Meet the team
- Head of Learning and Assessment Services
- Compliance and Risk Team
- Qualifications Development Team
- Learning Development Team
- Customer Service (Learning) Team
John Clark, Head of Learning and Assessment Services
John joined 1st4sport in 2017 as Head of Learning and Assessment following his role as the Product & Services Manager at a specialist employer-recognised awarding organisation providing vocational qualifications and apprenticeship components to the engineering, manufacturing and building services sectors. John has worked with the various UK regulatory bodies, the Department for Education, Skills Funding Agency and UCAS.
Previously in his role as Business Support & Quality Manager John and his team worked closely with higher education institutions, awarding bodies and training organisations, endorsing their generic initial teacher training (ITT) qualifications for the lifelong learning sector in England and Wales, and those for Skills for Life practitioners in ESOL, literacy and numeracy in England.
John has successfully led the implementation of a quality management system and gained ISO 9001:2008 certifications at the first attempt and in a manner which enabled all staff to be involved and fully contribute their knowledge of specialist areas.
John has always had a keen interest in a wide range of sports from football, badminton, motor racing and skiing to running and has successfully completed the London Marathon five times and the Great North Run a total of seven times. He recently completed his Level 2 Power Boat Handling course.
He started training at a local Tae Kwon-do club and when John was awarded his blackbelt several years later, he opened three clubs where he taught, coached, inspired and mentored his students on their own journey to reach their goals.
Every black belt, every expert and every master started as a white belt. Never doubt what you can achieve, if you have any interest in the Martial Arts then take that first step!
Paul Smith, Senior Compliance and Risk Manager
Paul has been working at 1st4sport Qualifications since 2006 where he joined as a Qualifications Development Officer and then quickly progressed to the position of Qualifications Development Manager. He is particularly proud of the qualifications he helped to develop for the Outdoors Sector and ‘Using Sport to Tackle Youth Crime’ both are areas in which he has previous experience. Before working here worked for a national charity designing and running personal development programmes for disaffected young people in Manchester and Rochdale.
Paul then moved on to the role of Incidents and Investigations Manager, responsible for dealing with incidents, complaints and appeals and managing the investigations that are needed for the Awarding Organisation to meet Ofqual requirements. This role has now developed into his current post: Senior Compliance and Risk Manager and encompasses incidents, risk and all things regulatory
At present he is a Level 3 Coach in Kayaking and Level 2 Coach in Open Canoeing as well as being a qualified climbing instructor, ski-boat driver and lifeguard. He previously held instructing qualifications in Archery, Orienteering, Powerboating and Jet Skiing. Paul also used to play slow-pitch Softball in Division 1 of the Manchester Softball League, go climbing and was even known to Heli-board in the Canadian Rockies!
At the moment fatherhood has limited his involvement with sport, apart from chasing after his four young children and playing Wii Sports!
Jo Saunders, Senior Qualifications Development Manager
Jo joined 1st4sport Qualifications in 2007 as a Qualification Development Officer and quickly progressed to the role of Qualifications Development Manager. In 2015 she was promoted to Senior Qualifications Development Manager, overseeing the Qualifications Development Team and the planning of qualification provision aligned to customer demand and market need.
Jo finds her job very rewarding and has enjoyed the challenge of working with some of the smaller governing bodies over the years to develop their coach education provision from inception to UKCC endorsement. Jo also enjoys building relationships with the various coach education teams and working together to ensure coach education remains current, engaging and effective. In her other areas of qualification development and provision, Jo has relished the challenge of learning about unfamiliar subjects and the opportunity to develop her knowledge further.
Away from 1st4sport, Jo is a keen netballer. Her love of the sport started at the age of nine, and she has played more or less continuously since then, with the ‘pinnacle’ of her career when she played at county level at school. Jo now plays 2–3 times a week for two clubs. One is Shipley Netball Club who play in the West Yorkshire league where she has held various roles over the years including team captain, committee member and website officer. The other is the Old Grovians Netball Club – a team of ex-pupils/players from her secondary school that she helped to set up in 2007, though she has now taken a playing-only role while the ‘younger ones’ take on the responsibility.
As a mother of two, Jo can also often be found at the local swimming pool, encouraging her daughters’ love of the water; at the local park, doing endless loops chasing them on trikes/bikes/scooters/roller skates; at a soft-play centre, climbing around (obviously to keep an eye on the children, not for her own enjoyment); or, occasionally, collapsed on the sofa, having a well-earned rest!
Pete Allott, Qualifications Development Manager
Pete joined us in 2004 as a temporary administrator on football coaching qualifications. Over the years he has worked his way up through the ranks to first be a Qualifications Development Manager whose responsibilities include developing coach education for sports including Basketball, Judo and Wrestling.
He enjoys working in sport and giving back to the learners and partners he works with. Pete’s favourite thing about working for 1st4sport Qualifications is being able to make a difference in someone’s life with the qualifications he is responsible for developing. He’s a former Level 2 football coach and has a degree in Sports Exercise Science (BSC) Hons from Leeds Metropolitan University.
A keen triathlete, he was awarded the prize for 1st novice at the Brigg Sprint Triathlon in 2010. His next goal is to make the step up to Olympic distance and then hopefully progress onto the Ironman competition. Keep an eye out on the 2028/32 Olympics where he hopes to have his son trained up and ready to represent Team GB carrying on the success of the Brownlee brothers!
Paul Thornton, Qualifications Development Manager
Paul joined 1st4sport qualifications in February 2015, having spent a number of years working in education in his home town, Manchester, developing qualifications and teaching programmes across a number of industries, including law, business and ICT, most notably online undergraduate degree programmes offered through and certificated by British universities.
At 1st4sport Qualifications, Paul manages a wide range of qualifications, including the Physical Education and School Sport, Multi-Skills Development in Sport, Spectator Safety and First Aid suites as well as our growing suite of social responsibility qualifications.
Paul enjoys his role here, and is enjoying working with national governing bodies and employer groups. Paul is a keen traveller and always snaps up an opportunity to discuss all things sports related with the development partners he works with.
Paul does not have an academic background in sport (but we don’t hold that against him). Instead, Paul completed undergraduate and postgraduate History degree programmes at the University of Manchester, where he one day hopes to return to begin (and successfully end) a PhD.
A keen footballer, Paul has a collection of trophies and medals on the fireplace and his next goal is to work his way through the suite of football coaching qualifications. He also dabbles (with varying success) in a number of other sports, including tennis, badminton, darts and some good old-fashioned running.
Joe has worked at 1st4sport since 2007, starting as a Business Support Representative, progressing to be a Senior Business Support Representative before moving into the Qualification Development Team.
The knowledge Joe has developed of the awarding process has seen him quickly settle into his role and he is now responsible for liaising with a large number of our governing body partners. Recently, Joe was pivotal in the development of the tender for, and securing, the awarding of coaching qualifications within the British Equestrian Federation footprint, and he is now responsible for managing this relationship moving forward.
Joe was a promising young footballer who played for Blackburn Rovers Football Club until a career-ending knee injury curtailed his career at the age of 16. At present he is a Level 2 qualified football coach with experience of coaching in England and the USA before joining 1st4sport Qualifications.
Caroline Gilley, Qualifications Development Manager
Caroline joined 1st4sport in 2016 temporarily working with the Compliance Team. Following an unexpected opportunity Caroline then took on a permanent position within the Qualifications Development Team managing the ACTIVTECH Suite – Technical and Applied General Qualifications designed to meet the Department for Education Performance Table criteria. Caroline is keen to establish these programmes as the preferred choice of learning for Schools, Colleges and Universities within the Sport and Physical Activity Sector. Caroline also oversees the majority of our Apprenticeship and Functional Skills qualifications where reform is ongoing and new opportunities and challenges are expected.
Previously Caroline worked within Further Education managing Employer Engagement, Apprenticeships and Functional Skills in the workplace. Working across these areas, she worked closely with College departments, partners and employers to develop programmes of learning and training.
Outside of work Caroline has recently taken up cycling with a local ladies group who have regularly extended their cycle routes each week, logging the results on ‘Strava’. Progress is good and levels of fitness have improved dramatically!
Family also plays a big part in Caroline’s life. She has four children who have a wide range of interests – with one living and working in Qatar covering the World Cup, one working as a Head Hunter in Recruitment, one studying Fashion and Marketing at University and one studying Motor Sports at College. Caroline also has a grandson to keep he on her toes.
In her spare time (when she has any), Caroline loves going out for meals, travelling abroad and socialising with friends.
Elisha Maguire, Learning Development Manager
In 2015 Elisha graduated from the BA (Hons) Sport Development with Coaching Programmes at Northumbria University. Shortly after graduating she began her career with England Netball as a community development coach/tutor and has worked across several regions within sports development, coach education and project management. Elisha is a qualified netball tutor and coach educator and has developed local netball infrastructures to sustain participation and workforce quality standards. Elisha has also coached at all levels of the netball pathway from grass roots to performance academies. One of her notable successes at England Netball was implementing the Walking Netball programme and delivering this within the community.
Prior to joining 1st4sport, her role as a Regional Manager at Sport Works in Newcastle channelled her knowledge and skills into a coach education and management field. Elisha previously managed sport and educational provision for young people in the North-East and worked closely with a range of awarding bodies including Pearson EdExcel, ASDAN, Sports Leaders UK and the National Open College Network to provide a range of nationally recognised qualifications within Sport, Leadership, Health and Leisure. Further to this role, she provided CPD training and direct line management to the delivery workforce, whilst leading the development of new, innovative programmes in line with national funding streams to support both clients and families through the disability and inclusion offer.
During her time at University, Elisha represented the University in BUCS as a netball player with the responsibility and role as team captain and University Netball Officer. Since graduating she has stayed connected to BUCS as a performance coach for Sheffield Hallam University Netball Club where she coached the team to league promotion.
Outside of work Elisha enjoys country breaks, socialising with friends and is a keen netball player, coach and official. Elisha sits on the committee board to my local club and on the North Yorkshire coaching and performance group. She is looking forward to heading up the U13 North Yorkshire Netball Academy this season as this is where her love for netball and passion for coaching first began.
Nicola Cartwright, Customer Service Manager (Learning)
Nicola joined 1st4sport Qualifications in 2000 after completing a degree in Sport and Exercise Science. After starting out in the FA qualifications team, Nicola moved on to become Head of Business Support.
Her 1st4sport Qualifications highlights have included working with the people she has met and the interaction she has with her clients, building up good relationships and delivering a service that has a positive impact. She enjoys the good team spirit within 1st4sport Qualifications and the fact her role is so varied with new challenges often being sent her way.
After retiring from football which she had played since an early age Nicola now plays tennis for her local club. She is also a member of a running club and completed the London Marathon in 2017
Nicola McCafferty, Senior Customer Service Advisor
Nicola joined 1st4sport Qualifications in November 2013 as Business Support Representative, and progressing to be a Senior Business Support Representative. She works across a range of qualifications including Hockey, Triathlon and Education and Training suite.
What she enjoys most about her job is helping our recognised centres and respond to their queries, as well as working with the people in her team.
Nicola used to do athletics and play hockey; her focus is now on joining the gym.
Julie joined Coachwise in July 2015 as a part time Customer Service Advisor working across a range of sports including Weight Lifting and Archery.
Away from work, Julie has two grown up children and a precious granddaughter. Both of her children are involved with sports and have represented Yorkshire at Football and Table Tennis – her daughter also represented England Schools at Table Tennis and had the privilege of been part of the baton relay team carrying the Commonwealth Torch!
Together with family and friends, Julie arranges many fundraising events for charity, in particular Wheatfields Hospice. In 2015 they raised over £7,000 and are hoping to raise over £10,000 in 2017.
Julie enjoys spending time with her family and socialising and is a keen supporter of Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos,
Debbie joined 1st4sport Qualifications in August 2015 as a Customer Service Advisor and looks after our football qualifications.
Debbie finds helping recognised centres and learners responding to their queries very rewarding and enjoys working with the people in her team.
Away from work, Debbie has two daughters and four grandchildren, all of which are very sport-orientated. Debbie’s youngest daughter plays rugby league and her eldest daughter used to manage her son’s rugby team and two of her granddaughters are involved in dance.
When Debbie gets time to unwind, she enjoys relaxing at her caravan and holidays in the sun.
Laura started at Coachwise in March 2016 and has loved getting to know the team she works with. Laura covers a range of our qualifications including Triathlon, Multi Skills and Education and Training. The varied roles of the job help to keep her interested and motivated to learn more.
Away from work Laura is kept busy looking after her horse and enjoys riding to unwind. She also enjoy keeping active doing fitness classes and Yoga. Laura enjoys travelling to different countries to see different cultures and – of course – the sunshine!