Montessori House

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☰ Elizabeth Burke's Blog

Elizabeth Burke’s Blog

Posted on May 15 2015

People are often surprised when I tell them that I didn’t enjoy school as a child. I found it challenging and confusing, lonely and frightening. I was small for my age and one of the younger and less mature members of the class, which had a significant impact on my ability to concentrate during lessons and on my overall confidence.  I remember watching my classmates hard at work, raising their hands, eager to shout out answers, reading, writing and solving problems and I kept wondering ‘what is their secret?’ 

Lots of people ask me why I went into education following such a difficult time as a youngster in the classroom.  I asked myself that question for many years as well.  Initially it was an occupation that I was drawn to because of my family.  My dad is an outstanding teacher.  He retired last year having taught Physical Education to Special Needs pupils for over 30 years.  His life and work have been very inspirational to me.  In addition, I am the oldest of 16 cousins on my mum’s side, and I always had little ones around me to teach and look after.  I knew I loved children and that I was good at working with them.  Education seemed like an obvious choice for me. 

It wasn’t until years later, after Mark Malley offered me my first promotion to Head of Key Stage 1, that I really began to explore my motivation to constantly improve my practice and lead a team of caring, driven and talented colleagues. Why education?  Why leadership?  The answer was simple and powerful:  I had found the school that I would have succeeded in as a child. I had found the teachers who I had needed and the type of curriculum that would have scaffolded my learning effectively and consistently throughout my early schooling. Norfolk House offered a responsive and reflective programme of education that enabled each child to raise their hand, eager to shout out the answer.  Every child was able to read and write and solve problems. Children worked hard because they loved their school and their school loved them – loved them enough to meet them at their starting point, wherever that was, and gently but rigorously guide them through their learning, enabling each child to gain confidence and independence and to love learning. 
I have been extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to build my career at Norfolk House and now at Montessori House too. I believe in the education we offer, and strive always to reach every child to enable them to succeed. This, I believe, is the secret to great education – to meet each child where he or she is on their learning journey, to nurture and empower them with compassion and understanding, and to enable them to be the best they can be. 

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