Canadian teachers were put to the test at UVic on Jan. 17 for recruitment to teach at a ground-breaking school in England.
Bohunt Education Trust (BET) is an innovative academy school that places less emphasis on memorizing information for tests, instead focusing more on collaboration.
“In my experience we find Canadian teachers are really skilled, and very well trained,” Neil Strowger, CEO of BET, said. “They are very passionate about their subject, trying new things, and are great communicators.”
BET still follows a national curriculum, but they use their own strategies to teach. For example, Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) is the basis for language learning, while Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) are the foundation for classes that stress the importance of challenge-based learning.
STEM classes capture students’ enthusiasm and challenge them to think of more than one way to look at a task by connecting different subjects together. For example, students might be told to be build a kite and measure its speed for a physics class. Or they can build that same kite, but instead focus on the painting of it for an art class.
One of the goals of CLIL is to expand language learning beyond the traditional three classes a week method. The students learn a second language every day through talking in that language in their other school classes.
“Why don’t we teach IT, drama, and some of the sciences in French?” Strowger states. “[CLIL] started in 2010, and we got really great results because we saw the students having that experience were progressing at a faster rate across all of their subjects.”
However, BET does not abandon all traditional teaching values. They still have lectures, especially after finding out some of their biology students excelled from teacher lectures. This feedback sparked them to inform their staff that it was alright to lecture, as long as it is not their go-to method to teach.
“Sometimes if you [teachers] want to stand at the front and talk that’s okay. But that must not be your default,” says Strowger.
Currently, five Canadian teachers work at BET, helping students think laterally in order to ‘change the game in the future.’ A graduate from UBC, who now teaches at BET helped make the Vancouver/Victoria area attractive for recruiting teachers.
BET has plans in 2019 to open their own school in China, becoming the first state-funded school in England to open a fee-paying school in China. When asked if he would open a school in Canada in the future, Strowger seemed enthusiastic at the thought.
“I would absolutely love to,” Strowger says. “I suppose if there are any equity investors out there, they better give us a call.”