MEET THE TEAM

Knowledge, experience and a passion for  Outdoor Learning 

Our Team

We think that we have the knowledge, skills, experience and attitudes required to make an impact.  All of our staff, permanent and part time, are passionate about active outdoor learning and its’ far reaching benefits for lifelong learning.

Mel Ellis Mel is a qualified PE teacher and retired RAF Squadron Leader (Physical Education Branch) who specialised as a Parachute Jump Instructor during his 16 year Service career. He is also an accredited Practitioner for the Institute of Outdoor Learning. After leaving the RAF in 2006 Mel has spent the last 10 years directing operations at Closer to the Edge Ltd – he is now looking forward to his new role within Challenge Academy, having a more ‘hands on’ involvement to develop the wide range of services and products. Key military roles have included leading the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team, managing the leadership and physical fitness programmes of officer cadets at RAF College Cranwell, and commanding the RAF Parachute Training School. Passions include a love for the outdoors, keeping fit, rugby and triathlons…. as well as thinking up new ideas and talking.  He is an Accredited Paractitioner for the Institute of Outdoor Learning, qualified PE teacher and retired RAF Squadron Leader (Physical Education Branch) who specialised as a Parachute Jump Instructor during his 16 year Service career… 

Greg Brookes-Clayton Greg is a qualified teacher with significant experience in the field of Special Educational Needs (SEN). Prior to joining Challenge Academy, Greg completed his teaching career as Head of Pupil Referral Unit in Derby City. Greg was Educational Director with Closer to the Edge Ltd from 2007 – 2016, during which time he developed a exceptional offer for the Education Sector , fine-tuned his own facilitation skills and worked tirelessly to have his training CPD approved and nationally accredited by an Ofqual organisation. He is now responsible for the Learning and Development within Challenge Academy CIC and is busy extending the offer of Ofqual accredited and CPD approved qualifications to Education, Criminal Justice, Welfare to Work, Care, and Health. Greg is a passionate sportsman, still plays tennis for Ashbourne over 80s, and is also a local rock star in Hognaston village where he heads up the internationally renowned ‘Dogs on Bees’.  He is a qualified teacher with significant experience in the field of Special Educational Needs (SEN). Prior to joining Challenge Academy, Greg completed his teaching career as Head of Pupil Referral Unit in Derby City…

Chris Smith Chris, a retired teacher of 30 years, is a qualified ropes instructor who acts as both an integral part of the adventure hub team and specialises in taking our mobile equipment, the terra firma product into school and corporate settings. He holds a B.Ed. (Hons) and has 24 years experience as Head of P.E. at The Kingswinford School, meaning he is well-equipped to deliver outdoor activity with the aim of developing participant’s soft skills. With an emphasis on fun, he believes outdoor activity can bring about “instant rewards” and “lightbulb moments” for individuals, groups and instructors; where everyone involved can achieve and learn something about themselves. Chris’s hobbies include: kayaking, body boarding, tennis, swimming and lots and lots of walking.er with 24 years experience as Head of P.E. at The Kingswinford School. His main focus is on the positive development of ‘soft skills’. As well as instructing at Baggeridge Adventure Hub Chris is also responsible for our mobile outreach…

Jim Thompson Jim is a qualified teacher and outdoor education instructor who has gained a wealth of experience in the leisure and tourism industry; working with a diverse range of individuals, some with complex needs and learning difficulties. Jim is very passionate about educating others through the outdoor environment and believes it can benefit individuals in many areas of their lives. Jim is qualified in a number of adventure activities and is also responsible for the continuous development of our own workforce while ensuring high levels of safety at all times at our facilities. His hobbies include: climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding, orienteering, kayaking and mountaineering.ge Academy Operations Manager.  He is a qualified teacher and outdoor education instructor who has gained a wealth of experience in the outdoor adventure industry; working with a diverse range of individuals, some with complex needs and learning difficulties…

Joe Cooper Joe is our newest employee, having graduated from Edinburgh University in 2017 with a MSc in Ecological Economics. His main focus is on community benefiting projects and healthy environments, and his Masters project involved wild-camping in the Scottish Highlands to collect data for a river restoration project. He has also been involved with a community food hub project that voiced the needs of community interest groups across Edinburgh. Joe is a firm believer in nature’s ability to benefit mental and physical well-being and has lots of experience working outdoors. Time spent on an internship as a learning officer at West Midlands Safari Park has given Joe a sound teaching foundation and means that he is confident in aiding with our educational programmes. Joe’s hobbies include snowboarding, squash, camping and hiking. At 23 years old he is still growing and will probably exceed 7’6″ by December 2019.

Challenge Academy CIC

Striving to ensure that challenge and 'active outdoor learning' opportunities are available, inclusive and accessible

© 2016 Challenge Academy CIC