked in tough social contexts with young people to make short films, scripts, music videos, and photography projects that examine crime, gang-related violence, inner-city identity and affiliation. In his own work Tasawar explores notions of the sacred using modern technology, public data sets, software algorithms, and art-based experiments to design contemporary mosques. His gallery-based works comment on our collective responses towards the idea and the reality of God - in 2012 his work was exhibited at the Venice Architecture Biennale. Most recently he has commenced his PhD research at the University of Birmingham around 21st century Sufi sound art. At the CoED Foundation Tasawar leads on research and administration he works closely with the CEO to develop the Foundations projects.

Amarjot Butcher


With a degree in computing, Amarjot has worked with a number of companies training delegates in all Microsoft products. Those skills led to Amarjot gaining employment as a Data Analyst for a small technology company producing management reports and presentations based on customer research data. This is where she gained a certificate in market and social research. Recently Amarjot has taken a small career break to raise a family, and start up a small celebration cake business, leaving just enough time to work as an administrator at The CoED Foundation.

Rob Holden


ROB HOLDEN is a former teacher and Qualified as a Chartered Accountant 1981. Having trained with a small firm, Rob Spent several years post qualification with KPMG. Rob left KPMG in 1989 to set up his own Chartered Accountancy Practice which is now based in West Bromwich.

Our Associates

Our national and international associates consist of colleagues that share the aims of The Foundation and have specific skillsets which, subject to funding, they can offer The Foundation. Our associates work on joint bids and joint projects.

International Associates

Rosemary Campbell Stevens


Rosemary is the Director of RMC UK Ltd. She is an independent consultant trainer in leadership and currently an associate with the National College for School Leadership with a national brief for diversity, succession planning and leadership preparation. She has combined public speaking and community activism with a professional life supporting organisations at a strategic and operational level to address issues of equity and diversity. Within the broad field of leadership, diversity, race equality, equity and social justice, her particular interests lie in not only diversifying the face of leadership, but also enabling a new cadre of leaders to lead radically differently across sectors, with a particular focus on education and health. Rosemary developed Investing in Diversity (IiD), for the London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Institute of Education, and University of London. This leadership preparation programme has had 1000 teachers complete in London, doubling the number of Black Head teachers and other senior leaders in some London boroughs, over 300 have moved into senior leadership positions. Rosemary sits on a number of boards including the Network for Black Professionals, Primary Colours and the Editorial Board of the School Leadership and Management journal. She is a visiting fellow of the Institute of Education, University of London.

Martin Itzkow


Based in Canada, his consultancy, Defying Gravity Coaching, was created to help build the capacity of people and organizations working to better our communities and world. He wants to help people enhance their understanding, energy and commitment to make that contribution by helping them "get to the bottom" of what motivates them.

Over the past 20 years, Martin Itzkow has held several management positions, both in Manitoba and in the private and non-profit organizations in the province. He participated in the creation of many organizations of civil society, including the Manitoba Federation of Non-Profit Organizations (founder), the Canadian Federation of Voluntary Sector Networks, the Canadian Community Leadership Network, Leadership Winnipeg (Founding Director the first Community program) Face2Face and Community Engagement, in addition to co-founding the Canadian Muslim Leadership Institute. He recently designed and directed a community program called "ChangeMaker" which focused on cultural leadership, and became the only Canadian to be part of an international working group on the development of leadership in civil society in countries with a majority or Muslim minority.

Also, as a Barrett Values Centre Certified Consultant, he has become a strong supporter, catalyst and animator for shaping organizational culture in a time of uncertainty; to strengthen organizational resilience by measuring and managing organizational change. He is committed to applying a compassion and kindness lens to all that he impacts.

UK Associates

Dvora Liberman


Dvora is a storyteller, educator, writer and documentary filmmaker. She has performed and taught in collaboration with schools, arts centres, museums, libraries, community centres and places of worship throughout England, Europe, India and Australia, including the Southbank Centre Royal Festival Hall, Barbican, Children's Discover Centre, Brighton Dome, Polka Theatre, and Lone Twin Theatre.

Dvora has written and directed plays for various organisations such as the Sydney Opera House, Amnesty International and the Foundling Museum, London. She has a great passion for people's life stories and she has been artistic director of many oral history arts projects and recorded the life stories of Aboriginal Elders; refugees and asylum seekers; older people living in the inner city who grew up during World War Two; people living with terminal illnesses in palliative care; orphans who grew up in institutional care; women who survived the Bosnian war and Siege of Sarajevo; and rehabilitated leprosy patients in India.

Dvora has shared these people's stories widely through publishing, theatre, film, photography and dance. Dvora is a qualified primary and secondary school teacher, journalist and yoga teacher. She has an MA in Oral History, Life Writing Research and Documentary Filmmaking from the University of Sussex and is especially interested in telling biographical stories in creative and empowering ways. Dvora has trained in advanced listening skills and has completed a foundation course in counselling and psychotherapy. She teaches with compassion, humour and warmth.

Pete Anstey


Pete Anstey's teaching career has been based in inner Birmingham Secondary schools including twelve years as a Deputy head. Education in its broadest form has always been a focus including the use of outdoor education as a medium for learning.
Pete set up one of the first structured in school behaviour support units focusing of the emotional challenges of behaviour change for learning in those with challenging attitudes to school.
A key feature of Pete's work has been the application of technology to learning and school organisation taking lead roles at National, local and school level.
The application of effective Governance and its importance to the running of schools is reflected in Pete's twelve year commitment to the governing body of another large Birmingham Academy with a particular expertise in the area of financial and resource management.

Pete was part of the first five years of the National College for school Leadership initially establishing online environments for self-directed and group learning and carrying on pioneering the use of community technologies. Leadership development work at NCSL included strategic leadership of technology and input to all programmes developed at the College. Pete the spent two years as Director Organisation development, reflecting a passion for building effective internal cultures for learning organisations.

On leaving NCSL Pete set up System Leadership delivering a variety of engagements including Building Schools for the Future, and working for two years as Director of Open element of Learning and Technology World Forum working to build learning across International boundaries.

Catheryn Knibbs


Catheryn Knibbs is an Engineer by trade (Elec/Mech/Electronic) and was the first woman to complete her trade in the Armed Forces. She has taught Karate and Football to children for over 25 years. Catheryn is an Author, Researcher and trauma therapist completing a Dual MSc in Child and Adult Integrative Psychotherapy at Newman University graduating 2017. She has a BSc (Hons.) in Psychology and PG Dip in Psychotherapy. She is a Child trauma Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor and is accredited and registered with BACP and UKCP.

She is CEO and Director of PEER Support Yorkshire CIC and is the only Cyber-trauma researcher, consultant and public speaker in the United Kingdom.

Cyber-trauma is a theoretical integration of child psychotherapy, psychobiology and neuroscience that takes account of the myriad of interactions with cyberspace and the traumas that can result with and from this medium. Catheryn has interests in the phenomena of cyber related compassion as an antithesis to cybertrauma such as the phenomena of cyberbullying. Perhaps theres an app for that and it exists in the real world rather than the corporeal? Catheryn believes that children have the answer for this through education and technology.

Kate Christopher


Kate taught RE in Secondary schools in London and Essex for 11 years before becoming a national adviser with RE Today. She currently works in a freelance capacity on all things RE; training, writing, teaching and learning. Kate recently completed her PhD in Philosophy of Education at UCL's Institute of Education, focussing on issues of anti-racism, multiculturalism and liberal education. Her interest in the claims made for RE have led to a focus on the purpose and capacity of the subject. Kate lives in Essex with her husband and two children.

Maureen Cooper


Maureen is the founding director of Awareness in Action, an organization dedicated to showing people how to combine well-being and excellence in the work environment, by integrating meditation and compassion as part of their response to everyday situations. Drawing on more than twenty-five years of experience as a professional educator, senior manager in a non-profit organization, an entrepreneur and as an accomplished practitioner of Buddhist meditation, she leads workshops and training programs in the UK and Europe.

Her book, The Compassionate Mind Guide to Reducing Stress is a ground-breaking effort that brings together the best of modern science and the wisdom of the world's ancient contemplative traditions into a practical manual for thriving in today's fast-paced world. The book shows how each of us develops habits to help us survive, which are often not in our own best interests. Through working with meditation and compassion we can learn to transform these habits into new, healthy ways of working with challenges that we face.

Maureen was born in London, UK but love took her to the Netherlands, where she lives with her partner in Amsterdam.

Idriss Assoumanou


Idriss has been a film maker for over 7 years, having worked in various areas and sectors from art and education to corporate and events. He has created a vast range of content from promotional materials to short films. Idriss delivered film workshops to a number of groups of all ages and was invited to teach film at the University of Birmingham to some of their students. His passion in film drives him to be creative and tell better stories through the lens.

Steven Baker


Steven is the Executive Headteacher of two outstanding schools in Merseyside that cater for children aged 5-16 with Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH). His schools use non-confrontational approaches to behaviour management and the secondary SEMH school is a sanction free zone. They have won a range of national awards for their compassionate, collaborative approach and in 2018 the Department for Education cited the primary school as an example of best practice in mental health due to their focus on supporting pupil, and staff, well-being.

Steven has held a range of leadership roles, is a former Ofsted inspector and regularly delivers national keynotes on topics including well-being, managing challenging behaviour and leading strategic change. He develops school leaders for Ambition Institute, quality assures the work of their facilitators and has co-written an online course which was hosted on the FutureLearn platform; the course had almost 10,000 subscribers from 165 countries. Steven is a member of the Ambition Institute and Learnus advisory boards(Learnus is a think tank that aims to bridge the gap between neuroscience research and education) and he was recently made a Founding Fellow of the Chartered College of Teaching for his significant and sustained impact on teaching. Steven is on the SecEd and Headteacher Update editorial board, sits on the panel of judges for the Pearson Teaching Awards and works with the Ministry of Justice in youth and adult establishments nationwide as they focus their efforts on developing a culture of rehabilitation.

A former war crimes investigator, Steven regularly speaks in schools and prisons about the consequences of hatred and was recently presented with an award by Lord Bourne for his outstanding contributions to tackling hatred and building a better society. He is a member of the North West Board of Remembering Srebrenica and is a passionate advocate of tackling intolerance.



Pip is a freelance therapist expert in change and choices for a mindful life. He is a qualified NLP and Mindfulness practitioner and has developed his own processes that make these practices more accessible to his clients. With his teacher partner Louise Darby he has developed the Compassionate Self/Compassionate Classroom project, a free monthly course for anyone working as an educator. Bringing together their unique talents Pip and Louise utilize compassion, mindfulness and practical classroom techniques provide a safe place for staff to develop higher skills for the classroom and life and it works.


Louise has worked for the past 30 years in education as a school teacher, school adviser and freelance consultant supporting schools in difficulty. Currently a supply teacher, she trains ITT students, and with her partner, Pip Barlow, delivers a teachers course, ‘Compassionate Self/Compassionate Classroom’, which brings together compassion, mindfulness and practical teaching techniques.