Sarah Stollery (she/her), Co-Founder and Co-Lead
Sarah is the Co-Founder of the Cabin and a Lead Facilitator on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. She became interested in self-direction and consent-based education after becoming a mother and realising that her values and beliefs about education were totally out of alignment with the mainstream system she trained in and if she wanted to continue working with young people, she would have to create something herself. Thus began a years-long endeavour with Sophie to create a space that would enable her to realise her vision of whole person-centred living and learning with a genuine focus on wellbeing and authentic relationships, manifest through The Cabin’s Guiding Principles.
As well as leading activities herself, partnering with children leading activities or simply joining in, Sarah quite likes the backend operations of The Cabin. She can sometimes be found washing up in the kitchen or staring intensely at a spreadsheet and she is likely the one you’ll hear from if you get in touch with us.
As well as working at The Cabin, Sarah teaches and practices yoga, passionate about ways to self-care through movement, meditation and breathwork as well other wellbeing practices off the mat. Her background in cognitive neuroscience enables her to approach the wisdom traditions with both a scientific lens as well as a spiritual perspectice. She enjoys bringing her love of yoga to The Cabin – and sometimes her gong too!
Sophie Christophy (she/her) Co-Founder and Co-Lead at the Cabin and the Lodge
Sophie is the Co-Founder of the Cabin and the Lodge, In 2016 Sophie established the philosophy and concept of 'Consent-Based Education' as practiced at the Cabin and the Lodge, and with support from Sarah, developed the Guiding Principles which thanks to the team and community are brought to life at the Cabin and the Lodge.
Sophie co-leads at the Cabin on Wednesdays and the Lodge on Thursdays. She loves running the Chair training, that enables anyone in the community that wants to to lead the opening and closing meetings. She also loves working on different ways to support the staff team and community in exploring and getting the most out of the Guiding Principles personally and together. She loves planning and cooking Community Lunch at the Lodge, and playing the piano, sitting on the hill, and going exploring about in the village with people at the Cabin. Sophie's main focus at the Cabin and the Lodge is on culture creation, practice development, and everyone's overall wellbeing.
Before the Cabin opened, Sophie co-ran two year long grassroots 'not school' projects, the first to help build and stabilise the local home education community, and the second to explore democratic, self-directed and children's rights principles as a community of families. Since 2017 she has shared ad promoted Consent-Based Education through writing and speaking, workshops and events, and cycles of her Consent-Based Education course: working directly with many parents and educators from the UK and around the world who want to integrate consent-based education into their lives, relationships and practice.
Haifa Khawaja (she/her), Cabin Facilitator
Haifa is an artist and teacher with a background in architecture. Her work has been displayed in various exhibitions, and she is the author of Altair Design Islamic Patterns and Crystal Cave. She is currently working on new Geometric Art activity book and resources. She has been teaching Art & Geometry since she completed her MA in 2002. Haifa is particularly interested in the study of geometry in nature, and in using geometry as a cross-curriculum- STEM- teaching tool.
Haifa is passionate about Steiner Philosophy and Waldorf education. When she was unable to find local schools with these approaches, she decided to home educate with her three children. She has loved the home ed journey and is an active member in her local home ed group!
Haifa decided to volunteer at the Cabin out of a curiosity to learn about how a democratic learning environment works, and with the hope of extending her son's circle of friends - Oak is now an active member of the Cabin community too. The Cabin continues to be the space where it's fun to BE, where making friends is based on trust and respect, and learning new skills is based on following the child's interests, also where most valued Play takes place!
Hannah Payne (she/they), Cabin Facilitator
Hannah is a multi-passionate educator with particular interests in mathematics, art and gaming. They have a masters in Mathematics from UEA and have worked in mainstream education settings as well as one to one tutoring maths.
Hannah was a participant on Sophie’s Consent-Based Education course in 2017. Collaborating with the young people and other facilitators at the Cabin, exploring interests and supporting each other’s journeys brings them so much joy.
Hannah is a home educating parent and their children attend the Cabin with them. Some of Hannah's many passion pursuits include gaming (computer and table top), puzzles, knitting, crochet, painting, mandala design, building Lego, nail art, and astrology. They also loves yoga, which they’ve practiced with Sarah, music, deep conversations and self-discovery.
Gem Kennedy (they/them), Cabin Co-Lead Facilitator and Lodge Volunteer Facilitator
Gem is a Co-Lead at the Cabin on Tuesdays and since September 2021, has also been a Volunteer Facilitator at The Lodge.
There are so many things that inspire Gem about working at The Cabin, but being part of such a collaborative, supportive and nurturing community brings them a huge amount of joy! They can often be found playing the ukulele in the garden or enjoying as many games of Dobble as possible!
Outside of The Cabin, Gem is a transformational practitioner, activist and podcaster. Their work predominantly supports queer and/or neurodivergent folks working to bring about social change. Gem also co-runs workshops for parents and carers on supporting young people around LGBTQ+ issues. As a passionate body liberation advocate, Gem loves holding workshops at festivals and body positive events.
After gaining an Honours degree in Dutch and German from University College London, Gem began teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and later went on to work as Head of Research in international recruitment. Gem loves spending time in nature, meeting friends and spends a lot of time thinking about activism and how to live more sustainably. They are a parent to two children who attend the Cabin, and as a family, have been unschooling since 2015.
Gail Gardner (she/her), Cabin Facilitator
Gail is a home educating parent and her daughter attends The Cabin. She has a BA in European Studies from Plymouth University and a PGCE specialising in Early Years teaching from London Metropolitan University. She taught primary and early years for six years in Chelmsford before deciding a different career might be a much needed change from the education system. She then spent two years as an education advisor for a working animal charity, travelling across Africa and the Middle East, meeting the most amazing animals and people.
In her spare time Gail loves to run and work out, sports have always been a pleasure and hobby. Gail also enjoys reading, particularly children’s books, and trying to learn to garden successfully. She finds volunteering at The Cabin inspiring as the people, both adults and children, are constantly coming up with such varied activities and interesting conversations. Gail feels The Cabin is truly a wonderful community to be a part of.
Emma Kerslake (she/her), Cabin Co-Lead Facilitator
Emma has been home educating her three children for five years. She trained as a primary school teacher and has a BA Honours degree in French. She also taught in France. After having her third child Emma knew she wanted more freedom and bodily autonomy for her own children and their educational journey. She co-founded Nature Rangers, a regular themed session for home educating families to support and nurture the local community with a group of other home ed parents. Emma and her family were part of The Orchard Democratic Families Project. She is one of the admins for the Bishop’s Stortford and Saffron Walden Home Education group and she volunteers with The British Hens Welfare Trust.
Her current passions include learning about and using medicinal plants, painting, running, yoga and baking. Two of her children currently attend the Cabin. She loves how the Cabin offers everyone the opportunity to stay in alignment with themselves and self-direct their own learning.
Max Hope (she/her), Co-Founder and Co-Lead at The Lodge, Cabin Volunteer
Max wants to radically change education. She has seen how damaging a one-size-fits-all approach can be for children and young people who do not fit the mould. She as dedicated years of her professional life to being a university academic, driven by a desire to build a stronger and fairer system that works for all children, young people and adults. She is highly committed to offering greater freedom in education, to advancing social justice, and to deepening our connections with the wild world.
In joining the team at the Cabin and co-founding the Lodge, Max is embarking on a new adventure. Her work as an academic was to research, explore and promote alternative ways of educating. it was aspirational and shone a light on how education could be different. Her work at the Cabin and the Lodge is in the here-and-now. It is real. It gives her a unique opportunity to create and be part of the world that she has been working towards for so many years. Yes! Whilst being at The Cabin and the Lodge, Max enjoys storytelling, playing games outdoors, hanging out in wild spaces, baking and hosting sharing circles.
Max is a regular volunteer facilitator at the Cabin and Co-Leads at the Lodge. Alongside her work here, Max is director of Rewilding Education, founder of Write on Changemakers and co-facilitator for Call of The Wild, a year-long wild programme run by Wildwise in Devon. She is also deeply immersed in her own deschooling and rewilding processes. For more info on Max: www.maxhope.co.uk
Eloise Connelly (she/her), Resources Volunteer
Eloise is a home educating parent who became interested in Alfie Kohn’s ideas on unconditional parenting and the benefits of attempting to parent without punishments or rewards when her daughter, Kyra, was a toddler. This led her to look for a form of education which was interest led and fun, geared around individual children’s learning styles and that could evolve as needs changed.
In 2018, this search led her to the Cabin where she feels Kyra has very much found all of this; along with a lovely community of people, a focus on creative, non blame based solutions when people have clashed, and the opportunity to develop the skills people need to negotiate and assert needs within a group. Eloise has been a volunteer facilitator at the Cabin gaining a greater understanding, first hand, of how the community runs, and is currently our resources volunteer, helping us to source resources that the community has requested and needs.
Eloise has a BA Honours degree in English Literature from Lancaster University. She enjoys arts and crafts and has been very involved with running activities and fund raising for her local home education hub group, regularly practices Vinyasa yoga.
Alex Smiles (they/them), Cabin Volunteer
Alex is a consent driven, self directed, unschooling parent of three, who identifies as a neurodivergent, queer, intersectional feminist. Alex loves volunteering at the cabin because they love working in inclusive and affirming spaces supporting young people, they also love the skill sharing that happens between everyone regardless of age, and feels that they have learnt so many new skills from the children at the Cabin since starting.
At the Cabin Alex finds joy in sports, gaming, gardening, exploring nature, inclusive sex and relationship educational, DIY and woodwork, crafting (especially lino printing) and pottery. They also love facilitating discussions/workshops around gender and identity. Some of their favourite things are the free-flowing nature of the days, the new and interesting things the children suggest, and the ability to have full autonomy over your own learning and interests.
Alongside volunteering at the Cabin, Alex runs workshops for parents supporting Lgbtqia+ folks. They also offer a range of learning materials covering the topics of all-inclusive puberty and menstruation for Kids. Alex works to promote consent culture at home and in the communities they are part of.