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Out of the Comfort Zone! Thoughts on my secondment year

Out of the comfort zone! Thoughts on my secondment year…

Catherine Case, a KS1 teacher from Rustington recently completed a secondment year at Downsbrook Primary. Here she shares some thoughts on her experience:

Driving home on the last day of term in July 2019 gave me the opportunity to reflect on the time I had spent on secondment to Downsbrook Primary. It certainly wasn't a quick decision when I’d initially thought about moving to another school for a year. I was unsure about leaving my colleagues as well as the children and families I knew. I also enjoyed the familiarity of having worked at the same school for the past 3 years. It was probably the latter that eventually swayed my decision to spend the year at a school I was unfamiliar with; realising I’d have the opportunity to meet new colleagues, find other ways of working, plan new topics and experience new ways to tackle the curriculum made me excited. I also looked forward to being able to bring this new learning and my experiences back ‘home’ to Rustington.

I knew I hadn’t made a mistake as soon as I joined Downsbrook in September 2018. Everyone was welcoming and kind and it was fantastic to be part of a team of people working so hard to get an apparently 'inadequate' school to where we all knew it should be. A new leadership team meant revised planning formats and different ways of working. I was expecting new processes anyway but it was useful to discuss the differences in approach with Downbrook’s teachers and TAs. A mixed class in Year R/1 also meant a complete set of new plans for EYFS but working together with a great team and amazing, fresh ideas made it not only doable, but fun and enjoyable. 

It is difficult to pinpoint all the benefits my year in secondment created but as time passes I find myself using various ideas which we developed at Downsbrook – notably several different timetabling structures. I’ve also found myself much more efficient and effective in my time management. Working in a smaller team has allowed me to become far more confident in my own decisions. And I’ve certainly developed solid knowledge of a different phonics scheme - always handy when working in EYFS! Ultimately I learnt a great deal from having the opportunity to teach in a different school; new ways of planning, experience of a wider network of very knowledgeable professionals, sharing ideas with new colleagues and some great new friends! 

After a great year it was wonderful to re-join Rustington with a fresh pair of eyes and lots of practical experiences to share with the team. Secondment offers a fantastic opportunity to experience life in a different teaching environment – it’s challenging to stretch yourself out of the familiar but certainly rewarding and I would 100% advise colleagues to spend a year in a different school. You will learn so much!