Angola has had a difficult time. The Angolan War of Independence was followed by a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002. Millions of displaced citizens fled to Luanda, which remained a safe haven. As such, the city is overpopulated and does not yet have the infrastructure to support all its people. We frequently experience power cuts and water shortages, but my school does all it can to keep disruption to a minimum.
I am a Primary Years Programme (PYP) teacher at Luanda International School, which offers three International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes for children aged 3-18. The school is relatively new, and growing as people arrive to work in industries such as oil, finance and insurance.
Luanda is an intriguing city: some areas are well-developed, with bars, nightclubs and restaurants; others have no running water or electricity. But Angola is a beautiful country. The beaches are spectacular and surfing, paddle-boarding and fishing are common pastimes. We often camp on the beach at weekends and I once helped to release a baby turtle into the sea, which was an amazing experience.
The southern provinces that border Namibia are equally remarkable, but it's important to be aware of landmines.
Most teachers live on campus and my day starts at 5am with a swim in the school pool. The school gardeners do a wonderful job; we are lucky to be surrounded by baobab trees, home to a variety of birds that serenade us en route.
I reach my classroom just before 7am and make sure everything is prepared for the day. The PYP follows a philosophy of enquiry-based learning: children are given tasks that encourage independent research and collaboration, which means my classroom often seems like chaos. I worked in London for a decade as a Year 6 teacher, so the way children learn through the IB was a welcome change from Sats revision. The assessment we follow is formative and everything we teach starts from where the children are with their learning.
Classes begin at 7.55am. We have seven blocks of 50-minute lessons, plus a variety of after-school activities from 3pm. All teachers are expected to run an after-school activity of their choice, ranging from Japanese calligraphy to maths clubs and volleyball. I co-coach the secondary girls' football team.
Our weekly assemblies are a chance for pupils to showcase their learning; they have included walkabout discussions and a safari through the campus. Afternoons without assemblies are devoted to buddy time, when classes from different year groups pair up to share learning, read or play. It's a great way to build community spirit throughout the school.
Subjects such as art, PE, ICT, music and Portuguese (the main language of Angola) are taught by subject teachers, allowing me time to attend weekly year-group meetings, do marking or prepare for lessons. It's busy but always enjoyable.
Despite some safety issues and high prices in supermarkets (most foodstuffs are imported owing to a lack of de-mined land for agriculture), I love it here. The students love coming to school and try their hardest. I couldn't ask for more.
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