Qualifying to teach was the fulfilment of a long-term ambition. Over 30 years ago I took up an alternative career, serving in HM Armed Forces Intelligence Corps as a collator, followed by 14 years in the private sector as PA and a Group Corporate Credit Manager.
Having left full time employment in 2006 to spend time with my young daughter I decided to volunteer in a local school and assist in the running of a Rainbow unit. This refuelled my enthusiasm for teaching and I decided to retrain as a primary teacher. I subsequently graduated with a First Class BA ITT degree in July 2013, with a specialism in teaching French, and completed my NQT year in July 2014.
For the last 4 years I have taught across 2 academies in the Harris Federation, Harris Primary Academy Benson (HPAB) and Harris Primary Academy Kenley (HPAK), both being two-form intake schools. Initially I took up a post as a Year One teacher (NQT year) and subsequently the role of French Teacher at Benson. I continued to cover teach at both schools. I discovered how absorbing and rewarding teaching can be, and set myself the target of enthusing my class with a real love of learning. Although during my NQT year at HPAK the school had a native French teacher I still spoke French to my class regularly and encouraged them to experiment with their emerging language skills. This enthusiasm for French took hold and resulted in 3 children presenting to the whole school in French during the class assembly. A huge achievement for 6 year olds. Additionally, having a native French speaker in school I used the opportunity to speak French as much as possible.
In my role as French teacher at HPAB, I taught from year 1 to year 6, using lessons based on the Lightbulb Languages Model, supplementing with Rigolo and multiple language websites. Pupils were taught and assessed in 4 key areas, Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. Learning is topic based and language acquisition is cumulative over 4 years. In year 3 the focus is on speaking and listening words and phrases, with reading and writing introduced as the children progress. In years 4, 5 and 6 pupils build on their prior knowledge, learning more vocabulary, longer sentences, likes and dislikes and the past or future tense. The topics I use are child friendly, covering Myself, The Body, Animals, Colours, Numbers, Space, Travel, School, the list is inexhaustible. Wherever possible I try to link the French learning to topics pupils have or are currently learning in other lessons. For example I taught Year 5 Space in French, the term after they had learnt about it in Science. This gave pupils the opportunity to point out similarities in the 2 languages. Learning a language should be fun, not arduous, and to this end, many lessons involve songs, actions and games. Learning French encourages group learning, through matching games, team games and word competitions.
Having been teaching French for 3 years I have a model that works well and achieves success. Pupils and parents from HPAB have reported that their children are doing extremely well in languages at Secondary School, and I hope that this success is, in some part, down to the progress they have achieved in Primary School
By volunteering in school I have managed to cover all the school years from nursery to year 6 and this has given me a real insight into how children make progress. During these placements I ran French clubs for children in Key Stage 2 using the Early Start package. It is really important that children see other children speaking the target language fluently.
Whilst at university I also made the most of opportunities to teach in local schools and, in collaboration with other students, planned and implemented an ‘immersion in French’ morning at a school local to St. Mary’s University in Strawberry Hill. French is my specialism, chosen mainly due to my enthusiasm for the language, but also because of the opportunities it gives to widen children’s knowledge of the world and enthuse them with a love of language. Learning a language at primary school instils a love of languages at a very early age. This is certainly where my love of languages comes from. I have a real passion for languages, at any level and not just French (I also speak a little German having studied it at A level and lived in Germany for 3 years when serving in the Army), and it is this passion that I believe enthuses and engages pupils in my lessons. I spent a month in France in 2013 teaching English in a CM1 class (equivalent to year 5) and this experience enabled me to compare the French and UK systems. It also afforded me the opportunity to reflect on how English children feel when they start learning a foreign language. It is often the case that a child who struggles academically has talents in other areas and I am a firm believer in offering opportunities to learn new skills. All children should have the opportunity to engage in activities that they may show a flair for.
Obviously my passion for languages shines through, however I can also tutor in Maths at Primary Level and English Language up to GCSE. Please see the subjects list for all other options.
I aim to tailor tutoring session to the individual, but above all learning should be fun, not arduous, because when a child is having fun, they are engaged in learning.
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