Our Education Team

Meet the team delivering education programmes nationwide.

01. Neil Stuart, National Education Manager

Neil has over 20 years’ experience working with people with autism, aged from 18 months to 65 years.

He was a registered teacher from 1990 to 2014 in England and New Zealand. Since 1993 he has taught children with Autism exclusively and he established the first centre for children with Aspergers Syndrome based on a mainstream school in Southern England. He came to Auckland in 2001 to support the teaching practice of students with Autism at Oaklynn School, West Auckland and in 2002 he set up and designed the first purpose built primary school centre for children with autism in New Zealand at Te AraHou, Glenavon School. Neil was an outreach teacher for Mainstream Schools and is often asked to advise on the inclusion of school children with autism through the Intensive Wraparound Service and he has worked closely with families through his work with the EarlyBird programme in which he is a Train the Trainer.

Neil has written several externally evaluated autism specific education programmes, including FANZ, Way to Play and Tilting the Seesaw and had engaged and collaborated with Learning Support at the Ministry of Education in Auckland to train early intervention teachers and speech language therapists on how to engage young children with autism. He has also developed a programme for early childhood teachers that has been used by SELO, Ministry of Education in Te Tai Tokerau, Auckland wide, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Hawkes Bay/Tairawhiti. He regularly presents at national and international conferences and was selected to speak at APAC 2017, Asia Pacific Autism Conference.

02. Tanya Blakey, National Educator

Tanya is a mother of two daughters, one of whom has autism.

She is an EarlyBird® Trainer and has worked as a Teacher Aide in a Special School. Tanya is a joint contributor and developer of the Autism New Zealand suite of education programmes, and she travels the country delivering them. Her valuable experience living with and caring for someone with autism provides excellent insights and adds a realistic, down-to-earth perspective to our programmes.

03. Jo Charman, National Educator

Jo had been working with Autism New Zealand for eight years as an Outreach Coordinator in Auckland, supporting and working together with families/whānau and individuals on their journey with autism.

As an Educator, Jo was also busy in the community presenting information and training to schools, community groups and other support agencies. Now as a full-time Educator and as a mother of 2 boys – one of whom is on the Autism Spectrum, Jo provides a unique perspective from both a professional and (often humorous and ‘real’) personal perception.

04. Moira Chisholm, National Educator

Moira’s background is in teaching. Until 2020, she was a deputy principal, SENCO and full time classroom teacher

Her passion for education, especially in developing programmes based on hauora (well-being), is what inspired her to join our education team. Moira is now travelling the country presenting our Tilting the Seesaw for Teams programme.

Taha hinengaro (mental and emotional well-being) and taha whanau (social well-being) are at the heart of her teaching. Her research based approach and classroom experiences put her in a position to bring teachers and families together to achieve the best possible outcomes for our tamariki.

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