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Teaching Primary in London: English Weather!

Gareth is a Teacher from Australia who is working in West London Primary Schools through Protocol Education.

Twenty-six degrees

As an Australian I was a little bit surprised at students’ reactions when the mercury hit 26 degrees Celsius on May 23. I returned from lunch on this lovely Wednesday afternoon to find students outside my classroom wheezing for air, knocking back entire bottles of water and feigning collapse.

These temperatures aren’t hot in Australia. A hot day in Perth would see 26 degrees in the shade, or hotter. In an attempt to evade the heat of the classrooms a year 10 student set off the fire alarm, causing the entire school to be evacuated onto the bitumen basketball courts – an ironic turn of events that made the students even more agitated by the heat.

It's all relative

I’m aware that all things are relative. A person living in the Sahara desert would probably claim that a 40 degree heatwave in Australia is nothing. But still, as I opened the newspapers across the following week, I was astounded by the amount of people diving into Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, the number of babies that (according to the London Evening Standard) had fallen out of opened windows and the people drowning. All of these things were blamed upon the heatwave.

Just when I thought the over-reactionary responses had ceased the Metro reported the following:

The country was hotter than Australia, South America and parts of Africa and the Middle East

Unlike the journalist, this did not surprise me in the least, considering these areas of the globe are situated in the Southern Hemisphere which is currently experiencing their winter.

"Kids go a little crazy"

However, going back to the students, there is a useful upside to this change in the temperature. Like some sort of sloth-like creature, the heat seems to fatigue the students into submission where they will sit subdued completing all set work.

A wise head of department once told me that the kids go a little crazy when the rains come. If this is the case, the inverse is true of the heat. Even if the temperature outside is tepid; it may be in a teacher’s best interest to crank the heater until the students’ behaviour is at a happy equilibrium.

Likewise, the weather conditions can be used as threats. In an age where the rattan cane has become defunct, nothing serves as a better physical threat than the prospect of being sent to stand in the pouring rain at sub zero temperatures.

When the students were finally ushered back into the classroom, after the unofficial fire drill, they continued the rest of their afternoon lamenting the searing temperatures. I mildly conceded – despite still wearing a sweater – that the classroom was certainly warmer than usual. I then proceeded to head to Brighton the following weekend – although I did wear my long trousers, simply out of sheer Australian-bloody-mindedness.

~by Gareth, an Australian Teacher working in West London schools through Protocol Education. Read more by Gareth.

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Tags: Gareth, Teacher, Australian Teachers, OTT, Overseas Trained Teachers, Secondary, Teacher, English Weather, Teach in London

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