Meet Our Team

Becca Dean MBE

Founder & CEO

Becca  is a former English teacher and  also the Co-founder of the award winning charity The Girls’ Network. In June 2021 Becca was awarded an MBE in The Queen’s birthday honours list for both her work with The Literacy Hubs and The Girls’ Network.  In 2017 Becca was listed as one of Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs. She is also the winner of the Stylist Magazine ‘Women With Heart’ Awards 2017, been featured in The Independents ‘Happy List’, a recipient of a Shaping Portsmouth Award and was awarded The Teach First Innovation award in 2012. Becca is Portsmouth born and bred and passionate about putting local female voices on the air. Each week she presents ‘In Conversation’ on Express FM where she welcomes a woman who has achieved incredible things both professionally and personally in order to share their story, wisdom and of course their favourite tracks.  Becca believes that coordinated, local, action to raise literacy levels, will lead to increased educational attainment, employment and economic engagement across the city.

A book that changed her life: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness 

“I was given this book by one of my incredible teaching tutors and I subsequently read it to a very special year 9 class in my first year as a teacher. The class was gripped and it created the most moving discussions about love, loss and hope.”

Natasha Turner

Chief Operations Officer

Natasha is a former History and Politics teacher, and academic mentor, who has worked with children to develop the skills they need to improve their attainment. After moving out of a school setting she spent time working in cultural heritage, including with the Education Team at the award winning Weald & Downland Living Museum, and training to deliver high quality learning experience in out of classroom settings.

Trained as a Beach School practitioner, Natasha believes strongly in the importance of using learning  environments to enhance student engagement, change mindset, and deepen their learning.

Favourite books: The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett

“I was first introduced to the Discworld novels in my mid-teens, and immediately feel in love with both the vibrant characters and the magic of Pratchett’s universe. He perfectly blends laugh out loud humour with astute commentary on the way we live our lives. I’ve re-read these more times than I can count!”

Sarah Haydon

Head of Programme

Sarah has taught in Portsmouth and Hampshire schools for over twenty years.  She is passionate about teaching and helping children develop the strategies they need to help them face the challenges of today and the future. 

She loves reading and recognises the importance of children learning to read, as well as reading to learn. Joining The Literacy Hubs provides the opportunity to share her passion for reading as she aims to inspire young readers by encouraging them to ‘escape into a good book!’ “Hearing children discussing what they have read with excitement makes my heart sing.” 

Sarah qualified as a yoga teacher in 2012 and uses yoga to enhance her teaching and support children to develop positive mindsets and a ‘can do’ attitude. In her spare time she enjoys cycling, camping and, of course, reading. 

Favourite Books: Series including Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials and Garth Nix’s The Old Kingdom.   

Sara Parker

Captain (Hub Lead), Pompey Pirates

Sara came to Portsmouth in 2004 where she fell in love the seaside city and completed her degree in English Literature and Media Studies. After graduating she worked in London, and then took part in the Disney Graduate Scheme, working in Disney’s Animal Kingdom alongside attending hospitality lectures. After working as a Teaching Assistant and then completing her teacher training in London, she returned to Portsmouth where she has been a primary school teacher for 10 years. 

In her spare time she enjoys being creative: drawing, painting, making things, and of course reading! I love being outside and enjoy gardening and collecting house plants. I have a lively young son and enjoy spending time with close friends and family.

A book that changed her life: How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

“I love how unashamedly herself she is, and how she is frank about women’s issues. I also love Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, and many of his other books. He handles the themes of mental health and the human condition with care and good humour.”

Amy Thomson

First Mate (Teaching Assistant), Pompey Pirates

Amy works as the Teaching Assistant and Administrator at our Pompey Pirates hub. She fell in love with the city while completing a BA(hons) English Literature degree at Portsmouth University, followed by a Humanities and Social Sciences MRes, for which she achieved a First. For 8 years she also worked as a swim teacher, assisting numerous children in the city to develop this important life skill.

Amy wanted a job where she could work with children and books, stumbling across her dream job at The Literacy Hubs. She regularly shares book reviews online and reads as often as possible.

Ideal location to read: “Either curled up under blankets with a hot chocolate on a cold day, or by the sea on a warm day.”

Gemma Batchelor

Captain (Hub Lead), Portsea Sailors

Gemma was born and raised in Portsmouth, but left to study and then teach in Brighton where she stayed for 10 years. During this time, she also achieved a Masters with distinction focused on supporting children entitled to Pupil Premium funding. Gemma decided to return to Portsmouth after realising that she couldn’t imagine setting down permanent roots anywhere else. 

A passion for providing opportunities and experiences for all children, and wanting to give back in a similar way that she experienced during her own upbringing in Somers Town, drove Gemma towards seeking a role at The Literacy Hubs. 

In her spare time, Gemma is completing a part-time PhD, enjoys travelling and exploring new communities, and walking her sausage dog.

A book that changed her life: ‘Noughts and Crosses’ by Malorie Blackman

“One day in my secondary school library, the librarian suggested this book that changed my relationship with reading. It’s the first book that I couldn’t put down, told anyone who would listen about, and keep going back to even now!”

Elliot Sergejew

First Mate (Programme Administrator/TA), Portsea Sailors

Elliot first came to Portsmouth in 2015 and completed his degree in Creative Writing and Film Studies. He loved the seaside city so much that he had to stay. After graduating he discovered he had a passion for inspiring and teaching others. He began volunteering at the Pompey Pirates hub in May 2021, and fell in love with the role.

“I was amazed by the passion and energy both the team and the Pirates had on the ship. It really was a magical experience and it was the highlight of my week when I could volunteer, and I wanted to help out as much as I could.” In November 2021 he ran 100 miles for the charity and was featured on the radio.

Elliot loves all forms of storytelling and believes all mediums (video games, film, tv art, books) have unique ways to convey a story. He wants to bring this passion and use it to make sessions fun and exciting for young children. Elliot writes sci-fi short stories and hopes to one day write a novel.

A book series that made him fall in love with reading: ‘The Saga of Darren Shan

“I remember not being an avid reader as a child, but I couldn’t put these books down. I’d devour one after the other, gripped on the characters and worlds that came alive in my imagination alone. I found it amazing that words on a page, that from a glance all look the same, could take me on such a journey.”