Interview: the Wyedean School

Today we're happy to share with you this little chat we've had with a teacher at Wyedean School and Sixth Form Centre, "rightly recognised as a centre in the South West [England] for academic high standards, aspirations and achievement".

Fun fact: J.K. Rowling, the writer of the famous series of children’s book, Harry Potter, was once a student at Wyedean School. Rumour has it she even based the famous character of Professer Snape on one of her chemistry masters there.

Wyedean School provides the very best in terms of quality provision in the area. Our School and Post 16 Centre are equipped for exceptional C21st learning, embracing digital learning in how we study and gain our knowledge and understanding through an exciting curriculum. We offer an outstanding record of academic excellence in our examination results and success together with exceptional guidance and wellbeing support from our dedicated staff so all of our students will achieve their potential.

— Rebecca Simpson, Spanish teacher at Wyedean School

So here’s what Rebecca had to say about language learning (and teaching), and her experience using Bili!

Q: Why do you think it is important for your classes to have contact with native speakers abroad?

A: Global Awareness is part of our school ethos and linking with schools across the world allows our students to benefit from a wide range of cultural perspectives they would not be exposed to otherwise. Our students have to know themselves and where they come from – and identity is always important – but we also encourage them to look beyond Wyedean and recognise the incredible opportunities that are created by diversity and the richness of culture that there is across the world. Teaching children about global issues and encouraging them to see the world through other eyes is of huge importance, and in an increasingly interconnected world, today’s young generation need to learn be able to engage in communication with people from a wide range of different cultures and tradition. Our students achieve fluency in the Spanish language through their connections with native speakers abroad, they make lifelong friendships and gain appreciation of the country and culture. As a school, we have a commitment to World Class education, and all our students receive a holistic and enriching curriculum that gives them a love for learning and prepares them for life beyond Wyedean. Using Bili in our Languages lessons is an important part of that.

Q: How have you built your links between your school and schools abroad?

A: We currently have a letter writing project between schools in France and Spain and this was set up via the British Council. We have been awarded an ERASMUS+ grant this year which will allow us to continue with our project work with our partner schools and it also provides financial support for staff to undertake job shadowing at any one of our partner schools in in the world. We also have regular Skype sessions with our partner school in Moldova.

Q: How did you hear about Bili and what attracted you to it?

A: We heard about Bili on Twitter and were attracted to it as it sounded easy to use and safe for our students.

Q: How does Bili support you as a teacher?

A: It allows staff to monitor the messages that are sent between buddies and gives staff the tools to remove or add students at any time. Staff members are also able to communicate with staff members in partner schools via the website’s email system.

Q: How do the kids find it? What do they enjoy the most about Bili?

A: Our students have found using Bili so far, exciting and interesting. It has allowed them to take responsibility for their own learning of a foreign language and it has also given them the opportunity to evaluate and advise their buddy on their English language learning journey. Students are respectful and more aware of the importance of learning a language and the Bili experience increases their global awareness of other countries and cultures around the world. We have had the amazing chance to get to know another school and students in Ecuador and many of our students have enjoyed the cultural and linguistic research that we have done in preparation for our Bili exchange.

Q: Next steps? How will you build on your links in the future? What part will Bili play?

A: We would like to set up other languages classes using Bili and continue using it as a platform to improve linguistic competency but also to increase cultural and global awareness.

We hope you enjoyed, and if you also want to be part of Bili to give your students the chance to interact with native speakers abroad in a safe environment, you can register your school right here!

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