Sixth Form Staff

Ms Katharine Birbalsingh CBE – Headmistress

Ms Katharine Birbalsingh read French and Philosophy at Oxford University, followed by a PGCE at the Institute of Education. She later gained her NPQH qualification. Before setting up 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.

Ms Birbalsingh has over twenty years of experience supporting students with an inner-city background applying to top courses including medicine, law, as well as Oxbridge. She knows the process of application and interview well. Over the years, she has interviewed several Oxbridge admissions tutors, gaining a wealth of knowledge, which informs her understanding of the application process.

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 edited The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers and The Power of Culture, books published by Michaela’s teachers on the values of the school. 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.

Ms Birbalsingh was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours by The Queen.

Most recently, Ms Birbalsingh was appointed as Chair of the Social Mobility Commission to begin in November 2021. She is now reporting directly to the government on strategies to ensure that the circumstances of a child’s birth do not determine the child’s outcomes in life.

Mr Michael Taylor – Director of Sixth Form

University of St Andrews

Mr Taylor is our Director of Sixth Form. He read Modern History at the University of St Andrews and completed his PGCE at the Institute for Education, University College London. 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. As part of the Scottish ‘liberal arts’ system, he also studied Medieval History, Ancient History, Classics and Geography. He won the Deans’ List Award for academic excellence in his final year of study. He was also president of the university’s history society where he founded an academic journal; one of only three student-led history journals in the United Kingdom. While at St Andrews, he competed for the oldest and one of the most successful debating societies in the world. He worked extensively with the university admissions department and as a result, has an extensive knowledge of university admissions procedures for Oxbridge, St Andrews, LSE and Imperial. He has a vast amount of experience in getting students into the top universities, including Oxbridge, St Andrews and Russell Group universities. He is fascinated by current affairs and has worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, based at the British Embassy to the Holy See in Rome.

After graduating, he moved to France and worked as a battlefield guide in the Ypres Salient and on the Somme, before qualifying as a teacher through the Teach First programme and achieving an ‘Outstanding’ grade. Mr Taylor has extensive experience teaching A Level History and Politics, both as a classroom teacher and a private tutor and he regularly speaks at conferences for history teachers in the UK. He was previously the Head of Humanities at Michaela and he wishes that all his pupils are taught the rich canon of knowledge that enables them to take part in the great conversations of humanity.

Ms Sarah Clear – Deputy Director of Sixth Form

University of Durham

Ms Clear is the Deputy Director of Sixth Form. She graduated from Durham University with a double first in Music and Philosophy, Durham being rated as the top university nationally to study music in both the Times and Guardian University Rankings in 2021. She received the Brileen Scholarship for achieving the highest mark in her year for music performance, and in her final year was awarded a Palatinate Award for Music, recognising her contributions to music in her time at the university. In philosophy, she achieved one of the highest marks in her year for her final dissertation on postmodernism and development. She has six A levels, all with As and A*s, and has taught GCSE Science, A-level Physics and Music.  In her spare time, she captained the university Ultimate Frisbee team to second place in the University National Championships.

Ms Clear is dedicated to addressing educational disadvantage and has worked in a Malawian orphanage and at City Year, a charity dedicated to transforming education in inner-city schools. During her time at Michaela, Ms Clear has developed a world-class curriculum for Michaela physicists, and is thrilled to be able to guide the next generation of students towards careers in STEM and places at the best universities.

Mr Alex Christie – Oxbridge Co-ordinator

University of Bristol

Mr Christie studied maths at the University of Bristol before joining the British Army. He spent a year at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and then served four years as an officer in The Black Watch; an infantry battalion. During this period, he completed two operational tours, commanding up to 40 soldiers at a time. Mr Christie also has a master’s degree in National Security from King’s College London where his focus was radicalisation. Mr Christie teaches maths and further maths at A-level and has written his own maths textbook for GCSE students.

Mr Christie is interested in a wide range of intellectual areas including philosophy, history and literature. He is also a keen sportsman having played rugby at University 1st XV level as well as captaining Sandhurst and playing for the British Infantry team.

Ms Amelia Andrews

University of Oxford

Ms Andrews graduated with a degree in Theology and Religion from Oxford University. After achieving a distinction in her first year at Oxford, she was awarded a scholarship. She specialised in the study of Christian moral reasoning, the relationship between science and religion, and the life and work theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. She also studied New Testament Greek.

After graduating, she taught Religious Studies in Southampton before moving to London to work at Michaela. Ms Andrews has a particular interest in moral philosophy and its relationship with religion and evolutionary psychology.

Outside of school, Ms Andrews can be often found in an ice rink; she is a competitive figure skater and has won international gold medals representing Great Britain.

Mr Alasdair Austin

University of Sheffield

Mr Austin graduated from the University of Sheffield with first-class honours in History. He decided to pursue a career in teaching after working as an English teacher for senior civil servants in Madrid. His passion for science, however, led him to train as a science specialist while completing his teaching qualifications. Prior to joining Michaela he was the head of Year 11 at another school in North West London where he played a prominent role in the rapid improvement of the school. Throughout his time there, the results of both his own science classes and the pupils in his year group consistently showed progress significantly above the national average. Mr Austin also recently spent a year teaching science at a school in Mexico City before returning to the UK to join Michaela.

Mr Tom Cruickshank

University of Cambridge

Having achieved his school’s first ever A* in A Level Religion, and doing so a year early, Mr Cruickshank went on to graduate with a First Class degree in pure Philosophy from Christ’s College, Cambridge. With a Starred First in his dissertation, he specialised in Philosophy of Religion, Plato and Metaphysics. He was awarded the Levy-Plumb Prize for excellence in Philosophy, and the Bishop Porteus Prize for public speaking.
With a keen interest in studying Scripture, he learned Biblical Greek and has preached in a number of locations including Cambridge, Wimbledon, Norwich and Harrogate. Previously, he has worked for a year with University of Cambridge students and loves stretching his current Year 12s with university-level knowledge.

Ms Cecily Guild

University of Cambridge

Ms Guild graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in Geography, specialising in human geography, in particular legal and political geographies. Her passion and love for Geography led her into teacher training, and she is thrilled to be working at Michaela and to teach a world-class Geography curriculum

She is excited by the travel and adventure opportunities offered by Geography study, and has been on a variety of fieldtrips and expeditions as part of her studies. Ms Guild hopes to be able to plan trips for Geography students at Michaela to bolster their understanding of case studies and see Geography in action all over the world.

Ms Charlotte Husain

University College London

Ms Husain graduated from University College London with a degree in Language and Culture, having read French and Swedish. She qualified as a Modern Foreign Languages teacher through Teach First and spent a number of years teaching French and Spanish at schools in the North West.

She has a particular interest in social trends within the French speaking world and wrote her undergraduate dissertation on the human rights implications of modern French legislation.

Ms Husain joined the team at Michaela as she believes in academic excellence and the power of hard work.

Prior to teaching, Ms Husain worked in both the legal profession and the third sector, including spending time volunteering overseas as part of a human rights project.

She completed a first class master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is an examiner for AQA.

Ms Sarah James

University of Oxford

Ms James is Head of Humanities at Michaela. She read Theology at the University of Oxford where she won a number of prizes for her work on the New Testament and Patristics. Whilst at the University of Oxford she learnt koine Greek in order to read the New Testament in its original form. She also was Chair of the College Ball, Welfare Officer and a member of the college rowing team. Prior to working at Michaela, Ms James taught at an excellent school in the West Midlands where she undertook the Teach First Leadership Development program.

Ms James has a particular interest in Classical Islamic theology, Christian theology and the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. She is currently an examiner for GCSE religion and A level Philosophy and Theology, so is well placed to help her students navigate their examinations. As the first person in her school to be offered a place at Oxbridge to study theology, Ms James believes in the transformative power of education to empower and inspire young people today.

Ms Meg Jayakumar

University of Sheffield

Ms Jayakumar graduated with a first from the University of Sheffield after studing Mathematics and Finance. Her love for Mathematics drove her to become a teacher as she wanted to instil that same passion in her pupils. Ms Jayakumar has completed internships in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where she wrote ministerial correspondance and drafted new public literature, and at Sparx, a scientifically-driven and research-based educational technology company where she worked on the design of their GCSE scheme of work. During her time at university, Ms Jayakumar played netball and first team korfball. In addition to her love for sport and competition, her hobbies also include walking in the countryside and playing the piano and saxaphone.

Mr David Jones

University of Oxford

Mr Jones graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Biological Sciences specialising in molecular and cellular biology, including time spent working in a lab researching epigenetics.

Whilst at university he balanced his studies with sport being awarded a prestigious Oxford Blue in each of his three years.

Alongside teaching Mr Jones enjoys long distance running, competing in ultramarathons around the UK and is teaching himself to read Chinese Mandarin.

Mr Tom Kendall

University of Warwick

Mr Kendall has a first class degree with honours 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 at the University of Geneva (studying advanced maths in French). In 2017, Mr Kendall completed a masters in Educational Leadership at Warwick University, receiving a Distinction on his dissertation. Mr Kendall has taught A Level maths in schools across the UK, as well as teaching in South Africa, India, Guyana, Tanzania and Nepal. He has led teams of teachers in multiple schools, helping to raise standards in the quality of pupils’ education. Mr Kendall loves the buzz of solving a compelling problem and seeks to share his passion for maths with every pupil he teaches. Having specialised in Set Theory and Symbolic Logic, he is looking forward to helping Michaela pupils thrive as mathematicians in the world’s best universities.

Mr Andrew Lomas

University of Cambridge

Mr Lomas studied History at the University of Cambridge. After graduating, he worked in the admissions department of one of the colleges, where he tried to make the Oxbridge application process more transparent for pupils from all kinds of schools. Seeking to have a greater impact on the proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds gaining places at top universities, he left in 2012 to work in an ambitious academy in London. He qualified as a teacher and taught History and Politics for five years. Never losing his passion for academia, he studied for an MA in Medieval History at King’s College London between 2016 and 2018.

Mr Lomas’s historical interest is not tied to any particular places or periods. His primary academic focus has been on the way ideas shape events and vice versa. He believes that the more a person knows about the world, the more fascinating it becomes for them.

Ms Becky Mitchell

University of Cambridge

Ms Mitchell teaches Maths but studied Philosophy at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. She took a particular interest in both Mathematical and Philosophical Logic and Metaphysics and examined the relationship between Objective Chance and Determinism in her final year dissertation. She was awarded a scholarship at the end of her first year for her exam results and an exhibition in her final year. While at school, she achieved an A* in her Maths A-Level and an A in Further Maths AS, alongside an A* in English, an A in Geography, and an A in AS French. She always had broad academic interests as well as a particular love for Maths at school, leading her towards a passion for the similarly logical and reasoning-based subject of Philosophy at University.

Ms Mitchell previously taught Maths at a secondary school in Brighton, and prior to that worked as a Teaching Assistant and private tutor. Having thoroughly enjoyed every stage of her own education, she is excited to share that passion for learning with her students and to support them to feel prepared and inspired for the next stage of their academic journey.

Ms Alice Mosely

University of Birmingham

Ms Mosely studied Biomedical Science at the University of Birmingham. In her final year at University, she specialised in the biology of ageing and how science is best communicated to the general public. She was a handful of students who achieved the top grade – a first class, and so understands the determination that Michaela pupils require to succeed.

Despite a love of scientific research, she decided to use her passion to teach hard-working and eager students, joining Teach First to teach all sciences at a secondary school in Birmingham. Ms Mosely is looking forward to helping Michaela pupils thrive as chemists in the world’s best universities, as well as being part of a team that teaches the best Science curriculum in the country.

Ms Miranda Murphy

University of Warwick

Ms Murphy graduated from the University of Warwick with a first-class degree in English and German Literature.

Ms Murphy is a German speaker and has travelled widely, including living for a year in Germany where she taught in a German secondary school.

After university, Ms Murphy joined Teach First and taught English at a secondary school in Kent, where she also ran a successful debating club.

Ms Murphy has a special interest in in the nineteenth-century novel, English and German Romanticism, and German literature from the age of Enlightenment.

Mr Matthew Puffett

University of Warwick

Mr Puffett graduated with a Masters in mathematics from the University of Warwick, specialising in Algebra and Topology. He wrote his final year research project on the topic of “Medial Sets and Link Invariants”, establishing that the existing proof for the invariance of the HOMFLY polynomial could be generalised to medial sets. During his time at Warwick he was part of the team that won the University Dodgeball Championships and came third in the National Dodgeball Championships. He has recently returned to London having spent three years teaching at St Paul’s School in São Paulo, one of the most highly respected schools in South America.

Some of his interests include hiking and strategy board-games. In fact he is currently developing his own board-game, a mind-bending strategy game based around time travel. He considers his greatest hiking achievement to be completing the Arctic Circle trail, a 9 day, 200km hike in Greenland.

Mr Ben Quiligotti

University of St Andrews

Mr. Quiligotti holds a master’s degree in international relations and philosophy from the University of St. Andrews. As part of his degree, he studied a range of philosophical topics before specialising in political philosophy and international political theory. It was while teaching on a summer exchange programme to Romania that he decided to pursue a career in education. Prior to joining Michaela, he held the role of Head of Year at the British International School of Chicago. During his time there, he led the school debate team to the National Championships for two consecutive years.

Mr. Quiligotti has a keen interest in UK and US politics and also English literature. While at university he was a keen footballer and regularly volunteered for the charity Anthony Nolan.

Mr Pritesh Raichura

University of Cambridge

Mr Raichura is our current Head of Science. He grew up in Brent and attended a local comprehensive school where he achieved an A* grade in every single one of his GCSEs and three A Levels. He went on to be the only pupil from his school year to go to the University of Cambridge, where he read Natural Sciences. Mr Raichura is always eager to share his experiences of applying to the world’s most prestigious universities with Michaela’s Sixth Form pupils. After graduating, Mr Raichura trained to become a science teacher and was promoted to the position of Head of Biology.

Since then, Mr Raichura has been awarded a distinction in his Master’s degree in Leadership from UCL, where his dissertation explored how teachers and schools could become more research-engaged. He also speaks at educational conferences, sharing his knowledge of curriculum design with teachers from around the country. Mr Raichura wishes to see all pupils equipped with the knowledge, skills and experiences that will enable them to pursue any future of their choosing.

Ms Helen Roberts

University of Cardiff

Miss Roberts is an English teacher at Michaela. She studied philosophy at Cardiff University before undertaking a master’s degree in Ethics to explore the interrelationship between linguistics and morality. Miss Roberts also holds a graduate degree in Law and her interest in jurisprudence is one that she continues to pursue.  Miss Roberts has a keen interest in Russian literature and the works of William Blake.

Throughout her academic endeavours and beyond, Miss Roberts rowed competitively both internationally and domestically. As a result, she believes in holding students to the highest standards in achieving academic excellence concurrent with extracurricular brilliance.

Miss Roberts joined Michaela from a selective private school in Surrey where she taught English.

Ms Rose Saunders

University of Cambridge

Ms Saunders graduated from the University of Cambridge with a degree in politics, specialising in political fiction and political philosophy. She achieved a first in her final year dissertation, exploring the interplay between politics and fiction in the works of Toni Morrison, amongst others. Prior to joining Michaela, she taught in the Isle of Wight and Oxford, teaching both English Literature and Sociology A-Level in the latter.

Ms Saunders has a particular interest in poetry, especially poetry from the Romantics and from Ireland. She loves sharing this passion with her students who grow to love it too.

Mr Kaleem Sim

University of Bath

Mr. Sim graduated from the University of Bath as a Master of Chemistry with first class honours. In his master’s project he worked with a light sensitive catalyst proving that UV light could be used to control certain chemical reactions involving ferrocene. This had implications to wider medicinal research. Despite a love of the laboratory, he decided to utilize his passion and knowledge of chemistry to teach young, enthusiastic chemists.

In addition to chemistry, he also has an interest in the social sciences and obtained a second master’s degree in transformational leadership whilst working as a teacher. His research explored how leaders in education make ethical decisions. Mr. Sim also enjoys reading dystopian fiction with Haruki Murakami being his favourite author. As one of only a handful of students in his cohort obtaining the highest grade in his degree Mr. Sim recognises that hard work and determination are the keys to academic success.

Ms Abi Smith

University College London

Ms Smith read Mathematics at University College London (UCL), achieving excellent results in particular in Logic, Applied Mathematics and Complex Analysis. As the only person in her year to be allowed to take five A Levels, securing A grades in all of them, Ms Smith decided to pursue her love of learning, and maths in particular, as a teacher. Ms Smith has taught for over eight years in schools across the UK, coordinating A Level Maths for pupils at her school in Derbyshire, and now takes an active role in developing and delivering A Level Maths content to current Michaela Sixth Form students. Ms Smith has coordinated additional provision and enrichment programmes to high achieving pupils in her previous schools and also currently at Michaela. Ms Smith has been previously employed to work with the UCL Admissions Team, so she is well-placed to support Michaela pupils to secure a place at their first-choice university.

Ms Grace Steggall

University of Nottingham

Ms Steggall is the Head of Geography at Michaela. She was previously an Associate Assistant Principal at her last school, where she transformed evidence informed practice across the school.  She moved to Michaela because she wanted to develop the world’s best Geography curriculum, which we now have. She read Geography at The University of Nottingham where she undertook a variety of physical, human and cartography modules. Ms Steggall has completed fieldwork expeditions in Germany, Italy, and the English Lake District. In her final year of university, she fostered a passion for historical and economic geographies of the UK and India.

Throughout her time at university, Ms Steggall worked in multiple schools in Nottinghamshire and was awarded the top prize as part of the Nottingham Advantage Award for her outstanding teaching and community engagement work.

Mr Hin-Tai Ting

University of Oxford

Mr Ting graduated from Oxford University with a First class degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He received a Scholarship from his College for his Preliminary Examination results. He also received numerous academic awards including the College’s Isaiah Berlin Prize. His 40-page dissertation on ‘The Problem of Moral Evil’ received a top first-class mark, in addition to an outstanding result in Quantitative Economics.

Immediately after university, Mr Ting spent several years in Christian ministry. He mentored numerous students in Oxford and Beijing who were studying economics, many of whom have gone on to be economists, diplomats and lawyers across the world.

Mr Ting has always valued academic challenge: despite being the only pupil in his school to take five A Levels (in Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, English Literature and Critical Thinking) and an AS-Level (in Physics), he managed to secure top grades in all of them, receiving a commendation letter from AQA for outstanding performance. He looks forward to helping his pupils to challenge themselves academically.

Mr Harry Voge

University of Exeter

Mr Voge teaches History and Politics at Michaela. He graduated from the University of Exeter with a degree in History, focussing on 17th century social history and the history of medicine in the 18th and 19th centuries. Whilst at university, Mr Voge also wrote, directed, and composed music for a number of theatre companies. After completing his studies, Mr Voge travelled through the United States for six months before beginning his teaching career. Before working at Michaela, he was the Head of History at a school in Essex. Mr Voge is an expert in the history, politics, and literature of the 19th century and the European witch-hunts of the 17th century. He also enjoys reading about 20th century politics, and is fascinated by the key political figures of that century.

Ms Hannah Whittington

University of Cardiff

Ms Whittington has a degree in Neuroscience from Cardiff University. She also holds a Masters with distinction in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology from UCL. She joined Michaela after 10 years in a leading secondary school in West Sussex, where she held a variety of roles including in leadership. She has also taught in Italy, where she set up and headed the secondary science programme at an international school. Ms Whittington is passionate about her subject and many of her ex-students have gone on to careers in medicine and research and academia in science. Beyond her love for biology, Ms Whittington has a keen interest in psychology, education, behavioural science and sociology. She believes strongly in the importance of forming solid relationships with students, whilst also holding them to the highest standards, in order to enable them to fulfil their potential and thrive.

Mr Mason Yousif

University of Oxford

Mr Yousif studied Physics at Oxford University. For the first three years, he studied the full breadth of modern physics; from fluid dynamics to atomic theory, to Einstein’s theory of general relativity. In the fourth year of his master’s degree, he specialised in Quantum Information Processing, achieving the highest score in this module across his entire cohort, and securing first-class honours. Mr Yousif also won a university prize for the Best Research Project in Theoretical Physics at master’s level and his work has subsequently been peer reviewed and published in one of Nature’s most prestigious scientific journals.

As a former outreach ambassador of Oriel College, and as the first student from his own sixth form to be admitted to Oxbridge, Mr Yousif believes in top university places being available to talented, hard-working students from all backgrounds, and brings that passion to his work at Michaela each and every day.