Teaching & Learning Team

KYRIAKIDESAmelia Kyriakides - Biology


Before applying to teach at Didcot Girls’ School I visited for a tour. Walking through the staffroom, I noticed the Teaching and Learning library and knew that this would be an exciting place to learn and to teach. Now, in my fifth year at Didcot Girls’ School, I continue to be inspired by the professional learning culture.

Since joining Didcot Girls’ School, I have completed a Masters in Learning and Teaching with Oxford University. This facilitated reflection on pedagogy through the different lenses provided by educational theories. It also gave me the opportunity to carry out my own research project which aimed to improve students’ long-term retention of knowledge.

In my role as Lead Practitioner, I have shared education research through staff CPD, promoted effective study strategies through the revision revolution and, last year, launched the Teaching and Learning book club.

In addition to working on the Teaching and Learning Team as a Lead Practitioner, I am Head of Biology for Didcot Girls’ School and Didcot Sixth Form.

In my classroom, you would see…

  • Structure and sequence. Starting with the activation of prior knowledge and then carefully sequencing learning opportunities each with a clear purpose contributing to the learning goals.
  • Explanation. Every word counts in a lesson. I believe that teacher talk should be clear, concise and precise. A well-crafted explanation that builds on prior knowledge and manages cognitive load helps students to make meaningful connections and supports memory. 
  • Making learning stick. There are many ways to improve students’ long-term retention of knowledge both during encoding and subsequent spaced reviews. Retrieval is an incredibly powerful learning strategy that I make regular use of in lessons and encourage students to use when learning outside of the classroom. 

Particular research/pedagogy interests:

I believe in a scientific approach to pedagogy whereby theories are explored and robust evidence sought. However, it is the combination of science and creativity that makes pedagogy so exciting, translating pedagogical research into the classroom and transforming it into something tangible, practicable and flexible.

My particular interests are in…

  • Retrieval practice: Making learning stick.
    You can find out more about our approach to retrieval in this article published in Impact, the Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching: https://impact.chartered.college/article/placing-retrieval-at-heart-pedagogy-curriculum/
  • Effective study strategies: Ensuring that students make the most out of the time they spend revising.
  • Assessment: Aligning assessment purpose with design and finding effective ways to provide feedback that moves learning forwards. Questioning is an important part of assessment in the classroom and I am interested in when and how different types of questions should be asked.
  • Lesson structure – The sequence and selection of learning tasks and the appropriate level of scaffolding required to help all students to succeed.

Supporting others:

I am always happy to talk Teaching and Learning so please get in touch if you would like to discuss any aspect of teaching especially those listed above. I have an open door so feel free to come and visit a lesson and I love taking inspiration from other teachers so am always keen to visit lessons across the school.

As well as working with teacher in school, I also work with Oxford University PGCE students and Oxford Teaching School Associate Teachers supporting initial teacher training.

J Durie

Julia Durie - English


After completing my Linguistics degree, I became a Teaching Assistant in a primary school, which I absolutely loved (just not quite enough to become a primary teacher!)

Once I realised that secondary education was my area of interest, I trained to be an English teacher through OUDE, and I carried out my main placement at St Birinus School. Having had a brilliant experience as an intern, I stayed on at SBS to complete my NQT year and then I subsequently became Key Stage 3 Coordinator for English as an NQT+1. The following year I moved to DGS to become Second in English and this year I have taken on the role of Acting Joint Head of English and Lead Practitioner. I have found DGS to be a highly rewarding, motivating and inspiring place to work and I am delighted to work with the Teaching and Learning team this year.

In my classroom you would see...

A focus on ‘scaffold for challenge’ using modelling and gradual release to ensure that all students are able to access high-challenge concepts and skills to ensure excellent progress and boost cultural capital. You would see a culture of high expectations for all students, including the quality of the work they produce, their oracy skills, and behaviour for learning through positive student relationships.

Particular research/pedagogy interests:

I am particularly interested in the way feedback moves students forward in their learning. Similarly, I am interested in the role metacognition has to play in students taking ownership of their own learning and being able to apply teacher feedback in an impactful way. The question of why students sometimes repeat previous mistakes has caused me to interrogate the feedback loop in my own teaching and I look to experiment with ways to ensure feedback is consistently impactful with all of my classes.

Supporting others:

In my role as Lead Practitioner I look to support others in their own classroom practice to: embed scaffolding for challenge; use modelling effectively; employ gradual release and build positive relationships with students in a motivating classroom environment built on high-expectations.

Freya Ralph

Freya Ralph - Psychology


I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I enjoyed coaching student gymnastics and supporting my English teacher at sixth form with her younger classes. During the summer between second and third year at university I volunteered at a local grammar school where I was a teaching assistant for Psychology A-level students.

I completed my PGCE in Worcester (one of the few places you can train to be a Psychology teacher). I am currently in my fifth year of teaching having previously taught at a school in Buckinghamshire. I am HoD for Psychology having taken up the role initially as a maternity cover.

I have really enjoyed my time at DGS so far and it is great to have the opportunity to further my career here by taking on the role of a Teaching and Learning Lead Practitioner.

 I have also (just) completed my master’s in Teaching and Learning with Oxford University, which gave me a great opportunity to focus on improving independent learning within Sixth Form.

In my classroom you would see...

  • A focus on retrieval. I am keen to make sure all students feel confident in understanding the vast content required for the psychology course, meaning we do a lot of retrieval quizzes.
  • Challenge. Making sure all students are stretched so that no one is left behind or left waiting.
  • Booklets! Never to been seen without at least one booklet in each class - I believe they are a great personal revision source that provides the highest quality of explanation and learning, perfect for helping all students consolidate.

Particular research/pedagogy interests:

I am particularly interested in EdTech. As part of my PGCE I specialised in technology use in the classroom. I enjoy learning about new technology and seeing how best it can be implemented in the classroom. As a result, I am also a ‘digital champion’ at school as I believe that technology can help all teachers in reducing workload.

I am also interested in designing effective resources which provide concise and effective explanations. This ties in with the importance on helping students to develop the coherence of explanation both verbally and in a written format. I am also interested in developing effective revision resources in order to ensure students create effective notes and revise effectively.

Supporting others:

In my role as Lead Practitioner I am always happy to support others with any teaching and learning queries or have a natter about T&L. Having just completed my masters on independent learning, I am interested in helping others use this knowledge to their advantage. However, I would also be happy to support others on modelling, assessment and building positive relationships with others.

CPWClare Webb - MFL


On a personal level, I became interested in the way we, as humans, learn during my undergraduate degree, reading Spanish and Portuguese at Oxford. It was only a few years after graduating, when I was doing work experience with young people, that I realised that I wanted to channel my interests into teaching languages at secondary level. I did my PGCE at Goldsmiths in London, where my training was based on a ‘post-communicative’ approach to teaching languages. Since then, my experiences in schools where there are such different approaches left me wanting to do more research around the theory behind second language acquisition, and so my appetite for continued learning carried on growing.

Since joining DGS, I have been grateful for the rich opportunities offered to reflect on my practice and interact with pedagogical research, through CPD, book clubs and now through the Lead Practitioner accreditation scheme. I have been enthused not only by the chances to develop my own practice, but also to contribute to renewed, research-informed discussions at department level and within the Teaching and Learning team.

In my classroom you would see…

  • Tangible enthusiasm for all things MFL!
  • Well-embedded routines to support the Brilliant Basics.
  • Lots of student talk through pronunciation practice, repetition, group and pair discussion.
  • Modelling of metacognitive processes to boost student confidence when working independently.

Particular research/pedagogy interests:


  • use of sentence builders to promote confident, integrated practice of the four core skills.
  • use of film to support schemes of work.
  • student use of the target language in the classroom.
  • how students learn vocabulary.

More general interests:

  • assessment feedback: how can we support students to correct and improve their work in an effective, accessible and long-lasting way?
  • oracy: how can we encourage students to use their voices confidently and articulately?

Supporting others:

A highlight for me, since working with the Teaching and Learning team, has been working with other teachers and dropping in on lessons both within MFL and in other subjects. I find it interesting to compare challenges across different areas of the curriculum and love getting ideas from others’ teaching. I am always on the look-out for opportunities for collaboration, research and to share best practice! I would be happy to engage in discussion on any Teaching and Learning matter, but am particularly happy to support with establishing routines, scaffolding and modelling in curriculum planning and building positive relationships.

KESKate Sayers - Maths


As a sixth former, I tutored Maths to a variety of different students. With all these students, I really enjoyed watching them build their confidence and succeed in Maths where they hadn’t before. It wasn’t until I was in the final year of my Maths and Medieval History degree that I remembered this feeling and decided to apply to complete a PGCE. I completed my PGCE in Oxford and my first placement school was Didcot Girls’ School. Having loved my placement at DGS, I decided to stay and have been working at the school for 5 years now.  

I became the Key Stage 3 Coordinator for Maths in my NQT year and more recently have become the Acting Second in Maths. I have also been a mentor for OTSA and NMAPS which are schools centred initial teacher training providers. And this year I have now also taken on the role of Lead Practitioner. The school has already provided me with so many opportunities and I am excited to be part of the Teaching and Learning team to further my own teaching practice and to support other members of staff in doing the same.  

I am currently completing my Masters in Learning and Teaching with OUDE. My focus is on learners’ questions and how we can encourage and improve the quality of these in the classroom. This is a really interesting area of students’ questions are really powerful as they hold the key to developing life-long learners and also give us, as teachers, an insight into our students’ thought-processes. I hope to share the results of my research  

In my classroom you would see... 

  • Effective retrieval activities. I believe that supporting students to review content regularly is really important and I am passionate about making these activities as effective and useful as possible for the upcoming lesson. I also think it is really important to think carefully about the running of these activities and how you can feedback on them in the most effective way possible.  
  • ​Clarity of instruction. It is so important to ensure that students know what they are doing at each point in a lesson and can follow-through the lesson with as little disturbance as possible and therefore clear, concise instructions are vital to ensuring this.  
  • Clear modelling. I am particularly keen on live modelling using my visualiser or on the white board so students know exactly how they should be working through particular problems. I also think embedding metacognitive questions and showing my own thinking process as an expert is important to support students in being able to think like I do when they tackle problems.  
  • ​My enjoyment and my students’ enjoyment of Maths!  

Particular research/pedagogy interests: 

  • Mixed ability teaching particularly in Maths and how challenge and support can be embedded into this.  
  • ​How we can encourage students to ask more questions and ask questions that are more cognitively complex and therefore lead to higher-level thinking.  
  • Responsive teaching and how we can train teachers to be more responsive in the classroom and make the most of misconceptions and student discussions.  
  • ​How best to support ECTs to feel successful and develop their own practice. 

Supporting others: 

I am always looking for opportunities to discuss teaching and learning with others and to collaborate on different ideas and strategies. In my role as a Lead Practitioner, I am happy to support others with any teaching and learning queries, but especially on some of things that I’ve listed above as being things that you’ll ses in my classroom, or things that I am particularly interested in.  

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