Broadening horizons through travelling and teaching

A photograph of Craig Cairns

Craig Cairns,
Primary teacher

I spent my first year after graduating working in Pakistan, coding for software companies. Now I am a support teacher for years 5 and 6 at Eleanor Palmer Primary School in London and I teach young pupils basic programming as part of the new computing curriculum.

I’m really happy coding has been introduced to the curriculum because I think it’s something that has been lacking for quite a while. It’s a very powerful thing for children to understand how technology works and what’s going on in the background, even if they don’t aspire to become programmers themselves.

I preferred the environment and the type of learning that went on in primary schools. I think you get to know the child a bit more because you're teaching a range of different subjects.

I enjoyed working in schools while at university and started working as a learning mentor at a secondary school when I returned from Pakistan.

But when it came to choosing which age group I’d like to teach and applying for teacher training, I realised I preferred the environment and the type of learning that went on in primary schools. I think you get to know the child a bit more because you’re teaching a range of different subjects. You spend the whole day with the same pupils, so you tend to form really good relationships with them.

The school I teach in has a link with a school in Sierra Leone through the charity Planting Promise. This has given me the chance to travel and to teach in those conditions with classes where you have very little in the way of resources does influence your teaching practice.

Travelling broadens your horizons, too. It makes you better at understanding the world and seeing things from a different point of view.

I spent one of my summers in Guatemala and worked in a hospice for children whose mums had suffered domestic abuse and were trying to gain employment. They could drop their children off to the centre in the morning and go off and work and then collect them in the evening. It’s great for learning languages as well, which is becoming more of an important subject in primary schools.

It’s the best job in the world in my opinion. It’s so varied; you are part of their lives, part of their family’s lives and they’re part of your life – and I don’t think there are many other jobs that offer that.

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