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Francis Highton – University of Reading

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  • Francis Highton

    If young people understand geography they can understand the world

Francis Highton


Francis Highton is a former rower who is currently in his NQT year after studying at the Institute of Education, University of Reading.

Francis studied on the PGCE Secondary Geography programme. He knew he wanted to teach and after loving  geography at school and taking it at undergraduate level, he felt it only natural to specialise in the subject.

When speaking about why he's passionate about geography Francis said:

"The ever changing nature of geography and needing to keep abreast of new developments and news items keeps it exciting.

 Geography also speaks to everybody. It interconnects with every subject - literature, languages, history, science, and physical education, all of it.

Therefore, if young people understand geography they can understand the world. I'd like to help my students realise this and use this knowledge to make a real difference! "

Francis undertook  placements as part of the course.

"Both the schools were great. Being able to see the distinction between them allowed me to understand a little bit more how radically different schools could be. I was aware of this before but until I experienced it first-hand I didn't fully appreciate the extent.

I also undertook a short primary experience and a 9 day enrichment opportunity towards the end of the course which was a chance to work in a different educational setting. I chose to work in a PE department which allowed me to build upon my other love which is sport. I felt the course really molded to your needs in that way. I took everything I learnt there onto my secondary school. "

Ifrancisn terms of the aspects of the course that stood out the most and that he still uses today, Francis said:

"One of the main things has been behaviour management and now the expectations I set at the beginning of the school year place me in a great position to run an engaged class with minimal disruption.

The other aspect has been from Martin Sutton the subject lead for geography who's absolutely brilliant. He really prepared me with a tool kit of creative ideas to implement in the classroom and make the lesson my own.''

 In short Francis said of the course:

" It's just been fantastic! The network of trainee teachers and teachers I met was amazing for sharing ideas and for general support.Moreover it was really rewarding seeing students I taught during training feedback on how things have clicked for them based on my lessons. I came into this profession to make an impact so it's nice to hear."

Francis now works in a school in Surrey in the geography department. His aspirations are to continue to inspire the students he teaches and become a head of year group, while continuing to be involved in sport.

" I love that we have a diverse group on our course which allows us to share experiences about different cultures and education in other countries "

Weitong Liu (Victoria) is an international student in her second year of the BA Education Studies Course. She first became interested in studying education during an international week at secondary school. As part of this, she went into poor schools in China to find out how they operate and identified some gaps in the Chinese educational system.

"It made me want to change the circumstances for students at these schools and make the Chinese educational system fairer. I began to look into courses that would allow me to examine global education and implement best practice from other systems back in China"

During her course Victoria also chose to do a primary setting placement and observe different learning styles in the classroom first hand. She found that �in China there can be a tendency to deliver a lesson in a lecture style but there is room to make the lessons more interactive and collaborative. She continued:

" I feel policies in the UK seem more open and transparent, allowing for more opportunities to influence policy and I�m constantly making comparisons and thinking of what I can take back to China in the future."

In terms of modules that stood out, Victoria generally liked how the different modules on the course linked together. She particular enjoyed the modules on sustainability and special needs. �It was exciting to think of ways to make Chinese education more sustainable. I also found that while both China and the UK had the same rules on treating special needs children equally the UK implements it better.� When asked about tips for future students Victoria said: �Be open minded, critical thinking is vital and if you�re an international student take full advantage of the support provided by tutors on writing academically.

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