Helping children in the community to read and learn new skills, has been just one of the projects forming part of the school’s Community Partnerships initiative since it began in 2019.

Keeping the momentum going during COVID times has proved a challenge, but nothing stopped two Upper Sixth Formers, Andy Wong and Seong Wan Pai, from their campaign to educate children across Bedford in the language of Mandarin. On Thursday 1 July, the two boys, got together via Zoom with Year 4 children at local primary school, St James’ Primary.

What was particularly impressive about this session, was that Andy conducted his part of the lesson from his hotel room in Hong Kong, where he is currently isolating. Seong, dialled in from school, to deliver an outstanding lesson – the children were engaged, curious and participated superbly.   

Maria Soulsby, Head Teacher at St James’ Primary was delighted with the lesson and told us, “The children really enjoyed the session, and what was really lovely, was that our two native Mandarin speakers were able to become experts and help their classmates, especially when the technology was a bit iffy. It really gave them a confidence boost and added value to their heritage.” 

The boys have been visiting children in local primary schools over the last couple of years – initially doing so in person, but latterly online. Working with our community schools is so important as it gives more children access to wider extra-curricular learning.

It is not just the primary school children who benefit – our boys have learnt so much too, as well as the satisfaction of seeing lots of children willing and eager to learn.

Seong explained, “Something I have learnt is that teaching is not an easy job. It requires a lot of skills and preparation beforehand. During the three months of lessons last year, Ms Geneva was helping us to improve. For example, introducing little games to our lessons (circle and crosses) to create an exciting atmosphere in the class.”

Delivering the sessions by Zoom has not always been easy. Andy said, “Teaching from Hong Kong with connection issues was hard. However, this shows how hard it was for the teachers during the lockdown – when you can’t approach the students.

It is vital for us to work with primary schools, as this builds confidence and communications skills for us – we get a lot from this.”

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