In February, 12 trainees from the primary PGCE programme at the Institute of Education embarked on an inspirational teaching placement to India in partnership with education centre Sangam. Here, four of the trainees − Leanne Chorekdjan, Nicky Henderson, Phil Yeeles and Bethan Grimshaw − talk about how the experience has enriched their training:
"We were placed in three different educational settings to give us an overview of teaching and learning in India – an international school in Bangalore, a non-formal village school in Silvepura and the Baale Mane girls' home in Gopalapura.
The international school followed the English National Curriculum, so this provided an opportunity for productive dialogue with our host teachers. Not only did we learn from this setting, we were also invited to share our own experiences of the British education system.
At Sita − the village school − there was a holistic approach to school life and an emphasis on providing creative and culturally relevant teaching materials. We were inspired to work with the children and found the experience of teaching mixed age classes exhilarating. The students were keen to improve their English and to teach us their own language in return. In contrast to the "hurry along" curriculum of the UK, it was wonderful to see the children at Sita take responsibility for their own learning in a timetabled free-choice session.
Baale Mane was perhaps the most surprising and enjoyable setting to the majority of us, as it allowed us to interact with children above our assigned key stage and to put into practice many of the teaching ideas that we had accumulated during our course. The outdoor classrooms and fluid lesson structure seemed alien when we first arrived, but by the end of our placement we had developed resources that were congruent with the ethos of the school and were made with the help of the children.
The experience of teaching in a country vastly different to our own has been invaluable in so many ways. It immersed us in new teaching styles and new cultures, helping to us to become more confident in our abilities and to move towards our own personal pedagogy.
Alternative educational placements such as this are a valuable addition to teacher training. Ours has strengthened our passion for education and reignited a love for teaching in all those who took part.
The word “Sita” means the furrow into which seeds are planted. Certainly, the seeds of inspiration that were planted during our time at this and our other placement schools will continue to grow and inform our teaching practice here in the UK."
Find out more about how you can join a Sangam teacher study visit.