A Day in the Life of an HCJS Gap
No one would argue over the importance of role models. Behaviour and attitudes are contagious, and the children in our care pick-up readily and often unknowingly on those examples set to them by the adults who work amongst them at school.
Our Gap students are vital members of our staff team for all sorts of reasons. One of these is the role they play during every moment of every day: that of role model to our children. Of course children do not operate in half measures, they “take in role models and swallow them whole”* - every interaction, every facial expression and unspoken thought impacts (not just the good bits!).
How lucky we are to have recent Hereford Cathedral (Senior) School leavers working amongst us as Gap students. In what follows, Miss Wilson, with help from Miss Prosser, Mr Taylor and Miss Benson, tells us more.
Chris Wright, Head of the Junior School, June 2019
The first day at school is always daunting, even more so when you have just finished your A-levels and are suddenly surrounded by children staring up at you with inquisitive eyes and even more inquisitive questions!
As the four of us Gaps entered HCJS that day, I don’t think we were quite prepared for what we were embarking upon. Whether it be transforming Year 1 classrooms into castles, standing in the rain cheering the children on at a match, cutting up fifty pieces of fish on ‘Fishy Friday’, recreating children’s heads out of papier mâché for school productions, or managing to break numerous laminators, shredders and staple guns (and that’s just within the first term). Not to mention acting as older brother or sister to over 200 children - it’s safe to say life as a Gap student is never boring!
I cannot recall how many times people have asked me, “So what do you actually do?” for which I tend to answer “Uhhh… I guess kind of a teaching assistant/sports coach/ display maker/ coffee brewer/ photocopier/ spare body?”. Understandably people tend to nod encouragingly with a blank look in their eyes which suggest they are just about as sure of what I’m talking about as I am. So here it is definitively, a day in the life of a Gap…what we actually do.
Two of us head outside to collect children from the bus. Although this seems like a simple job in principle, it took a while to get the hang of which buses arrive when. The other half of our Gap ‘team’ are left inside to oversee the children who get off the bus. As Mr Taylor and myself braved the wind, rain, sleet and snow every morning, sitting in a warm, dry library seemed the better option. However, as we were often reminded by the girls in their summer dresses, we were very lucky to be wrapped up in layers of sports kit. Despite the weather, this remains one of my favourite jobs as a Gap - greeting the children as they arrive at the beginning of their school day.
We then adopt our alternative personas as ‘postmen/postwoman’ delivering internal mail to the Senior School. It takes a while to decipher which post goes in which pigeon hole, and, in my opinion would be much easier if we actually had pigeons to do this job!
Two of the Gaps collect the Choristers from morning rehearsals - the commitment and talent of these children still astounds me. The other two Gaps will either be at clubs or doing ‘crossing duty’ for assembly.
Lessons begin. A typical lesson ranges from forming letters in sand with Reception, creating stained glass windows with Year 1, helping Year 2 children develop their sporting skills such as passing and catching, watching the excitement of Year 3 children at their sunflowers blossoming and Year 4 children investigating the historical features of our school and their amazement as they realise the significance of the beautiful building they spend each day in. In terms of the older children, it is so rewarding to see the Year 5&6 children flourish into athletes and young people as they prepare to move on to their next adventure in Year 7.
Lessons continue throughout the day, broken up for us with prop making for school plays, lunch duties, swim walks, photocopying, display making and numerous other jobs. After almost a year in this job I love that every day is still as unpredictable as it was in the first week.
So, there it is, a brief insight into life as a Gap.
Personally, this year has reinforced that I am following the right career path into education. The pleasure of working with children is unmatched, and my fellow Gaps and myself feel so privileged to have been able to work in a school as happy and inclusive as HCJS.
As we enter our final term, we would like to say thank you to the staff and in particular every single remarkable child at this school who has made our year so enjoyable. I hope we have impacted on them as much as they have on us.
“One of my favourite moments of the year was forest school with Year 6, making shelters from wood and a massive game of hide and seek, it was a great trip and all the children loved it. I also enjoyed going to Pizza Express with Reception and swimming each week with the children, watching them improve weekly and gain confidence”
“I have particularly enjoyed helping with sports teams this year. It is so rewarding to watch the development of children's sporting ability and confidence throughout the year.”
“I loved my experience on the French trip, it was hard work and very full on but so much fun! It was amazing to see their faces light up when they recognised famous landmarks and the excitement as they saw their favourite Disney characters at Disneyland Paris. Hard work but rewarding seems to sum up the year for me!”
“One of the highlights for me was the visit from the police for Reception. It was so interesting learning what the police do and I loved seeing how excited the children were at the prospect of sitting in a police car or trying on the uniform and of course the most exciting bit… the siren!”
Miss Wilson, with Miss Benson, Miss Prosser and Mr Taylor
HCJS Gap Students 2019/20, June 2019.
*Raising Boys, Steve Biddulph.