St Angela’s Ursuline School, Forest Gate, London
The Prince's Teaching Institute
Frances Suc-Diamond - Head of Modern Foreign Languages
When I signed up to attend the PTI Summer School for Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) in June 2011, I was filled with some trepidation.
In my every day teaching job my preoccupations with examinations, risk assessments and lesson planning had scarcely given me any time to reflect on my practice, let alone my own personal development and yet the PTI were suggesting that over a three day period I ought to do just that.
Upon my arrival at Homerton College, Cambridge I felt like Hermione arriving at Hogwarts! Old and young, rural and inner city teachers all assembled together in one place with one common goal - to learn something new.
Just like new pupils eager to learn we attended lectures on Arabic, the Spanish Civil War and Goethe to name but a few.
To say that I was invigorated by the opportunity to be a student again is an understatement. I left each lecture hall wishing that I too could return to university and study more.
After each lecture the conversations over coffee would spill over into lunch and evening meals, as we discussed texts, useful resources to share with students and most importantly how to maintain and develop our own learning once the programme was over.
Armed with my action plan, I returned to my school with three key objectives. One was to ensure that all of my teaching colleagues continue their own languages journey; the second was to encourage each teacher to become an expert in a new field and pass on this expertise to the rest of the Department; and vitally the third was to return to our basic love of the subject.
This year no-one is going to start their first lesson with their rules and expectations. Instead each teacher will begin with, “I am offering you a wonderful gift. It will make you new friends; take you to places you have never imagined. Once you have this gift you can never lose it. It will be with you forever. This gift is learning a language. Enjoy!”