Andrew P. Sykes studied mathematics at the University of York in the late 80s so how he ended up as a French teacher in a secondary school in the UK is a tale of twists and turns but he first stood in front of a bunch of people and tried to teach them English back in February 1994 when he was taking a TEFL Certificate course at Leeds Metropolitan University. Six months later he found himself a job at a private language school in Tours, France and stayed there until he realised that there was no money in it. Pity it took him nearly five years! Back in the UK in mid 1999 he started to study for a PGCE in MFL at the University of Reading on a special two-year “conversion” programme for people looking to teach French but who didn’t have the appropriate academic background, just the language skills. His course took him to placements first at Trinity School in Newbury and then, for a longer period to Prospect School in Reading itself. A vacancy for a French teacher came up at Prospect and, after some persuasion (Reading was and still is an expensive place to live!), he found himself a full-time post in the school. Liz Wood, the then head of department led a vibrant group of people who very much saw how the learning of a language could and should be a skill for everyone at every level. The management didn’t always agree and by the time he left in 2006, the place of languages within the curriculum was en route to becoming a side-show for the minority. In the September of that year Andrew started work as a subject leader in charge of the languages department at Gillotts School in Henley-on-Thames, a short and picturesque cycle ride from Reading, and more importantly a school where language learning was being increasingly supported & developed. He stayed at the school until December 2014 when he left to complete the third European cycle from Tarifa to Nordkapp in spring and summer 2015…

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  1. Just as well you teach languages rather than English! And good for you anyway for making the switch to modern languages despite not having a degree in it.

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