The Oaka Books Team

A passionate, motivated team of SEN specialists, Oaka Books produces interesting and stimulating topic packs for visual learners.

If children are engaged, they will learn. It really is that simple. The challenge is in engaging them! If you have a child who is struggling, we get it. We have been there.

My daughter is dyslexic and she has a slow processing speed. She hates reading, cannot concentrate for long periods and is easily distracted. Learning and revision were frustrating and demoralising experiences.

In 2012 she sat her Common Entrance exams. As the exam dates loomed she became increasingly stressed about her revision, her results were poor and disaster was imminent.

Struggling to find interesting revision books, I began turning her notes into cartoons, we played out stories with toy men, added some silly accents, made it fun and hey presto she was actually remembering information!

She gained her first ever A grade in an exam and was thrilled. Having failed for so long, she now realises that she CAN achieve.

With so many hours of work turning her notes into our new fun formula for learning, and with friends asking for copies, I decided to create this series of booklets and SEN resources to help other children who like to learn in a more visual way.

Our favourite saying is ‘Reach for the stars and you might just land on the moon!’ Who knows where unlocking your child’s potential may lead! Most importantly though, we aim to help children gain confidence and self belief.

 – Bambi Gardiner, creator of the Oaka Learning System

These SEN resources could not be compiled without the help of a number of education professionals:

Dr Susie Nyman, Curriculum Manager for Health and Social Sciences

Dr Susie Nyman is passionate about discovering how children learn and supporting them in ways which enable them to succeed. She was appointed as a Biology teacher at The Sixth Form College Farnborough in 1995, and subsequently as Curriculum Manager for Health and Social Care where she has worked ever since.

Susie strives to raise students’ achievements and support them in ways which enables them to succeed. She works with students on an individual basis or with small groups delivering workshops deploying a range of innovative and Multi-sensory teaching techniques to assist their learning including her ‘Equality and Diversity Tree’ and famous puppets!

In addition to her teaching, Susie has provided seminars and INSET training to PGCE students at Kingston University, as well as in a number of local schools and colleges on teaching strategies. Since February 2017, Susie has been invited to present seminars on ‘Multi-sensory Techniques’ at The Learning Differences Conventions in Australia, The Sixth Form College, Farnborough, Richmond College, The Helen Arkell Centre, Bell House, The Oratory School, The Herefordshire SENCO Conference and The Tes SEN Show 2018.

She was filmed ‘in action’ for The British Dyslexia Association as well as Oaka Books, and the footage is now available on YouTube. She has written a number of study aid resources that are now part of our product range.

In recognition of over 21 years continued service at The Sixth Form College Farnborough, Susie has been nominated three times by the College for the ‘TES FE Teacher of the Year Award’ This is an honour of which she is immensely proud.

Dr Tim Danks BSc PhD (semi-retired teacher)

Tim obtained his Chemistry degree whilst working in industry. He also obtained a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Warwick. Subsequently, he undertook postdoctoral research at the University in Strasbourg, France. For 12 years he was a lecturer in Organic Chemistry at The University of Bangor North Wales, and at The University of Surrey. He moved to Oxfordshire in 2002 to teach Chemistry at KS3, KS4 and KS5 in a boys’ boarding school. Later on, he became the head of Chemistry, where he remained for 18 years.

His passion is about making Chemistry accessible and enjoyable to all. Working with dyslexic pupils has given him an insight into how to make difficult Chemistry topics fun and engaging.

Kate Doehren MA Ed, B.Ed Hons, RSADip, SpLD/Dyslexia (former Director of Learning Support, Hurstpierpoint College)

Kate’s interest in dyslexia (and all specific difficulties) was ignited when her elder son had problems early in his school career. At just 6 years old, in spite of being a mathematical brainbox, he couldn’t master the basics of reading and writing, nor could he carry out simple tasks such as tying laces and doing up buttons. At the time, Kate was working with students with emotional and behavioural difficulties, many of whom also seemed to have difficulties with literacy. When the opportunity to take a post-graduate qualification in teaching and assessing for specific difficulties presented itself, she jumped at the chance.

Following 27 years of teaching students with EBD, she has worked at Hurst College for over 10 years, where the ‘every child matters’ mantra really applies. As part of her MAEd Kate conducted research into ‘Dyslexia and Self-Esteem’.

‘There is nothing more pleasing than seeing an under-confident child blossom into a successful student, something the LS team at Hurstpierpoint witness every year. As proof that everyone can achieve their dreams, my son has just embarked on his Doctorate, having gained good honours in his first degree and attaining his Masters in Research.’ Kate Doehren.

Kate sadly died in December 2017 but her enthusiasm and tireless desire to help SEN children on their journeys lives on, we very much hope, in our products.

Stuart Lawes BSc PGCE (Private Tutor)

With a degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as ‘A’ Levels in Chemistry, Physics and Zoology, Stuart has worked both in industry (research) and education. He is a qualified science teacher, and has been teaching science for 14 years. For the past four years, he has been a private tutor for Maths, Science, Chemistry, Physics, IT and Biology for KS3, KS4, KS5 (A Level) and first year medical students. With a dyslexic son, Stuart brings to Oaka Books a personal knowledge of the benefits of the use of effective learning resources.

Su McRae Bsc(Hons) PGCE (Bath) MinstLM (Abingdon School)

A Biology teacher at Abingdon School, Su teaches all ability groups from 11-18 years old. She studied Pathobiology at Reading University and then spent 12 years in the Army, involved with training a wide range of recruits.

When she left the Army, Su began teaching adults and her understanding of the importance of different learning styles grew. With two dyslexic sons, Su is an experienced science teacher with a personal understanding of learning difficulties with a particular understanding of the challenges this presents for Common Entrance and KS3.

Sarah Beynon MS(Cantab) MSc  PGCE PGDip SEN (Abingdon School)

Currently a learning support teacher at Abingdon School, Sarah specialises in Science and Maths. She studied Natural Sciences at Cambridge University followed by a Masters Degree at Reading University. Over the last 20 years, she has had the opportunity to live and teach in several African countries as well as in Europe and UK. During this time, Sarah met people with all kinds of backgrounds and approaches to learning and realised how finding the particular approach that works for them can make all the difference to their ability to succeed.

Holly Webb, Learning Support Assistant

As a dyslexic pupil, who struggled at school, Holly has a unique understanding of how it feels to be the one who doesn’t ‘get it’. Learning Support at Hurstpierpoint College enabled her to realise that she wasn’t ‘daft’ or ‘stupid’, simply that her brain processed information in a different way.

Holly now works at Hurst, supporting students both academically and in sporting activities. Sport is her passion; she is a national javelin thrower, with aspirations for the next Olympics.

‘Students should never give up; everyone is good at something and everyone has something to offer.’ Holly Webb.

Kevin Smith (Westbourne House School)

With over 25 years teaching experience, Kevin has a wide knowledge of teaching KS1, KS2 and KS3 pupils across a range of subjects although his main academic focus is Classical Civilisations for KS2. Kevin has been key to the development of our series of KS1 and KS2 topic packs.