For the last year or so, I had an itch. The itch was a dream; to work and climb for a year in England, see what it amounted to – and then make the decision to either stay or come back to Australia and be a proper adult. I scratched that itch, packed up and went for it.
After 5 months in the Mother Country, enjoying the people, climbing and the tea, I discovered something that irked me. Surprisingly it isn’t the weather, but the education system and its process. I have been consistently working 3 days a week at Watercliffe Meadow with a super group of 31 5 year old Foundation Students (Prep equivalent for the Australian viewers), working with great colleagues, and giving kids in a poor socio-economic area a chance, when their home life potentially doesn’t. I have also been doing rewarding work with 12 young Autistic kids each Tuesday, which has been challenging, yet refreshingly so. Yet, I have a strong gripe in the way the UK runs its schools. My misgivings don’t hold with the people I work with, they have been friendly, welcoming and helpful, but it sits with level above.
I could go into detail about my political frustrations, though I think that would be a heap of dibble dabble that can’t be explained in an engaging or interesting way, but basically, it is unfairly favoured system giving the middle class and wealthy families an easy access to good education (and rightly so, if the families pay for it), but cuts are handed to schools in the lower socio-economic areas, bringing bigger class sizes and less teachers, creating a class system before a child can read. How’s that fair? This is just the bare bones. The UK is in an intriguing political climate currently, whilst also facing many tragedies – so who knows what will actually happen to schools, maybe a sensible approach via a minorty government? Call me an optimist, at least for the youth of Englands sake.
So how is this in correlation to said dream? Well, the climbing dream will continue and the teaching abroad dream will come to a halt this Friday. A 3 month journey around the European Continent, climbing and ice-cream eating will be my fond adieu, before heading back to grasping warm hands of home; Australia, in October. The hard part about this decision will be saying goodbye to Sheffield, a town of personality, filled with fantastic friends and places. It will be sad to leave.
It’s not a crushing end to the aforementioned dream, yet a confirming indicator for having a strong passion for education as a career and purpose. I do not one bit regret my choice as I am having the time of my life, I am just frustrated by a broken system!
After months of Trad climbing, here’s a photo that really sums up my ability when it comes to sport climbing at the moment. (Punting at the last draw!)
Ben getting it done on some of England’s finest* quarried limestone.
*so fine that it can crumble in your hands.
Ben entering Slippery Stones.
Suns out, Shaka’s Out.
North Wales. Stunning.