Skip main navigation

Meet our educators

Our educators introduce themselves

Ellie Overland

Ellie and her dog

My name is Ellie Overland. I have been teaching for a (very) long time in different schools in the North of England. Over the years I have held a number of leadership positions in schools and have worked in a Local Authority school improvement team. In all of these roles the influence and power teachers have when working with young minds and the importance of getting the job right have been clear to me!

I now think I have one of the best jobs in the world, training the next generation of teachers. The trainee teachers I have the honour of working with have such energy, ideas and an enthusiasm for working with young people. Channelling this energy into effective classroom practice and an intellectual understanding of how learning works is a complex and highly rewarding process.

When I’m not thinking about teaching you can find me spending time with my family and walking our dog. Even then, education is not far from my mind. I love talking to my children about their own learning and find it fascinating to see how they grasp new concepts They never get to skip their homework! I’m also intrigued by their use of technology, both the pitfalls and the potential for learning it brings. Does asking Alexa to do your mental arithmetic, or to spell a word, accelerate learning or just make children lazy? I still can’t decide……..

I genuinely believe effective education can change lives by opening a world of opportunity. Young people deserve the best start in their lives and teachers have a huge part to play in that. Any small contribution I make to that process is a genuine privilege.

Skeena Murtaza


My name is Skeena Murtaza. I’ve been teaching for just over 3 years in inner-city schools within Manchester. I currently work as a Director of Learning for Computing and Arts and I’d like to say, I have perfected the fine art of looking like I know what I’m doing!

As the years have passed, I have learnt that being a teacher is more than just delivering content, marking books and lesson observations. As a teacher, you are a role model, a counsellor, a guardian, an actor, a comedian, a story teller, a shepherd, a security guard; the list is endless and my CV is booming! As a teacher, you really get to see education on the front line and feel like you’re making a difference mentoring young minds into becoming the best versions of themselves. Young people are one of the most interesting people to work with. I love my job purely based on the relationships you can build with pupils; knowing that you have a part to play in the young adults that they become. We all have that one teacher who believed in us when we didn’t truly believe it ourselves and I cling onto the hope that I can be that for even just one pupil that I have the pleasure to meet.

Richard Dunk

Richard on a mountain

My name’s Richard Dunk and I’ve been a teacher for 11 years or so. I’ve taught physics, mathematics, computing, biology, and chemistry to students aged between 10 and 65 in institutions ranging from primary schools to universities, from inner-city academies to prestigious boarding schools. I think teaching is the best job in the world.

At school, I had two very different physics teachers, one was dynamic, interesting and hilarious, and instilled in me a passion for the subject that continues to this day. My other physics teacher I found to be dull and confusing, and it was a struggle to concentrate in their lessons. In noticing this obvious contrast my interest in teaching became a combination of “I want to be like you!” and “I think I could do this better than you…” – I’ll leave it to you to work out which way around those phrases belong, and I’ll leave it to my students to decide how successful I’ve been in achieving them!

Given the impact teachers can make on the lives of their students it’s unsurprising that teaching is considered an extremely rewarding career. I’ve always found delight in not only seeing my students progress both academically and socially. I find getting to know my classes is an enjoyable experience and useful in teaching, in that understanding the background and interests of a class can help make learning more engaging and relevant. I’ve even had phone calls from parents asking me what to buy their child for Christmas as they felt I would know best! Among the highs and successes can sometimes come quite humbling lows, and supporting young people in times of crisis is an infrequently used and somewhat overlooked skill that all teachers should aim to develop.

Even in my life outside of the classroom I can’t help but teach; I’m a bit of a beer nerd, hold several ale-related qualifications, and run beer-tasting classes on the side. Much like the rest of my career, I try to make these a combination of science, teaching, and fun! They say every day is a learning day, and I think that the learning is more efficient and enjoyable with quality teachers around.

Jo Baynham

Jo with her students)

My name is Jo Baynham. I have been a teacher for 20 years. I am really passionate about both geography and education. I believe geography offers everyone a way of seeing their world through different eyes. It allows very young children to make sense of their surroundings and as they get older to see how they fit into the world. I was really fortunate to teach geography in a secondary school in Hertfordshire and had many opportunities to get students to see the awe and wonder of their local area as well as further afield. It was amazing witnessing children seeing the sea for the first time, or going on an aeroplane and seeing their reactions to their new surroundings.

I love to travel and for me this is what made all the hard work worthwhile. It is isn’t just about fieldtrips though. It is also about the moments that, as a teacher, you can share with the students you teach. The milestones and the achievements that can happen at any moment, and any age.

I now lead the geography PGCE at Manchester Metropolitan and feel really privileged to be working with trainee geography teachers who are just starting out on their teaching careers. Seeing how they progress over a 10 month course is amazing!

Mark Sackville-Ford

Mark on the chair lift surrounded by snow

My name is Mark Sackville-Ford and I have been a teacher for my whole career. When I was younger people always commented how well I interacted with children, and so it seemed inevitable that I would end up as a teacher. However, I have had a varied career working in schools, outdoors as a Forest School leader and now in higher education.

When I was a classroom teacher I wanted to do my best to help all children to achieve and it has taken me years to understand how achievement can mean so many different things. Working with young people who were being excluded by the education system made my interest in school cultures and atmospheres even greater, and this was the focus of my doctoral thesis.

Now that I see ‘differences’ in a positive light I think that I try and do things differently. Some young teachers believe that the system is so entrenched that we cannot change it, but I think it starts by creating your own climate in your classroom. Teaching for me isn’t about knowledge, but how we make people feel about learning and about themselves. My work now aims to support new teachers to develop into critical thinkers, rather than robots, who are able to challenge and improve the education system for our young people. This isn’t always an easy task, but one that is critical that we attempt.

When I’m not working you will mainly find me outdoors.

Post a question to our educators and they will answer some of them.

This article is from the free online

Preparing for Teaching

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now