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Beacon Hill Academy

The Academy of English is not just a centre for English language teaching; it is also a competency centre where University students following a degree in education can apply their theoretical understanding gained in research through the practical experience of working at our partner school, Beacon Hill Academy in Dudley.

For seven years, we have supported students with this unique placement at our partner school, integrating them into one or multiple departments, where they have acted as either administrative assistants, classroom assistants or even shadow teachers. In sending students, we are assisting them not just with their programme of study, in which they often have to fulfil a work placement-based requirement in the education sector; we are, in fact, preparing these students for life after university and in the education sector.

Here are four profiles of students who have either been on or are about to embark on this incredible journey to a school in the industrial heartlands of Great Britain, to the Black Country.

My Profile: Viviane Albers
Beacon Hill Academy, formerly known as High Arcal School (September – December 2013)

My internship at The High Arcal School has had a hugely beneficial impact both on my personal and also on my career development.
I served as a teaching assistant in order to complete my Master’s degree in special educational needs (SEN) and English Language and Literature Studies as subsidiary subject. Already completing my undergraduate studies (B.A.), I was able to gain cross-disciplinary understanding in various specialized SEN areas. Within my Master’s degree programme, I focussed on special education for individuals with behaviour disorders, emotional disturbances and learning disabilities.
In line with the school’s remit, the internship at the High Arcal School provided ideal opportunities to develop my language skills to a higher level and deepen my teaching experience. During that period, I worked both within the Autistic Spectrum Base (a specialist unit recognised for having outstanding practice for that region), and studied inclusion for special education within the wider school. I also worked for the Learning Support team consisting of a SENCO (special education needs coordinator), lead teacher and over 30 teaching assistants; many of whom have specialisms and degrees in their own subjects. In my role as a graduate teaching assistant, I worked within a team to support the learning of boys from 12-16 years old, who have a diagnosis with Aspergers Syndrome (AS). The students work on a tailored curriculum which includes: social, life and motor skills within the AS Base, whilst accessing main school lessons with the aim of attaining GCSEs and then attending college.
My role included: planning, differentiating for and supporting these pupils in an independent and personalised manner. I obtained the skills required to relate to the students who live with extremely high anxiety levels and OCD issues that need to be catered for consistently. I have also planned, prepared and taught German lessons at the AS Base. During my internship I also got the chance to observe and participate in teaching within the Student Support Centre (SSC) which targets pupils who exhibit challenging behaviour and are below the expected national standards in Numeracy and Literacy.
Working in such a specialist environment has given me the opportunity to observe and learn from other educational professionals who have had experience to share with me.
Speaking English exclusively in a teaching role and also socially – whilst living with an English family – has enhanced my ability in a multi-linguistic sense whilst promoting my understanding of day-to-day spoken English, such as humour, colloquialisms and inference.
Especially having met so many loveable colleagues and having stayed with a wonderful English family affected me hugely. I will never forget those who gave me so much to remember!
Thanks to the Academy of English, I got the chance to conduct an internship that has committed to my memory in an impressive manner.
Thank you, Dr. John Goodyear, for you generous and continuous support before, during and after my internship in the Black Country.

My Profile: Francesca Ney
High Arcal (January – April 2015)

In 2015, I stayed at the High Arcal School to do a three-month internship at the Personalised Learning Centre (PLC). The aim of the Personalised Learning centre is to support students that suffer from behavioural, emotional and social difficulties throughout their school day as well as supporting students who have been absent from school for a longer period of time.

Besides the individual one-to-one in-class support, the PLC offers a quiet place to learn and to prepare the students step-by-step to fully reintegrate into the classroom. As this was a mandatory part of my studies to become an English teacher specialising in Special Educational Needs, I hoped to get a closer insight of the English supporting systems at a secondary school as well as working together with students that suffer emotional and behavioural difficulties.

I also used this unique and special opportunity to write my MA thesis, in which I compared the supporting systems of the English school system for students that dropped out of school with the German school system and its supporting systems. During the three months I mostly worked close with one girl who suffered from depression, anxiety and at the beginning wouldn’t enter the school without her mom. Throughout my time I became her main attachment figure, working together on her anxiety, to finally help her reintegrate into almost all her classes before I left. Making a difference in this girl’s life was a huge goal and success that was only possible due to the close and amazing cooperation with teachers and staff at the High Arcal School, who made my time abroad even more special.

Thanks to the Academy of English I gained tremendously positive experiences that still have a huge impact on my personality and my work with Special Educational Needs students in school during my work as a teacher in Germany now.

My Profile: Linda Hüllmann
High Arcal (Winter Term 2011)

In 2011, I worked as an assistant teacher for the German Department at High Arcal.

During those six weeks, which were part of my mandatory school internship for my university degree, I didn’t just improve my language skills but also learned a lot for my teaching career. After those weeks I decided to also study German as a Foreign language.

My colleagues offered me to teach in every of their lessons. Thus, it was easy for me to teach the necessary amount of lessons that I needed in order to get the internship accredited. High Arcal does not only have very open-minded and lovely staff members, but the students also made myself feel at home right away.

During those weeks I stayed with one of my colleagues and he, his wife and their whole family treated me like a family member right from the start. Thank you again!

I can fully recommend this experience and thank the Academy of English, particularly Dr. John Goodyear, for organizing the placement for me!

My Profile: Amelie Schwedhelm
High Arcal (September 2016-March 2017)

I am currently in my second MA semester studying Special Education Needs (SEN) at the Carl von Ossietzky, University of Oldenburg.
Thanks to the support of the Academy of English, I will embark on a unique opportunity to carry out a six-month placement at the High Arcal School in Sedgley in the West Midlands. Not only does the internship fulfill the requirements of my MA degree in English, requiring me to spend time abroad; it will also build on my skills and competencies in both Special Educational Needs and in teaching, too.
The first seven weeks of my experience will be in the Student Support Centre (SSC), in which I will be supporting all students requiring short-term help and assistance. Many of these students have a statemented special need; others, on the other hand, need to work in small groups to be able to extend their social competencies.
The second part of my three-part internship will be spent in the English Department, whose responsibility is to deliver English lessons for all age groups within the school (i.e. at Key Stage 3 from 11-14 years and Key Stage 4 from 14-16 years).
Finally, the last part of my internship is at the Personalised Learning Centre (PLC). Here, up to 15 students with behavioral difficulties and social issues as well as emotional problems are supervised and supported over a longer period of time. Furthermore, it is a place where all students can receive support and advice on a broad variety of fields.
I would like to use my internship to gain a deeper insight into the practical aspect of work at an English comprehensive school. Drawing on my theoretical knowledge and understanding as well as my skills, I hope to broaden them through my work at the High Arcal School, simultaneously supporting SSC and PLC as well as the English department.
Moreover, I would also like to support students at the school following German as a Foreign Language, especially with preparation in the run-up to their examinations. As the write-up of my MA is imminent, it is my hope that my time at the High Arcal will give me plenty of food for thought for possible themes that I could address in my MA.
I am looking forward to an interesting and educational time at the High Arcal School!

Interim Report by Amelie Schwedhelm

I started my internship at the High Arcal School, contrary to my original plan, not in the Student Support Centre (SSC) but in the neighbouring AS Base (Autism Spectrum Base). The AS Base is one of the school special needs departments and is responsible for supporting and assisting students with autism in their daily life at school. Without the Base it would be impossible for our students to attend mainstream school. Nine boys aged 12 to 16 are supported by the base’s staff at the moment. However other students visit the base in case of a problem or at break time.
Working in the base differs from day to day and presents us with new challenges every day. The work entails supporting one or more students in regular lessons, teaching different subjects to individuals or small groups or realising projects in social studies.
It is important to consider the student’s needs at all times and to modify one’s lesson or the environment if necessary. This enables students to access the subjects matter and successfully do their work.
In addition to my work in the base I support the Modern Foreign Language Department in German. My task range from assisting in German Lessons, over helping students with speaking German to teaching lessons with different topics.
Through my work in the base I was able to gain insight into subjects such as Science, Languages, Art, Catering and Textiles or Drama. The next step of my internship will be the Personalised Learning Centre (PLC), where students with behavioural problems are taught.