Exchange postcard

Highlight of career

I have just completed an international teacher exchange to Cranleigh School, Surrey, UK. It has definitely been the highlight of my 10 year teaching career. My wife and I, with our two year old son, travelled from Sydney where I had been working at Newington College. I started at the UK school year in September 2016 and my exchange partner took over my classes in Sydney. My motivation to undertake the exchange was to gain new experiences in teaching, travel and spend time with family and friends who live in the UK. We were able to take various trips while using Cranleigh as a base including travelling to Austria, Spain, the Caribbean, France, Scotland and various trips around England during school holidays.

Cranleigh School is a high fee paying independent school set on 300 acres located in the beautiful Surrey hills. The school has first class facilities including its own equestrian centre and golf course! It’s located next to the village of Cranleigh and within one hour’s drive from London.

The school has 620 pupils, where the majority of pupils are boarders. I was a tutor in one of the boarding houses and there was a requirement to do a ‘duty night’ once a week, be a mentor for the students and a participant in various house activities. All teaching staff live in school provided housing accommodation around the village and this creates a really inclusive and welcoming teachers' common room. We enjoyed many different events, socials, dinner parties and made many friendships during our stay.

I taught Economics and Business Studies A level which is the HSC equivalent and I found there is definitely more academic rigour in the curriculum than the HSC. With Cranleigh School being a high fee paying school, there were high expectations placed on teachers including teaching lessons on Saturday morning (this would be hard to get used to in the long term!); this would then be followed by sporting fixtures in the afternoons.

I coached rugby, football, and tennis which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was lucky enough to go to sporting fixtures with my teams to various schools such as Eton College, Charterhouse, and Wellington. On saying this many weekends didn’t actually start until 6pm on Saturday after returning from an away sporting fixture. The trade off I found for this is longer school holidays being 19 weeks in total throughout the year.

Overall I couldn’t speak more highly of my experience over the last 12 months at Cranleigh and I would encourage others to seek similar opportunities!

Tomas Pym