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Protocol Education and the Learning In Harmony Trust Part 2 - The Teachers

30/05/17

Meet the teachers who have made their way from Australia all the way to Southend-on-Sea, not somewhere many Australians would have heard of before, but somewhere they are making a real impact.

Teagan is from Melbourne, Australia. A 22years-old recent graduate of Deakin University.  Teegan is enthusiastic about teaching and has a particular interest in helping students with special needs. Outside of school, her passions include travelling, cooking and netball.

Tara is a young Primary school teacher who studied in Melbourne and then decided she wanted to try out a different education system, which, combined with a  love of travel led her to England. She is passionate about the younger years and loves their inquisitive minds. Outside of work, she spends her time outdoors and doing adventurous things such as rock climbing and abseiling. She has been getting into ‘football’ and has taken up swing dancing.

Caitlin is a 22 years old graduate of the University of Notre Dame Australia. Her passion for education was sparked when she was five years old and decided that one day she would like to be an amazing teacher, inspired by her Kindergarten teacher. In her spare time, she loves to read, run and play soccer (or as she has been corrected in England, football!)

Sian is a year 4 teacher.  From Hong Kong, Sian has had many home bases including Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, China and now, Southend. She graduated with a  Masters of Teaching from the University of Queensland in 2016 and began her career teaching in the UK. Her particular strengths in the classroom lie in the realm of socio-emotional development, drama and literacy. Outside of the classroom, Sian is an avid reader, traveller and photographer.

Chris is from Hervey Bay in Queensland and graduated from the University of Southern Queensland in 2015. He completed a year of teaching in Hervey Bay gaining some confidence and the desire to start travelling and teaching overseas. He wanted to experience how UK schools teach compared to Queensland schools. I enjoy travelling in my spare time and wish to explore and experience many different cultures and diverse places.

Here they discuss their initial experiences of living and working in Southend-on-Sea:


What were your first impressions of Protocol?

Teagan






Caitlin





Tara





Chris

As with all agencies you can never be sure until you, actually speak to them and find out what they have to offer. Talking to Sam and visiting their web page, I felt confident about working with them


My first impression of Protocol was “this is too good to be true”. Having somebody to work with to build a CV, find you a job interview, tell you exactly what you need to do to be able to move overseas and support you at every single step was a dream.  


Protocol were very polite and friendly and absolutely professional at all times. They cleared showed me that they were worried about my happiness and helped ensure I knew everything involved.


Protocol were very helpful in getting me a job over here and catering to my needs regarding the type of class and school I wanted to be a part of. They checked in with me regularly to make sure I was ok both with work and also coming over here to a new country. I have really enjoyed all the events they have and all the exciting upcoming ones too so that we get to collaborate with them as well as other teachers in my position.


How have you found it working for Protocol? How have they helped you to settle in?

Teagan










Caitlin








Tara







Sian








Chris

Working with Protocol has been a fantastic experience. The staff are particularly helpful and always available to answer any query.  The preparations and resources available are relevant and practical for a teaching career in the UK. Although I experienced troubles with my passport, they were very kind and understanding. They made every effort to help me ‘settle in,’ they arranged bank appointments and NHI appointments as well gatherings to get to know fellow teachers.



Working for Protocol has been a very positive experience, starting from before I was officially employed by the agency. Protocol helped every single step of the way, with visas, bank accounts, phone numbers, accommodation and even emotional support. Protocol did, and still does, call/email to check to see if I am still happy and still working hard. It is comforting to know I have that support system there if I need it.



Protocol have been amazing and willing to answer any questions I had. They sent me a SIM card before I left Australia, offered to help me find housing and made setting up a bank account very easy. They had an induction day for us in London when we first arrived and hold monthly social events.



Working for Protocol has been absolutely excellent. From the moment I registered my interest in teaching overseas, they worked closely with me to find a job that best aligned to my needs and interests. Furthermore, they have made the transition to the UK exceptionally smooth. Sam Swain did a wonderful job guiding me in Australia and Matthew Hicks has done well to continue supporting me in the UK.



Protocol has been fine. I was not at all upset when I found out I would be getting a classroom job instead of just PPA work in a school. I was pleased about that. Regular check-ins have been nice because they want to show they still think about you and care for your wellbeing.

How useful was it to have senior leaders from the trust interviewing you in Australia?

Teagan








Caitlin







Tara




Sian







Chris

Although meeting Ashley within Australia, was a daunting prospect, it was ultimately why I decided to move to the UK. Ashley gave a perspective of the school and its philosophy as well as my role and my future transition to Greenways that I don’t believe anybody else could have. He was also able to pitch Southend as a very liveable and enjoyable place.


It was extremely useful to have the leaders from the trust interview me in Australia, before I got over to England for two reasons. One, interviews over Skype are effective but actually getting to meet the people you may be working for is extremely beneficial and comforting considering you are moving countries to work with them. Two, it gives your possible future employers the chance to really get to know you, making (hopefully) a better impression than if over a computer screen.


Most helpful, as when I went for the interview Greenways wasn’t even on my list of schools that I wanted to work at but the more Ashley told me about it, the more I wanted to work there!


The ability to meet with leaders from the trust in a face-to-face capacity was largely a deciding factor in my decision to accept the job at Greenways, Southend. I liked the concept of a collaborative set of schools guided by similar principles and philosophies and, as a result, was eager to work within a Learning in Harmony Trust school.  


I really enjoy a face-to-face interview rather than a skype interview. Digital interviews are necessary and easier but having the one-on-one interaction with a Senior teacher from the UK was much better for me personally and I felt like there was no rush to convey what I wanted to say, and to know about teaching in the UK.

 

Did you know anything about Southend beforehand?

Teagan



Caitlin


Tara


Sian

 

Chris


I was not aware of Southend, prior to learning who I was interviewing with. At that point I did some basic research.


Only what Google could tell me!


I had googled a bit about it, but to be honest I thought it would be much smaller.


I knew nothing about Southend before my interview. However, upon speaking with Ashley, it sounded like an area that I would enjoy living and working in.  


I did not know anything about Southend!


What are your first impressions of living and working in Southend?

Teagan








Catlin






Tara




Sian





Chris





I am very happy with my decision to move to Southend, I find the area very peaceful and friendly. I found London and surrounding suburbs, too busy, crowded and overwhelming. Although I do like the fact that, I can be there easily within 45 minutes. Everything is easily accessed by public transport and there are so many wonderful things to see and do. It’s also an ideal location to travel to and from Europe, with Southend Airport at our fingertips.



My first impression of living in Southend was “this feels like home”. Coming from a quiet suburb in Sydney, I was not prepared to move to a big city like London, but loved the idea of being close to it. Southend is the perfect happy medium between the two. The people here are very friendly and welcoming, making it feel like home instantly.


Everyone is so friendly and it immediately felt like home. People go above and beyond your expectations.


-     I am so appreciative that I have chosen to live in Southend. I particularly love my morning drive to work past the sunrise over the coast. Living costs are far cheaper than than in London and I’d say that the people are far friendlier!


When I came to check it out in December, I was grateful to be in Southend. A very lovely place, still big in its own right and the people I have interacted with have been lovely and welcoming. The school team have been nothing but friendly and easy-going to interact and work with and it was very refreshing to see. I was worried about not being able to interact and work well in a new environment but those concerns melted away the moment I met the Head and Senior teachers and the other staff of the school.

How supportive have you found Greenways in your first half term?

Teagan












Caitlin







Tara







Sian







Chris


Greenways have been absolutely phenomenal. I cannot speak highly enough of their efforts in our transition. Initially it was fantastic to have an induction day, in which we could ask our questions and tour the school. It was also a lovely gesture, and rather helpful, to have been shown around Southend by Ashley and Dan.

Having a senior teacher within the class to begin with was also a great comfort, and a fantastic way to learn. As a point of call now, Ciara has been very helpful in answering any questions I may have. Additional staff, such as the year three team and my class LSA’s have also been incredibly welcoming and supportive.



Greenways have been incredibly supportive. Comparing the support a few friends have received at other schools, I have been spoiled. All of the staff and families have made sure I have never been kept in the unknown, constantly checked on and never felt as though I was drowning.



For such a large school, I am still amazed at how lovely the staff are and everybody gets along with each other. People greet me in the corridor all the time and say, “Are you alright?” We had an induction before the children came back to school and then Dan pulled us out of our classes for half a day to ensure we had more training and to check up on how we were all going. Dan and Ashley also took us on a lovely tour around the local areas and showed us the main attractions (those included places to eat and lovely walks).

Greenways has gone above and beyond to ensure that my transition into a UK curriculum and school setting has been as smooth as possible. In terms of support, I have found the time given for knowledge transfer between the class’ previous teacher and myself absolutely crucial to my success in settling at Greenways. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to work alongside another teacher in the class whilst I find my feet!


Supportive in the fact that they know I have not had a great deal of working experience in schools compared to other more experienced teachers. Also checking in with my well-being and work load to make sure I am not stressing too much.

What would you say has been the most rewarding aspect of your journey so far?

Teagan







Caitlin









Tara




Sian






Chris


I have loved every aspect of my travels to date and I have met some exceptional people. However the most rewarding part has been meeting my class and transitioning into the role of their teacher.


Reflecting back on the past half term, I would say that the most rewarding aspect of this journey would be the transition my class have made. Initially the transition between teachers was definitely testing for some children but together we have been able to make it somewhat smooth – something I am very proud of. My goal was to make as little disruption to the class’ education as possible, and I think together with Katie, we have succeeded. The children are now coming up to me (and not asking for Miss Forsdick!)  showing me how proud of their work they are, saying they tried ‘extra hard’ for me, which I find so rewarding.

My students and my colleagues have definitely made my job so rewarding! The students here are passionate about learning and soak up everything you say. As for the staff, I just count my blessings!  

Career-wise, the most rewarding aspect of my journey has been seeing my students’ success in class and the ways in which they have positively responded to my (Australian!) teaching approaches. Personally, I have loved the opportunity to extensively travel and explore both the UK and wider Europe.



Meeting all these wonderful people in this lovely community, interacting with the staff and the children of the school and also developing my teaching skills in this new environment- knowing, as I always have, that there is still so much to learn in the teaching profession – to help better myself as an educator.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about working as a teacher in Southend?

Teagan






Caitlin




Tara




Sian








Chris

I honestly believe that Southend has a lot to offer, and anybody thinking about moving here, just needs to visit. It’s daunting to think of being away from London, because that’s what is ‘familiar’ I suppose, however Southend is a far more liveable town, and yet is only 40 minutes from London.


Do not think twice! Southend is a wonderful area, and if you are lucky enough to work at a school like Greenways, you will never look back.


Just come and see it for yourself!  Don’t worry about doing the research, people will inform you of the best places to go to (no matter what your interests).



I’d strongly suggest that you consider Southend as a future place of work. I love the character of the area and its proximity to London (an hour on the train!). Do a little of your research and look at areas in Southend that you may prefer to live and work in (Leigh-on-sea is lovely). I’d also recommend a bicycle or a scooter so that you’ve got a cheap and easy way to get around!



Absolutely do it!!! Don’t hold back, don’t second guess anything (or yourself) and jump in, and you will be embraced warmly here.


What advice would you give to an Aussie teacher about preparing for the English curriculum?


Teagan







Catlin





Tara





Sian







Chris

The English curriculum is much the same as the Australian Curriculum. Read through your year level’s outcomes and familiarise yourself with them. Obviously it varies from school to school, however I would become familiar with the schools guided reading routine, if possible.



In the lower years, the English curriculum is not really that different. There are a few subtle differences and the curriculum is perhaps taught a different way, but with an open-mind rather than “this is not how we do it in Australia”, it definitely is not a barrier.



Look it up online before you move over, but I think prepare yourself for more art embedded into your classrooms as well as physical activity and outdoor learning.



Although there are some differences, I feel that the Australian curriculum translates quite neatly into the English curriculum. Ask the school you’re moving to for any examples of units or topics of work that they have covered or will be covering.



Read through the curriculum and the Key stages. It was different to get my head around the fact that in the UK, students start school a year younger than in Queensland but they seem so much more prepared in their own respects. Allowing these students to gain a high achievement in learning can only be done through understanding the key elements of the English curriculum.


What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?


Teagan













Caitlin











Tara







Sian









Chris

The majority of my challenges have been rather small, for example, where to locate things, how to access things, how to enter assessment data correctly, and so forth. With each ‘challenge’ I face, I generally make an attempt myself and later ask for support from the appropriate person.

I have also dealt with a few challenging behaviours, in which case I make a really big deal of communicating. Communicating with the child, what did you do wrong? Why was it wrong? How should you have handled the situation? Why did you react in such a way.

As well as communicating to parents and senior staff members. I also write notes on each situation.


Behaviour management was a big challenge, and I would say I haven’t yet completely overcome this challenge – it is more of a work in progress. I was fortunate enough in Australia to only ever work in classrooms of 20, with very few behavioural issues. Coming into a class of 30 with 30 very different and very strong personalities, that was a real challenge in the beginning. Through my own research of (many) different strategies, professional guidance from my senior teacher and through time, the behaviour is completely different to how it was 6 weeks ago.


Being a Newly Qualified Teacher, the challenges I have faced (and am still facing) are just those that a NQT will always face. Classroom management techniques, reports, marking, weekly planning, meetings – and somehow finding time for some me-time! As my experience grows, as with any NQT, I’m sure I will look back and laugh at how I thought I had no time to myself.


I think the different types of assessment strategies has been the thing that I really had to get my head around, but I just keep speaking to my Senior teacher and fellow teachers in my year level.  Personally, my largest challenge here has been adapting to the very different and diverse needs of my students. These diversities can sometimes manifest in an interesting range of classroom behaviours that I need to manage – I’m finding a strong focus on socio-emotional education helpful in doing this!



As I mentioned, getting my head around the fact that the students in reception are a year younger than what I am used to did throw me but having said that, they are still very capable once I understood their limitations, goals and aspirations during school and got to know them each individually.




 


 

 

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