Elizabeth Edwards, Head of Education How I Made It
Elizabeth Edwards is Head of Education at Learn With Pip, an education company that creates the products to help children improve their reading skills by using apps. After deviating from a career in the legal sector and years of teaching, AllAboutCareers.com caught up with Elizabeth, quizzing her on her experiences and future prospects…
Why did you deviate from a career path in law? Why teaching?
The legal profession is a gripping, intellectually stimulating and dynamic profession. I gained insights into this field by learning from solicitors at a few Magic Circle firms in London, Paris and Madrid. This put me in good stead to learn about life as a professional and the value of successful cross-border relations.
After graduating in Modern Foreign Languages and spending time developing my communication and language skills whilst living abroad, I recognised the strength of my people skills. I knew I wanted a hands-on and advisory role. I have always been a passionate learner and appreciative of my own strong educational background and was raised to understand the value of a good education for all. I wanted to give something back in a field which required the skills I had developed and which would allow me to provide something of value. Therefore, inspiring parents in supporting their child's development with bespoke advice, made teaching an apt and rewarding choice!
Tell us more about teaching ‘Intercultural Understanding’. How important do you think this is given the recent EU elections and immigration debate within this country?
In a word - ‘hugely’.
The multicultural nature of the UK has been accepted long before recent political agendas. Teaching ‘Intercultural Understanding’ in schools and homes in the UK means helping children learn about facts of culture from foreign lands and peoples and equipping them with the critical thinking skills to question and evaluate national stereotypes. It is quite shocking that schools are only now catching on to the importance of teaching languages in primary school, when science has proven the aptitudes of children in learning foreign languages. Therefore, I see it as a welcome introduction to the primary languages curriculum that in a globalised economy, this has finally arrived into language teaching in primary schools in the UK.
Nevertheless, much remains to be done to continue raising awareness of the value of this aspect of the curriculum.
How have you found your experience at Pembridge? As an all-girls school, is there a focus on encouraging girls to aspire toward social, financial and professional independence as the feminist movement continues to grow? Do you find that pupils believe (albeit unknowingly) there are still gender or societal conformities?
I am hugely proud and thankful for my experiences at Pembridge Hall. It is an out-of-date argument to believe that parents make the decision to send their child to a single sex school purely on the basis of political movements. Though this may even be the case for some, it is certainly not an accepted generalisation in the education community. I believe that children of each sex learn differently. From my experience, it is simply for that reason that some parents feel it is the right decision for their child to learn with the same sex.
Why did you apply for the opportunity at Learn with Pip and tell us more about the company? Will you find the move away from hands-on teaching tough or emotional?
Learn with Pip is the first educational community of its kind that aims to make the most of new technologies as a means of inspiring enthusiastic parents and teachers who want to help children to master the key skills in reading and maths. It is the first digital programme of its kind too, as it aims to take a child through a fun and interactive journey that supports them through all the school years of their early years education. Our first phonics app is due to launch in August.
My teaching years have been truly formative and inspired me to progress even further in my field. I am thrilled to have formed such lasting and positive relationships with so many of the wonderful parents and children I have taught and with whom I will stay in touch.
Learn with Pip is currently targeted at parents (I can’t imagine a 4-7 year old owning an iPad, iPhone and laptop!). Do you believe we’ll see more of this kind of learning creeping into the classroom and what currently prevents it from doing so?
The role of technology in children’s learning has evolved rapidly, even within the last five years. There is a direct correlation between the frequency with which a child reads and their attainment in reading. For disadvantaged children, a print based book experience in addition to an iPad or ebook reader has actually been proven to enhance their attainment scores even further. This shows that the traditional barriers of cost and negative attitudes towards the use of technology, for the purpose of facilitating learning, are breaking down.
Furthermore, is not uncommon for children to have access to an iPad, whether this belongs to parents or is their own. Over three quarters of children I have taught have their own and not all of these children attend private schools. So, why not also provide all parents and children with educational value in these devices? That's what Learn With Pip is about. It is a fun, accessible and high quality educational tool for all. Watch this space!
By Billy Sexton, Editor, AllAboutCareers.com
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