Number one for English language teachers

Keith's Corner: Entry 1: Our very own school

Type: Article

In his first diary entry, Keith Kelly introduces us to Anglia School and details the processes involved in setting up an education establishment.

Getting started

It’s not every day you start up a school. And it appears that over twenty years of experience teaching are scant preparation for the breathtaking range of things to do to get things up and running!

Anglia School (www.anglia-school.info) is a private language school in Plovdiv, Bulgaria specializing in immersive education for children from the age of two to eight. The school has been running for exactly one year now, so let me tell you a little more about how we got started and how the school is growing after its first year and beyond …

You might not associate CLIL with toddlers but, as many pre-school and nursery teachers will tell you, the whole early learning curriculum is about integrating content, skills and language. So, a CLIL approach focusing on three dimensions of learning, namely concepts, procedures and language, seemed perfect for an immersive language school for young children.

Admin

How do you cope with legal and financial documents which would make your mind spin in your own language? When contracts and health and safety are all in Bulgarian, things can get a little scary but a good network of parents and former students turned lawyers and accountants are extremely useful for putting everything in order.

Specific requirements

Building work and furnishings have their own tempo when you’re working with specialists like carpenters who like to take their own time on things. But all I was thinking was: ’There are three days until we open and you still haven’t fitted the kitchen sink yet!’

We had quite specific requirements for classroom furniture based on some careful research visits to British nursery schools, where we collected information about effective classroom layouts and maximising storage space. The air turned a little blue when the carpenter decided to make the shelving in the teacher’s area a size that didn’t neatly fit the A4 we had asked for to fit all our tidy boxes and books! We still think his mobile shelves on wheels are great, though, and so are the ‘bees’ knees’ for nursery classes, used for dividing room space and making things easily accessible.

Marketing

One of our biggest challenges was how to market the school when we only had a gut feeling what parents and children wanted.

Anglia School has at its heart our own small children growing up with two languages (Bulgarian and English). It’s also based on the experiences of other children in the state nurseries they visit on a daily basis. In short, we wanted Anglia School to offer a strong skills-based language curriculum which gives children the chance to paint, do maths and science, sing and dance, act, read stories and play games.

We don’t mind to admit that our curriculum is growing as we grow, by learning about the young children we teach and parents telling us what they would like us to offer.

You can watch our official school video here (note: the majority of the video is in Bulgarian).

Staffing and course provision

Finding teachers might seem like a simple job but teaching English at this level is very new in Bulgaria, so there are very few teachers to recruit from. Plus, we need teachers with impeccable English and with an ability to think on their feet.

Thankfully, keeping contact with colleagues and former students who have become teachers themselves has meant that while staffing is a challenge, we have a large network of contacts to pull on. Additionally, the innovation of Anglia School is itself attractive to teachers, so teachers want to work for us!

There are many, many other challenges and learning curves we meet and manage daily and weekly, which we’re looking forward to sharing with you here on onestopenglish. Feedback and suggestions welcome!

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Keith, this is all very interesting. Is this a brand new posting as I can't see any dates? I'll be interested to see further posts. How did you get into CLIL? I'm currently an ELT teacher but with CLIL ambitions - if others have suggestions - those would be welcome too! Michelle

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