GCSE Maths

Hi, my name's Pauline. Recently, I dipped my toe into teaching with Edlumino at the Dunkirk migrant camp and I can't wait to go back! Teaching in such circumstances might not be everyone's 'cup of tea' but it's a good fit for me and it may well be for you too. I'm lucky; I don't have a job. So I don't miss the obvious downside to teaching in these circumstances: no pay packet at the end of the month. I did once have a job. I taught for eleven years in a junior school but... when edicts became increasingly simplistic lacking contextual consideration' high expectations became a matter of unrealistic target setting rather than belief in the child and a passion for quality provision; poor recruitment policies led to defective leadership; and the workload simply became too great, it was time to go.

Since then I've tutored in numeracy and literacy and run a franchise business encouraging young children to get involved in physical exercise at an early age.

And I've volunteered. Firstly, with Book Bus in Zambia for two weeks; then with All hands Volunteers in the Philippines for a month (having convinced myself I could cope for longer). Rory and Ginny give you the same opportunity with the school at Dunkirk. Come across, give it a go and, if it's for you, think seriously about a longer stretch.

I've learnt a lot from volunteering, not least the importance of longer term commitment. In Zambia, we worked in a village where the children readily formed attachments; and in an orphanage where they did not. The reason? The orphans of Livingstone were used to a succession of people popping in and out of their lives. They couldn't afford to lean on you. Of course, the Dunkirk school presents another reason for longer term commitment: continuity and progression. At present, children are taught on a 1:1 basis - the individual's zone of proximal development trumps progressive group methods in a situation where children present with vastly varying levels of attainment. Rigour in these circumstances lies in pushing the child on through a succession of expertly understood next steps. (Not sure? Didn't teach that year group? Never encountered ESL? Then ask Rory, Ginny or another volunteer. Folk in this situation readily leave their egos behind and collaboration in such an unstructured environment amongst well motivated individuals is refreshing.)

It was in Zambia too that I learnt to fully respect project leaders. Well, why wouldn't you? Extreme poverty, displacement and questionable politics will affect you. Once numbers become names, centrism lurches to the left and reticence recedes rapidly. Resist! There's a reason why things are done a certain way and the people to listen to are the long termers - Rory and Ginny in this case.

The Edlumino school at Dunkirk is apolitical and that's a bonus. Political lobbying is necessary - at the end of the day, what these children really need is a permanent home and the opportunity to grow in a place of safety but, in the meantime, some of us (maybe you?) are best utilised doing what we're trained to do. One day, many of these children will want to rebuild their countries; they won't be able to do that if their education is neglected. One day, they'll be faced with political, and ethical choices; without schooling they'll be unable to resist indoctrination and escape marginalisation.

Want to be part of this? Then grab your waterproofs and your wellies, your sun screen and your smile, and get in touch with Edlumino. They've rekindled my love of teaching. And that's worth far more than any pay packet. Well in teaching it is anyway. :-)

So, if these three girls can study maths at KS3 and GCSE level, in the impoverished environment of a refugee camp, through the medium of a foreign language, what else could they achieve given half a chance? Please support Edlumino, the organisation I've had the privilege of working with this week. They're ensuring children of primary and secondary school age have an opportunity to continue their education. A lack of schooling would, of course, jeopardise these children's futures - and impact on ours too.

Pauline is a qualified teacher who we met briefly in Basroch camp and then came out initially for a visit week to La Liniere in March. She was instantly accepted and appreciated by the children for her calm and collected manner, and real warmth when teaching them difficult concepts and ideas. We are so pleased to say she will be joining us again in May for a month.

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