Meet the Portal team. We are lucky to have an incredibly talented team here at Portal, with expertise in a wide range of roles and industries, including former headteachers, secondary education, higher and further education, work based learning, management, sports and more.

Find out more about the team below. Thinking of joining Portal? Head over to our Careers page.


Andrea Matthews

Performance Manager

Andrea joined Portal Training in May 2016 with experience of working in Work Based Learning over the past 17 years. She has had numerous roles including Assessor, Internal Quality Assurer, External Quality Assurer and most recently Apprenticeship Performance Manager for WBL contracts in England and Wales. Andrea has achieved a number of qualifications in the field of Management and Leadership including the Higher Apprenticeship ILM Level 5 in Management and Leadership and ILM Level 7 in Strategic Leadership. She has delivered Management and Leadership apprenticeships in a variety of settings including Education, Accountancy, Digital Marketing and most recently with a group of apprentices in Swansea City Football Club.

Cate Harnden

Management Assessor

Cate joined Portal in 2018, following a broad experience of working within education, including delivering wellbeing and health promotion programmes for Gwynedd Youth Services, and as a History and Sociology teacher. She has also worked as a primary school teacher which culminated in achieving an Early Education Advisory Teacher post for Wrexham County, providing foundation phase training and support to playgroups and schools. Her focus was on Welsh language provision, equality and diversity, and the Digital Competence Framework.

Elfed Wood

WBL Team Leader

Elfed joined Portal in 2018 as a Welsh medium Management Assessor having previously worked as a Headteacher at 4 different primary schools in Carmarthenshire. Elfed is a trained ESTYN Peer Inspector. He is passionate about developing practitioners into confident and inspiring leaders. He enjoys travelling, music and sports, and is a proud Llanelli Scarlets rugby follower.

Heidi Barbrook

Management Assessor

Heidi joined Portal in 2019 with over 23 years previous experience working within both work based learning and commercial training. Heidi has accomplished, a number of positions within the sector over the years. She commenced her journey into the Work based learning field as assessor/tutor, and naturally progressed into management roles throughout the later half of her career in areas such as Learning and Development and Work based learning. Heidi is very passionate about learning and development and continually has a positive approach to training with the capability to motivate teams and individuals.

Jonathan Watkins-Stuart

WBL Team Leader

Jonathan is responsible for working with Learners who are undertaking their ILM level 4 and Level 5 Leadership and Management qualification along with essential skills Wales literacy, numeracy and ICT. He provides support on the qualification, undertaking relevant assessment methods to work towards completion. Jonathan also works on the Moodle system, enrolling learners, working with resources and our online assessment process.

Lisa Bartlett

Management Assessor ​

Lisa joined Portal in 2020 with over 15 years of previous experience working within the Work based learning sector. Lisa Joined the work based learning sector after completing her PGCE. Lisa has previously held a Senior Management role as well as leading on Curriculum development and Apprenticeship Management. Lisa is also a qualified IQA and has led on the development and introduction of a range of qualifications during her time working in the work based learning sector. Lisa is a very passionate and self motivated person who thrives on supporting others to achieve. Lisa has a very positive approach and outlook with a strong belief that everyone can develop and achieve their goals.

Melissa O'Connor

Management Assessor ​

Melissa joined Portal as an ILM management assessor in 2017 after 11 years of teaching in both the FE and HE sectors. During this time she held the roles of module leader, programme manager and HE Curriculum Co-ordinator. Melissa has experience of teaching across a range of levels from Level 2 GCSE to Level 6 BSc Honours Degree. Her subject specialisms include marketing, business sustainability and developing reflective practice. Melissa is extensively travelled and has taught in Cambodia. She has a keen interest in educational sustainability with a particular focus on the Sustainable Development Goals. Melissa enjoys travelling to new places, yoga and practices both mindfulness and meditation.

Pauline Jones

Management Assessor

Pauline joined Team Portal in 2019 with several years of experience in Work Based Learning across a variety of sectors, including manufacturing industries, education, public sector, health boards and the emergency services. Pauline graduated in 2000 from Bangor University with a BA Joint Honours in Management and German. After graduating she worked as a retail business manager for 13 years before moving into Work Based Learning. Pauline is passionate about lifelong learning and enjoys seeing learners achieve their potential, along with the benefits that continuous professional development can bring.

Rhianydd James

Management Assessor

Rhianydd is an ex-Executive Headteacher who had responsibility for leading three schools in South Ceredigion. Her leadership and management experience allows her to effectively support learners on the ILM Leadership and Management courses to ensure that they develop the necessary skills to develop as effective leaders and managers.

Sarah Shwartz

Management Assessor

Sarah is an experienced Management Trainer and Assessor. She joined Portal in 2018, following a career in operational management, organisational development and more recently work-based learning. Sarah has held operational leadership and management roles with in the hospitality and utility industries. Whilst in work-based learning Sarah has delivered leadership and management qualifications across a variety of sectors including retail, emergency services, manufacturing, local government and education. Sarah is passionate about continuous professional development and enjoys supporting learners to meet their full potential and progress their career goals.

Jake Lakin

Management Assessor

Jake joined Portal in 2021 from a background predominantly within sports coaching and management having graduated with a Sport Studies degree in 2012. Since then, Jake has held a variety of positions within the sports industry such as coaching and performance analysis. Jake’s most recent role came as an Operations Manager for just over 5 years in a small business providing physical activity opportunities to primary school children both within schools and community settings. During this time, Jake also completed his ILM Level 5 in Leadership and Management with Portal.

Steve Cribb

Management Assessor

Steve joined Portal Training in November 2021 with experience of working in Work Based Learning over the past 15 years in both FE and private Training providers. He has had numerous roles including Assessor, Regional Manager, Business Development and for the last few years has been an Operations Director for a WBL training organisation. With a background in the Leisure Industry, Steve has achieved a number of qualifications in the field of Management and Leadership including the Higher Apprenticeship in Management. Steve has delivered management apprenticeships at all levels and is passionate about coaching and developing individuals practical understanding of management. Steve is involved in the coaching and performance analysis of his local rugby team.

James Hodkinson

Management Assessor

James joins Portal with experience working within the sports industry, primarily within coaching and facilities management, alongside working within Higher Education. He is a big believer in work-based learning and the use of reflective practice to further enhance one’s knowledge and skills, having used his own practical experiences to develop himself as an individual and continue his personal learning journey. James also values engaging in continuous professional development and achieving high level qualifications, having attained a Masters degree and a UEFA B Licence in the past couple of years. Away from Portal, he is a head coach within an FAW Tier 2 Football Academy in South Wales, is a huge Manchester United supporter and a keen cricket player.

Julia James

Management Assessor

Julia joined Portal in 2022, having taught at a high school in west Wales for over 31 years. During her time there, she held different roles, including the head of the Welsh Department, Welsh Baccalaureate co-ordinator, Literacy and Numeracy Co-ordinator, Welsh, English, Welsh Baccalaureate, Media Studies, Maths, Health and Social Care, Business Studies, R.E and Sport. JuliaI has also been president of the teacher’s union UCAC, between 2019-2021. and a team leader for markers at the WJEC for over twenty years.

Compliance and Conformance

Samantha Thole

Senior Data Administrator

Sam joined Portal in 2018 following 14 years working in the work-based learning sector. Previously she worked for a lead provider in Wales supporting the delivery of apprenticeship programmes. She has extensive knowledge of the apprenticeship programme, particularly compliance and auditing. Her current role includes ensuring that we comply with all obligations of our work-based learning contract.

Dania Edwards

Conformance Manager

Dania joined Portal in 2021, having worked in Work Based Learning since 2004. Dania gained a wealth of experience in Assessing, Internal Quality Assurance, Operations Team Management, Auditing and Compliance, before becoming Conformance Manager for Portal. Her role involves ensuring rules and processes set by the Welsh Government are followed, and to ensure Portal processes are effective and compliant for audit. Dania manages and works alongside our amazing team of administrators.

Keane Watts

Compliance Administrator

Keane began as a Compliance Administrator at Portal Training in March 2022. Prior to this, Keane completed a Business Administration course with a previous employer in Work Based Learning. Outside of Portal, he enjoys playing football and is currently playing for Penybont FC in the Cymru Premier.


Gwawr Booth

Managing Director

Gwawr has been with Portal since 2010, joining after spending more than fifteen years teaching in large secondary schools. During her classroom career she held a number of posts including Assistant Head, Head of Department and Key Skills Coordinator. She is passionate about helping achieve improvement across all types of teaching for learners of all abilities and aims for Portal to provide equal quality of training provision in both English and Welsh.

Janice Hart

Director of Quality

Janice has been with Portal since 2014. Prior to starting her journey with Portal, Janice undertook a number of roles within the work Based Learning Sector which included; assessing, quality assurance and delivering training within the Public Service sector. She previously worked for Service Schools Education in Germany before moving back to the UK where she managed a Foundation Phase setting in London.

Clare Jeffries

Director of Operations

Clare joined Portal in July 2016 after 13 years working within Further educational establishments and Work Based Learning. During her career Clare has held a number of Leadership roles such as Operation Manager Roles and Senior Management roles, leading departments. Clare strongly believes in providing the companies that she works for with an European dimension and as a result is a member of the Erasmus+ VET Consultation group. Clare is passionate about enhancing learning and partnership working to ensure learners have an outstanding learning experience.


Sue Mackenzie

Senior Finance Officer

Sue started working with Portal in 2017 after switching careers in 2010. She worked within the Finance Department at ACT Training to gain experience and train in the industry whilst studying for her exams to enable her to work in accounts. Sue was then offered a role as Finance Assistant following qualification. Sue then continued to work for ACT Training for a period of 5 years until she joined the Portal Team in 2017.

Team Engagement

Sarah Heenan

Head of HR

Sarah joined Portal in 2018 bringing with her vast experience of the Work Based Learning sector. Sarah’s journey began delivering work-based qualifications progressing into quality assurance and later evolving into organisational learning and development and HR Management. Sarah strives to make a positive a difference for employees in the workplace and is passionate in supporting Portal’s greatest asset - its people.

IQA/ Quality

Alison Knapman


Alison joined Portal in 2017 after working within FE establishments and schools. During her career Alison has held a number of leadership and management roles including Head of School, Director of Faculty and temporary role of Vice Principal. Alison has managed a wide range of provision including apprenticeships, fulltime and schools provision, within a portfolio of various subjects. Alison is passionate about providing outstanding teaching and learning opportunities by developing diverse and creative assessment strategies to engage learners to reach their potential. Examples include managing and business planning the curriculum design of external learning companies such as a hair and beauty salon in Gloucester, a restaurant in Cheltenham and a construction renovation company. Alison gained her BA (Hons) in Education and Training and MA in Leadership and Management at the University of South Wales.

Dawn Rice

ESW Specialist/IQA

Dawn has held a number of positions within the Training sector, beginning her career in the industry in 1996, Dawn’s passion for vocational qualifications grew from her own experience as an Apprenticeship candidate herself. This developed into an opportunity to become an Assessor. Since the start of her work based learning journey Dawn has enhanced her skills through a variety of roles including lead verifier, Quality manager and in the last 10 years Team manager for groups of Assessors and Verifiers delivering a variety of routes including Business Administration, Customer Service, Health and Social Care and Childcare.

Gwenno Llwyd Jones

Development Consultant & ILM IQA

Gwenno Jones joined Portal in January 2016 as a Welsh Medium Management Assessor having previously taught at Ysgol Cymer Rhondda in her role as a Head of Physics. Gwenno graduated as a Bachelor in Civil and Environmental Engineering (BEng) in 2010 from Cardiff University. As a Science teacher, Gwenno led Numeracy initiatives within the department and mentored PGCE Science students during their school placements. Gwenno is passionate about travel and keeping fit, she enjoys running and mountain walking on the weekends and competed in the 2016 Snowdon Race.

Jo Norton

Quality Manager

Jo joined Portal in 2016 following a professional career in Leadership and Management within education and private industry establishments. She has held various management positions and over the past 10 years has worked as a leader and manager in education and training to include teaching, assessment, quality assurance and curriculum development roles. Outside of Portal Jo undertakes freelance work as a lecturer in MSc Strategic Leadership. Jo holds a PGCE, MSc in Leadership & Management, is currently undertaking the L7 Executive Coaching & Mentoring qualification. Jo is a member of ILM and is currently pursuing opportunities for Doctoral Level study. Jo believes that any education or training programme should engage and challenge and is a strong advocate of the benefits that continuous professional development, at any level, can bring.

Josh Young


Josh joined Portal in 2019, having previously worked for several training providers from across the UK. He has 11 years of experience in a work-based learning context, and he has held a number of positions within the sector. His experience extends to a number of industries including management, hospitality, IT and sports development. Josh has a keen interest in sport, particularly football, where he volunteers as a youth coach and currently runs a senior side in Cardiff.

Kim Ford

Lead IQA

Kim joined Portal in 2021 with over 15 years experience within work based learning, the majority of which has been in a Quality based role. She has a strong belief that everyone should have the opportunity to learn and develop new skills and that the delivery of qualifications should be of the highest standard to help support and nurture individuals. She is also keen to develop the use of technology to help support learners, and is involved in developing a digital strategy to aid learning and provide online resources. On a personal level, Kim likes going walking, enjoys live music and loves rugby, volunteering in the sport at junior level.


Kelsey Williams

Learner Recruitment Officer

Kelsey joined Portal in October 2017 as a Relations Support Officer following 6 years as a primary school teacher. She has achieved a BA (Ed) in Primary Teaching and an MA in Educational Practice and is passionate about teaching and learning, and helping learners to achieve their potential. Kelsey has experience in teaching a range of abilities and has been lucky enough to have taught in Swaziland and South Africa.

Phil O'Brien

Business Development Officer

Phil has amassed 18 years of experience in Work Based Learning in a number of different roles. He is a fully qualified assessor, a role he performed for 3 years before returning to the recruiting of learners for qualifications. The remainder of that time has been spent working in Business Development roles where he has specialised in building long term partnerships with employers to ensure that their training needs are identified and met. Phil has an Msc in Information and Communication Management and has been part of the Portal Team since January 2020.

Shawn Staples

Business Development Officer

Shawn joined Portal Training in November 2021 with experience of working in Work Based Learning over the past 5 years in ACT Training. He had a Business Development role and was very heavily involved in the Health & Social care sector and making sure their staff were up to date with the Core qualification. Shawn is very passionate about learning and development and continually has a positive approach to training with the capability to motivate individuals. Shawn is involved in the coaching and performance of his local football team; he is also leading on the sports qualification for Portal.

Jane Candy

Learner Recruitment Officer

Jane joined Portal in 2021 bringing 30 years of experience gained from working in many different industries. She has worked in Reception and Administration roles in the Private Health Care sector, Insurance, Manufacturing, Worked Based Learning and Further Education for 16-18 year olds. Her current role is to ensure new Learners are enrolled on to their course in a professional, supportive and friendly manner. Her aim is to make the process as simple and as speedy as possible for the Learner.

Marketing and Design

Laura Atkinson

Marketing and Communications Officer

Laura joined Portal in 2021 after 4 years in the medical device industry. With a degree in Photography and Journalism from the University of Chester, Laura has also spent time working as a reporter, before finding her calling in Marketing in 2014. Laura is passionate about all aspects of marketing, but especially loves creating content and delving into analytics. She is currently completing a Level 4 Digital Marketing Apprenticeship.