Now teaching maths at Radyr Comprehensive School, former PGCE Secondary maths trainee Alice Walker reflects on her amazing eight week European placement at Aiglon College, Switzerland (April-June 2016)

As I set off on my journey to Aiglon, I was filled with two emotions: nerves and excitement! I had just met the two other students that I would be sharing this experience with and we really did not know what to expect.
In my mind, Aiglon was a scary prospect: the third most expensive school in the world, highly academically esteemed pupils, and pupils from a background I had almost no insight into.
However, in a short time all of my expectations were surpassed. I absolutely loved my time at Aiglon and here is why:

1) Welcoming Staff
Walking into Aiglon, the big thing that washed over me was how calm the staff were. This helped me as, prior to this experience, I often found myself in a whirlwind. Here, staff gave me all the time in the world to discuss ideas and talk about improving my teaching. Alongside this, we were made to feel very welcome. We were invited to BBQs, school events, for dinner at staff houses, out on trips and to do other leisure activities with staff.
2) Pupil Respect
Another overwhelming feeling from the school was the pupils’ respect for staff. Being a student, I never felt truly confident about feeling like the class teacher in charge. This began to change as here, I was empowered to take responsibility for my class, decisions were mine and pupils accepted me as their teacher, fully.
3) Freedom to Experiment
Alongside staff support and pupil respect came the freedom to experiment. Small class sizes of respectful pupils meant going outside to teach, using a lot of different IT in the classroom, and, generally, trying anything outside the box was very well accepted. This supported my teaching as it motivated me to push my teaching outside my comfort zone, while also trying out more student led activities and also trying out new technology (goformative and Google Classroom to name a few).

4) Extracurricular Activitiesrob1
I’m a lover of the outdoors so this was always going to be a positive for me. We had mountain days, climbing, camping, canoeing, abseiling and airboarding. We also joined the school running club (and realised how unfit we really were!). Not only did my teaching improve over my time at Aiglon, I also faced my fear of heights – pushing myself to my limits, while also retuning home with a new favourite hobby (climbing).
5) Other opportunities
Another empowering opportunity given to me by this brilliant school was a Google Certified Educator Qualification (Levels 1 and 2). This has allowed me to gain advantage in the work place but is also useful within my teaching and has given me an insight into the future of education.
Also, with my IT skills being relatively good and me being able to try out new activities, I was also encouraged to share best practice with my whole department, again empowering me to see that, in the long term, I would love to be involved in developing teaching and learning.  Above all, I loved my time in Switzerland and I would go back in a heartbeat.

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