Ralph Allen High School Placement, Bath

22nd November 2017. 

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School experience day student with duties to shadow and assist lessons and give feedback to the school. 

School experience day at Ralph Allen Secondary School. 

The school experience day is part of a school experience scheme where you can pay to attend the school for the day, to see if you enjoy being in the environment. As I was struggling to find a primary school placement, I decided to take the opportunity. It was for one day only, and thanks to the university placement team I already had a DBS check set up and so it was easy to arrange.

The following is an outline of the day:
- Shown around for the whole day by assistant principal Sarah Hetenyi who teaches P.E
- When I arrived, we sat in the staff room got a cup of tea and Sarah handed me a piece of paper which outlined the day, explained what was going to happen and asked me why I wanted to come here, what I’m doing etc. 
- I was then put into a tutor group class, which had the highest attendance rate amongst the school. I was quite surprised that the tutor group was mixed years, as in my experience at high school this wasn’t the case. However the teacher explained that it’s a great way for students to support each other, as the year 10’s can give insight to year 9’s for example, to help them choose their GCSE’s. Within the tutor group, the group sat chatting away and what I thought was brilliant was the teacher put tables into groups and they played a game around strictly come dancing, where celebs were put on their team, and if they won, they got a point, and the team with the remaining people in it win overall. The students were really invested, and it was great because it’s on every week and keeps them interested and happy in tutor group. 
- I then revealed that I have a DBS check and so I was allowed to be left alone with the children, and so two children from the tutor group that I had just been in, then gave me a tour of the school and the classes. They were two year 9 girls, and they surprised me with how talkative they were, and how polite, they always opened doors for me. The girls both also said that they are doing art and considering it for GCSE, and that art is a large part of the school. It was great to get the students insight into the school. 
- I then was put into the head of art’s lesson, with year 12’s. The group was a small group of girls and boys, and within moments of being in the classroom, they took initiative to get their sketchbooks. It started with the teacher discussing what they had been doing the past few weeks, and she said that they had been coming up with ideas for their project which will be 3 months long, called “Micro” she then asked the students if they had ideas, and they went around discussing their ideas, with the teacher then suggesting artists for them to look at. I noticed that teaching within the lesson, was very quiet and very individual, rather giving one to one guidance’s than the whole group, and the students set themselves tasks, to research on the computer, using books or sketching, which showed the different starting points for each student. The head of art then suggested that it would be a good idea, for me to spend time with the other art teachers too, so that I observe the different teaching styles and students. And so I also spent some time with some year 9 students, who were a lot different because you had to give a lot more direction. The students had to cut out and draw shapes to make a model, and it was interesting to see that they liked to have demonstrations, and the teacher said that with year 9’s some have decided they want to do it for GCSE and so try really hard, whereas some seem to give up a little, if they don’t want to choose it. The class overall however still seemed really interested, and I was impressed at the skill they all had, and I went around asking students what they’re doing, and they happily explained. I was also put into a photography class, and again it had a different feel, the teacher was a lot more laid back joking with the students, and the students we’re all editing their photographs and all wanted to show me what they were doing. 
- Before lunch I was then put into a history class, to get another perspective. I was in a history year 9 top set class. I noticed straight away, I was told to sit down rather than interact, and it was a lot more strict, with the children sat straight forward, quiet listening to the teacher talking, and responding to her. It was much more academic rather than free. Lots of discusson with the teacher, I didn’t feel very helpful. 
In the afternoon I was then again showed around the school with Sarah, talking about the morning, and the year 7’s had a poetry slam on so I sat and observed that, and thought it was brilliant.

Overall the experience was eye opening. I was considering teaching art in a high school setting, and I was terrified of the thought of being in a high school. However, the children were very friendly, and it wasn't as scary as I had imagined. After this experience, I don't think I would like to teach in a High School, I guess I probably am biased as I have only spent a day on placement and so I probably have a limited view of the experience, however I enjoy the close interaction between the teacher and students, and I enjoy being needed, which I noticed didn't happen much with the older students, they rather got on with their own projects, and didn't really want to be spoken too, and I missed the interaction. I also really like building a bond with my own class, and I felt like this was missing in the high school setting, and so overall I am glad I came to experience this as I don't think I would have realised how much I prefer working with the younger children otherwise and how I am considering this over teaching art everyday.