Writes Petra Schütte :
As a chemistry and physical education teacher at a comprehensive school in Leverkusen – Schlebusch with over 20 years of professional experience, I cherished for some time the desire to get an insight into life in an English school. In early May, 2015, I received the hoped for positive news from Bracknell Forest Council. They informed me that the Science Department at Edgbarrow School would accommodate me as a visitor. Contact with Bracknell Forest Council had been made via a colleague of mine, who was in contact with somebody in the Opladener-History-Society. As the summer holidays in England begin much later, I could use the first two weeks of my summer holiday to visit England. Questions I had about my stay : accommodation, travel, cycle hire etc., were answered in advance over email via the friendly and supportive help of Lyn Gash, (Head Teacher’s Assistant). In addition, I purchased current versions of the chemistry books used at Edgbarrow, to make myself familiar with the specialist English vocabulary. Using the internet and with the help of the school’s homepage and its Ofsted report I was able to become well informed about the school in advance.
My stay in Crowthorne lasted from Monday, 29th June until Wednesday, 8th July.
Anna MacKenzie-Dodds (Head of Science) warmly greeted me at the school, provided me with initial information and created a timetable for me. I got the opportunity, in natural science and chemistry classes, to observe teaching and was able to take part in various
extra-curricular activities e.g. sports festival, introductory chemistry-lesson for the new year 7`s, science teachers’ staff meeting, morning registration and break-time supervision. In addition I used a variety of opportunities after lessons and during break-times to talk with teaching colleagues. So I got an interesting insight into school life and the learning and working environment within Edgbarrow School.
I found the way that everyone worked together in an appreciative and friendly way particularly positive. This included supportive and very eulogistic dealings with the pupils in the classroom and cooperation characterised by helpfulness and friendliness within and between the pedagogic and support staff. In addition I have not seen major support in German schools by non-teaching staff to this extent. In this context it should be mentioned the large number of personnel in the office area, with a wide variety of tasks, supporting pupils and teachers. Also three technical assistants, who are exclusively responsible for the preparation and follow-up of experiments and practical science teaching – in support of the students and teachers. In addition to the particularly good learning and working environment – highlighted in the school’s Ofsted Report – it was mainly the extremely dedicated and friendly science teachers who helped make my visit to Edgbarrow School, for me, an unforgettable experience.
My leisure time I used to explore the surrounding area on foot, by borrowed bicycle (lent by the very nice school caretaker) or by train. I visited Bracknell, Reading and Dinton Pastures Country Park in Wokingham – and all graced by outstandingly fine weather.
For the crowning final piece of my England journey I spent five days together with my husband and two sons in London. In the Arsenal Emirates Stadium we had to make do with the life-size figure of German football international star Lukas Poldolski. Unfortunately he had already left for Istanbul to join his new employer …