Tutor Profile - Fiona Parkin

headshot of Fiona Parkin

English, ESOL, Maths & Family Learning

16 September 2019

English Functional Skills Level 1

In my twenties I spent two years in Spain teaching TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) which I enjoyed and always thought it was something I would like to go back to. Following this I worked in the event and exhibition space for about 15 years organising trade exhibitions in the UK, Hong Kong and Dubai. Though it was fun I wanted a change, and with having young kids at home I wanted to spend more time with them so I began teaching part-time. When I started they were both at primary school round the corner, now the eldest is working and the youngest in her last year of university - how time flies when you’re having fun!

I studied for my PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) at the Institute of Education (now part of University of London) when the government stipulated that all adult education teachers needed to have a teaching qualification. I found it was a great opportunity to do more training.

I think all teachers do the job because of the students - it’s certainly not the paperwork! I like teaching adults because it’s easy to engender an atmosphere of collaboration and support. I’m student-led and feel we can learn from each-other.

I’m inspired by the many students who’ve sat in my classrooms over the 18 years I’ve been here, who have travelled thousands of miles to get here, given up their homes, their livelihoods, sometimes their families, to flee war or persecution or to get a better life. It’s awe-inspiring.

I also teach refugee children who are in care - the boys (and girls) who’ve come off the lorries from Calais - and they too, are amazing. They have horrific stories which they have to put behind them in order to get on and learn English. Some manage better than others.

Here I’m currently running level 1 English (Functional Skills) and two conversation classes - a lower level and a higher level class. We have 14 in English, about 12 in each conversation class.

I’m going to teach an Introduction to British Values class which we’re running for the first time in September 2019. It should be fun with lots of discussion. Our first lesson will be changing the title! I think ‘British’ values sounds terribly condescending - after all, values are common to all nationalities.

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