Professional consultants

Dependable consulting team with over 40 years of experience

After careful analysis and research, we work with you closely to give you the best possible solution unique to your situation.

We are a team of smart and professional consultants and leaders that provide expert consulting and interim services to the most ambitious clients and fuels their success. We work with you as a part of your team to guide you in the right direction.

John Leese

Director & Principal attendance and Safeguarding Consultant

I was interested in working in Education from a young age, and whilst my dream job of PE teacher evaded me, I like to think that my career pathway has led me onto bigger and better things in the world of attendance and safeguarding.

I graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA (Hons) Degree in History and Education Studies in 2002 and achieved a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) from the University of Aberystwyth in 2003. Despite giving teaching a go, I was more concerned about the welfare of children and young people, and so was lucky enough to gain employment with Sandwell Education Welfare Service in the West Midlands in 2004.

As an EWO I gained experience within a traditional EWS before moving onto locality working with Telford and Wrekin Council in 2007. My first experience of management was as a Team Leader for Attendance and Connexions with Somerset County Council, joining in 2009. I left Somerset in 2011 to work in the big smoke, joining the London Borough of Croydon, rising to the position of Lead for Attendance and Education Safeguarding, where I stayed until 2016 until I made the decision to move back to Shropshire and work for myself. Azure Education Consultancy was born!

Azure has enabled me to gain some great experiences in consultancy and interim leadership positions, working in a large Multi-Academy Trust as an Area Safeguarding and Attendance Lead, working at a troubled Academy as a Vice-Principal and DSL, and having a direct impact in moving them away from special measures, as well as further experiences in roles at Local Authorities in the West Midlands, London and Yorkshire.

Azure has also given me the time to try other things too, and my interest in Criminal Investigation has led me to undertake a Master’s Degree in Criminal Investigation from the University of Derby, and to a 2 year posting as a Criminal Investigator for West Midlands Police’s Force CID within their hugely busy Burglary / Robbery / Serious Assault Team. I achieved some great outcomes both as an individual and as part of a team, receiving a Chief Constable’s Commendation, but it was also seeing the huge number of young people involved in violent crime, including murder investigations, which reminded me of true calling, to have an impact into the lives of children and families as early as possible, by making sure children are in school, whilst protecting them from harm and exploitation.

My passion for education and supporting others led me to joining the Association of Education Welfare Management (AEWM) back in 2009, which delivers highly professional and consistent support mechanism for Managers and strategic leads responsible for school attendance within Local Authorities, schools and multi-academy trusts. In May 2023 I was elected as President-Elect of the AEWM, becoming President in May 2024.

I have worked in the interim leadership/consultancy world for 7 years now, and what I enjoy most is the freedom you have to develop and deliver a much wider range of services and support, to work with people from all walks of life, and most importantly, stay true to my vision of “Clearing the Clouds, leaving Blue Skies ahead “

Away from work, I enjoy Volleyball, Liverpool FC (YNWA), Walking, Camping and Travelling.

Andrea packer

Director and principal safeguarding and mental health consultant

I was always interested in working in Education, wanting to teach but opportunities to progress in this as a career did not come to fruition.  However, an opportunity to take part in work experience in a school for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties whilst I was at college developed an interest in working directly with children and young people.     

After returning to work after the birth of my son James, I returned to the same school and took on the role of a teaching assistant, whilst studying at the same time to gain suitable qualifications.  I became interested in autistic spectrum disorder and decided to take up a role as an education and residential support assistant in a residential private ASD school in Newbury, Berkshire.  As part of the residential side, I became a key worker and worked closely with a young person and their family, and this triggered an interest in working directly with families. 

In 2004, I joined Swindon Borough Council as an Education Welfare Officer, a job that gave me direct contact with children and young people and their families as well as a wide experience across schools and teams within the local authority.  It was also an introduction to the world of attendance.  During this time, I studied and completed a management qualification, quickly moving to a leadership role as a Team Leader for Attendance and Connexions for Somerset County Council in 2009.  I joined a multi-agency locality team which supported families, children, and young people in a rural somerset town.  During this time I also managed an Adolescent Support Team before joining a group of local learning partnership to became an Area Education Manager and a Vulnerability and Behaviour Manager.  I left Somerset in 2014 and moved to London, joining the London Borough of Lewisham as Team Manager for Attendance, Inclusion and Participation.  I stayed in London until 2016 when I moved to Shropshire and worked for a nationwide multi-academy trust as a Regional Lead for Safeguarding, Attendance and Behaviour.   

Leadership and management have its challenges and I began to look for a role that would give me a new challenge and more contact with children and young people.  Further Education was an area I had no experience of, but I secured a position as a Designated Safeguarding Lead in a further education college, rising to the position of Head of Student Services.  I enjoyed working in further education, a completely different landscape to compulsory education and I particularly enjoyed the safeguarding element of my role and that so many young people who may have had a difficult experience at school were able to move on and achieve and succeed.  During this time as Head of Student Services I worked closely with the West Midlands Police and the Violence Reduction Unit to identify and implement a trauma informed approach across the college and produce good practice guidance to be used in provisions across Walsall.   

I joined Azure Education Consultancy in 2022 and took an interim role as the Lead for Attendance and Inclusion at Swindon Borough Council, initially for 3 months to co-produce and develop a new attendance strategy in line with the new department for education attendance guidance.  This contract ended up lasting for 14 months in total, and my work developed during this time to include operational work as well as strategic work.   

My interest in education, particularly attendance, led me to re-join the Association of Education Welfare Management (AEWM) in 2022 and I currently hold the position of South West Regional Representative and National Executive Committee Member.   

I am very passionate about outcomes for children and young people through the variety of roles and positions I have worked in.  I am particularly interested in mental health from both a personal and professional perspective.  I trained as a Mental Health First Aid England instructor in 2017 and have continued to upskill and have delivered courses to a variety of audiences, local authority staff, academy trust staff, further education staff, police, and voluntary organisations covering both youth and adult mental health.   

Outside of work I play netball for a team in the local leagues during the winter and summer seasons, in addition I am a coach for the Shropshire County Netball Team and a C award umpire.  I also enjoy walking, gardening, and travelling.