I was fortunate enough to spend the last week in a school in a less economically developed area where I met people from different backgrounds. Below is a report to describe the time I spent there and to evaluate my experience.
On my first day I felt warmly welcomed when we were taken to a conference room to find out more about the school and to discover what we would be doing during the week. I was fortunate enough to then be taken on a tour of the local area exploring the newly developed areas and the areas that are still awaiting (and need) development. It was interesting to see where some of the students live in order to try to understand their background and upbringing. Visiting their estates allowed me to contrast and compare their local area with my own. It was not as different to my local area as I previously had been told and I believe we need to be careful when speaking about the students’ upbringing in order to not promote segregation and a culture of ‘us and them’. We must all work together in society to allow everyone to do their best. I found this tour very interesting. Something that struck me in the area was the prominent sense of community – everyone knows everyone as lots of people live in a small space. This is extremely special and unique to the area. The sense of community was further reflected in that the area is extremely culturally diverse and it feels like all cultures are welcome and that no one is left out. With any area there are problems and it was very sad to hear stories of the local people battling with knife and gun crime. Although I do not know much about the government’s ideas I believe that they need to do more about this issue to save innocent people who are being exposed to very violent crimes starting from a vulnerable young age. When I spoke to a boy of age 14 he explained that it is not uncommon for stabbings to happen at the parties that they attend. This is very worrying.
During my tour of the school I noticed the amazing facilities that they have on offer including an enormous sports hall, 3G sports pitch and many computer rooms. This is extremely important for the children’s education to ensure that they are well-rounded. I was very impressed with the new building which appears to almost double the size of the school and provides new, modern classrooms and spaces for the students to relax and unwind. The gardens around the school are a great place for the pupils to run around and release their energy, and also offer space for reflection.
On Tuesday, I sat in lessons for the day observing the dynamic of the school, the students’ behaviour and the teaching. I was excited to see that many of the students are extremely bright, enthusiastic and have a lot of academic potential. Whilst in most cases the behaviour was at a high standard, I also noticed that some of the classrooms were a lot noisier to what I am used to at my own school. However, I was pleased to see that discipline is recognised as a high priority at the school in order to allow the students to reach or exceed their potential. The teachers most definitely care a lot about the students, making sure that they balance conversations by talking about both academic material and life outside the classroom for the benefit of providing students with an all-round education. It was inspiring to see that many different teaching methods are used and encouraged at the school including textbooks, board work, computer work, noting, mind-mapping and games.
I feel that I learned the most on Wednesday when I sat with a class of students who were set workbooks to do whilst their peers were on school trips. They were the students who were not going on the trips but were still required to come to school in order for the school to continue to promote the importance of education. I learned that there is a great cross-section of academic ability as I saw that some of the students struggle with basic numeracy and writing skills, whilst others are aiming for high GCSE results to facilitate their applications to Oxbridge and Russell Group universities. I feel that I helped one student in particular on Wednesday as I gave him one-to-one support that he needed in order to make him focus on his work, give him confidence and not be distracted by those behaving badly around him. He had amazing academic potential and it felt great that I was able to teach him some maths and Spanish skills, which he easily understood. When I got home I made a poster of the maths topics that I taught the boy as I think that it may benefit other students of the school if it is placed on the walls of the classrooms.
On Thursday I was able to give advice to Year 10 students in small groups and speak to them about their plans for the future and any worries about GCSEs. I was surprised to hear that some of them did not know what A Levels are, so it was good to introduce this concept to them. I also promoted the idea of going into higher education including university, foundation years and apprenticeships. This made them very excited and curious to hear about my plans and goals. I hope that this gave them inspiration to put maximum effort into everything they do and take every opportunity offered to them, in order to do their very best in their exams. These sessions were successful as I managed to convince many students that GCSEs are extremely important and that anyone can succeed when they put their mind to it. I explained that I would much rather be socialising with my friends than studying but when I put my mind to it studying can be fun and is the key to fantastic grades which will facilitate me doing what I want to do in the future. I went on to introduce new revision ideas to them for which I believe they were very grateful. During the afternoon, I led a ‘Q&A’ session where the top sets of Year 9 and 10 were invited to ask us any questions about education and our futures. We also offered advice about how to handle stress.
The marketing exercise on Friday was extremely fun and allowed me to put teamwork skills into practice. We were set with the task of marketing the school leading to doing a presentation at the end. This reinforced skills of teamwork, listening and public speaking.
I would most definitely recommend this work experience to anyone looking to go into a profession working with people, or looking to gain a more-rounded perspective of the city we live in. I had an amazing time at the school and was able to reinforce skills that are key to my future profession as a doctor and I hope that the students felt that they benefited from my advice and experience. They should have confidence that their school is a great school, be very proud to go there and recognise it as an enjoyable stepping-stone to their futures.
The school is a brilliant school offering a safe, happy and fun place to learn and it was an honour to have been allowed to spend time there.