Teaching Staff


Meet the Teaching Staff

Jane Chesters

 B.Sc. (Hons) in Zoology and PGCE with Primary specialism 1988

I taught Y6 to Reception when my children were young, later specialising in Early Years at Pear Tree School and D&T (including Food Tech) Co-ordinator. I was an EYFS Moderator (Early Years Foundation Stage) with Cheshire County Council.

Having taught several children with Special Needs (Autistic Spectrum Disorder; VI; Behavioural Needs) within the mainstream classroom I sought a change in direction; and in 2010 began supply teaching Special Needs children in a variety of settings including Springfield Special School, Crewe; Kemball School, Stoke; Coppice School; Blackfriars FE, Bucknall and Blackfriars School, Newcastle During this time I taught all ages from 4-21 including ASD and PMLD.

I settled at Blackfriars School in 2012 teaching an SLD class where I utilised my knowledge of learning though play and first hand experiences in an exciting, cross curricular way personalising learning in a variety of ways to support children of all abilities. As a scientist and a sports woman I love to integrate teaching of science, PE, D&T, humanities, PSHE and maths with stories/ books to bring the subjects alive in a creative curriculum approach.

In 2014 I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to teach Food Technology as it is such a powerful teaching tool not only in developing essential life skills, but also for the valuable maths, science and language opportunities that are embedded in the subject.

Through Food Technology I challenge pupils; make topics relevant to their lives; encourage choice; set clear goals; help build positive relationships; foster deeper concentration; offer hands-on exercises. One of my aims is to give pupils the freedom to know that it’s OK to make mistakes and give them the self-confidence to keep trying.


Jane Gardiner

I came to Blackfriars on a short placement as part of my course and loved it so much that I returned to take up a temporary supply post. Seventeen years later I am still working here and love the job just as much as when I started.

I teach maths at KS3 which involves a lot of practical opportunities to aid learning; using IT programs to see what our faces would look like if they were really symmetrical; using equipment to measure and test theories; carrying out surveys of favourite biscuits for staff and pupils (with the necessary taste testing of course) etc. ICT at KS3 includes using programs for music, graphic design and coding, as well as ensuring students know how to stay safe online. At KS4 students work towards external qualifications at entry level, BTEC levels 1 and 2 and GCSE.

I love to learn and took my second degree through the Open University whilst working at Blackfriars, gaining a first and I hope that this love of learning inspires the pupils I teach.


Sarah Johnson

BA Hons Conductive Education & Psychology with Qualified Teacher Status

Upon qualifying from university I gained my first teaching post in the Primary Department at Blackfriars. I worked delivering Conductive Education Task Series, helping pupils with physical disabilities to gain skills and independence in this area. Over the years, I have moved over into classroom teaching, delivering the curriculum across the whole range of leaners at Blackfriars. In recent years, I have developed a particular passion for developing communication skills. I am trained in Makaton, PECS, PODD and most recently been instrumental in the introduction of Grid 3 and Ipads to facilitate communication


Carmel Martin

Carmel has a PGCE in Secondary teaching as well as a degree in Literature and History and has taught English in both secondary mainstream and special school settings Prior to teaching she qualified as a Librarian with a Post Graduate Diploma in Librarianship and Information Studies working for Kent County Council Children and Young People’s Service where she qualified as a Chartered Librarian. Carmel then moved to work in publishing and library supply industry as a Sales Director.

Carmel teaches a wide range of abilities and qualifications in English form entry level through to Functional Skills and GCSE Language and Literature, differentiating effectively for a wide variety of pupil needs in classes ensuring that each young person can achieve their potential.

Since joining the Blackfriars teaching team Carmel has continued to develop professionally, gaining a PGCE in Specific Learning Difficulties which has enabled her to build expertise in delivering bespoke interventions for pupils with dyslexia, or dyslexic tendencies.  Her vision is that all children, regardless of ability or background, should have their lives enriched by the written and spoken word. Carmel has also gained the following professional qualifications - NPQML and NPQSL as well as working as a Specialist Leader in Education (SLE) advising and working with schools across the region. As a mentor for Associate Teachers from both Derby and Keele Universities, Carmel has had the privilege of working with and training both trainees and newly qualified teachers as part of Blackfriars Teaching School.

Through these roles Carmel has worked with colleagues to build a culture that ensures outstanding practice and routes into teaching and learning are shared and underpin curriculum delivery and development. She has advised on, promoted and enhanced literacy provision both in school and across the West Midlands, delivering training to staff at all levels. Carmel has also been involved in delivering bespoke training to Associate teachers and NQTs. Topics have included: Literacy Across the Curriculum, Preparing pupils to use a scribe, Dyslexia awareness and Autism awareness.

Samantha Mitchell

Samantha Mitchell is a teacher at Blackfriars Academy where she teaches a range of subjects in an SLD class. She trained as a Primary School teacher at Manchester Metropolitan University for four years. While training she taught in a range of different schools and completed many Special Needs School placements, which started her ambition to teach in a special needs school. As part of her degree she got the chance to live in Finland for a term as part of a programme called ERASMUS, this is where students of Europe have the opportunity to experience life in a different country. Sam observed and taught in a range of Finnish schools and experienced life at a Finnish university. While she was there she was voted to direct a performance about all the different countries that were a part of the ERASMUS scheme. She had to direct 50 students, which was then shown to the students and parents of the university. She graduated university with a 2:1.

After university she completed a year of supply in range of primary schools to gain lots of experience.

She came to work in at Blackfriars in October 2013 where she started off being a 1:1 with a child who was completing his year 6 SATs. She helped mentor him to complete them.

She then completed three years in a Key Stage 4 SLD class helping children to gain accreditations in English, Maths, Science, Sport, ICT and ASDAN. Along with this she now completing a course where she can be a lead IV for all the accreditations in the school.

She also mentors student teachers from Keele University when they come to complete their placements and is currently mentoring a NQT within the school. 

Eloise Palmer

Eloise completed her bachelors degree in Conductive Education where she worked with children and adults with physical disabilities in educational settings. Following this she completed her PGCE in primary education. From here she began working in a special needs school working with children at a primary age. Whilst there, Eloise began to hone her skills working with complex learners and decided to undertake a Masters degree in Education to explore more theory and practical research. Eloise specialises in teaching pupils with complex communication needs and has attended various courses and training related to sensory learners and approaches to teaching alternative communication methods to students. Eloise graduated with an MA in 2019 where her final research was centred around teaching students with complex communication needs, early reading and writing skills. Following her graduation Eloise was ready for a new challenge and wanted to work with older students in a larger setting. She absolutely loves her new role at Blackfriars and is a very happy member of the team. In her spare time Eloise spends most of her time split between her animal family and her human family. Her favourite season is winter when she goes on regular ski trips and muddy walks with her dog in the snow!

Richard Parr

Form teacher Royal Doulton

Teaches Science, Work Skills, Life Skills

Degree 2:2 from Durham University
Diploma in Marketing

Previous work life before teaching – Aviation and Automotive Industry up to 2015

Richard worked for an Aerospace  company (BAe Systems), then he worked in the food industry, then building cars (Toyota), then back to Aeroplanes for 10 years with my own company called Retro Aviation (old planes and new ones)

Favourite Food – A really great and huge cooked breakfast with all the trimmings
Favourite Films- Good Will Hunting/Arthur(the first one)/The Full Monty/The Thomas Crown Affair
Favourite Sport – Cricket/Rugby also Clay Pigeon Shooting
Music – everything from Elgar to Rag n Bone Man
Guilty Pleasure- Richard loves trains – particularly Steam Locomotives and I have my own railway layout in a shed at home

Jill Rawlinson

Jill has a PGCE and degree in History and Religious Studies, which are the main subjects she has taught for many years, both in the UK and Colombia.  She continues to develop professionally through postgraduate studies and on an Erasmus project creating resources to promote an inclusive pedagogy with trainee teachers.  Her passion is teaching humanities creatively to pupils of all abilities through a wide range of multi sensory learning. 

 She initially taught in mainstream secondary schools before joining the Blackfriars team.  She worked for the Staffordshire Physical Disability Support Service gaining an expertise in supporting pupils with a wide range of additional needs.

 Jill also works with trainee teachers both through Keele University (KNSTE) and with our own teaching school (Blackfriars TSA) and Derby University, encouraging new entrants to the profession to develop a dynamic pupil centred approach in their teaching.  She is also responsible for overseeing our local Newly Qualified Teachers. 

Carolina Slight

Carolina has worked as a teacher in both mainstream and special needs schools in Staffordshire, and is currently in charge of Art and Design provision at Blackfriars.

After a Foundation course in Art, Carolina went onto achieve a BA Hons in 3 Dimensional Design, specialising in glass-making at Stourbridge College of Art (now part of Wolverhampton University). She then went on to Liverpool University to do a P.G.C.E  qualification  specialising in Art and Design.

Over the years Carolina has taught a full range of abilities from A’Level  Art to G.C.S.E, with different exam boards and now more recently,  BTEC qualifications.

Carolina enjoys travelling and loves creating her own paintings on location.  She uses her travels to ‘collect’ Art as inspiration and ideas for presenting to students back in school drawing from a wide range of cultures and Artists’ work.

Hannah Turner

Music Teacher

Hannah studied music from since a young age and has achieved formal qualifications in both Classical Singing and Piano. She enjoys performing locally, especially in care homes and at charity events. However, most of her enjoyment comes from spreading a joy and love for music to children and young people. Hannah studied Music and Education at Keele University and graduated in 2017 with a 2:1. She then went on to work towards her PGCE in Primary Education at Keele and North Staffordshire Teacher Education. During her training year, she undertook a 3-week placement at Blackfriars Academy. This experience made it clear to Hannah that she had a passion for working within a SEN setting and wanted to pursue this through her career path.

Following her PGCE graduation, she worked for the Shropshire Music Service, delivering curriculum music lessons throughout many schools in Shropshire. This experience was very rewarding as it gave her insight into how many schools work and how learning can be enhanced through music. She then went on to work within a SEN pastoral role at an Engineering school, working alongside children with additional needs in mainstream classrooms.

Hannah started her role at Blackfriars in January 2020 and is so delighted to be part of the team. She feels very fortunate that she is able to share music on a daily basis with the students of Blackfriars.