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Meet our staff

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Melissa Chandler - Headteacher, Designated Safeguarding Lead

Melissa was born in Adelaide, Australia and graduated with a BA in Education in 2004 with a language specialism. She then lived and worked in Japan for two years, teaching English to children and adults. Melissa moved to London in 2007 and has taught across all ages of primary but mostly in EYFS and KS1. 

Melissa joined Abacus in its second year and has quickly become a crucial part of the team. She has conducted research in to children's reading and has been exploring strategies that support children in developing their reading skills as well as their fluency in understanding a range of question types- developing our reading curriculum that challenges, opens new worlds for children and supports their Geography and History learning on Fridays. 

Melissa is excited and proud to take on the role of Headteacher, working with the team to provide a fun, safe and exciting place for the children to learn and THRIVE!

Melissa has too many favourite books to mention, but she especially loves 'The Boy at the Back of the Classroom' which year 4 read and 'The Girl of Ink and Stars' in 5/6! A fun fact about herself is that she climbed to the top of a volcano and saw the sunrise from the very top! 

Melissa is the English and MFL lead at Abacus.

Miriyan Sikkens - Deputy Head Teacher, Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead

After finishing a Masters in theatre studies, Miriyan started her teaching career almost by accident by tutoring in the outback of the Northern Territory, Australia. She ended up loving it so much that she returned to London to complete her postgraduate so that she could get in front of the class. She's been doing that (mostly in Tower Hamlets) ever since. With a particular interest in literacy and engaging in collaborative learning, Miriyan was seconded to Ghana for 3 months in 2012 with VSO to advise the director of education in implementing active learning opportunities in early reading and primary English. 

After a few years away from teaching to raise her own children, Miriyan returned to the classroom and spent 5 years co-leading a team to implement and research effective oracy strategies. Since achieving a 'Centre of Excellence' status from Voice21, she has hosted headteachers and school leaders both nationally and internationally in helping them to kick-start curriculum development in Oracy. 

Miriyan first came to see Abacus in May 2023 and knew instantly that this was the next family that she wanted to be a part of. She thinks Abacus is bursting with talent in both the children and its incredibly dedicated staff. Her favourite children's book is Skellig by David Almond and a fun fact about her is that she was born in Amsterdam.

Miriyan leads on Geography, History and PSED and is excited to be supporting school on their Oracy journey! 

Tom Owens - SEND Co-ordinator 

Tom was born in Banbury, near Oxford. He achieved a BSC in Sociology at the University of Bath and after graduating, Tom worked as a care worker looking after and supporting elderly patients. He then supported adults with special needs, offering them support in their homes.

Tom moved to London in 2012 and worked at Paddock Secondary School where he supported children with special educational needs. He then embarked on his PGCE at St Mary's University where he graduated as an outstanding teacher. Tom has been teaching for 9 years in EYFS. He loves to promote a multisensory approach to teaching and learning through real life experiences- something that fits perfectly with the reception curriculum where children learn through play!

Tom loves working at Abacus for many reasons, but mainly for the complete warmth you feel from both the staff and children. The welcoming atmosphere and caring environment ensure that everyone succeeds together. Making mistakes are welcomed at Abacus, and children have the confidence to try again if at first they don't succeed. 

Tom's favourite children's book has got to be The Hobbit- there wasn't much more he wanted to do as a child than go on an adventure, fight the forces of evil and look for treasure! He enjoys keeping fit and regularly cycles. Tom was awarded the Teacher of the Year 2019 at the London Awards. We are very proud of him!

Tom is the SEND coordinator at Abacus and continues to support learning in Reception on Mondays and Tuesdays. Tom is also one of our deputy designated safeguarding leads. 

Madison Tangyuk - EYFS & KS1 Lead, Reception Teacher

Madison has been teaching now for 8 years. She trained to be a teacher in Camden and spent three years teaching Year 1 and 2. She then decided she wanted to teach abroad and therefore spent a year in Rome teaching at an international school and eating lots of pasta (yum)! Upon her return, she worked at a school in Hackney as both an EYFS and KS1 teacher. She is delighted to be returning to EYFS at Abacus and leading Reception, Year 1 and Year 2.

Abacus is a truly special place to work-you can feel the excitement and happiness throughout the school and the small community makes sure everyone (staff and students) feels valued and listened to! A fun fact- Madi visited Abacus when she first became a teacher when it only had 3 classes! It’s amazing to see how much it has grown since then.

Her favourite children’s book was Mary Hoffman’s Amazing Grace. She loved it so much she named her childhood cat after the main character ‘Gracie’- her sister named the other cat Mr Blobby!

Madison is leading on Science, Music and Phonics at Abacus.

Julia Hagen - Year 1 Teacher

Julia loves working with children and always knew she wanted to become a teacher. She completed her training in New Zealand where she was raised, then worked as an early years teacher for several years. Before moving to London, she travelled to Papua New Guinea and Cambodia where she taught in English language schools. It was in London that she decided to return to university and study for a Masters degree in Inclusion and SEND after which she moved into primary school teaching.

Outside of the classroom, Julia enjoys sports, the outdoors and reading – her favourite children’s book is The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett. Julia has discovered a family in the Abacus community. The children are excited to come to school and the staff are all passionate about what they do.

Claire Taylor - Year 2 Teacher

Claire joined Abacus in 2022 as a trainee teacher and we are so pleased that she has joined the team permanently. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she moved to London in 2016 and worked as a nursery practitioner for several years. It was during this time that she developed a passion for education, finding happiness in helping children achieve those 'light bulb moments' and important milestones. In addition to her nursery work, Miss Taylor also dedicated herself to helping children with SEN achieve their targets during her undergraduate years. 

A keen reader, she pursued a degree in Comparative Literature at Queen Mary's before starting her teacher training. Claire completed her teacher training at Abacus and is now our year 2 teacher. Her favourite children's book is The Hobbit. Outside of school, she enjoys kickboxing and drawing. 

Tom Elgar - Year 3 Teacher

Tom found his way to teaching in 2019, following a colourful career in the film industry. He feels he was blessed to find Abacus and a team that invested in him and guided him through his early teaching career. After a year teaching in the desert in Dubai, he returned home to Abacus in 2022 and is very happy to be back, settled in and serving the community that he loves.

Tom's favourite thing about Abacus is our school community; "London can be a transient place, but at Abacus, the staff care for the children, children care for each other and we are a family who enjoy learning and working together. From the leadership, to the staff team to the children and parents- we are all invested in doing the best for our children and developing resilient, well-rounded young people who feel proud to be a part of our community."

Tom's favourite children's book is Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris. He describes himself as a film-obsessed, music-obsessed, climbing-obsessed, Watford fan.

Tom leads on Computing at Abacus and is currently completing his forest school qualification. 

Becky Sheppard - Year 4 Teacher 

Becky was born in Hertfordshire and lived there until she was 19 years old. She then moved to Twickenham where she gained a BA Honours degree in Education with Social Sciences and English at St Mary's University. She previously worked in a school for autistic children for two years. Becky joined the school as a teaching assistant before completing her qualification at Abacus and becoming a teacher.

Becky is passionate about supporting all children and you will often find her running impromptu dance, reading or lego clubs at lunchtime. 

Becky is the art and DT lead and PPG champion at Abacus. 

Holly Lovell - Assistant Head Teacher, Year 5/6 Teacher 

Holly has been teaching for 10 years and joined us in 2021 as an experienced Maths Lead and Key Stage Two Lead. She has taught in various boroughs across London, including Hackney and Greenwich. She says that Abacus is her "forever school" and we are so pleased that she is now our Assistant Headteacher.

She loves the opportunity to coach and develop our other amazing teachers, after successfully completing an NPQ qualification in Leading Teacher Development last year.

Her favourite children's book is Wind in the Willows and her hobbies include reading, cooking, attending live music and DJ-ing.

Holly leads on maths, PE and RE and is our KS2 lead. Holly is also one of our deputy designated safeguarding leads. 

Toni Gill - Reception Teaching Assistant 

Toni joined the school in 2018 and is a highly qualified support teacher. Toni loves working at Abacus because of the community spirit, team work and amazing children!

Her favourite children's  book is 'Edward Tulane' and she enjoys travelling. One fun fact about Toni is that she loves dipping chips into a milkshake!

Toni runs our morning breakfast club as well as after school provision. 

Nasima Ali - 1:1 Teaching Assistant 

Nasima first joined our school as a lunchtime assistant and now works in our reception classroom. Nas has a large family of her own but often refers to the children at school as her children, often prompting the question: 'how many children do you have?!' She loves the team and the children and loves coming to work every day.

Nasima's favourite books are the Harry Potter series, and she loves to travel.

Alaya Begum - Year 1 Teaching Assistant 

Alaya joined Abacus in 2019 and is local to Camden where she went to school. Alaya says that she has always wanted to work in a school and growing up she was always the teacher when playing schools with her siblings. Alaya enjoys being a part of helping children grow and develop and being 'part of something' huge in a child's life.

Alaya's favourite children's book is 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' and she enjoys art and walking in her free time. 

David Diaz- Year 2 Teaching Assistant 

David studied Digital Film Production at university and enjoys art and the creative element of working in a school. He is pleased to have found the team at Abacus and finds each day fun and rewarding helping the children engage with their learning. David enjoys the diversity of students and staff at Abacus and says that it's a joy to work at our school each and every day! 

David's favourite book is 'Alien Bodies' by Lawrence Miles. a fun fact about David is that he once was filmed acting in a chocolate commercial. 

Una: Year 3 Teaching Assistant 

Una has always wanted to work in a school and loves that she plays a huge part in each child's development and growth. She loves being part of the Abacus family and states that she "wishes she had teachers like this when I was at school". She enjoys being a valued team member and enjoys supporting the children's play through fun games at playtime.

Una's favourite books are the Harry Potter series and she enjoys going for walks on the Heath and meeting every dog she can find!

Jackie Bright - Attendance Officer & First Aid Lead 

Jackie has lived in London all her life. She has been working in education for over 23 years, and has gained high-quality experiences. She has an NVQ Level 3 in child care and Education and a HLTA Level 4.

She enjoys working with children and seeing them blossom through their journey of learning. She says she loves working at Abacus with our outstanding team!

Zahraa Miah- Office Assistant 

Zahraa has recently joined the Abacus team and says that the school 'feels like home' and loves speaking with our friendly families. Zahraa wanted to work in a school as she enjoys the fun atmosphere and buzz of the children every day. Sheis a keen artist and runs art club once a week.

Her favourite children's book is 'Matilda' and she is the proud mum of a British Shorthair cat called 'Yoshi'.

Nadine Kanda - School Cleaner 

Nadine is a much valued member of staff who keeps the school clean and safe!

Vicki Briody - Associate Director of Education (Anthem Schools Trust)

Vicki was born in the Welsh borders but moved to this side of the country to attend university. She joined the Abacus team in June 2013 to prepare for opening in September 201 and was the first Headteacher of our wonderful school. 

Vicki is the Associate Director of Education across six Anthem schools and continues to work closely with the team to find Abacus a permanent home.