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WATCH: Adele’s emotional video showing the incredible power of a good teacher. UAE School Principals and Educationalists Respond.

WATCH: Adele’s emotional video showing the incredible power of a good teacher. UAE School Principals and Educationalists Respond.

by Tabitha BardaNovember 24, 2021

We all have that one teacher who had a profound impact on us as a child.

Perhaps their lessons made you love a subject you never used to before. Perhaps their encouragement gave you the confidence to try something new and push your boundaries. Or perhaps they inspired you to love something that ended up propelling you into worldwide, Grammy-award-winning superstardom.

Adele traces her talent for lyric writing back to her inspiring English teacher. Photo: Instagram @Adele

Not all of us can turn out like multi-million record-selling singer songwriter Adele. But we can all relate to her reaction when, during a recent concert special broadcast on the UK’s ITV channel, An Audience with Adele, she broke down in tears on discovering that her former, hugely influential English teacher was in the audience.

“She got me really into literature a lot,” said Adele, reminiscing about her former secondary English teacher Ms Macdonald, in response to a question from actor Emma Thompson about the person who inspired her when she was a child.

“I’ve always been obsessed with English and obviously now I write lyrics,” added Adele, highlighting how a great teacher can be the fuel that fires up imaginations that go on to do truly extraordinary things.

“She was just so cool and engaging. She really made us care, and we knew that she cared about us.”

It’s clear that the emotional connection – that ‘care’ Adele says Ms McDonald had for her students – is still going strong, more than 20 years since she was taught by her…


“Did you keep in touch?” asked Emma Thompson.

“No, she left when I was in year eight; it was just one year,” replied Adele.

“It’s odd, actually, funnily enough… she’s here tonight,” said Thompson, before revealing Ms McDonald in the audience, who then approached the stage for a tearful reunion with her former student.

In their heartfelt interaction, it’s clear how deeply and profoundly teachers can shape their students’ lives, futures and self-identities – every single day. Just one academic year of tuition under an inspirational teacher left an impression on Adele that has not faded, even decades later, in the glare of international fame, platinum-selling records and awards ceremonies.

Watch the full, emotional video here.

The impact of a teacher can be truly life-changing. As Mark Leppard MBE, Headmaster at The British School Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi, said on his social media:

“To all those inspiring teachers out there, this is the impact you have. This is why it is so important that we reflect and challenge ourselves to be a better version of ourselves every single day. Today may just be the day we change someone’s life.”

UAE educationalists share their reaction

Adele chose her English teacher as the person who had the most profound impact on her when she was a child. But we know we all have that special someone who deeply influenced us, formed our character and helped to shape our path in life.

Who would you choose? We asked some of the UAE’s top teachers for their own ‘Adele-style’ former teacher.

Mark Ford, Principal, The English College, Dubai

“In the space of a few years, one teacher turned my life around”

Photograph of Mark Ford, Principal of The English College in Dubai. Mark Ford joined the school in August 2019.

“For me it was a maths teacher called Colin Bell, who I had when I was just starting my GCSEs. Up until then I’d had really poor maths teachers. I hated maths with a vengeance and dreaded my maths lessons. I was in the bottom set for maths. And I was always in trouble; I was always getting thrown out of lessons – I’m not sure should say this as a Principal – but I was so disengaged and demotivated. I just thought that maths was this unfathomable ‘other language’, because I’d had such poor teachers.

“Then at the start of my GCSEs I had this wonderful, inspirational, passionate maths teacher, who you could tell really cared about everybody. I suddenly got really engaged in maths and in the space of a few weeks I shot up from being in the bottom set for maths, to being in the top set, where I had another wonderful maths teacher who was just as engaging and exciting and passionate.

“I went on to get the top grade in maths at GCSE, then to getting a top grade at A Level, and then I went on to study maths at university. So in the space of a few years, one teacher turned my life around: from bottom set mathematician to a maths graduate.”

Rob McCall, Assistant Head, Victory Heights Primary School

“I probably wouldn’t be a teacher today if he hadn’t been my teacher 16 years ago”

“My ‘Adele’ teacher was Mr J Christian. He joined my school as the new PE teacher when I was a Year 10 teenage dirtbag. He was young and had such a brilliant way of destroying everyone with banter, but immediately being able to switch in serious work-mode. At a time when I could have been distracted by the wrong crowd, he found a way of using humour to move me away from them and modelled high standards, which drove me to be the best I could be. I probably wouldn’t be a teacher today if he hadn’t been my teacher 16 years ago.”

David Flint, Principal, South View School

“My teacher lit a fire in me that has only ever burned brighter”

Photograoh of David Flint, Principal and Chief Executive Officer, South View School in Dubai taken in April 2021

“At Rougemont School, in Newport, South Wales in the UK, my Form Tutor and Geography Teacher Jeffrey Worth is the one person who has had a profound impact on my life in all three of my careers. His passion for knowledge, learning, his selflessness in respect of others, and his appreciation of the environment and for people generally lit a fire in me that has only ever burned brighter. A role model, he helped me see the power of challenging one’s own beliefs and ideas, even those that are deep seated and ingrained. I cannot thank this inspirational person enough or the school in which he worked.  A truly amazing, gifted educator and an example to us all.”

 Zara Harrington, Principal, Safa British School

“She was firm but fair, and would always encourage you to read another page”

Adele chose her favourite teacher. UAE school Principlas choose theirs in Dubai schools and Abu Dhabi schools.


“My teacher would be Mrs Rogers, my primary school teacher when I was aged six. She was firm but fair and would always encourage you to read another page…to finish the book. My favourite part of that reading scheme was Roger Red Hat, as it was the same as my teachers name… She had the best games to play and her role play area I always remember had the best kitchen in. My favourite time was TV time and she would let us watch words and pictures, which was the 70’s literacy programme by the BBC!”

Matthew Tompkins, Principal / CEO, GEMS FirstPoint School 

“These three men shaped me as a teacher and helped me understand who I could become.”

Photograph of Matthew Tompkins, Principal, GEMS FirstPoint School in Dubai outside the school.

“I was very fortunate at school to have three PE teachers who really took the time to know me and care for me as an individual. I had quite a turbulent early childhood and lacked focus when I transitioned to secondary school. I enjoyed sport, especially football, golf and cricket, and wanted to be the best I could be. Mr Kitney, Mr Dales and Mr Sparkes, my PE teachers, used this interest in sport to engage me in other areas of the curriculum. They were gifted sportpeople who conducted themselves with dignity at all time, always showing respect for others. I knew that they wanted me to succeed, so I always listened to them and tried to react to their feedback.
“Mr Kitney sadly passed away a few years ago. The last time I saw him was three years ago, he was with Mr Dales and Mr Sparkes. They had come to watch a charity cricket game I was playing in. We all sat together, we shared memories from school and they wanted to know what I was doing. They still genuinely cared about me and were so proud of the adult I had become. 

“The main reason I went into teaching was to provide the same level of support I received from them,to others. These three men shaped me as a teacher and helped me to understand who I could become, I can’t thank them enough for all they have done and continue to do for me.”

James Mullan, Co-Founder, Which Media

“His classes were full of fun and debate”

“Pete Mullen, my sixth form English teacher at St Columb’s College, Derry. A passionate, witty, learned and mischievous lover of literature. His classes were full of fun, debate and were a tonic for the mind and spirit.”

Over to you….

Do you have a favourite teacher that has transformed your world? Is there someone you want to share with our readers that had an impact you think should be celebrated. Do you want to thank a teacher and let them know just what they meant to you? Send your story, with a picture of yourself, your old school, or something that brings your story to life, by 1st January 2022, to tabitha[email protected]  Watch this space!

© 2021. All rights reserved.

About The Author
Tabitha Barda
Tabitha Barda is the Senior Editor of Oxbridge educated and an award winning journalist in the UAE for more than a decade, Tabitha is one of the region's shining lights in all that is education in the emirates. A mum herself, she is passionate about helping parents - and finding the stories in education that deserve telling. She is responsible for's The School's Report - the global weekly round up of what matters in education for parents which is published every Thursday, reviewing schools across the UAE - and features on issues that really matter.

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