Teacher Talk

Paula White, 35, teaches health and social care at Stafford College
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The Independent Online

You have just won an outstanding teacher award from Edexcel. How did you impress the judges?

My approach to teaching is fun and interesting. We don't do boredom at Stafford College. I try to make everything we do in classes purposeful so students feel motivated and enjoy learning. For this award I had to provide evidence of the positive and fun learning environment that my students experience and show that I contributed to the local community. I have devised exercises for students such as developing methods of teaching sex education in the way that they would like to have been taught themselves, which gives them a sense of purpose and is really enjoyable. I'm also in the process of establishing a link with an Indonesian school so students can learn through pen pals about health and social care over there. These projects filled the criteria of the award showing a flexible approach and teaching methods.

What is your view of the new vocational options for schoolchildren, which has seen 14 and 15-year-olds coming into colleges for some lessons?

I think that recognition of vocational qualifications has improved dramatically which is really important. We have to appreciate that some students don't fit into the standard curriculum and we need to broaden the opportunities available to them. Through vocational lessons children can keep focused on education and gain a good grounding of knowledge and skills to prepare them for university without having to do A-levels that they may not be interested in. Certainly at Stafford College there has been a huge influx of students applying for vocational courses and then going on to university.

How would you compare your life as a teacher to your experiences in business?

Teaching is the most satisfying and fulfilling thing I have ever done, despite the rubbish pay! I have been lucky enough to work with a really brilliant team of dedicated teachers and it is so lovely to see the results of that. We got brilliant results in the recent Ofsted inspection and all of our students this year are going on to university. It has been really great to contribute to their education and to watch them grow and reach their potential.

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