Michaela Community School | Michaela School teaching staff
Michaela School Wembley London
4045
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Teaching Staff

Katharine Birbalsingh

Ms Birbalsingh
Headmistress

Ms Birbalsingh read French and Philosophy at Oxford University, followed by a PGCE at the Institute of Education. She later gained her NPQH qualification. Ms Birbalsingh has taught and led at a senior level in schools across London, and has had significant impact on behaviour systems and raising achievement. Ms Birbalsingh is known for her belief in rigour and high standards. She has visited and taught in schools abroad, from South Africa, to New York, to China. She has written two books and has published widely in national newspapers. Ms Birbalsingh has also spoken at a variety of conferences on educational issues, always voicing the belief that children could achieve more, if only schools and families were to expect more of them.

“As a mother, I know what it is to want the best school and teachers for my child. As teachers and school leaders, we are honoured to be helping to shape children’s futures. It is our duty to enable every child to be the best that he or she can be. Success for every child is how we all succeed. And succeed we will.” – Ms Birbalsingh

Joe-Kirby

Mr Kirby
Deputy and English Teacher

Mr Kirby has a first class degree in English from the University of Warwick, where he was also elected President of the Students’ Union managing a £5 million turnover organisation and 16,000 students. He has a Masters in International Affairs from the University of Geneva, where he specialised in education. Mr Kirby has worked in the international public, non-profit and private sectors, with the United Nations, the Urology Foundation and emerging markets private equity firm Actis. Since beginning his teaching career at a primary school in 2004, Mr Kirby has taught at a London secondary school and, more recently, was a Teach First Ambassador* and has supervised 40 Teach First participants to publish three books on teaching. He has visited schools in South Africa, India, South America and London, climbed 6,000-metre mountains in Bolivia, Tanzania and Nepal, and run marathons in Athens, Berlin and Dublin. His passion for teaching English stems from seeing pupils learn to love great literature, from Julius Caesar to Oliver Twist. Mr Kirby writes weekly online about education, and speaks at national education research conferences. His vision is for teaching to become an evidence-based profession and to end educational inequality in England.

Barry-Smith

Mr Smith
Deputy and Languages Teacher

Originally from Newcastle, Mr Smith has spent most of his teaching career in South Wales. Massively dissatisfied with the MFL orthodoxy and low expectations he saw around him, and bolstered by a passion for proper, high impact, didactic, high energy teaching, he started teaching teachers in 2005. Mr Smith taught teachers all around the country for nigh on ten years before joining Michaela. Despite a decade of inset training, spreading his pragmatic anti-fashion message to much acclaim, his first love always remained teaching children. As he’ll readily tell you, “I’d been looking for a school like Michaela my entire career. It simply didn’t exist. We had to create it ourselves.” With his totally unique “literacy first” approach to language learning, his infectious enthusiasm, his evident love of teaching, and almost 20 years of experience, he brings something very different to Michaela. An experienced Head of Languages before joining Michaela, Mr Smith’s approach to language teaching has been described as ‘inspirational’, ‘a breath of fresh air’ and ‘brimming with brio’. He describes himself as “learning every day, loving every minute and utterly blown away by what Michaela kids can do.”

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Ms Ashford
Deputy, Director of Inclusion and English Teacher

Ms Ashford graduated from the University of Warwick. She has since worked as an English teacher and leader of SEN intervention in the West Midlands. She is a Teach First Ambassador* and her vision for education is that all children, regardless of ability or background, should have their lives enriched by the written and spoken word.  Her passion for literature stems from her own reading as a child, which encouraged her to join the teaching profession. Ms Ashford has spoken at national research and education conferences and has lectured PGCE students at the University of Birmingham. She has written for various websites and the Times Education Supplement, and has co-authored two books about teaching. Ms Ashford has relocated to London to join the Michaela team, and is excited to be working at what she believes will become one of the most important schools in the UK.

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Mr Williams-Yale
Deputy and Maths Teacher 

Mr Williams-Yale read Mathematics at Oxford University having been the first in his family to attend University. As an 18-year-old, Mr Williams-Yale saved up for weeks to buy a suit and a new pair of shoes, borrowed a suitcase and managed to travel to Oxford for his interview, never having been before because he couldn’t afford the journey. Mr Williams-Yale firmly believes that if you want to fulfil your potential you must work hard, and approached his own studies with this tough ethic by teaching himself A-Level Further Mathematics. He has always been immensely passionate about mathematics and relishes the opportunity to inspire and push pupils to become brilliant mathematicians.

Having been a teacher, a Head of Department and a Deputy Head across a range of London schools, Mr Williams-Yale has 15 years of experience in the education sector. In addition to his roles in schools Mr Williams-Yale is a Senior Examiner for the Pearson Edexcel exam board, and has extensive experience writing exam papers for GCSE and A-Level Mathematics.

Olivia-Dyer

Ms Dyer
Head of Science

Ms Dyer read Human Sciences at University College London (UCL). Her decision to devote her career to education was inspired by her time volunteering as a teaching assistant at Nash College, an independent specialist college for learners with moderate to profound learning disabilities. This was a humbling experience for Ms Dyer, who was enthused to see individuals with complex medical needs and disabilities achieve their maximum level of independence through the setting of high expectations. This inspired her to complete a PGCE at King’s College London and a Masters in Educational Leadership. Ms Dyer is a Teach First Ambassador*. The thing that she loves about teaching the most is the opportunity to share her love for science. Ms Dyer was the first person in her extended family to attend university and wishes to inspire many Michaela pupils to attend university, and hopefully, pursue a career in science.

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Mr Plastow-Chason
Science Teacher

Mr Plastow is a chemistry graduate from the University of Manchester where he specialised in practical chemistry. Alongside studying he gained invaluable experience working with underprivileged children in challenging social situations. Immediately after graduating he began his career in teaching with Teach First and has since taught science at both secondary and primary school level. He is firmly of the belief that science should not be ‘dumbed-down’ and that even the youngest pupils are capable of understanding advanced scientific concepts. Mr Plastow is keen to dispel the stigma attached to science, that it is ‘too hard’, and wishes to inspire a host of young people into studying science at some of the world’s best universities with the hope that this leads them onto a scientific careers. A background in the London restaurant industry has made him a food and drink fanatic, whilst other hobbies include playing various sports, travelling and collecting music.

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Ms Cheng
Science Teacher

Ms Cheng studied Biochemistry at University College London (UCL), graduating with first class honours. While at university she was a ‘Science Busker’ for the Francis Crick Institute. She is a Teach First ambassador and is currently studying for a masters at the Institute of Education (IOE).

Ms Cheng was born and bred in Wembley. She served as the Brent Member of UK Youth Parliament and was recognised by Brent Council as a ‘Community Champion’ for her local voluntary work with Friends of Brent River Park. She is proud to work at Michaela Community School because she believes in traditional teaching methods and the importance of a rigorous teaching curriculum. It is also a fantastic opportunity to give back to the community she grew up in. Ms Cheng has accomplished grade 8 in piano and ballet and enjoys cooking and musicals in her spare time.

Gareth

Mr Sturdy
Science Teacher

A passion for physics as ‘the dreams that stuff is made of’ is what brought Gareth into teaching in the 1990s after graduating from Liverpool University. His specialist areas are astronomy and cosmology. Believing  that the best teachers are often those who have experience of life outside of the classroom, he has also spent time as a Fleet Street journalist and run his own public relations business. His educational roles have included head of physics at one of the country’s leading grammar schools, and helping to establish the innovative East London Science School. He also led the Physics Factory project, backed by the Mayor of London, aiming to revitalise the take-up of physics in London’s schools. He is organiser of the Institute of Ideas Education Forum and writes widely on education and science. His spare time is taken up with his two sons, reading William Blake, and walking across London. He can be found on Twitter @stickyphysics.

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Ms Facer
Head of English

The first in her family to attend university, Ms Facer studied English at Trinity College Dublin, where she also gained her Masters in History. After graduation, she worked as a parliamentary researcher for an Irish Senator, and taught Drama and Creative Writing for four years with a youth programme in Dublin. She has taught English in London schools since 2010, working as an English teacher, Head of English and Assistant Head. Ms Facer helped to develop Michaela’s year 8 English curriculum in the summer of 2015 and was inspired to work in a school where she could teach all pupils such challenging and exciting literature. She has co-authored two books on education, and regularly speaks at education events. Ms Facer strongly believes in the importance of great literature and hopes to instil a lifelong love of reading in her pupils. When not teaching, Ms Facer is almost always reading.

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Ms Martin
English Teacher

Ms Martin read English at Cardiff University before working in the media industry, both as a PR professional for organisations including Comic Relief and a journalist for Harper’s Bazaar magazine. She was inspired to teach when realising her passion lay in inspiring young people to share her love for the art of communication and great story-telling. Ms Martin is interested in tackling social injustice from the bottom up and believes that Michaela Community School is unique in its unwavering commitment to this goal. In her spare time, she freelances for various publications, writes fiction and explores London’s food scene.

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Ms Cullen
English Teacher

Ms Cullen graduated with a first class degree in English from the University of Exeter, where she was also the president of the drama society. Keen to continue with her subject, she went on to complete a Masters degree in English with a focus on Criticism and Theory. She became a teacher in order to pass on her love of literature and instil in pupils an appreciation of the power of well-chosen words.

Ms Cullen completed the Teach First Leadership Development Programme with distinction whilst teaching in Essex, and has also taught English in Oslo and Bangalore. She was drawn to Michaela by the school’s focus on lasting literature and its unique challenge to social inequality.

When not reading (which she considers akin to breathing) she enjoys cooking, travelling and writing.

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Ms Quinn
Head of Maths 

Ms Quinn read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford, where she worked with the charity Jacari (pairing EAL pupils with university students to help them develop their English as quickly as possible and to enjoy school) and was a trainer and volunteer for the university’s Nightline service, before working as a Vice-President of the Students’ Union. A Teach First Ambassador, she started by teaching at a school in Sheffield for three years before joining a free school in Bradford as Head of Department. Ms Quinn loves to teach maths as it was the subject she found most challenging (and most satisfying) as a secondary school student and, as a result, she hopes her own students will discover how wonderful maths can be when tackled with enthusiasm and perseverance. When not thinking about maths (which she does a lot!), Ms Quinn loves cooking for friends, discussing politics, climbing, and art.

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Mr Kendall
Maths Teacher

Mr Kendall has a first class degree in Maths and Philosophy from the University of Warwick. Throughout every year of his degree he attained the highest mark on his course. During his degree he spent a year studying Maths at the University of Geneva, giving him the chance to improve his French language skills too. He completed his teacher training in Nottingham through the Teach First programme and has moved down to London specifically to work at Michaela. Since training to be a teacher, he has worked in schools in South Africa, India, Guyana and Tanzania. He loves the buzz of solving an interesting Maths problem and wants to share his passion for Maths with every pupil he teaches. On top of this he enjoys reading, travelling and watching Manchester United.

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Mr Ting
Maths Teacher

Mr Ting graduated from Oxford University with a Double First in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. After spending several years in a Christian ministry, mentoring university students in Oxford and Beijing, he became a teacher out of a continued desire to see young people and communities flourish. Mr Ting is a Teach First Ambassador and taught for two years in East London before joining Michaela. A keen basketball player and former rower, he delights in teamwork, and is thrilled to be part of Michaela where every teacher is committed to ending social and educational inequality. Mr Ting has always loved maths: as a pupil, he achieved seven consecutive Gold Awards in the annual UKMT Maths Challenge, and was one of the top ten pupils nationally to achieve the highest overall marks in GCSE Mathematics. As a teacher, he hopes to inspire the same mathematical confidence, achievement and joy in his own pupils. Outside of the classroom, he loves browsing his local library, cooking for his wife and friends, and being at church.

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Ms Rizvi
Maths Teacher

Ms Rizvi read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Manchester. Whilst at University and during Sixth Form Naveen was politically active through Youth Parliament whilst she held the position as a Member of Youth Parliament for Great Yarmouth. Through such a leadership role Ms Rizvi  worked with several MPs such as Brandon Lewis, Simon Wright and Norman Lamb on different issues ranging from increasing youth services in rural areas, reducing transport costs for young people and raising aspirations to attend University. At University, Ms Rizvi  was provided the opportunity to talk at the House of Commons Youth Parliament debate in regards to the rise of tuition fees which received significant coverage on BBC Parliament. Her experience at Youth Parliament inspired to work with young people in a more impactful form which led her to becoming a teacher. She is a Teach First Ambassador who is passionate about working towards seeing a transformative change in education through educational research in curriculum design and cognitive science. Ms Rizvi teaches Mathematics and has been working with Ms Isaksen to teach a curriculum with Mastery in mind. Her passion and enthusiasm to teach children is driven by an uncompromising belief that children should be provided with an education of the highest of quality, with a necessary level of discipline, to make them active, successful and independent members of our future society. Ms Rizvi  also blogs about her insights into education on topics such as curriculum design and school culture.

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Ms Smith
Maths Teacher

Ms Smith studied Mathematics at University College London (UCL). She chose to become a teacher because she aims for other pupils to experience the same joy from educational success, in particular in Mathematics, as she. Ms Smith completed the Teach First programme whilst teaching Mathematics in Derbyshire and continued to teach in the region afterwards. She has relocated to London in order to teach at Michaela Community School, drawn by Michaela’s rigorous curriculum and high expectations for pupils. During her time at university, Ms Smith played an active role as Treasurer for the Dance Society and dance continues to be a great interest of hers. She is also a keen runner and theatregoer.


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Mr Porter
Head of Humanities

Mr Porter graduated with one of the top firsts in his year from the University of Cambridge and won the University Theological Studies Prize. He has a range of academic and co-curricular interests: he played for the University U21 rugby team, enjoys debating about politics and current affairs, and is an unrepentant fan of musical theatre. After some time in Cairo in the aftermath of the ‘Arab Spring’ and, later, teaching debating in China, he qualified as a teacher through the Teach First programme* and spent two years teaching in central Birmingham. He believes in empowering his pupils by passing on the best of what human beings know about the world so that they can grow up to lead purposeful lives. He hopes to foster a love of learning that stays with his pupils forever.

Teach First Ambassadors are qualified teachers who have undertaken a highly competitive two-year leadership development programme which transforms exceptional graduates into effective, inspirational teachers and leaders.

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Mr Allan
Humanities Teacher and Head of Year 7

Following a number of years working in the arts in his native Shropshire, Mr Allan graduated from the University of Sheffield with one of the top firsts in Politics and was awarded the Stuart Walkland Prize for achievement in the subject. He has a keen interest in politics and history, and a passion for debating. He has coached youth football and taught classical guitar. In his spare time he is a keen musician and marathon runner.

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Ms Newman
Humanities Teacher

Ms Newman read History and Social Sciences at The University of Manchester. She has an MPhil in Global Society and Modern Transformations from the University of Cambridge.  She loves learning about the world, both through books and conducting social research. During her academic studies she conducted research on the trafficking of refugees through the Sinai Desert to Israel as well as on the issues of human trafficking in Ghana. She also spent a year working for Amnesty International where she led educational seminars on refugees and lobbied the UN and country embassies. Her research findings have been published in a book of essays on global issues and as an article on human trafficking for the Guardian. Ms Newman is a Teach First Ambassador. She came to Michaela because she was inspired by the school’s focus on knowledge, which is at the heart of the Humanities’ curriculum.

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Mr Taylor
Humanities Teacher

Mr Taylor read Modern History at the University of St Andrews. Whilst at university, he focused on diplomatic history and in particular, Britain’s relationship with Iran and British foreign policy before the First World War. He was also president of the university’s history society and was on the university’s debating team. A keen hillwalker and golfer, he is also passionate about current affairs and has worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, based at the British Embassy to the Holy See in Rome. He has also spent time working as a researcher for an MP in the House of Commons. After graduating, he moved to France and worked as a battlefield guide for the centenary of the First World War, before qualifying as a teacher through the Teach First programme. His teaching is driven by the necessity for all pupils to access the rich cultural literacy that is too often the preserve of the few.

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Mr Eastment
Humanities Teacher

Mr Eastment studied History at the University of Manchester, including a semester at the University of Missouri, before going on to complete an MA in International Relations at King’s College, London for which he achieved a Distinction.

After working for a number of private and third-sector organisations he decided that his passion lay in education and teaching. He spent three years at a school in East London before returning to his roots in North-West London. He was attracted to Michaela’s ethos of high standards and its rigorous, knowledge-based curriculum that he believes will empower the young people of Wembley to live rich and fulfilling lives.

In his spare time he likes to collect classic Soul records and is an avid follower of Barnet F.C

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Ms Speller
Head of Art

Ms Speller studied Fine Art at Middlesex University followed by a PGCE at the Institute of Education. She has always had a love and passion for art and the thoughts and feeling it can evoke. She is very interested in Art history and loves learning (still) about different periods of art and how they have developed over time. Ms Speller’s talent in art meant that she was selected by the Art co-ordinator of her borough, Essex, to study Fine Art in Italy. Whilst there her experience of learning such traditional drawing techniques would change her future and inspire her to want to teach art herself. Ms Speller believes in order for a pupil to be able to demonstrate their ideas in a highly skilful way they must first learn the traditional skills and techniques necessary and have an understanding of the history of art.

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Ms McTaggart
Music Teacher

Ms McTaggart graduated summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music, with a major in Songwriting. She has since been working as a professional musician in both the Boston area and in Zimbabwe, where her original material has gained wide popularity in the region. Ms McTaggart was inspired to begin a career in education after spending years teaching music in various arts programs and youth development organizations in the U.S. Deeply moved by the positive impact that a music program has on youth, she moved to the UK in order to pursue teaching full time. Ms McTaggart is thrilled to be starting off in a focused and warm environment that models and values high moral standards, and impeccable behaviour.

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Ms Clear
Music Teacher

Ms Clear grew up in Birmingham where she started learning the flute, bassoon and piano, performing in world-class venues across the UK both as a soloist and with a variety of choirs, chamber ensembles and orchestras. Ms Clear later graduated with a first class degree in Music, Philosophy and Education from Durham University. Whilst at Durham she received a Music Scholarship Award following her first year results, achieving one of the highest results for performance in the year. Before going to university, Ms Clear spent a year volunteering in Malawi where she lived and worked in a small orphanage, alongside running a nursery school for the local village. Ms Clear has worked for a variety of education charities, exploring different approaches to tackling educational inequality, and gaining experience working with a wide range of young people in different contexts. Outside of work, Ms Clear enjoys climbing and playing Ultimate Frisbee.

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Ms Lund
Head of Languages

Ms Lund has worked in schools and with young people for over ten years. She began as a debating coach with the English-Speaking Union, and worked with numerous schools in London to prepare pupils for the London Debate Challenge. Ms Lund was the first person from her school to achieve a place at Christ Church, Oxford, and represented Oxford in international debate competitions, theatrical and musical productions, and was part of the Oxford Access Scheme. After graduating with a degree in Literae Humaniores (Classics), Ms Lund spent three years raising money for schools, colleges and universities throughout the UK, training and managing students. She became involved with the steering group which established the Greenwich Free School, and came back to the educational coalface as an administrator before training as a teacher. Ms Lund believes in giving pupils every resource they need to succeed in language learning, and engaging them through their own sense of mastery.

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Ms Bettahar
Languages Teacher

Ms Bettahar has a Masters degree in Translation and International Communications from the University of Strasbourg and a B.A. in French as a Foreign Language from the University of Grenoble. She has also studied in Spain and England and worked as a French Teaching Assistant in England and in Austria. Before moving to London, Ms Bettahar worked as a multilingual organiser and coordinator for the European Programme on Education and Citizenship at the European Parliament in Strasbourg (Euroscola) where students from all over Europe would experience a day as an MEP and debate current issues. In her spare time, she translates articles for an English on-line newspaper aimed at schools. She decided to leave her native France to come to Michaela because she was so impressed by the unique approach to language learning at the school and by the enormous progress that pupils make in a very short time

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Ms Widdowson
Teaching Fellow

Ms Widdowson graduated with a First in Classical Studies from the University of Reading, and recently completed her MA in Ancient Visual and Material Culture from the University of Warwick. Her interest in helping children was inspired by her involvement in youth reading schemes and a charity internship helping young adults re-enter education. As an ardent believer in traditional, high calibre educational methods and the multi layered effects of knowledge for knowledge’s sake, Ms Widdowson strongly believes that Michaela’s ethos will provide the pupils of the school with the tools for a happy and prosperous future, and is excited to play a part in this.