News‎ > ‎News Feed‎ > ‎

Community Governor, Mona Adams, interviews head of Year 8, Donna Afriye

posted 15 May 2017, 03:47 by Michele Colt   [ updated 15 May 2017, 04:20 ]
Donna Afriyie is a media and cultural studies graduate who has been a teacher for 8 years. She came to us last September from an academy in Peckham to teach English and lead Year 8. She had always worked in inner city schools so why did she want to join RPA? Donna explains, 'Previously I was in charge of whole school newly qualified teacher co-ordination and took a step down to come here but I knew it was the right move for me because it would enable me not only to teach great kids but to focus on pastoral care which has been a passion of mine since I began teaching. I am currently working on an MA in inclusive education to further expand my knowledge and experience'.   

When Donna applied for the job here, she did a learning walk around our campus as part of the application process and discovered that the RPA student intake did not reflect her previous teaching experiences. The social demographic was very different and the campus exceeded expectation, so much so that when a group of students from Peckham visited recently, they couldn't quite believe how much space there was, how fantastic the facilities were and what a great buzz there was around the school. Donna says: 'Because we use it every day and take it for granted, it's  easy to forget just what a great campus we have here'.  

From the word go she felt welcome and, she tells me, quickly settled in. 'Teaching is a job that you can never turn off and so I immediately began to explore what I could do to improve attendance, student resilience and attainment. I'm used to providing extra lessons and offering Saturday schools when they are needed and, while it is important for my students to know that I will always here for them it is also, at the same time, important for them to know that I will be firm but fair and will consistently encourage and enforce positive behaviour' .  

Donna was herself greatly influenced by good teachers and wants to give some of that back. 'I particularly love literacy and literature -  that journey of discovery that I can share with my students, that mutual exploration of ideas, that opportunity to encourage them to share their opinions, that opening of doors into a world outside their own experiences'. It is important, Donna stresses, to encourage students not to feel limited by Key Stage 3 boundaries.  'When they demonstrate an interest in expanding, improving, moving on', she says, 'it is important to spot that, grip them and encourage them to work outside their boxes'.

This Year 8 leader is determined that her students will be reflective learners. In an atmosphere of learning through questioning – why, when, how, what went well, not so well, she supports her students to highlight, recognise, stabilise and move on. In this 'can do' culture, stretch and challenge are two of her keywords. She says: ' Kids have got to enjoy coming to school and feel confident to reveal what they know and what they don't know because, through communication, progress and personal responsibility for learning can build'.

Almost the end of the interview, but not, very obviously, the end of this teacher's enthusiasm for what she is doing. 'When you meet me again, be prepared for me to brag about my students' achievements'….    Good closing thought.   Am already prepared …