A bbc Interview with Anoara Mughal

Welcome to today´s bbc Interview. Let me introduce Anoara Mughal, Assistant Headteacher and Year 6 Teacher at Willow Brook Primary School, London, integral member of the Healthy Teacher Toolkit wellbeing organisation and #TMPicnic organiser.

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I enjoy taking on new challenges and being competitive as it keeps my mind stimulated and refreshed. I had been Team leader in year 6 for three years and got bored after 98% achieved two levels of profress. Having a passion for language and leadership development, I took on whole school leadership challenge and became Literacy Lead and a year 5 teacher. During this time I got bored again and organised my own CPD mostly through Twitter, which has led me to become an Assistant Headteacher.

What made you become a teacher?

After obtaining a degree in Biological Sciences, I went into retail sales, got bored then became a Bed Manager. It was a very interesting job which mainly involved telling consultants off! I worked at the Heart Hospital, my job was to keep waiting lists down. One day whilst at the park with my daughter, who was three at the time, twin boys asked me to help them jump onto the pole on the climbing frame. I could not see an adult nearby, so I thought I'd explain how they could achieve this step by step.
The boys followed my instructions and did it. They repeated the activity continuously with such happiness and enthusiasm; witnessing such joy at their own sense of achievement spread over me. At that very moment, I knew I had to become a teacher.
It´s so lovely to have the epiphany moment, I always knew I would be a teacher so don´t have that one engrained memory.
What is your favourite part of the job?

When pupils tell me that I've helped them believe in themselves. Suddenly they become more able  to tackle challenges, becoming independent and resilient. This realisation is important for achieving their potential. Seeing this transformation for me is a truly wonderful thing- a privilege to witness.

What has been best thing you have done at work this year?

Inspiring pupils and staff to read.

The week before World Book Day, I invited SF Said to our school. The Year 4s had just read Varjak Paw and the current year 5s read it last year ( I had redesigned the curriculum to include it as a core text last year). They were beside themselves when they heard. The energy throughout the school was infectious; it was like we were going to have a pop star in the building! Having a predominantly Muslim cohort, they were inspired to find out that SF was Muslim himself and would not stop clapping for him. They were also in awe to discover that he'd been to 90 publishers before having his first book published. His story of resilience inspired staff too!
I also hid five Golden Tickets in books in book corners in each classroom during Book Week. When pupils found a ticket they would come to me with the book they found it in and read, for a book prize and a Wonker bar! The teachers were more excited than the children!
Interaction with Authors is so important for children, especially for them to see how hard writing and editing is.

What is the most frustrating thing about teaching at the moment?

Being able to assess accurately has created huge problems. It would seem that each school uses a different system, which are all very similar to levels- the very thing we are trying to get away from.  Some schools assess more regularly than others. Assessment needs to be manageable, become accurate and consistent across all schools. The way we moderate writing also needs to change.

What songs would be on your driving to work playlist?

In the mornings I have a 20 minute drive but my return drive home can be approximately anything up to 2 hours!

I have a mix of musical tastes:

Here are a few:
Kings of Leon, Gorillaz, Scissor Sisters, Aztec Camera, Snow Patrol, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Anoushkar Shankar, Bob Marley, Glass Animals, Paloma Faith, Paulo Nuttini, Robert Miles.

Have also been known to like JLS! Don't ask!

Funk and musical theatre have a special place too!
Not sure about JLS, but I´m a big Bob Marley fan too.

What is the funniest thing a child has ever said/written in your class?

We were rewriting Cinderella and thinking about what we could change in the story.

We'd already discussed the possibility about changing the female character to a male character.

The second question was: what object could Cinderella lose instead of a slipper?

In order to prompt their imagination, I'd displayed some ideas in the form of images of mobile phones and gloves.

One of my pupils suddenly blurted out about Cinderella losing teeth. I burst out laughing and so did the entire class and nearly rolled around the room with laughter at the thought of Cinderella being identified via dental records by Prince Charming!

I admit to having a strange sense of humour!

What is your guilty pleasure?

Shoes, scarves, handbags and books! I have approximately 60 pairs of shoes but not as many handbags thankfully. Most of my scarves match my outfits or are a complete contrast.
I keep buying books, which are filling my book shelves but I never seem to have the time to read them! I blame @smithsmm for this!
I blame Simon for my shoe addiction too.

If you weren´t a teacher, what would you be and why?

I'm not a drama queen, so I would have loved to perform and sing on a theatrical stage.

When I read books out loud, I enjoy putting on voices and 'living' the character. It gives me a deep understanding of character motivation and actions.

I would have loved to become a librarian as I have a passion for books and reading.

What are you passionate about (teaching-related or not)?

Teaching related
I am passionate about everything related to education, especially language development. I want to fill childrens' lives with rich language.Success in life depends on language acquisition. It can also help us find a common understanding.
Family, wellbeing and social justice are my other passions.

Non-teaching related
Well this could be teaching related. I am passionate about great architecture and construction, particularly about the development of the urban environment to include more green spaces. Watch out George Clarke!

If you had to pick one subject/topic to teach on a loop forever, what would it be?

It would be a gymnastics lesson I once taught, where I had five differentiated activities set up. One of them involved doing flips over soft vaulting shapes. That was one of my favourite lessons ever!

Reading out stories aloud would be another favourite or retelling stories!

What is the most effective resource/technology/app you use in the classroom?

Take a guess- books and stories of course! If I ever get stuck for words, all I have to do is open a book.

I am a huge fan of ball games in the classroom.
They are great in emergencies , particularly when assemblies have been cancelled.

What is the most effective routine/method/system you use in the classroom?

Consistency in behaviour management is key. Enabling a safe environment allows pupils to grow and mature. It's a great privilege to witness that growth.

If you had to pick 4 people (Twitter or otherwise) to invite to a dinner party who
would it be and why?

That's a difficult one! There are so many people I would love to meet. Can I choose more than 4?

It would have to be @chrisdysonHT @smithsmm @MrEFinch for the laughter. Although, I would love to discuss books with @smithsmm @Mat_at_Brookes @marygtroche
Yet another Primary Teacher who can´t count to five. 

What is the best and worst advice you have been given as a teacher?

Best advice: Planning in reflective time is excellent advice. Carrying this out regularly helps me to improve my teaching practise.

Worst advice: I'm usually not afraid of expressing my emotions and I laugh a lot, so telling me not to smile until Christmas is like telling someone they can't have water.

Final Question: What drives you as a teacher?

Lifelong learning and continuously improving myself to become the best teacher I can be.

If you could choose one person who you´d love to have the bbc interview treatment, who would it be and why?

It would have to be @vicgoddard because he is one of the funniest people I have ever encountered. I was lucky enough to attend a speech he delivered at #CambsEdFest17 and laughed all the way through it!


  1. I only know Anoara from Twitter. This only supports my vision of her & enthusiasm for her spirit. Bravo!! Thank you so much for this interview.


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