Teachers without a Classroom; JUST THE JOB

By Bexson, Tina | The Evening Standard (London, England), April 29, 2002 | Go to article overview

Teachers without a Classroom; JUST THE JOB


Bexson, Tina, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: TINA BEXSON

Teaching young people is challenging enough as it is, but teaching in an environment removed from mainstream schooling has added dimensions to consider and, according to these three roving teachers, a few hidden delights too.

The children's hospital

ON the wards there are children who are post-transplant and postoperative and some are attached to a dialysis machine. But whatever their medical circumstances, they will still receive daily tuition from one of Great Ormond Street Hospital's 20 or so teachers.

"You are always aware that you are dealing with sick children," explains Carole Flynn, 52, "but you still have high expectations of them and they often manage to forget their illness during the time they are learning with you. You also form a very close relationship when teaching one-to-one because you are their key educational figure. But it's important not to become too attached; many stay only short term and you have to feel comfortable with the high turnover."

Those children who are mobile are encouraged to attend the school room, a converted ward on the ground floor. Here they can join small groups of 10 or so where they are taught various national curriculum subjects, depending on their age range.

The teachers are careful not to display any upset at witnessing a child's condition. "We try to normalise their environment here; no medical procedures ever take place and their illnesses are never acknowledged unless it's necessary."

Flynn, who worked at a primary school for 14 years before starting at Great Ormond Street in 1985, says the most challenging difference about teaching in the hospital is getting used to the lack of privacy. "We are very open-plan with lots of people listening and watching what we are doing, whether we are in the ward or in the school," she says.

"It's something you have to feel comfortable with."

The Army

FORMER primary-school teacher, Captain Stephen Caruana, 29, is teacher and second-in-command of the Military Studies Department at the Army Technical Foundation College, in Rowcroft Barracks, Reading.

It is the only education department in the Army with a military presence, delivering the communication side of the foundation in modern apprenticeship to new recruits.

"It's definitely not a case of 'you're in the Army now, so you can forget about education'," says Caruana. "A lot of the recruits here have had very bad experiences with education. They are very bright but it has just not flipped their switch.

"We show them that education doesn't have to be a dry approach in the classroom where they are told to learn this and that; it's about proving and improving yourself across all aspects, inside and outside of the classroom. …

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