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

Senior Team

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. Before coming to Michaela, Ms Birbalsingh spent her teaching career in London, moving through the ranks from teacher through middle management, to deputy headship. In various roles at other schools, she transformed behaviour systems and significantly raised achievement. Ms Birbalsingh is known for her belief in rigour and high standards. Now, as Headmistress at Michaela, she takes great pride in seeing the impact Michaela’s methods are having across the country. With several teacher guests visiting the school daily, Ms Birbalsingh is inspired by the regular feedback from teachers, senior leaders and other headteachers, who explain how they have implemented Michaela’s methods at their schools and in their classrooms. They want their pupils to be like Michaela’s pupils, progressing on average at twice the national rate.

Ms Birbalsingh has a wealth of experience in schools. 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 while also making countless television and radio appearances. Ms Birbalsingh most recently edited The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers, a book published by Michaela’s teachers on the values the school espouses. 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 the very best of them.

“As a mother, I know what it is to want the best school and teachers for one’s 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 Head 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.

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Ms Ashford
Deputy Head, Director of Inclusion and English Teacher

Ms Ashford graduated from the University of Warwick. A Teach First Ambassador*, she previously worked as an English teacher and leader of SEN intervention in the West Midlands. Ms Ashford has spoken at national research and education conferences and has lectured PGCE students at the University of Birmingham. As SENCO, she has a particular interest in teaching reading in secondary school settings. She has written for various websites and the Times Education Supplement, and has co-authored two books about teaching. Ms Ashford is currently writing a book about SEN education.

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Mr Williams-Yale
Deputy Head 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.

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Ms Facer
Deputy Head and 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.

Mathematics 

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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 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.

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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 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.

English 

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Ms Facer
Deputy and 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 Ashford
Deputy, Director of Inclusion and English Teacher

Ms Ashford graduated from the University of Warwick. A Teach First Ambassador*, she previously worked as an English teacher and leader of SEN intervention in the West Midlands. Ms Ashford has spoken at national research and education conferences and has lectured PGCE students at the University of Birmingham. As SENCO, she has a particular interest in teaching reading in secondary school settings. She has written for various websites and the Times Education Supplement, and has co-authored two books about teaching. Ms Ashford is currently writing a book about SEN education.

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.

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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.

Humanities 


Jonathan-Porter

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.

Mr Allan
Humanities Teacher and Head of Year 7

After moving from 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 been with the Humanities department since Michaela opened in 2014. He has a keen interest in politics, history, and sport. In his spare time he is a keen musician, walker and runner. He is at Michaela because of a strong belief that knowledge empowers and that it should be available to all children- regardless of background.

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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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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.

Science 

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
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.

Mr Phelan
Science Teacher

Mr Phelan graduated from Imperial College London with a 1st class degree in theoretical physics. During his time at university, Mr Phelan worked as a volunteer reader in a London primary school. Ever since, he has had a passionate belief in the power of education to transform the lives of those living in disadvantage. Mr Phelan has a strong belief that the ethos and values at Michaela are exactly what is needed to ensure that all young people receive the education that they deserve.

On graduating, Mr Phelan trained as a teacher on the INSPIRE scheme at Imperial College and has worked in a number of London schools. Throughout his teaching career Mr Phelan has been a keen advocate of public speaking and debating, coaching students at a variety of competitions at both a national and international level.

In his spare time Mr Phelan enjoys playing a range of sports, none more so than his beloved football. He also enjoys reading and going to the theatre.

Modern Foreign Languages

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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.

Ms Staw
Languages Teacher

Ms Staw studied French and German at the University of Oxford, working at an educational charity in Berlin during her year abroad. It was while teaching in Nepal at the end of her degree that she decided to embark on a career in education and so began the Teach First programme the following year. Having taught in a number of schools across London, Ms Staw was drawn to Michaela’s ethos of rigour and high standards. She is thrilled to be a part of the school and believes that it is only through adopting Michaela’s approach that we will begin to reduce educational inequality. Outside of work, Ms Staw is a keen reader and theatregoer and also sings in a choir.

Music 

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Ms Clear
Head of Music

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 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.

Art

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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.