I have worked for two years in a row as the Director of Studies at Headington in Oxford, and I can’t wait for year three to come around!
There are very few jobs that give you the opportunity to work with so many passionate and fascinating people from such a variety of backgrounds. After six weeks working with the activity leaders, house parents, teachers and management team, I always leave summer camp inspired by the stories I have heard about my colleagues’ adventures. This is also true for the kids, who spend the summer surrounded by excellent role models.
Our summer school teachers are all qualified and have usually worked in a variety of countries, so bring with them a huge number of different experiences. One of my tasks as the Director of Studies is to make the most of this pool of expertise by encouraging sharing of ideas. SBC is also passionate about investing in the professional development of our staff (one of the reasons why people keep coming back to us) and we run regular workshops with the teaching team. We are also lucky to have access to excellent technology in our host schools, which help to enhance the lessons both for the teacher and the students.
In addition to the staff team, it’s also a great experience working with kids from so many different countries, and one of the key goals in the summer school classroom is to make the most of this inter-cultural mix by facilitating cultural exchange, through the medium of English. When I separate the kids into different classes (we had 13 last year!), after dividing them according to their level, I try to make sure there is a good mix of nationalities in each class, although this is usually an easy task thanks to SBC’s policy limiting nationality numbers. At our camps there are no dominant languages, and so kids simply have to speak English to each other!
At summer school kids have three hours of lessons, five days a week, which are designed to give them the tools they need to interact with their fellow students in the afternoon and evening activities. We work year round preparing the syllabus to ensure it is interesting, stimulating and above all fun – it is summer, after all! Our teachers work creatively with the materials and tailor it to their students, and as they are also with the kids in the afternoon and evening activities, they get to see them practising outside of the classroom too.
At the end of their course students receive a certificate and a report, which they are awarded at the leavers’ ceremony on the last day, along with a t-shirt which they get all their friends and the staff to sign. Departure day is really the moment when you realise that you are part of something which gives these kids an experience they will remember forever – I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my summer!
Hazel – Director of Studies