On Saturday Chloe, Emma and I (Claire) returned from our two-week trip to Kenya as part of our PGCE course at Southampton University. Our trip was organised through a charity called African Adventures and allowed us to experience teaching in Kenya as well as some tourist aspects such as a day on Safari. In total 30 PGCE students across a range of subjects attended the trip and we were all placed in pairs so that we could team teach each of our classes. Emma and I were paired together and taught Maths at Kiamunyi High School. Kiamunyi is a government secondary school on the outskirts of Nakuru in Kenya. The school educates approximately 250 students in Forms 1-4 (14 to 18 years with some students as old as 22). Chloe was paired with another Maths teacher at Merci Njeri. Merci Njeri is a government funded secondary school again located on the outskirts of Nakuru. The school has five classrooms and teaches classes from Form One to Form Four. There are 260 students enrolled at Merci, between the ages of 14 and 22 years-old.

We all taught Form 1 and 2 which is the equivalent of year 10 and 11 in the UK. Emma and I had classes containing up to 45 pupils and Chloe had up to 65 in some of her classes. The curriculum is very similar to that in the UK and we taught a range of topics such as introduction to algebra, laws of indices, trigonometry and finding equations of straight lines. We had to adjust to the fact students were not allowed calculators and were instead expected to use tools such as log tables and square root tables.

We knew before commencing the trip that their way of life, culture and teaching styles were so different to ours. We were prepared to enter classrooms where the students were used to rote learning with limited questions being asked. We saw this trip as opportunity to take many risk with our style of teaching and introduced lots of interactive techniques the students might not have been familiar with. We therefore all taught several lessons outside with handmade treasure hunts and for AfL we all made some mini whiteboards from laminated paper as well as getting students to the front to do some teaching themselves. It took time for the students to engage in some of the activities possibly due to a language barrier at points but overall, I would say they were a success. At the end of our time at the schools we asked the students to write some feedback and we had a few responses about how we made maths fun and enjoyable through the way we taught it.

One experience I really enjoyed was the team teaching with a fellow trainee. In our placements at some of us have experienced team teaching which much more experienced teachers but this was a fantastic opportunity to learn from someone at the exact same point of training as myself. We also acted as TAs for other subjects again a great learning experience regarding techniques used in other subjects. When reflecting each evening about our experience we said it was refreshing not to be caught up in creating a fancy PowerPoint and spending hours planning for a one-hour lesson. Instead we went right back to basics and had to think much more on our feet.

I think all three of us would say we have had a life changing experience and it is something difficult to imagine unless you experience it yourself. We were continually told we had done so much to boost the children’s self-esteem. So many of them are from broken families and backgrounds and the care and attention we provide them with, although it seems like not much to us, massively impacts their lives.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the IMA for their kind donations of resources. All resources were divided between both the secondary schools and a primary school where the primary school trainees attended. The gifts were massively appreciated by the schools and will make a huge difference in the children’s lives. We handed all the girls at Kiamunyi ‘I Love Mathematics’ badges which made their days and they wore with pride as can be seen in the photos below. We also carried Mara the Maths bear around with us ensuring she helped us document the trip in photo.