State school teachers win Oxford award after being nominated by English students

Oxford University Inspirational Teachers Award logo


First-year English Language and Literature students Laura McGriele, Lucy Tirahan and Sam Lapham successfully nominated their former school teachers for an Oxford University Inspirational Teachers Award.

Laura nominated her teacher, Emma Read of St Albans RC High School in Torfaen, Wales. Lucy nominated her teacher, Matthew Southern-Myers, formerly of Cranford Community College in Hounslow and now teaching at Elthorne Park High in Ealing, London. Sam nominated his teacher, Richard Dunsterville of The Bay CE School in the Isle of Wight.

The Inspirational Teachers Awards are a way of recognising the importance of school or college teachers in encouraging talented students to realise their potential and make a successful application to Oxford. Each year, first-year Oxford undergraduates from UK state schools or colleges with a limited history of sending students to Oxford are asked if they would like to nominate an inspirational teacher.

As part of her nomination Laura wrote; "For the entirety of my time in her classroom, I was happy and engaged. I looked forward to feeling as though I was wanted and involved, and she saw in me what she deemed to be a “talent”… Ever since that day six years ago, she hasn’t stopped. Every day she would remind me that I was worth something more than I could ever hope to believe, and every day since I had tried to emulate a small amount of the faith that she has placed in me."

Lucy wrote in her nomination; "Aside from fulfilling the aspects which all good teachers do (being patient, showing dedication to students and commitment to achieving the highest grades possible) there were a lot of selfless decisions he made which helped me to achieve my place at Oxford. [He] was consistent with providing support to our cohort and always made time for anyone that needed his advice."

And in his nomination Sam wrote; "Mr Dunsterville… had a manner about him which was at once sympathetic, wise, funny and inspiring… His sheer passion for English is rivalled only by his sincerity in wanting his students to do well, not for any form of public appraisal, but because he believes in them."

All the winning teachers and their nominating students attended an awards ceremony held by University of Oxford at Worcester College on 17 May 2019.

Congratulations to Emma, Matthew and Richard, and many thanks to Laura, Lucy and Sam for taking the time to tell us about their inspiring teachers.

More information about this year’s winning teachers and their students is available at



Image of student laura mcgriele

Laura McGriele

lucy tirahan

Lucy Tirahan

sam lapham

Sam Lapham