Opportunity Scholarship sends Sarah to Thailand

Sarah Bloomfield received support from the Futures Fund Opportunity Scholarship, enabling her to spend three weeks in Thailand. Sarah used this opportunity to support local teaching facilities, take Thai language classes, supporting the elephant project and exploring Thailand.

Sarah graduated from the University of Sunderland in July 2019 after studying BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS.

Students at the University of Sunderland are able to apply for Opportunity scholarships, which provide additional support for students looking to develop their skills, knowledge and experience around their chosen course. For more information about the scholarships available through the Development Office click here.

Sarah told us about her time in Thailand and the skills that she has developed during this opportunity.

“As a result of the generous support from the Futures Fund Opportunity Scholarship, this summer I have managed to improve my knowledge of the current education system in Thailand as well as local culture. The opportunity has allowed me to teach a wide range of children at a range of different local schools and orphanages. One of the cultural differences that I found whilst living in Thailand is that, it is extremely rude to raise your feet, point at other individuals or religious objects or to touch the head of another human. This is based on the Thai people’s Buddhist beliefs, because the head is the most valued part of the body. Travelling to Thailand helped me to realise the importance of learning through play when learning a different language, as I could see how engaged the children were when I incorporated games into my lessons. Teaching in the local schools and orphanages has also enabled me to develop my confidence. This is a key attribute to become a successful teacher and I feel that teaching four lessons per day, four times a week, for up to thirty children at a time with a range of different learning needs has really improved my confidence.

I developed my ability to plan lessons successfully whilst in Thailand, I had the opportunity to plan some of my lessons in a small group and I planned some lessons by myself, this helped me to become more effective at working as part of a team but also as an individual and helped me to understand the benefits of both. I believe that I have developed my time management skills as I had to ensure I taught all the content planned within a pre agreed time scale, so that all children had equal opportunities to learn regardless of the group they were placed in. I also became very effective at reflecting on my practice and used this to help prepare for upcoming lessons. For example, after teaching my first lesson in Thailand I noticed that many of the children in my class already had an understanding of the topic therefore during break, I adapted some of my activities to make them more challenging for the next group of children. However, I was aware that children all develop at different rates, so I did also have activities prepared to make it easier if necessary. I also believe I developed my behaviour management strategies as I became more confident with using current strategies that I am aware of (such as the traffic light system.  I also believe that the opportunity to travel to Thailand has made me a more independent and resilient person, as I successfully spent three weeks away from friends and family navigating my way through a foreign country.

Whilst in Thailand I had the opportunity to visit new places, for example; Phuket, Koh Phi Phi and Krabi. I was able to engage in a range of activities which have developed my cultural capital, I intend to pass on this information to the children I teach after I graduate. Some of the activities that I partook in were; zip lining, snorkelling, kayaking, muay thai kick boxing and the elephant project, which gave me the opportunity to feed and clean the elephants as well as visiting temples and viewpoints. I managed to successfully create friendships with other individuals from across the world with similar hobbies and interests. Completing this programme I have also gained certificates from ACDL (Accreditation Council for Distance Learning) as well as an approved training centre with the TQUK (Training Qualifications UK), an Ofqual-endorsed awarding organisation, which I can also add onto my CV.

A massive thank you again to the Future Fund for this amazing opportunity! “

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