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Working alongside "gappies" (gap year students)

(18 Posts)
WishIWasWonderwoman Fri 31-Jul-15 22:38:20

I am starting a new job in a prep (for the first time) and has found out they have gap year students. They seem to rotate between helping in the boarding house (which I am not involved in) and helping in the classroom. They are 18-19 years old, stay 12 months and seem to be always Australian.

Has anyone worked alongside gap year students before? What's it like?

Littlefish Fri 31-Jul-15 22:47:07

I haven't worked with Gappies, but there at Gappies at my dd's school. Last year's Gappies were fantastic - really got involved with the life of the school. This year's seem to be less successful and I know that one or two have gone home early. So, I think how useful they are in the classroom really depends on the individual.

That probably doesn't help!

WishIWasWonderwoman Fri 31-Jul-15 22:55:44

Thanks for the response anyway! I guess it's very much a luck of the draw thing when they're so young and also unqualified.

Gruach Fri 31-Jul-15 23:01:24

There are gappers at the DC's prep. They help in the boarding houses and with sport / extra curricular activities. (It's their job to stalk the music dept corridors to make sure people are actually practising and not just reading comics ...) I don't think they have anything to do with academic lessons.

Pretty sure they also work in the office - I'm inclined to ascribe admin errors to them ...

The children seem to find them fun and helpful.

And gapper positions (at this particular school anyway) are highly sought after and filled about 18 months in advance.

Do you have any particular concerns?

(And will you be getting involved with boarding house duties later on?)

Happy36 Fri 31-Jul-15 23:05:25

We have Erasmus students at our school who help in EYFS and Infants and also in the boarding house. They are a little older than those on a Gap year; typically they are 20 (having completed 2 years at university, studying any subject - as our school is abroad they are often studying languages at uni. To date we have not had anyone studying education, teaching or similar). We have been very lucky and these students have almost universally made a brilliant contribution to the school. Occasionally there are problems where they miss home or find living alone too tough, so the school should have a system to support them, perhaps a mentor they can chat to about any worries.

The main way of getting the most out of these students and ensuring that they enjoy their time with your school is to give them clear instructions. They are young and untrained and will not automatically know what to do. They will feel helpless, confused and unfulfilled if they are uncertain about what they´re doing. Take the time to show them clearly and in detail what they are expected to do, and encourage your colleagues to do the same.

WishIWasWonderwoman Fri 31-Jul-15 23:09:33

gruach It's not so much that I'm really concerned, because if the scheme wasn't working I'm sure the school wouldn't keep doing it, it's just that they seem to fill the TA role at this school whereas schools I've worked at in the past have the role filled by a qualified TA- I'm curious whether you have to spend a lot of time managing the gap year students etc.

But I don't see having "gappies" (as this school call them) as a negative thing, in a way I'm sort of looking forward to working with some younger people. In past jobs there have been the pupils and then middle aged staff with nothing in between!

In answer to your question, I will probably stay with working in the day part of the school only. Certainly my contact for this year doesn't involve the boarding house in any way.

WishIWasWonderwoman Fri 31-Jul-15 23:09:58

Happy thanks that seems really sensible.

Gruach Fri 31-Jul-15 23:23:11

I rather had the impression that, being new to the school herself, and presumably new to boarding (?), the OP was unsure of how gapppers might fit into the hierarchy ...

In a well run school the gappers will have been rigorously selected and enthusiastic about throwing themselves into the life of the school. It seems a brilliant way to experience a new country, while being part of a community and having plenty of time for travel. I know they undergo quite intense preparation for their roles (first aid / life saving etc) and naturally have to pass all the usual checks. You should find they assist you to do your job properly (and one would hope there's someone you can talk to if you find any of them unhelpful.)

Gruach Fri 31-Jul-15 23:24:08

Sorry - crossed you OP!

WoodenPegs Fri 31-Jul-15 23:25:37

Gappies are brilliant, well ok, you occasionally get one who isn't so good, but generally they ade great. It depends on the school as to what role they play but jobs can involve office work, games teaching, break duties, dorm duties, classroom assistant, laundry work, supporting groundsmen, lunch duties, basically anything and everything. They always work alongside a member of staff, or under the care of a member of staff. Whilst they are expected to be responsible they are not given any difficult responsibilities, as they are only 18 / 19 years old usually.

Gappies like: being invited over for dinner (its good to escape school every so often when you are there 24 hours a day), being shown the local area and given lifts occasionally (they usually don't have their own transport), for you to treat them as family / friends. They are often a very long way from home and away from home for the first time, at 18 years old that can be scary for some.

Your gappies will probably be doing January to December, so should be fairly well settled in by the time you arrive.

Gruach Fri 31-Jul-15 23:31:28

I haven't come across the TA role in independent schools - (certainly at our school smaller, settled classes obviate the need) so I don't think gappers are a direct comparison.

WishIWasWonderwoman Sat 01-Aug-15 01:05:46

I've made myself sound really ignorant on here, haven't I?!

But thanks for all your advice. I hadn't considered the fact that if they were Australian they would do Jan-Dec and be settled by the time I start.

And yes, gruach I have never worked in an independent and/or boarding school before.

Gruach Sat 01-Aug-15 01:34:47

No of course you haven't!

Perfectly sensible question.

I'm sure, btw, that not all gappers are Australian - can't recall the nationalities of the ones I know of. grin

But are you excited about your new job? Working in a prep school looks as if it has some glorious moments, and a rather nice day to day quality of life, along with endless hours of responsibility.

WishIWasWonderwoman Sat 01-Aug-15 02:51:20

Very excited! I had a year off last year and moved so this is a big for me. I also can't believe the class sizes- 14 in my class (confirmed so far, maybe 1 or 2 extra by September). Last class I taught had 31 in September and 34 by year's end.

I also ship the class off for all their specialty lessons so it looks like I have almost 2 spells each day without them.

It will be very, very different. Hopefully it will also be enjoyable!

WishIWasWonderwoman Sat 01-Aug-15 02:51:49

*a big deal

CharlesRyder Sat 01-Aug-15 08:12:08

My DS has a well qualified TA between two classes of 10 (they have gappies too but they mostly seem to be involved with games). I think TAs are pretty common in pre-preps.

Dancingqueen17 Sat 01-Aug-15 22:40:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

outtolunchagain Sat 01-Aug-15 22:49:18

The gappies at our school come from Australia, NZ and SA. They help with games , ds3 has had a fab one helping with his cricket this year . There is usually one who is into performing arts and one who is more office based. They help out on trips , assist in the boarding house , generally help pastorally for example assisting new year 7 with the lunch queue and assisting at prep club and other after school activities . Generally a good thing , they tend to be a bit like older brothers or sisters but with more authority

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