Matthew Burton, or Mr Burton, rose to fame in the Channel 4 documentary Educating Yorkshire. Assistant Head and English teacher at Thornhill Academy, the documentary series explored the challenges the school faced as it attempted to turn itself around under the leadership of charismatic headteacher, Jonny Mitchell.
The relationship developed between Mr Burton and one his Year 11 pupils, Musharaf Asghar, created one of the stand-out moments of the series. Musharaf was a bright, engaging boy who struggled with an acute stammer. His impending English GCSE required him to recite a poem, an ordeal that seemed impossible until the intervention of Mr Burton. Inspired by The King’s Speech, the teacher hit upon the idea of making Musharaf listen to some music to help his delivery. The tactic worked and in highly emotionally charged scenes Musharaf read Margaret Atwood’s poem The Moment almost without a hitch.
The show then moved forward to the end of term with Musharaf standing in front of the entirety of year 11 and, again with the help of his iPod, delivering a speech thanking everyone in the school for their support in overcoming the bullying he endured in his first year and restoring his confidence.
Following on from his efforts with Musharaf and his many other pupils, Matthew has gone on to talk at a number of events and conferences about the techniques he uses to motivate those he works with as well as the many stories he has from his time spent at the front of a classroom.