By News Editor Aislinn Cottell
Based in the South of England, the Bohunt Education Trust (BET) is an academy school sponsor organization, well known for it’s innovative and ground-breaking educational practices. Their first school was established in Liphook in 1978, but they currently run five secondary schools across England, and are only growing. Teachers at these schools employ a challenge and project-based curricular approach, with the aims of preparing students to meet multi-faceted problems in the real world, not just exams.
BET has been ambitious in integrating technology into its classrooms, providing Mac Airs for every student, walls that can be written upon, interactive projector tables to ensure the classroom has no ‘front’, and individual desks on wheels so students can control the room’s set up. They have also pioneered new programs in England, being the first to implement Mandarin immersion methods, in which students complete one third of their curriculum in the language, and launching the UK’s first integrated, bespoke STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) curriculum. They are invested in outdoor learning, often organizing camps and fieldtrips, and sending students on abroad trips to places such as Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and the Himalayas. Their ethos is simple: enjoy, respect, and achieve.
“It’s that enjoying school, and engaging with it that’s so important, and then the respect links back to achieving great things: self-respect and a sense of self-worth helps children to achieve, and achievement is far more than just exam grades,” said Neil Strowger, Chief Executive of BET. “We do believe that if our pupils leave us and haven’t got great choices ahead of them, then we’ve failed, because education should be about giving people choices, as well as opportunity.”
So, what does this have to do with VIU? Well, Bohunt rates multiculturalism high on its list of values, as well as keys to student success. This month, educators from the organization, including Strowger, arrived in Canada, seeking teaching graduates interested in crossing the world to become part of their mission.
“Collaboration and innovation drive everything we do at Bohunt. Our experiences so far have demonstrated the value of working cross-culturally to deliver high quality education,” said Strowger. “We have long admired the quality of teaching in Canada, and the outstanding quality of graduates your universities produce.”
“We wanted to come and make contact ourselves directly. We have a few Canadians working for us in our different schools at the moment, and they just fit so well. Because they’ve got that sound pedagogical basis, but they also are quite-—well, serious makes it sound boring, but it’s not that. They’re passionate about the job and doing the job well, and their commitment levels are high.”
“This trip gives us the invaluable opportunity to meet graduates and teachers from across Vancouver and the Island and offer them the opportunity to start or grow their careers in our unique and dynamic teaching environment.”
Interested teachers are offered contracts based on their individual needs; a program is available for Canadians under 30 to work in the UK for two years or less, but BET is also registered as a Tier 4 Visa sponsor, meaning they can sponsor those who are looking for a long-term arrangement to stay in England more permanently.
According to Strowger, there is a shortage of teachers available in the UK, especially in the South of England. As well, the current approach to education in England is somewhat at odds with the BET vision.
“We’ve got a government that’s very keen to see a didactic approach, so they’ve changed the national curriculum and assessment system so that there are no national comparators to keep progress, which has been an interesting challenge for schools,” Strowger said. “There’s also the shift in pedagogy from an inquiry approach to much more of a traditional ‘teacher being the fount of all knowledge’, and standing at the front [of the classroom] imparting that knowledge. That doesn’t sit brilliantly with our ethos, we recognize that there’s a time and a place where that’s the most effective method of instruction, but we also want students to be engaged and responsible for their own learning, and pursuing interests outside of the classroom.”
“We think that, certainly in BC, the pedagogical approach is similar to our ethos. The new curriculum that came in a year or so ago is sort of focused on challenge-based learning and things like that. It’s quite close to what we like to do in our schools.”
“We want all Bohunt students to leave school with the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century and be active participants in our global economy. We offer them the unique chance to interact and learn from teachers across the globe, and we are looking forward to the opportunities this will open up for everyone.”
Those interested in possibly joining BET can contact Strowger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aislinn is a third year Bachelor of Arts and Science student majoring in creative writing and minoring in chemistry. New to The Nav team this year, she’s enjoying finding out about all the interesting things happening on campus. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, Netflix, and the copious consumption of coffee.