Deciding on a Gap Year?

Thinking about a year out after school or indeed at different stages of your career –

TISCA first published this article in its printed publication TISCA News and Views -Spring 2022 – edition 84

Many people decide to take a ‘gap year’ after school or university. Some, including the TISCA General Secretary and the Development Officer, take up the opportunity to serve in a school. TISCA has put together a database of some schools offering such a scheme (do see our Jobs Page on our website for details) and here are some reflections from ‘gappies’ and from staff at TISCA schools… 

Monkton Combe, Bath 

Both Monkton Prep and Senior Schools have been using Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs) as part of their staffing for a number of years now.  One of the beauties of the arrangement is that everyone benefits – staff, pupils and the GTAs themselves.  The GTAs all bring energy, enthusiasm and expertise and fulfil a number of different roles from sport to boarding house life and to lesson cover. 

A Graduate Teaching Assistant with some pupils

The pupils love interacting with staff who are that bit younger and who have many of the same cultural references as them. For the GTAs themselves, they learn whether teaching or coaching is the right way forward for them or simply get to work in a fun and busy environment, often making lifelong friendships. 

James Sertin (Deputy Head, Pastoral, Monkton Combe School)  

Pippa Salisbury, a gap year student at Port Regis Prep School 

Port Regis Gappies including Pippa Salisbury

 From September 2021, I spent almost 3 months working at Port Regis School as a gappie. I was part of a team of 8 gap year assistants from the UK and Australia. We were all attached to a department in school but a large part of our role was supporting one of the boarding houses with practical chores, activities and supervision. It was such a fun experience! At school, I was a day pupil so it was eye opening to see the boarding side of school life with boarders as young as 7 years old and what it was like for them spending so much time away from home and with each other. Throughout the term, the school went out of their way to tell us that the gappies gave a different and incredibly valuable support to the children than teachers are able to. The term I spent at Port Regis was fantastic and I highly recommend it to other school leavers. 

Beth Ronalds – a Gap Year student at Lambrook School, near Windsor – who was until last summer a student at Hebron School in south India.  

Lambrook pupils

Hi, I’m Bethany and I am currently working as a Gap Assistant at Lambrook School near Windsor. Lambrook is a co-ed primary school for nursery through to year 8 that offers flexible boarding for those in Yr 3 to Yr 8. Us ‘gappies’ are heavily involved in the boarding side of things which allows us to form close relationships with some of the children and this is definitely my highlight of each day. Sport is also a big part of the gappy job, so is helping with nursery and the lower years which is a lot of fun! I have found this job a great way to grow in confidence and develop time management skills which I’m sure will greatly benefit me in university or whatever you choose to do after your gap year. I personally am considering working in the world of education at some point, and this is the perfect opportunity to get a taster of the career but to also gain work experience in a professional environment which will be beneficial for any future career. My Christian faith also played a part in my decision to work in a boarding school in my gap year. I thought it would be a good opportunity to live out my faith alongside young people and to encourage them. From the viewpoint of a student, just finishing school and suddenly faced with the real world, having a job as a gap assistant is a great option. I get free accommodation and food during term times, as well as being paid monthly, including during holidays (which is better than many of my other friends working by the hour!). You also get the bonus of being able to put this job on your uni application or CV which will look amazing! 

Hebron School, Ooty, India – the International Guest (IG) programme 

Here on a campus of 19 acres in the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India, Hebron School welcomes gap year volunteers in August and January. This International Christian School, located at an altitude of 2200m, was founded in 1899. These International Guests (IGs) come after school or after Uni, contributing to many areas of campus life. Being younger than most staff, the IGs act as role models in the dorms, PE lessons, Junior School, with ESL students or in the music or drama departments. Living in an international context with over 20 nationalities requires initiative, creativity, patience and flexibility. During our debrief sessions at the end of the semester, IGs often say they feel better prepared for Uni or for a job or further studies due to their stretching experiences at Hebron. IGs have later returned to Hebron as Staff after some professional experience, already familiar with the culture here, which feels like the best appraisal of their experience here at Hebron. Some IGs also come as retirees or ‘Senior Volunteers’ – what a great way to share your experience and skills later in life!  

Resa Daven, staff member and IG Co-ordinator www.hebronooty.org

Greetings from Chengelo School, Zambia

Gap year students with pupils at Chengelo School, Zambia

Gap students and volunteers form an integral part of life here at Chengelo School. We welcome students on a gap year between school and university as well as graduates seeking an opportunity to serve before starting work. Over the years we have also had a good number of more seasoned volunteers who wish to reinvest their experience and make the most of their retirement years. It is not unusual for volunteers to come for a couple of months and end up staying for several years!  

As a School we greatly value the energy and experience that they bring along with the heart that they have to discover something new and serve the staff and students here.  

We have also found it to be a transformational experience for those volunteering. Whether they are serving at the Primary or Secondary School, Ndubaluba (our Outdoor Centre) or at the Farm they grow in their relationship with God, their understanding of other people and cultures and enjoy the beautiful environment we live in.  

If you would like to find out more about volunteering at Chengelo or Ndublauba, please do have a look at our website http://www.chengeloschool.org or get in touch with me on principal@chengeloschool.org 

Paul Vines (Principal)  

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TISCA do advertise jobs which sometimes include for both Gap Year and Graduate Assistant roles. Do see our website for details.