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Alumnus favours teaching over professional career as a musician

Olu Sodeinde says the classroom comes first

Many teachers have been referred to as educational heroes and one such hero is UEL alumnus, Olu Sodeinde, now the head of music at Little Ilford School in Newham, east London.

After having trained as a teacher at UEL in 2010, Olu Sodeinde’s love for music drew him to a professional career working with the likes of Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith, Rita Ora, Lemar...to name a few of the global celebrities.  

But it was not long before his passion for teaching led him back to the classroom.

He said, “There is nothing like being in the classroom. Students will never forget what you tell them and what you tell them can shape and change the course of their destiny.”

His days are now spent inspiring the next generation and he uses his previous industry experience to help with his teaching. Olu attributes his teaching outlook to the mentors who have inspired him over the years. Dr Christopher Dalladay, senior music lecturer in the School of Education and Communities, was one of those that Olu praised.  

“Chris prepares his PGCE trainees to the highest standard with the utmost professionalism on a rigorous and well-rounded course. If it were not for teachers like him, I would not be where I am today.”

Dr Chris Dalladay said, “I remember during Olu’s second placement as a trainee, seeing a great example of his innovative approach to teaching. Although he had a pile of us observing: an Ofsted inspector as we were in the middle of an inspection - the deputy headteacher, the head of department and myself - one of Olu’s great ideas was to make use of an overhead camera connected to the interactive whiteboard which allowed the pupils to see what he was demonstrating on a keyboard rather than getting them to all crowd around and not see much at all.

“The inspector was very impressed, and the lesson as a whole was agreed to be outstanding.”

When joining Little Ilford School, Olu was asked to set up the music department from scratch and due to his in-depth knowledge of the industry, this has given him the opportunity to share his acquired wisdom through the curriculum and with his pupils.

“We have a music studio and about 20 different clubs running at the school. East London has a real blend of culture, so I wanted to bring that together in music: dohl, tabla, samba drums, pop, gospel, music technology and so on. 

“What I absolutely love is the magic of being able to pass on my passion. I adopted music at school and saw the music department as my second home. One music teacher, who did not have much, brought a keyboard to my house one day. I was shocked. He could see my curiosity and that is a gift as a teacher – to see someone who has a curiosity. The rest, as they say, is history.”

For Olu, there are many elements that go into creating a nurturing and inspiring environment for pupils. 

“The joy and element of authenticity in the classroom is like no other - I can’t give it up. I just want to give to my students what my teacher gave to me.”

Read about Olu Sodeinde in The Guardian as one of the top 100 inspiring teachers and watch his documentary on Channel 4 #GetIntoTeaching