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View from the classroom


View from the classroom Alex Sullivan


oasis for students where the streets are left firmly outside. The welcoming and nurturing environment ensures that when students leave the school at the end of their seven year stay, many return. We even have teachers who were once pupils at the school, who have returned to All Saints for their first teaching job because they just love the atmosphere in the school.


• What subject area do you teach and why did you choose it?


T


his month, we hear from Alex Sullivan, science teacher at All Saints Catholic School in Dagenham, who tells us how he gives his students an understanding of the importance of science in overcoming some of the most pressing challenges facing our world today.


• Tell us about your school


All Saints is a mixed Catholic comprehensive school based in Dagenham. We have eight forms of entry, which is something that only started two years ago when we increased our intake up from six forms of entry. We also have a Sixth Form, so currently the school has approximately 1200 students.


Despite being located in an area of high social deprivation, the school’s ethos is to create an


I teach science and specialise in chemistry specifically. I chose to travel down the science route, thanks to an inspirational science teacher I had when I was in secondary school (which feels like a very long time ago now!). Thinking about it, I was probably quite a difficult student to teach, but this teacher made lessons fun, which meant he managed to reign in my natural exuberance, whilst also combating my inherent laziness! At A- level I chose to continue to study the subject; I excelled in chemistry and the rest, as they say, is history…


• Describe a typical day for you I arrive at the school at around 8am, making sure any equipment I need for the day is ready. Next up is a daily staff briefing held by the headteacher, and then form time where I ensure my Year 11 form group is in a suitable state of mind to start the day. We then have a prayer; as a Catholic school, this is really important to us as a moment of calm and reflection, before a busy day.


20 www.education-today.co.uk


As I am currently the only A-level chemistry teacher, I usually have a session or two of A-level chemistry coupled with two or three KS3/4 science lessons. At this precise moment in time, I am teaching a variety of different topics: Year 7 are learning about experimental techniques; with the Year 8’s I’m teaching inheritance and variation; Year 11 are focussed on moles; for the Year 12’s it’s the ideal gas equation and Year 13, equilibria. The school day finishes with form time once again. After the students leave, I would usually spend 1-2 hours marking work.


• How would you describe your teaching style?


To answer this question I asked some of my students what they thought and they gave me these words: lively, active, thorough, engaging, funny and ‘banter’ which I’m pretty happy with! I would personally describe my teaching style as laid-back but controlled. I love having humour in the classroom but work hard to ensure this does not get out of hand. I will always try to push my students as far as possible, challenging them with topics that are not always on the syllabus but that I feel are important to grasp and understand as part of their wider educational journey. I absolutely love science and always try to impart my love of the subject on others. Instead of just delivering the necessary information, I try and make it more of a performance, teasing out answers from the students rather than just talking at them.


November 2015


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