Story/Interview September 19, 2019
Originally trained in New Zealand, Marilyn teaches Year 7 through to Year 13 at King's InterHigh.
I relish every lesson I teach. The students are interested and engaged with their subjects, bringing a global slant to the content and ideas to the curriculum.
What are your professional qualifications/accreditations?
BA Hons Cl 2 Div. 1 Social Administration (Sociology; Psychology and Politics, Nottingham); BA English Units Massey University Palmerston North, New Zealand; Diploma in Education – Massey University, New Zealand; Diploma in Film Studies – UEA; Certificate in Classics; continuing Education, Lampeter, University of Wales; DES Accredited.
What was your background before you went into teaching?
My first post-graduate job was in Human Resources at Raleigh Industries, Nottingham. My career changed dramatically when I moved to New Zealand just after getting married and I was speedily co-opted onto a teacher training programme.
What was your teaching experience before joining King's InterHigh?
I started my teaching life as a Geography and Social Studies teacher in New Zealand, but with the additional qualifications I obtained, I moved onto teaching English. The New Zealand upper school’s curriculum at the time focused equally on English Language and Literature, which began my fascination with all elements of language in society.
After our return to the UK, the following 20 years were largely spent in a high school and sixth form college in Norfolk. I taught A Levels in English Literature, English Language, Film Studies, Classical Civilisation, Psychology, Media Studies and Health & Social Care.
Have you worked in any other areas of education?
Throughout my time as a UK teacher, I have also been an examiner. This has primarily been at A Level: Media Studies, English Literature, Film Studies, and most enduringly, English Language for Cambridge International Examinations. I have been an interim Principal Examiner and for many years have had the position of team leader for English Language AS and A Level – which our student’s study at King’s InterHigh. I have previously written training material for the course, as well as being asked to co-author the Cambridge endorsed textbook for the course, which has been brought out in its 2nd edition. I am also a reviewer of other textbooks for the course.
How do you find teaching at King's InterHigh’s online school?
It was with a magnificent stroke of luck that I came across King’s InterHigh. Some technical challenges aside, I continue to relish every lesson I teach. The students are interested and engaged with their subjects, bringing a global slant to the content and ideas to the curriculum.
An enduring memory for me is my first lesson teaching at King’s InterHigh: It was Year 7 History and I asked each child to name a historical place near them. The first boy’s response was the pyramids, he was living in Egypt! To me, it is the global reach of this school that brings interactions and tolerance, that characterises our students.
After living in New Zealand, our family returned to the UK after 20 years away. I like to think that these traits of living elsewhere continue to inform my teaching, particularly with the global perspective of King’s InterHigh.
Do you take part in any notable activities outside of teaching?
Nobody lives in New Zealand without becoming passionate about the outdoors and sport, so as a true ‘pommie immigrant I coached an under-14 rugby team. I still regard our regional win as one of the highlights of my teaching memories!
Family activities have involved extensive travel and I’ve continued my love of the outdoors with long distance running, and I’m now absorbed with fundraising. Many of my colleagues also run, so another community of interest has sprung up. I walk dogs, cycle and open water swim and a polar half-marathon beckons in January 2020.
Do you have any involvement with your local community?
I give back to the Abergavenny community which has been so welcoming by volunteering in the Tourist Office, at the Theatre and at the Library where I run a Primary Children’s Activity Club. I also transcribe records for the History Society and read to groups of residents in a care home.
I also ran several arts festivals and workshops with European partner schools, as well as numerous school shows and events.
As an online platform, do students miss out on the social aspects of learning within a mainstream schooling environment?
The teaching community of King’s InterHigh has grown enormously during my seven years with the school. I tell the students they are receiving the education style of the future. Far from being isolating, King’s InterHigh students reach out to each other in a dynamic global community. Teaching has always easily spilled out of the classroom! Again, King’s InterHigh’s ethos reflects this broader concept of education, which is why I feel so enthused by the environment of the school. It remains a joy and privilege to teach at the school.