Anthony Michael

“Mr Coles believed in me.”

Javed Khan, CEO Barnardo’s

Teacher helps student learn to help others

Tony Coles became a Maths teacher in Birmingham in the mid-1970s. Early in his career, he inspired one student who learned what children can achieve when you believe in them.

Coming from suburban Weston Super Mare, Birmingham was a very different environment for Tony.

“The children I was teaching came from a different background to me, which took a bit of getting used to. For some of them, education wasn’t seen in a very positive light.”

Tony found that by establishing every child’s natural level of ability and providing challenges that made the subject accessible, he was able to engage with students who would otherwise be put off Maths.

One of the ways Tony connected with his students was by telling the stories and history behind the ideas he was teaching. He was able to show them that math concepts were based on universal truths rather than abstract ideas developed by an intellectual elite. This seemed to resonate with students.

“I didn’t imagine he would’ve reached the position in life that he’s got to, and it’s something I’m proud of. I’m happy I was able to play some sort of part in that career development.”

Javed Khan, a student of Tony’s for five years throughout his GCSEs and A-levels, had always responded well to his teacher’s enthusiasm and teaching style. He went from enjoying maths, to studying it at university, to eventually teaching it himself, rising quickly through the education sector to become Director of Education at Harrow.

Today, Javed is the CEO of Barnardo's, the leading children’s charity supporting more than 240,000 of the most vulnerable children across the UK. He has always acknowledged and thanked Tony for his inspiration and encouragement.

For Tony, seeing such success is truly heartwarming.

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