It was on her way to a prac during the third year of her social work degree that Mrs Dunn had an epiphany…
“I had a conversion. I decided I wanted to be a teacher. But I finished my social work degree, and it all worked out for the best because if I had decided to be a teacher earlier – straight after school – I’d now be teaching maths at secondary school, and I really couldn’t imagine that!
We (the teachers here) obviously feel that teaching at primary level is important, but apart from that, there’s much more scope, you get to teach everything, and besides you don’t teach Shakespeare as a high school maths teacher!”
Mrs Dunn jokes that she d like to go to John Colet School herself as our range of subjects really appeals to her.
“I loved history at school and found maths very satisfying. I did maths at uni for fun. I m not brilliant at it, but I like it. But I m not a one-subject person. I would have liked to come to John Colet School!
“I think the board of studies has done a great job in setting curricula that help to enrich children’s understanding and develop concepts in the main subjects, like maths and writing.”
She says one noticeable change in the day-to-day teaching is that, while text types (such as narrative and persuasive writing) are still taught, the emphasis has gone off this and onto literature, giving teachers more scope for greater variety.
“It’s so exciting to be teaching from literature! When I started out in teaching, Phonics was on the way out. It’s come back and there’s been a focus on genres. And now, we’re back to literature. It brings books alive, encourages children to go off and read the same author in other books, and leads into more discussion.”
As an example, Mrs Dunn says that 3rd class had particularly enjoyed relating their narrative writing practise to an Egyptian story, The Scarab’s Secret .
Mrs Dunn says she loves teaching Shakespeare in part because it’s so inclusive of all students across all ability levels.
“Shakespeare is an amazing thing because it can extend people with its subtle effects and emotional depth. I have never known a child that couldn’t wait to get into their part.”
And Mrs Dunn’s enthusiasm for Sanskrit is very clear in one of our school videos on our website.
Before teaching at JCS, Mrs Dunn taught at Cranbrook, and then worked in the Department of Education for three years.
“There were no “Houses” when I came to John Colet in 1989. I was given the task of creating the Houses, and we had a little sports carnival that was the first one with Houses.”
And she has been managing the Houses and the House Competitions ever since.
Outside of school, Mrs Dunn is a longstanding member of the School of Philosophy, a keen yoga practitioner and a serious walker. In August she will return to Delphi, Greece, for a short Plato study trip, having gone two years ago with the School of Philosophy.
She succinctly sums up the John Colet School ethos thus:
“The big thing is love. The teachers love the work. It is a loving environment.”
Thank you Mrs Dunn.