The British School of Brussels (BSB) had the privilege to welcome four trainee teachers from the UK to join us as our first trainees since we co-created the Teaching Together in Europe programme.
BSB, along with the English College in Prague and St George’s British International School Rome, announced last year that they would come together in partnership with two UK School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) providers to offer Initial Teacher Training & Education (ITTE) trainees high-quality placements, where they would be professionally guided and mentored by expert staff.
“We saw this partnership as an opportunity to create a professional learning community that, on an individual level, would provide high-quality mentoring and teaching experiences for the future trainees,” said Principal Melanie Warnes.
“At a school level it would encourage reflection and collaboratively develop our classroom practice, and, at a wider TTE level, it would create an opportunity to learn beyond the walls of our own schools, sharing ideas, bringing new perspectives and challenging our thinking beyond the status quo.”
Four trainees, Ben, Dixita, Jennifer and Pierce, joined us from our UK partners, and spent a total of five weeks at BSB, returning to their UK schools in Mid-May. Working closely together with BSB staff, the trainees were involved in teaching sessions as well as mentoring exchanges designed to help them develop new ideas which they could then bring back to their British classrooms. It is hoped that by gaining experience of an international school of BSB’s standing they will be prepared for any changes in education that come as the sector increasingly looks globally for inspiration.
During their time at BSB, as well as working in the classrooms, the trainees had the opportunity to follow Professional Learning sessions delivered by our staff and were treated to a thought-provoking mentoring session hosted by Vice Principals Neil Ringrose and John Knight where the school’s values were explored and how its guiding statements are encouraged and disseminated throughout the student community.
Pierce, who worked with 5BL during his time at BSB said: “Before experiencing life at BSB, I thought that its main value would be to focus heavily on developing the students’ academic skills. However, this is not the case; in fact, they focus more on their guiding statements, which develop their learners to become more well-rounded. These include aims to become more confident, caring, courageous, curious, resilient and respectful.”
“Evidently, academic values are still important to them; however, they believe that there is more to being a successful learner than just being challenged academically,” he added. “Therefore, everything BSB does links back to the guiding statements, reflecting the overall purpose of education. I have been extremely impressed in their holistic approach, which enables the children to relate their schoolwork to every-day life. Some schools can be separate to wider society, whereas BSB is invested in bringing up their children to be a major part of their local community, to fight for change and to make the world a better place.”
As well as the invaluable teaching and mentoring opportunities on campus, the trainees also got the chance to enjoy living in their host city, where local staff helped them to make the most of the cultural opportunities. All in all, the aim was to give the trainees a rounded experience of life in and beyond BSB, just as they would have if employed by the school.
“I absolutely loved my time at BSB,” said Ben, who is specialising in Physics and Science.“The teachers are amazing practitioners and were incredibly inviting. The students were also extremely passionate and involved in my lessons. This scheme has been invaluable to my teaching development, as it has allowed me to learn many new strategies and be able to put them into practice.”
“Amazing would be an understatement of my time at BSB,” said Jennifer, who spent time working with 2BL. “BSB has taught me so much about life as a teacher and has given me an insight into the similarities and differences an international school has to offer. The information and advice given has been invaluable and something I will always remember going forward in my teaching career.”
Dixita, who is specialising in Chemistry and Science, echoed Ben and Jennifer’s feelings: “From the time of arrival at BSB, I was warmly welcomed by staff and felt at home,” she said. “The school staff were very helpful and supportive, and my mentor gave me so much guidance to help me to improve my teaching methods as well as new techniques to experiment with. I have been able to teach in primary, secondary and sixth form students, helping me build my teaching experience and challenge me.”
“It was fantastic to welcome Dixita and Ben into the Science department,” said Stuart Phillips, Science and Chemistry teacher at BSB. “They threw themselves into all aspects of the BSB community and truly made the most of every opportunity. It was very much a shared learning journey in all respects, with them being able to learn from our experience and us being able to benefit from new ways of thinking and sharing ideas. It was a truly beneficial experience and I hope it’s one that we can continue to develop in the future.”
Pierce also mentioned the welcoming nature of the school as he prepared to return home. “The staff and children went above and beyond to make my time here the best as possible,” he said. “They took time out of their busy schedule to support me in many ways, inside and outside of school. It really feels like one big family, where positive relationships are very important.” The feeling was mutual.
“It’s been a fantastic experience for all of us,” concluded Primary teacher Elaine Kearton. “Year 5 children really benefitted from having an extra adult to support their learning. Pierce has confidently taken part in planning sessions and has shared current training that he has had. And you could see that he enjoyed the creative curriculum that BSB provides.”
Our trainees have now returned to the UK to complete their final placements before qualifying in July and starting their first teaching roles in September. We wish them the best of luck as they start out on their careers, and thank them for joining our international learning hub.
For more information about The British School of Brussels Teaching Together in Europe international learning hub, please contact us