I spent my time of work experience at Greensward Academy, which is a big secondary school in the small village of Hockley, Essex. Essex is one of the counties in the southeast of England.
Greensward Academy has got about 1609 students. 262 of them are in the sixth form. I spent my days in the office of the school, which was very amazing and interesting. During that time I had the chance to get to know everyday school life in a different way. Apart from that, I saw the differences between the school system in Essex, England and in Germany. This was quite fantastic and made my time to an important and wonderful part of my life.
All of our group from Troisdorf Comprehensive School already attended classes, schools and other institutions for the first time in the morning on the first day after our arrival in England. The first thing I got to know in my school was the place where I would spend the rest of my work experience. Then the head teacher Deborah Stokes took me and the other students who worked at Greensward Academy on a guided tour around the school, i.e. the 10 different buildings on the campus. After that she showed us the places where we would work.
I made the acquaintance with the women who worked in the office of the Academy. They were very friendly and helped me whenever I had a problem or when I didn’t understand a word. I did a few things like helping the kids who came into the office to get some information or I wrote reports about those kids, who had an accident or something else. I worked with the computer and talked a lot. We had a lot of fun together and they integrated me into their team without problems. During the first week I even got the opportunity to go on a day trip to London with two other students from my school and a few students and teachers of the Greensward Academy film and video club, who made an interview there.
At the beginning speaking English was a bit hard for me, but it got better and better and on at the last day I was very sad to leave the school and my ‘colleagues’.
All in all, I learned very much about the work in an English school and I really don’t want to miss this time. Participating in the work experience programme was the best thing I could do, and I will remember all these wonderful, friendly people. Work experience is a big chance for everyone to get an idea about life in another way and to improve one’s command of English.
Andrea Jentzsch (year 11)
Seventeen students from Troisdorf Comprehensive School gained work experience in England in different schools, an office and the public library. Jan, Jana, Jonas and me worked at Greensward Academy as teaching assistants.
First of all I would like to describe the tasks we had to do. From Monday to Wednesday each of us ‘shadowed’ a professional teaching assistant. Together we took care of handicapped students and also students with discipline problems. It was very interesting to see how good these students were integrated. Yet, all in all, we were in difficult classes where some of the students were really loud and disrespectful to their teachers. The teachers ignored this most of the time and tried to speak louder than their pupils. After three days we were able to choose our favourite subjects. Each of us got his or her individual timetable, and from now on we went to different classes. Again some were really loud and some were just like our classes in Germany.
It was very interesting to get to know so much about different subjects. In “Graphics”, for example, students learn how to design posters for presentations, and in “IT” (information technology) how to design presentations at the computer. I enjoyed in particular “History”, because the lessons resembled a detective game for younger students. The students were really motivated and they had a lot of fun. At PE lessons boys learned to dance, but not a standard dance, during our stay they learned a traditional dance from New Zealand.
We were surprised to hear about subjects like “Beauty” and “Drama” at Greensward Academy. They even had a hairdresser’s and a beauty studio where older students worked. They also had a dance studio and a swimming pool. The school is IT orientated, so in every room there are laptops or computers, and there is even a smart board in the dance Studio. The daily routine in English schools is different to German schools. They start later than us, at half past eight, and finish earlier, at three o'clock.
This is the timetable at Greensward Academy:
8.30 – 8.55 Assembly
8.55 – 10.10 First lesson
10.10 – 10.30 Break
10.30 – 11.45 Second lesson
11.45 - 13.00 Third lesson
13.00 – 13.45 Lunch
13.45 – 15.00 Fourth lesson
One lesson lasts about one hour and fifteen minutes. The students have to wear school uniforms until they are in the sixth form. Then they are allowed to wear normal clothes and even denims. But most of the students do not wear denims, because the teachers are not allowed to wear them, either. It is a sign of respect. All in all, we really enjoyed our work experience and we gained many interesting experiences. The organization in the schools was very good, the teachers and organizers were very friendly and the students showed interest in us and respected us.
We recommend to do work experience to everyone who would like to improve his/her English. Apart from that work experience is also good for students who would like to work with people, especially with children.
From 19th March until 28th March 2012 we, Mina, Anna and Jelena, made a very interesting experience. Together with some other student and our teacher Mrs. Trudewind, we went on a trip to England for a work experience. We went to Hockley, Essex, in the south of England, not too far away from London to work as teacher assistants in a primary school.
We started our trip in the early morning. At 5 am we met at the Cologne-Bonn Airport. After a one-hour flight we landed London-Stansted. From there we took a bus to Hockley. Debby, the woman responsible for the schools in Hockley, gave us some information about Hockley, Southend on Sea and Essex. We had breakfast and then Debby showed us the way to the school we were supposed to work at, the Westerings Primary Academy in Hawkwell, a part of Hockley. There we got a first impression of the work we had to do. In the afternoon we went back to the office where Debby worked. Then we took the train to Southend Victoria, the train station near our hotel.
Every day school started at 9a.m. and ended at 3.20 in the afternoon. Jelena often visited class 1 children aged three to four in the morning. There she drew pictures, played lego and sang with them. Mina was with class 2 in the morning, children aged five to six. She did some art with them, went out to do some sports and also taught some Math. Anna was always with class 4, children aged nine to ten. She wrote fictional texts with them, listened to them when reading a book or did some religious education.
Every afternoon the three of us were together. One day we went to church with class 5, another day we all had a teddy bear picnic with class 2. We also helped out in class 6 to prepare the Assembly hall for a performance of "Over the rainbow" of the classes 5 and 6. We did some gardening with class 5 and taught French in class 8.
Every day after the third lesson classes 2 to 6 had Assembly. The headmistress played the piano and the children sang songs. They were also given awards: some for being a good friend, others for being great readers or for being an excellent sportswoman or sportsman.
We had a one-hour break between the sixth and the seventh lesson. We were not allowed to go out on the playground because of safety precautions. So we stayed inside, ate and played card games in the room which was meant to be our room for the seven days of our work experience.
In England the children are much more sensible than German ones. We did not experience that chairs were thrown around, that swearwords were used or that children did not do what they were told to do. English children do all have lessons together for the whole school day. In Germany children are separated for some hours. We think it is better for the class team not to have different lessons.
We also liked that children have to wear school uniforms in England. So no children are discriminated because of what they wear or not. They all look the same and everybody knows which school they belong to. In Germany children who cannot wear expensive clothes are often excluded from the group.
I had two weeks of work experience in a German Primary School before. It was the Primary School from class 1 to 4. It was really hard work. But the ten days in Germany were nothing in comparison to the seven in England. We had to get up at 6 a.m. in the morning, because our way to school was long and we got back to our hotel at 5 p.m. in the afternoon, as the last ones of our group. So we had hard, long and exhausting days. At school it was sometimes difficult not to fall asleep when there was nothing to do for a moment. So I just made myself work and it helped. In my opinion it is great to have the children wear school uniforms. Sometimes I had the impression that the children are treated like adults and not like children.
Sometimes I would have liked to teach the children all by myself. That would have been more demanding. My favorite class was class 4 because I had the chance to speak a lot of English with children who understood me. Children aged three to four did not understand me or maybe did not want to. I got along best with those older children. They were open minded and cooperative. The ones from age eleven to twelve were not that talkative.
It was fun to be with Jelena and Mina in the afternoons. So we could exchange our impressions and experience some new things together. The teachers did not talk to us very much and I think they did not even really care about us.
So that is mainly why I come to the conclusion that I do not want to become a teacher at an English Primary School. Perhaps I want to be one in Germany but not in England.
In my opinion we had a very interesting and instructive stay in Southend and at Westerings Primary School. The British people there were very friendly and polite to us and they also were cared for us. Moreover it was interesting to see how their school system works. We learned it is different from our school system. Teachers are stricter and ask for discipline. So four year old kids with their little school uniforms could already read and write. It was amazing to see how well organized the kids and also the teachers work together.
It also was fun to work with the little students there. I have never imagined that it could be so interesting for me to ”be“ their teacher. Furthermore during our free time we have lot of options. We could go out to the peer in Southend or go shopping which we always did after work. All in all it was a very positive experience and it was very interesting to see how British people live. It is really recommendable and I would definitely repeat it any time.
In my opinion it was a very nice experience to get an insight in the job as a teacher in a primary school. There were some moments during that time in which I thought that that is not really the job I want to do later. But I have a lot of great memories. I saw almost every class but I was more often together with the young children. First it was difficult to understand them because they speak dialect and they often did not understand why I did not understand them. But after some days it got easier. I have really loved the children, they were so sweet and often came and hugged me and told me a lot about their lives.
I will always remember that every person I met was nice and very polite, no matter if it was at school, on the streets or in shops. British people always did their best to help if we needed help. They were so much more affectionate than in Germany. I took a lot of positive impressions from this journey and I really want to talk my fellow students into doing it too because it is a really great experience which helps to improve your language skills, to gain a new picture on English people and it helped me to decide which job I want to do later.
Thanks to those who made it possible for us.
We want to thank all those people who gave us the chance to get an insight in the English educational system. Special thanks go to Mrs. Trudewind and Debbie who took care of us all and tried to make the best possible for us. We had a great time at school, in the city of Southend on Sea and in London. It was a big pleasure to have Miss Trudewind with us. We learned many things about British history and English attitude. We always got along well even though we had the flu and were seriously ill.
We can recommend this work experience weeks to everybody following us. It is not important if you speak English well or not. Just try it and enjoy.