We are under the sea in Reception, catching fish decorated with beach and sea words.
There’s lots going on – reading, writing, matching words and pictures, cutting, gluing and talking it all through; so much fun finding out about a new and wonderful world, while extending fine-motor and communication skills, literacy and numeracy. Helen James and Teaching Assistant Claire Rogers join in, gently explaining how to do the activities, letting the boys lead at times, praising them, guiding their behaviour in very individual ways and encouraging them to extend themselves further as they experiment with the new. It is very clear that the two teachers know each child really well and understand exactly how to get the best from them, even just before lunch!
You can see straight away that Mrs James loves the energy, enthusiasm and ability to think creatively that the school’s youngest boys possess in spades. She loves being part of their first steps into more formal education, part of developing their love of learning. She chooses topics that are boy friendly, tailoring activities to meet the needs, experiences and likes of the small group of boys in her care. There is lots of hands-on learning and, while she offers plenty of input, she encourages them to initiate their learning, to take their own decisions, to explain what they are doing and why they want to do it. It is no wonder that they are so happy, confident and involved.
When Helen thinks back to her own childhood and who inspired her, she gives credit to her mum and her first teacher at school, Mrs White. Helen is pretty inspiring herself, and not afraid to try new experiences. She has recently taken up trampolining and frequents an indoor skydiving tunnel. Shark diving in Australia, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef are further examples of Helen’s adventurous nature. She’s a softy too, with a love of cats and her hamster, Chewy!
Helen really enjoys being part of the staff at St Edward’s, working as a team to ensure that the boys are happy and learning. She even accepted a marriage proposal from former science teacher, Mr James, whilst helping him train for his earth-to-space triathlon challenge for Sport Relief!