“Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history, appreciate their poetry, or savour their songs.” Thus Nelson Mandela explained, with his customary logical simplicity, the joy that is language.
The English language above everything else gives access. It is the language of learning, questioning and discovering. It is the language of the great poets and writers. It is the means by which every one of us shares our feelings, thoughts, successes and disappointments. It stands at the root of who and what we are. Wittgenstein suggested that his knowledge was limited only by his grasp of language when he said “all I know is what I have words for.”
‘Teaching English is not a job – it is a privilege!’
Iain Turner, Head of English
Our work in the English Department centres upon empowering our pupils to become effective and confident communicators. This is at the centre of our life in the classroom and the various visits, competitions and performances that pupils engage with during the school year. Books are central to what we do and our primary underlying aim is to foster a love of literature that feeds the imagination and gives our pupils the confidence to experiment in their writing. Amongst the hustle and bustle of the busy prep school day, children can always be found curled up with a book in our warm, comfortable library. This is, truly, the joy of English.
It is no surprise that an anagram of “English Department” is “permanent delights”.
MEET THE TEACHERS
I grew up in an army family and attended prep school in Hampshire before moving on to Bryanston School. Following a couple of years in the army, I studied at King Alfred’s College in Winchester before taking my first teaching job in Yorkshire. A period in an army primary school in Germany was followed by my appointment as Head of English at Mowden Hall School in Northumberland before taking the Headship of the Kilgraston Junior School near Perth. I stepped out of teaching at that point, took a post graduate computer diploma and spent two happy years working in Amsterdam as a software engineer before working for the police as an Intelligence Analyst. Five years ago my family and I moved to Norfolk and I joined the Beeston team.
What do you enjoy about the subject you teach?
I never cease to be awed by the power of words. Whether it be the emotional impact of a book or the beauty of a simple poem, we are all enriched by the written and spoken word. It is the means by which we learn, share experiences and express our individuality.
Apart from reading (I normally have six or seven books on the go at a time!), I make some of the worst homemade beer and wine known to man, play the guitar badly and make wobbly things out of wood. My great passion still remains computers, which just goes to show that English teachers can also be geeks.
M.A., B.A. (Hons), P.G.C.E., Cambridge CELTA (English and EAL Co-ordinator)
Although I was raised near Cromer and educated at Gresham’s, I have ventured beyond the county borders. My undergraduate years were spent at Durham University, where I read English, with Italian as a subsidiary subject. I also obtained a Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language, which enabled me to find my first post at a school on the island of Evia in Greece, which was followed by two years at a language school in Hamamatsu, Japan. On my return to the UK, I gained a Post Graduate Certificate of Education from UEA, whereupon I taught A’ Level English, Media Studies and Theatre Studies. The wanderlust had not been vanquished, however. I subsequently spent six blissful years in Brazil, at St Paul’s School, São Paulo, where I was promoted to Head of Senior School English. From São Paulo I progressed to sunny Southwold and St Felix School, teaching English and co-ordinating the school’s English as an Additional Language needs.
What do you enjoy about the subject you teach?
Whilst some would liken students to vessels to be filled with knowledge, I prefer to think of children as adventurers, embarking on a journey of great discovery, with their teacher safely steering at the helm. As a teacher of English, I have whole worlds at my command, worlds contained within the lines of a book, play or poem. These worlds know no bounds, beyond those of the imagination of the writer.
As a teacher specialising in English as an Additional Language, breaking down language barriers and fostering cultural understanding and tolerance are aspects of my teaching that I hold dear.
My love of literature and acting was ignited in my first year of Prep School. I will never forget the maverick Mr Corner, who introduced me to Shakespeare and my namesake: the actor Nicol Williamson. By the time I returned to put down firm roots in the UK, I was determined to realise a long-held dream. This I did by enrolling on an MA course in Shakespeare in Education at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon. Aside from literature, other pleasurable pursuits include banging out blues tunes on my piano, singing in a choir, and chasing the dog along the cliffs and beaches of North Norfolk.