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Former KA Student Graduates First Class at Bristol University

Sunday 18 July 2010, 18:18
By John Baxter

Becky Fellows, First Class biologistIt is always good to hear that students from our local schools have done well so I was thrilled to hear about Becky's success. Like her elder brother and sister, Becky was a pupil at King Arthur's where she did well at her GCSE's and went on to Yeovil College. There she took A levels in Maths, Chemistry and Biology. She then spent the better part of a year travelling around the world, (Thailand, Australia, the US) an experience she loved and thinks taught her a lot. Becky then set off for Sheffield University hoping to study Genetics, but did not enjoy this and after a term dropped out. She spent the rest of that year working in office administration and when the summer arrived she went off to Camp America and spent nine weeks in the US working as a counsellor in a summer camp for deprived children. She thoroughly enjoyed what was quite a testing experience and decided she would do it again. She also decided to have another go at university and was able to start at Bristol that October. This time she signed up to study Biology which she found really interesting. Again at the end of her first year at Bristol she went off to work with Camp America. Friendly, outgoing, and organised she went on to achieve a first class honours degree, something which is a considerable accomplishment.

It was while at Bristol that she heard about Teach First. This is an educational charity which sets out to select and recruit high achieving graduates prepared to spend two years in teaching in challenging schools. As I understand it the course selectors are looking for three characteristics. The first is high academic achievement, the second is a capacity and willingness to work really hard, and the third is to have an open and non-arrogant attitude and readiness to learn from the other teachers in the school. If a candidate passes these three tests they are then put through an accelerated and very demanding training programme before being placed in a "challenging" school. Here they have a 70% teaching load together with regular mentoring and support so that before the end of two years they can be accredited with full trained teacher status. They are then free to either stay in teaching, or to take up careers in the businesses and professions that support the charity.

So far 60% make teaching their career and 40% go into a range of business environments while often continuing to help in local schools in some voluntary capacity.

Selection to get on to the Teach First programme is tough and oversubscribed, for the organisers are looking for high fliers with leadership potential who will be able to make a real difference whatever they choose to do. The scheme has Government, political and business backing and already it is attracting people into teaching who only a few years ago would not have considered it. Becky is thrilled to have landed a place.

Certainly they do not waste any time. With her academic year barely finished she already knows that she will be placed in an 11-16 sports college in Croydon, a school which is rather similar to King Arthur's. She has also been given her first training task. This has been to do a week of class-room observation and here, unusually, she has been placed back in her old school, KA. Head teacher Ms Tamra Bradbury has had her observing classes in years 7, 10 and those with Special Needs and she has been expected to notice everything she can about the programme, ethos and behaviour of students and staff in the school. As a result she is just completing a 10,000 word report!

I asked her how she had found going back to her old school. Her reactions could hardly have been more positive and enthusiastic. She found a really good, friendly and purposeful atmosphere with good discipline and pupils really engaged in their lessons. She was also amazed at how difficult and challenging much of the work was and felt the school had progressed a long way since she was here.

Next she goes up to London in a university residence for three weeks of lectures and short placements in several London schools. Here she will teach supervised lessons - in her case using science topics - followed by analysis and feedback as to how she has done. Then, when the school year comes to an end, all the Teach First candidates are sent to Warwick University for a further three weeks intensive residential course which they have been told to expect will be hard work and really challenging.

At 23 Becky is ready for this and she certainly strikes me as just right. She is obviously able and hardworking, and comes across as quietly self-confident and enthusiastic. She also has real sympathy for those who do not find study or self-discipline easy and I am sure has a great deal to give. It will be fascinating to know how she finds these next two years.


Posts: 1
King Arthurs.
Reply #1 on : Mon July 19, 2010, 08:43:31
Well done Becky. You are a credit to your family, King Arthur's, and this wee rural country town. Go on and do us all proud.

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